Illustration

In my previous post, I mentioned that I have a separate site for my illustrations. My daughter is a graphic designer and we have teamed together to form a shop called Pronghorn Designs.

I started my career path as classic artist, earning a degree in fine art and, while I originally thought I would go into painting, I always seemed to drift back to drawing. I love the details. The above drawing of a dragonfly was done while looking through a magnifying glass. That is how much I love the details.

My drawings are almost always inspired by nature. I am not a big fan of architectural drawing or of portraiture although I have dabbled in both. I tend to gravitate towards individual subjects rather than busy scenes or layered compositions. My focus is rather intense.

My hands are badly arthritic now and I am not sure how many more drawings of this type I have in me. Lately, as in the above drawings, I have been working by stippling (drawing with dots) because my hands shake  too much to make a reliable line. I will eventually have both of my thumbs rebuilt but until then, I will focus more on the metal work.

 

The Thing About Custom Orders…..

One of my oldest an dearest friends is also my best customer on ETSY. Every year about this time, she orders several things from my shop and, occasionally, she has me custom make something for her.

This year she asked me to make something for one of her friends. They live in New York, where I grew up and in truth, I have not actually seen her in over 30 years.

When I asked her what kind of hat, she showed me a photo of a regular knit cap. Whan I asked her what color, she said brown….soft….mixed browns maybe….that was it.

So, in my usual, compulsive, perfectionist way, this is what I have so far…….so far…….

IMG_1961-001IMG_1960IMG_1959IMG_1958

 

I am not sure if it is a driving need to make sure the customer always gets what they want, or a nagging dissatisfaction with almost everything I make.

I honestly have never had a single complaint about anything I have made and all of my custom orders have been received with more praise than I expected.

I know she will be happy with whatever I make, I just want it to be better than whatever she is imagining, and I can’t begin to guess what that is!

So this, along with year-end books, my REAL job, Christmas chaos and a really bad head cold have summed up my December so far…..

Now, back to the crochet!

Etsy and the Future of Handmade

I was recently engaged in a conversation with another blogger about the new changes that have been made to ETSY. If you are unfamiliar with ETSY, as imagine most of you are, it is (or perhaps was) the foremost site on the web for selling and purchasing handmade arts and crafts. If you were looking for a truly unique, one of a kind hand crafted treasure, ETSY was the place to look.

When I joined ETSY in 2011, I was extremely optimistic. Not optimistic that my handmade crafts would sell necessarily, but optimistic that there was a place out there on the great information highway that was not only listening to the small, introverted, creative wave that pulsed vibrantly through space but also celebrating it! We have always been here. The craftsmen, the artists, the woodworkers, sculptors, jewelry designers, painters, weavers etc. Our ancestors have their handiwares in museums, because they are considered to be a part of an important cultural past and, well, a lot of what we make is just plain AWESOME.

We are special…bear with me….To decide to make one’s living as an artist, takes guts. It takes a belief in yourself that most of society did not help nurture. Most of us had to turn our backs on “better” careers that would have ensured financial stability. Most of us still have a “real” job on the side to support what the majority of non artists see as a hobby. Most of us…heck ALL of us, can’t help ourselves. The desire, the need to create is innate.

ETSY was a place, where we could all congregate, converse, support. promote and CARE about each other. I am an introvert, and I do not use that term lightly. ETSY gave me a platform that allowed me to not only show the world my talents, but give them value in the form of cold hard cash. Psychologically speaking, ETSY was great therapy, it was a safe place to take a risk with something new, or collaborate with others to create something unique. We, as artist, did not have to compete with machines, or corporations, or mass produced junk. We were among friends, kindred spirits, we had a home.

At this point you are most likely wondering why I am writing this all in the past tense. ETSY has, at the urging of those with their hands on the financial forecasting spreadsheets, decided to allow artist to have their designs created by a manufacturer. Now at first, you might think this is no big deal, and in truth, sellers like this have been popping up all over ETSY for years, unchecked to my knowledge. But what this means is the ETSY marketplace will be dramatically altered. If I design a dress, I can have a factory make it in a variety of sizes and colors. I can send my drawing to ZAZZLE or a similar site and have several cases of coffee cup made, ready to ship. I can, in theory, design almost anything my heart desires and have it mass produced to sell on ETSY. Now, the powers that be, say that the seller will need to identify themselves on their profile as a designer, not a crafts person, but lets get real, who looks at a seller’s profile before making a purchase any more?

So, now when a customer wants a unique, hand crafted treasure, and they type in “coffee cup” they will have to wade through the same mass produced products they can find anywhere on the web. They will have to read every seller’s profile to see if they are getting what they want. Mass produced items will have a lower selling point, so when a buyer is looking to spend only $20.00, their top options they will see will not be from the artisan, but from a designer. Don’t get me wrong, the creative world turns on designers, EVERY item you buy was designed by SOMEONE. My own daughter is in art school hoping to be that someone, some day. I have a great respect for all areas and levels of creativity, but ETSY was the one place that WE had. WE the hands on crafts person. WE who had no other venue but seasonal craft fairs and farmer’s markets. WE who so desperately needed and deserved a platform high enough that someone could hear our voice. And now it is gone.

The kind folks at ETSY have told us that they know they did not implement the support structure to protect the lowly artisan from mass produced items…. YET. They know that they “still have a lot of work to do”. They know we are unhappy. They know we feel betrayed and I hope they know that by not giving us, the artists, a voice, they have ruined many dreams and put many of us out of business. They tell us they know……they know. But do they care?

Please let me end by saying that as a shopper, I still highly recommend ETSY. There are still thousands of artists slugging their way through, trying to get your attention. We on ETSY have heard from several of you, who despair at the time and effort it takes now to find us through the confusing mess….please don’t give up on us. We need you!!!!