For those of us who don't go the teaching route non-traditional methods of survival are always employed, but we can always hope for sales here and there to keep a glimmer going at the end of the tunnel. With the economy in the worst shape it's been for possibly two generations, I know I'm not the only one left wondering how to keep the show going.
I also know I can't be the only one reading gleaming reports from all of the major craft expos and wondering if I'm trapped in some parallel universe? SOFA, Niche, and other major events keep boasting high attendance as well as sales, but for those of us on the bottom rung of the arts/craft ladder it seems like we're terribly far from the action. Are collectors only buying from established venues/artists, or (and I hate to posit this) are these reports a bit of hot air? I understand if the purpose is to sow the seeds of confidence, but when some of us (and not just the first-fivers) are struggling to keep the lights on it's hard not to feel frustrated.
After a helpful conversation with a friend, I'm trying to approach this proactively. As makers, we need to devise some really meaningful strategies to approach collectors, cultivate new ones, and find ways to make the work of the less-established more appealing. So I'm working on a starting point for that conversation. And I'm looking for others who are feeling the same pinch, or not and can talk about their experiences either way.
It's a problem we all need to tackle--and to play devil's advocate for a moment--is it even ethical, in this economic climate, to try and make the case for the purchase of artist made jewelry/objects? I don't ask because I want to rile people up, but in a way I do. We have to resolve that problem for ourselves on a personal level if we're to succeed as advocates for ourselves and our field.
My goal is to turn this dialog into some meaningful text that advises artists as well as collectors on ways to introduce emerging/struggling artists with collectors, incentivize purchases at new/struggling galleries, help increase sales for those of us not already famous or dead, or learn some sweet barista skills to pay the bills.
So I'm asking the masses of Crafthaus--we either need to come up with strategies to turn this ship around, or I need to search for (another) day job!