Two things are true: (1) I need to make some money and (2) I need to make what I love.
Years ago – before I was ancient – I could’ve learned how to make “beauty.” Maybe I could’ve learned how to make cute/adorable/charming. That’s less likely. But, instead of doing what I could’ve done to feed a consumer need, I fed my own.
I made what I love.
Now it’s all I can do. It’s all I want to do. I need to make what I love.
Now and then I can produce “beauty,” etc. But it’s….meh. I don’t love it and I can’t fake love well enough for my “beauty” to be be beautiful to the world.
Let’s shift gears, OK? Take a little detour…
Online advice about selling visual art via print-on-demand sites always includes this gem: “Know your audience.” That’s excellent advice, applicable to most of life’s endeavors. But how do you know and satisfy an audience that doesn’t exist? Beyond supposition I haven’t a clue except that it would be people like me but who had money to spend.
Given my timeline (I’m ancient, remember?) in the early spring of last year I decided to focus on what I love to do. That seemed wise because even if nothing sold I could at least enjoy what I was doing and my dwindling time wouldn’t be wasted pretending to love something that might not sell anyway.
Ooooo! Exciting! Must’ve worked great, yes? Here’s how well that plan’s worked: Nothing’s sold except a sticker of an [arguably] beautiful abstract I made 13 years ago. I earned $.33 (cents, yes) that I’ll likely never see because the payout threshold is $20. Want to see it? Click through to my Redbubble shop.
Who was my audience? No idea. Maybe a music lover. Maybe a violin player. Or maybe someone who likes little abstract images that will stick to things.
Reeling from the realization that I wasn’t getting anywhere I updated equipment and purchased new software. Beginning mid-summer last year I frantically tried to make what I thought might sell. What was that exactly? Not what I love. Everything else. I’ve tried hard to create for that other audience, the one that likes beauty and charm and adorable cuteness but IT’S NOT ME. I’m drowning in loveless creations.
I need my love.
I need my faces.
So – enough! I’ve had enough! Maybe I’ll make abstracts along the way, maybe I’ll take pictures of pretty things, maybe I’ll crank out a few colorful patterns just to please the POD site’s algorithms, but my new plan is to make – and try harder to sell – what I love.
Like this face:
Is it ugly to you? Creepy? Scary? Weird? Edgy? Disgusting? Bizarre? It’s beauty to me. I loved making it! I love seeing it!
And I love this one:
Does it intrigue you? Bother you? Make you feel compassion or confusion or anything at all? It’s dark and bleak and touches me deeply. It’s beauty, to me.
I’m my audience. All I need is a few people like me who share my love and will buy it.
Note: The above may seem like whining and maybe it is. To be fair, I’ve flip-flopped this way before. I’ve also been wildly inconsistent with promotion. And – maybe – what I love isn’t really meant for anyone but me. Maybe it’s just “bad art,” not even good enough for a refrigerator door. Maybe my love is wasted, misplaced. But it’s still love and I’m going to make these faces until I can’t.