Passion vs Profit

There are many ways to structure a creative life.  I admire those that can make a living IMG_0395from their pen or brush.  For me, anytime I have attached profit to my creative endeavors, the business of it all can suck the very joy out of the process. In my experience, it takes at least as much effort to market and sell my work than making it.  Now in my 60s and retired from teaching for over 2 years I am asking myself “How do I really want to be spending my remaining precious time on this Earth?

This dialogue has cropped up again in the wake of my first holidayDSC00500IMG_0397 show of the season.  Yes, I walked away with a few hundred dollars in my pocket but was it all worth it? I could have made that money easily with some substitute teaching (which I don’t mind) and been far less exhausted.  By the time I crunch my time in my studio, schlep my stuff to the venue, sit and sell (hoping for good attendance), make my booth fee, schlep home and unpack, ask myself “Where is the joy in all this?”

IMG_0501Thinking about profit sabotages both my spontaneity and my passion, like a relationship gone stale. I have one more show and then that will be it.  My Etsy shop will remain up.  It will generate a few sales and act as a portfolio of sorts.  After the first of the year, I will be selling my big kiln as there will be no need for it.  If someone wants to buy my work, great, otherwise I will enjoy donating it to others and make just for the joy of making.

BettyBoop 1

Air Plant Love

Group photo_PE-1

Imagine you are a plant and you don’t need roots to tether you to the Earth.  Instead you live in a cluster of other like-minded individuals, anchored in the canopies of trees & bushes in tropical & sub-tropical habitats. You have a great view with the company of birds & other tree dwelling animals. Forgoing roots, you inhale nutrients from soft breezes & the rain since you have developed trichomes, specialized structures on your leaves to do so. What looks like roots at your base  are actually anchors that  hold you to another tree or shrub. Like any other plant you can flower & make seeds but additionally you can produce “pups,”vegetative clones from your base.

 

Welcome to air plants, genus Tillandsia of the Bromeliad family (pineapples are bromeliads).  There are approximately 650 types of Tillandsias that exist. They are the nonconformists of the plant world- maybe that’s why I love them. I had been vaguely aware of these plucky little plants from displays in specialty stores. My minor in college was botany I I always considered myself a plant geek. Then one of my 6th grade science students gave me an air plant on a holder that his mother made from a rock, wire & beads.  Instantly I was smitten.   iron Rockin airplant CR

I began to imagine the possibilities of other artistic applications to combine with air plants.   That was my last year of teaching before retirement.  I was looking for some kind of artistic endeavor to immerse myself in post teaching that could tie in my numerous interests and perhaps generate some additional income. Thus I created ArtisanAirplants, a creative business endeavor where I could combine my work in ceramics & found objects with Tillandsias. Up went an Etsy shop and entry into art shows.Tilly flower 3

Some months later I found myself with 200 or so of these unique plants that looked like they could have escaped from another planet.   I started designing pieces designed for a certain species of air plant in mind. Many of my ceramic air plant holders are intentionally twisted & bent playing off the whimsical qualities of the plants. My work often reminds people of something out of a Dr. Suess landscape.  I also like to juxtapose them with non- natural objects such as vintage tools & hardware.

On travels around Oregon & beyond I am always on the lookout for what universe has to offer me for my art. You might find me frequenting thrift stores & garage sales for unusual accessories. My kayak & backpack will often be loaded down with rocks and other interesting pieces of flotsam & jetsam to use for pieces. Treasure hunting is an integral part of my artistic process.

Spanish moss curtain

If you are a plant lover, one great thing about Tillandsias are that they are so small that you can have lots of them. They adorn several of my window sills, walls, and hang over my kitchen sink.  I have a living bathroom “curtain” made of Spanish moss. Kids love them.  I tell my kid customers that they are easier to take care of than a hamster.Deer SKull PE 3 crop

There is a sad misconception that abounds that Tillandsias need  little or no care. If you do decide to bring air plants into your home, please be aware that they need carecropped-monklady-1 similar to a  houseplant, ie proper lighting, ventilation, & watering.  The main difference is that since they forgo soil, you need to water them by soaking & misting.  Avoid buying from big box stores as they don’t know how to care for them properly.  You best bet is a specialty plant store or an online air plant company.  

Consider them the next time you go to buy a gift, for a loved one or yourself.  They will make happy company.

 

 

My Escape From Social Media

twitter-292994_1280It all started with my decision to sell my artwork online.  I spent hours setting up my shop on Etsy, learning how to photograph my artwork, figuring out shipping and then posting listings.  Now I began the hard work of self-promotion so that my little enterprise could get found among the virtual soup that contained thousands of others.

My three new “how to” books on the subject all instructed me to start setting up social media accounts, get involved in forums, start posting, liking & commenting on a regular basis.  This activity would eventually lure customers to my site, hopefully to buy.

Previous to this, as a Baby boomer I was quite happy with my life in the tangible world and saw no need to be a party to the social media craze.  Nevertheless, trying to be open-minded, I set up the necessary Facebook & Instagram accounts to start and took the plunge.  I started posting regularly. Unfortunately the prescribed practice of liking and commenting just to build a following seemed very sleazy to me so I dragged my feet on that.  Then there were the apps that will like & share for you. Really? You can buy likes? No thanks.
Then suddenly, a Pandora’s Box of distractions was open to my brain.  My somewhat ADD personality quickly became hostage to this mysterious world on the other side of the screen.  I found myself constantly checking my posts & listings to see how many likes or comments they got. It was hard to tell myself from the other scrollers & tappers that were everywhere I looked. Who was this Pavlovian creature I had become?

Then recently, after over a year of this grand experiment, I realized that this whole exercise was sucking away too much time energy from my creative process.  I had a few online sales but not enough to warrant all the effort. More so, my heart was just not into it & I wanted relief from the distraction.

instagram-1474232_1280It was an easy fix.  I deleted the Facebook & Instagram apps off my phone & IPad.  It took a couple of days for my mind to feel free of the social media sirens calling my name.  I could be fully present again.  My Instagram, Facebook & Etsy accounts are still active.  The difference is that I manage them rather than them managing me.  I peek in twice a week now either post &
then check for responses.

There was one social media platform that was left to me to try- blogging.  About a month ago I put this blog up just to give it ago.  The self- promotion goal I had for blogging instantly dissipated as I rekindled my love of self-expression through writing. What a nice surprise WordPress has been!  Here is this great community of interesting people I can interact with.  Now I am  writing, reading, & commenting on others blogs because I want to, not because I should. This online experience continues to be meaningful in contrast to hollow exercises I had been pursuing on Facebook and Instagram.blk-goddess-front

My Etsy shop languishes as my desire for screen time has waned.  Currently my internet store & social media accounts mostly serve as virtual portfolios for shows I enter.  It appears that I am not cut out as an online entrepreneur. I’ve realized that selling my art in person offers me more  financial & emotional rewards than the world of online commerce can offer. Back to the real world of face to face relationships & writing just for the love of writing. No regrets.

P.S. For what it’s worth,  since you’re here, here are links to my social media accounts…..

Etsy

Instagram

Facebook