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The holidays are over and life is finally getting back to normal. A much needed the break and change of pace but now I am happily back to making pots again, and looking forward to the first show of the season and starting a fresh new year.
Just before Christmas I took the plunge and went ahead and opened an Etsy store. What the heck is an etsy, you ask? Well its an online marketplace (not an auction site) where independent artists can list and sell their handmade items of all kinds. You can find the most unexpected things if you look.
I first checked Etsy out 3 years ago and at that time, I admit, I wasn’t terribly impressed. Since then, though, it appears to have has grown exponentially. I was happy to find a growing amount of quality work there as well. What spoke to me the loudest is that things were actually selling and for fair prices too. I have sold quite a few nice pieces on eBay (despite how other potters have said how they had done there) so I am most certainly willing to give Etsy a try too.
My store link, by the way, is http://webbpottery.etsy.com
Knowing there is a renewed interest of people going out and actively looking online to buy handmade and to support indie business actually picked me up a bit and gave me a renewed outlook for the new year. I’m not a big or regular shopper except for groceries usually, but this year as I was out looking for stuff for my girls, I couldn’t help but take notice of how much shabbily crafted junk was in the stores leading up to Christmas, mostly cheap, shoddy imports from China. Sure some of the prices looked pretty good, but that’s little consolation if something is obviously of totally inferior quality and looks really cheap. Needless to say, aside from a few low-tech toys for the girls, I ended up making most of my gifts or buying/trading with other local craftspeople.
Made me think.. do people know what they’re buying anymore? Stuff, stuff, and more stuff. That disposable consumerism mindset – quantity vs quality and all that. Evidently its very easy to become complacent for the sake of convenience, accepting whatever big corporate retail conglomerates put on their store shelves, and believing it when they tell us that we must have whatever *it* is. Sad.
As a craftspeople, this is something we are constantly scratching our heads over and are all too aware of. People want the big houses, the big car, the pre-fab room settings from “Rooms to Go”, and would rather buy art/accessories from places like “Pier One” than have something unique made by a local artist or artisan. Cookie cutter people. No originality. See and be seen. Automatons who can’t think outside of the box. And the saddest thing, they don’t know the difference either. What does this say about our culture? And more importantly, what does this say about our future?
I can’t keep track of how many conversations I’ve had these past few years about how people don’t support the arts or come out to events. Lots of frustration on the part of artists, organizers, and institutions.
Here in Mobile, galleries come and go, and those galleries that are still open, are hanging on by their teeth. Museums have their own issues and “perhaps” stay alive longer since they get some governmental support. Artists are being forced to adapt more than ever before to make a living. This is not just a local phenomenon, although at times it feels that way, especially when we see other communities here on the coast and elsewhere (entire communities), show a genuine interest in art and their culture, and rally to make those kinds of events a success.
With the older generation of collectors and patrons dying out, it seems the new generation coming up are more interested in buying the big showy house and big showy vehicle, and then going to Pier One, Rooms to Go, Target, Walmart, Art Wholesale Warehouse, etc., for everything else. Is this a statement about our culture and the direction its going, or what?
I know that there are a lot of people who probably think that art is a waste of time and money, but it really is a chronicle of our culture, who we are/were, and where we are going as human beings. Goodness knows there is more to celebrate about a city’s heritage than its buildings. Thinking art and culture has no value, is incredibly short sighted.
Dana Gioia, the chairman of the National Endowments for the Arts, couldn’t have said it any better when he addressed Stanford graduates at their commencement ceremonies this year: