by Kris A. Kramer
I have an appreciation that PMC artists and artisans observe the world, well, like a photographer or painter observes an interesting character or a brilliant sunset. Differently. A photographer sets up a tripod, the painter sets up an easel. What goes through each one’s mind at that point?
What goes through your mind when you sit down at your workbench? Do you have a particular piece in mind, or are you facing a lump of clay like a writer’s blank page? When you create, are you creating a signature piece for a collection or are you making something that you think will sell?
Here is a personal evolution that you might understand. When I first discovered PMC, my workbench was like a research laboratory.I explored and tested clay, syringe, slip, paste with regards to each one’s limitations in shape, textures, strength, and what I could do with it. Everything was an experiment. I made the “successes” my own or put up for sale. The failures were not failures at all; they were feedback, each one giving me huge insight and knowledge.
Then, in a program I took called the Montana Artrepreneur Program offered by the Montana Arts Council, I learned more about a brand. Branding is not just what cattle ranchers do to their livestock to identify ownership. Similarly though, a brand is a design, symbol, or other feature that distinctly identifies your work. As in, if I saw one of your pendants without any description, I would know that you made it. Let’s assume you have a distinct style and a brand, which most of you do whether or not you know it.
Back to the chair at your workbench. Put aside that you might be fulfilling an obligation like a custom order or producing inventory, what goes through your mind at that point?
Wait. First, add this new information. When asked, “…what’s selling the best?” in an article in American Craft December/January 2013, gallery owner Stefan Friedemann replied with this.
“In the gallery, we have work that will appeal to passersby, as well as the 'museum pieces,' and we do well selling both. What we find the most difficult to sell is work by artists who are between those two niches. They could be artists who have very interesting ideas but feel like they need to make something sellable, or young artists who haven’t fully matured yet. But the serious collector wants a major statement or lasting value, and walk-in traffic wants something very easy, wearable. There isn’t a middle niche.”
Here’s how, as a PMC artist, you may observe the world differently. Do you want to just let your creativity flow, or will you let a gemstone or cabochon inspire you? Do you want to incorporate a new texture you’ve made? Do you want to stay true to your style and brand? Are you creating something that you want to be a best-seller? Do you want to stretch your limits with a new signature piece that you fantasize on the cover of an art museum magazine, posthumous, well after your claim-to-fame in PMC world? Remember, there “isn’t a middle niche.”
Here’s my theory/wish/hope/dream. It matters not, your what and why. What matters is not that you kill the special moment with these questions. What does matter is that you appreciate the value in setting a pure intention. Intent is best clean and simple. For each piece you design and set out to make, pick a path, focus intention, follow through, commit to your creative process, and tap into Creativity--yours and the Universe’s.
Lastly, what does Creativity do that lets you know it is your friend? It gives you permission to change your intent and direction at any time. As many times as you need. To keep your intent clean and simple, all you need to do is be true to yourself. Make what you love--what you would wear, what you would buy, what you would collect."