Monday, December 28, 2015

Doing More Better: Which of These Things is the Most Me?

A few months back, I posted about how I have major commitment issues when it comes to settling on one particular style. It's why my craft box is always overflowing, I'm constantly taking new classes, and none of my patterns and designs look like they came from the same person.

But this is a pretty big issue if you are ever trying to sell or market products, or if you're just trying to DO MORE BETTER. It's great to be an experimenter, creator, dabbler and learner... but how do I find the happy medium between creating stuff I love (and enjoying the process) and creating a recognizable "identity" that people want to invest in?

So today I'm taking a first step and identifying the list of all the styles and techniques I've been dabbling in and assessing each based on how uniquely "me" it is, how comfortable I am with the technique and how sell-able/marketable it is.

Ready??? Let's GO!

Abstract Doodles/Shapes/Patterns

Me-ness: 10
Comfort Level: 10
Sell-able?: 2

Pros: As I mentioned last time, this is the most "me" style. It's something I developed over many years and seems to just magically come from my hands without a lot of effort. It's what initially got me inspired to learn how to make digital, repeat patterns (so that I wasn't spending HOURS filling an entire page, though sometimes that is therapeutic).

Cons: I've had a lot of trouble translating these doodles into digital form or marketable products. They just lose something and feel too simple.

Abstract Q-Tip/Bubble Wrap Acrylic Painting 

Me-ness: 10
Comfort Level: 10
Sell-able?: 3

Pros: I started making these funny abstract paintings with Q-Tips a few years ago. I love the colors and the process.

Cons: Again, not 100% sure how to translate these into digital form or products. I'm just not sure what exactly what marketable kind of things they would look good on.

Cartoon Animals and Anthropomorphic Ice Cream Cone Drawings

Me-ness: 6
Comfort Level: 5
Sell-able?: 8

Pros: After trying for a while to make my abstract drawings work, I gave up and started practicing drawing things that look like things. These drawings are super easy to translate into digital patterns and projects.

Cons: While I definitely think these reflect a part of my personality, I tend to feel like I'm faking it and trying too hard to emulate what I see out in the marketplace. I love these patterns, but they come from a very different place than my abstract stuff.

Block printing and screen printing

Me-ness: 4
Comfort Level: 3
Sell-able?: 6

Pros: Printmaking is one area where I can let some of my abstract-self loose and it can be somewhat easily translated into other things.

Cons: I need a lot more practice, refining and again, the translation isn't always perfect. One exception is this veggie print, but I can't really count that because my brilliant, creative husband did the carving and printing.

Hand Lettering

Me-ness: 6
Comfort Level: 5
Sell-able?: 8

Pros: I've been obsessed with handwriting for a long time and have definitely gotten caught up in the hand lettering trend. I've made several gifts and commissions for friends.

Cons: There's a whole 'nother conversation to be had (don't worry, not today) about a specific style of hand lettering that I'm good at. Similar to this list, I could/should be narrowing down what style of lettering is the most "me." Also, I could do with a lot more practice and training to be better at this. Good grief.

Watercolor/Gouache Painting 

Me-ness: 3
Comfort Level: 2
Sell-able?: Who knows???

Pro/Cons: I debated even adding this to the list because this is something I basically just stuck my toe in the water with lately. I really enjoy painting, but it is by far the technique I would need to work on a lot. I haven't even really attempted "productizing" this stuff.

What Did We Learn?

Ok! That is a super long list. And as I was writing this, I think I definitely had a few insights:

1) The styles/techniques I feel are the most "me" (and least influenced by outside forces) are sometimes the hardest to translate into something sell-able (because they came from my weird brain, not from something I saw on Pinterest).

And vice versa, the things that I consider sell-able, are things heavily influenced by what I see in the marketplace and are things I feel less comfortable with when it comes to the technique.

2) I think there could be a lot of options to combine styles between what I consider "me" and what I consider sell-able/marketable. Though, it's hard to find the exact right balance...

So I guess that should be my next step: more experimentation! I read this great blog post by a professor at RISD about discovering your style. The bottom line? Trying a million different things and not narrowing yourself down before you're ready. So maybe I'm not as far off the path as I sometimes feel like.

I'll just wrap up by saying as always, I'm sharing all this info because I most certainly am not the only part-time dabbler out there going through this. I hope other people find my process interesting and helpful and stick with me as I take it (slowly) step-by-step.

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