Wednesday, July 9, 2008

diy, indie, new wave, alt-craft

I am braving a subject I often have trouble clearly explaining but is a topic close to my heart. A comment on my last post (Hi Kris!!) asked me to explain the difference between the Artist's Market and the DIY section at the upcoming Artscape show. What a great question!! So juicy! I am in the DIY section, a mix of indie makers.

The comment/question:
"I can't see or comprehend the difference between your work listed in the DIY section and the work of the 10 individuals listed in the Artists Market under ceramics. Can you shed some light on this?"

The light:
This is my personal perspective on the world of craft/ craft shows and there is a clear difference when I am doing a show. I started out like most doing small local craft shows, I did ok but could tell it wasn't really my market or crowd. I also didn't enjoy those shows or even want to shop at them. I've been involved in the indie craft scene for about 3 years now, however I took notice well before I jumped in! I'm not comfortable with the DIY title and usually refer to these shows as indie. I think of myself as a maker of indie pottery. And when I am deciding to apply to a show I first think about if I would want to shop it myself. I am not sure if a clear title has been declared for this change in craft but I vote for calling it the indie craft movement. Anyway, the differences: I feel that I fit in the DIY section because of my aesthetic, the indie craft shopper is looking for something non-traditional but likes the quality of my work. The Artscape site defines the DIY section by saying:

"Artscape is supporting the emerging DIY trend by creating an entire section of the site dedicated to hip and talented new wave crafters."

I love this definition, so I am hip and talented and after all the years of making, I am new wave! Thank you! Ok, back to the definition! I think that when the traditional shows are being juried they are looking for the best in the various craft fields. By best I mean the most skilled and technically correct according to standards that those shows have established. The indie shows have a different way of jurying, I've never juried a show but I believe they choose their makers more like a boutique would pick their merchandise. The shows are styled somewhat. The makers are at various stages in refining their craft, some starting out and some are very well established but what brings them all together and makes sense is that they will appeal to the same shoppers. It's more about a scene then just building a fine craft show. And this I find so exciting. It is a brilliant way to plan a show, I remember the first time I went to an indie craft show - I ventured up to Brooklyn to check out the Renegade Craft Fair, I was looking forward to it for months and so excited to see all the makers in person. After shopping the fair I knew where I needed to be. I was one of them! Knowing your market is very important so while it is an honor to be accepted into the well established fine art/craft shows (which are expensive to do and come with a long list of rules) it is not the best business decision if that is not your market.

I hope this helps shed some light onto the differences between the 2 sections, really to see the difference you just need to attend an indie craft show. There is an excitement in the air and usually some good indie music!!

I welcome all comments and corrections on this subject!
xoxo, Linda


WildMagnolia said...

It sounds very exciting. Wonderful that you have such an outlet.

michele d.

Anonymous said...

I imagine though it's hard to stay 'indie' once you need to any sort of production pottery to send to stores and pay the bills.
I see DIY as being someone who is talented and just makes random things, but once you get into making the same item more than a few times and actually make your living from your work that's when you become and artist.
Your work is wonderful and I see it as definately more than DIY and although outside the mainstream, your skill and presentation is above many of the other indie sellers I have seen.
Keep up the wonderful work.
Karissa Chase.

Little Flower Designs said...

Thanks Michele, it is nice to be part of the "new craft"

I agree that there are some distinctions, that is why DIY is not my favorite description - I always think of a DIY-er as someone that takes on something you usually hire a professional for. And you bring up a nice point about my presentation, which I work hard to refine during each show! I feel I am still developing into a professional and learning as I go, more seasoned now than last year. Anyway, I've been thinking alot lately about how there are all of us "indie" makers and as we grow and improve on what we are doing - will the indie shows become more upscale or will we need to crossover to the traditional shows or create another movement for fine indie craft?? So that we all still fit together but can have a few shows that feature the standards of a traditional show but the styling of an indie show? It's such an exciting time in the craft world! Thanks for chiming in!!
xoxo, Linda

kris said...

Hi Linda
Thanks for the post! I feel special :) I was soooooo left braining my evaluation of Artscapes two sections. I saw quality clay work in both so Karissa's comments on the quality of your work rings true to me as that was the main thing where I could not see a difference. What I wasen't taking into account was the aesthetics of the work, and when I review all the various images of all media in both sections again I totally get what you are saying. There is a much different feel and flavor to the art. I also have never gotten the chance to attend an "indie" fair where I have attended many of the "fine" craft shows I guess I'm going to have to ignore the gas cost and take a drive one of these days to get the full experience. I really got a lot out of your evaluation, Thanks again.

Congrats on a great show!


Tasha said...

Great post, Linda! As another ceramic artist who sells their work at Indie Shows, I have had much the same experience in finding my market. I sold my pottery at Fine Art and Craft Shows for about six years before I started doing Indie Shows. I did okay at these more traditional shows, but I was mostly selling to customers much older than myself. Very often the work closest to my heart went unnoticed and unsold and I knew why - it appealed to a younger audience that simply were not attending the shows I was participating in. Once I discovered and starting sellng at Indie Shows, I was able to really make the work I most enjoyed because I had finally found a viable market for it.

On 'outgrowing' Indie Shows:
I have noticed a sort of intermediate type of show that are not overly edgy. These shows tend appeal a wider audience and often have a softer aesthetic to them. More trunk show less flea market. I love doing these type of shows because they are often held in beautiful spaces and the displays are usually lovely expressions of the crafter's own personal style. These intermediate type shows are quite the shopping experience.