"Why is selling your finished product important?" This question was tossed my way recently by a student working on an economics project and it stumped me for a bit. Why do I feel the need to sell my handmade pieces? Why do any of us want to sell our art? I think I speak for the majority of jewelry and jewelry component makers when I say it isn't for the money. The reality for most of us is that a full-time minimum wage job would likely be more profitable. What, then, could persuade us to put the results of our blood, sweat and tears out there for the world to judge (and hopefully buy)?
There are things which obviously contribute to the decision to sell. I really love macrame and I practice my craft almost every day. It's how I relax and I thoroughly enjoy experimenting with color and texture and pattern. I'm curious and one thing leads to another. Before I know it, I have three or four new pieces in the space of a week. Even culling out the ones I deem unworthy of sale, I am still left with a steadily building inventory of micro macrame jewelry pieces - more than I can possibly wear. Selling some pieces not only frees up space, but the resulting income allows me to purchase more beads and more colors of cord and do more experimenting. That's a definite win-win for someone like me who wants to have all the beads and all the cord!
Practicality aside, further soul-searching revealed something that surprised me. My answer to the student was "It gives me a feeling of "success" to think someone else thought enough of my work to purchase it." If you take that a bit further, my reason for selling actually boils down to fulfilling an emotional need for approval. Go figure!
I pride myself on not caring what people think of every little thing I do or say or how I look. It's taken me years to get to the point in my life where I can say that with some degree of honesty. I won't claim to be 100% there, but I'm certainly closer to it than I was when I was younger. The trite saying "with age comes wisdom" isn't far off the mark. Maybe it's just a matter of having seen more and having been through more that lets you start to prioritize better and figure out what really matters in the overall scheme of things.
Why, then, this need for validation when it comes to my art? Why is there such an emotional connection to selling my "finished product"? I did a little research and I found this: on a deep emotional level, feeling approval makes us feel more secure with who we are. Hmm. This is starting to make some sense to me. I have a real problem with confidence. I don't call what I do "art" (unless I go back and correct it for the purposes of this article) and I don't think of myself as an "artist". I can apply those labels to others, but not myself. But I can recognize the beauty of the pieces I make and take credit for the creation. So while I admit that for now I am still seeking validation, I will continue to work toward my goal of feeling good about who I am apart from my craft. And when I do reach that point, I will continue to sell just to share my joy with the world!
What about you? Care to share why you decided to sell (or not to sell) your art?