Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Original Concepts

Whew! I'm just back from two weekends of open studio with Art at the Source. Thanks to all of my customers, new and returning, for making it a fun, profitable event! It's great for me to have my work selling through galleries but nothing really compares to the face-to-face interaction with the public. Shows enable me to get valuable feedback and comments from buyers and potential buyers which forms much of the direction my work takes. I always come home energized and full of ideas, ready to get busy and create!

I also see these shows as an educational opportunity for the up-and-coming glass artists out there. I can't tell you how often I'll be engaged with a visitor, talking about what inspires me or showing off a new piece and then realize, through their questions or comments, that they're obviously either a glass artist or a glass student. Why can't people just be upfront with that? Last year I actually listened to two women in my booth discuss how much they loved a piece, and then pull out a camera while one said to the other, "take a picture so I can make one like that."

So when I notice the fused glass earrings or whispering to each other or questions that only a glass artist would ask, I'll usually take that as a cue to share my message about how we're all individuals and what we bring to our art has to be ours and only ours. Obviously we're all inspired by what we see, whether it's another artist's work or flowers in the garden or fabric or paintings or whatever. But it's so important to respect the experiences, experiments and investment that another artist has in their work and resist the urge to simply take from them. Being inspired is great; stealing is not.

At a workshop I took a year ago, the teacher was talking about originality and how vital it is that your work expresses YOU. I love a comment she made: "No one can beat you at your own game." She went on to make some points that I have written and displayed to keep me focused. 

• How do I like to work? What do I like to do best?
• Look inward. Dig deep for influences.
• Look outside of glass.
• What defines me? Color? Texture? Clothing? Style?

I'll add to the list: Introduce yourself and share where you are in your journey. I'm thrilled to talk about glass and art and inspiration when I know I'm talking to a fellow artist. As an artist making a living at my craft, I'm not thrilled to provide a free education by being duped into believing I'm selling when I'm actually having my brain picked.

I know there's very little that's new and original but tapping into ourselves can only result in art that's as unique as we are. There are so many resources available through classes, books and online forums to help unleash the inner artist. There's just no reason to "borrow" anyone else's ideas.

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