Almost a year ago, after our moving house adventure had slowed down a little, all of a sudden I found myself working on posters instead of (mainly) ceramics... From one came the other, and posters also became postcards.
Right now I love working on paper designs, there's something kind of attractive about doing some (okay: usually a lot of) work on a few sheets of paper and on your computer and then receiving large boxes of your 'finished product'. It's so different from ceramics, where you put quite some time into just one piece without even being sure if it survives the firing in the kiln properly.
But in a way what attracts me sometimes also feels like the downside of it. To produce or to make?
It's hard to describe and it might sound a bit whiny, but for a while I've been feeling that the art/craft community that I've felt part of for such a long time has started to change, or maybe it has already been changing for a long time. It's kind of difficult to put this into words because in a way it's just a vague feeling, and maybe it's just a natural evolution or the coming of age of a movement. But when I look at places like etsy, but also at blogs and other media and art/craft shops, it seems like the focus is changing from original, handmade and one of a kind pieces towards 'production' and making more of the same. Also I often feel that the independent art/craft movement and the big brands/shops are growing closer towards each other, which I think is a mix of mutual inspiration on the one hand but sometimes also blatant copying on the other hand.
I guess the independent art/craft/design movement grew big and popular because there was a real demand for new original, creative and handmade items, that weren't mainstream and easy to find for a long time. Then a whole subculture with blogs, shops, magazines and books grew around it. Artists and bloggers started to collaborate with big media, big shops and big brands, and some of the artists and indie designers also became real brands themselves. Handmade became quite a hype, the supply of 'unique, original handmade items' became larger (including the DIY copying) and maybe that hype has just more or less reached it's end, like all hypes sooner or later do. I think this interesting article by Design Sponge's Grace Bonney describes some of these developments very accurately, but then more focused on the specific (but related) world of the (interior) design blogs.
When I look back at all these years of online art/craft/design, I think for a large part it has sort of 'grown up'. Almost everyone seems to be able to take the most beautiful pictures these days, the styling of pictures has become much more important and probably the items people make have also improved and become more professional. Maybe in a way the artists and crafters have become a bit more mainstream and less 'cutesy-crafty', while the big brands and shops have become a bit more inspired to try new things that are a bit more daring and artistic.
So is it a win-win situation? Sometimes I think yes, when I'm able to buy some really nice, well-designed stuff for little money at the department stores that used to sell only boring, basic stuff a few years ago. Sometimes I think no, when I see that those department stores are simply copying beautiful designs by small/independent designers and selling them for much less money.
For myself, I really want to keep finding the balance between enjoying a bit of production and enjoying the experiment and inspiration of one of a kind, handmade pieces. Though of course I sometimes also have ambitions to take certain things to a higer (efficiency/productivity/sales) level, somehow I still feel very comfortable just making small amounts of things with my own hands.