Keeping the studio fun and interesting – it’s good for you, it’s good for business
Top hats for dogs are not exactly the paradigm of practicality. Dressing my dog up like Godzilla and designing a miniature city for him to destroy is not really how I would describe a hard day at work. But I don’t create everything I sell with the aim of duplicating it over and over and selling hundreds. Often I create because I have an idea that sounds like a lot of fun, and I can’t wait to get back to the studio to try it out. The thrill of creating something unique is the reason that most people go into handmade business, and it’s important to maintain a studio practice that supports your individuality and allows you to enjoy your process. In fact, making sure you’re still entertained and fulfilled by what you’re doing is likely integral to your success.
A light bulb ignites above your head. You rush to the store to get materials. You can’t wait to get home to try it out, take pictures of it and share it with the world. This is an extraordinary feeling. When you decide to sell something you are passionate about, it is reflected in your final product. You will photograph and write about it lovingly. Your audience will be as excited as you are about the piece. Customers purchase handmade to own a little bit of this creative excitement. So when we’re burnt out from the holiday rush, craft shows and trying to make rent … how on earth do we sustain it?
Be strict about scheduling experimentation. If crafting is how you support yourself, studio time can be stressful. We’re not in this to get rich quick – I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to spend money on luxuries like spinny rims for my Volvo or cable tv. I spend forty hours a week creating things I need to make in order to feed my family, but let’s not forget about the big extra something that makes this all worth while – the joy of making. Give yourself a few hours a week where you will try something new in the studio. Stick to it even if it doesn’t result in a finished result or saleable product. Use the time to dream up ten things you’d love to make. Draw whatever comes into your head for three hours and see what happens. Sing The Girl is Mine to your dog while she licks your face…that’s what I was doing in the studio when I came up with the idea for this article.
Whatever you do, relax now and then, and remind yourself why you enjoyed studio time way back before it was how you paid the bills. This is how we sustain creative energy and originality, and these are the qualities that make handmade products so appealing.