Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Trying To Make a Living From Your Art

I've been thinking about this a lot lately. I just started making jewelry in October, from then until now my work has changed a great deal, I think for the better. The more time I spend making jewelry it seems the more the creative side of my mind opens up. I've been selling things on Ebay for years, nothing I make, just items from yard sales and thrift shops mostly, it's a good way to make some extra money. I also work in sales and marketing and have a Bachelor's degree in marketing so I have a sales kind of mindset. Naturally when I started making jewelry my mind turned to making a profit. Money isn't all a care about but I am interested in working for myself, I've been helping millionaires and large corporations make a lot of money for years and really don't have anything to show for it financially.

This leads me to selling my jewelry. I probably started too soon. Some of the things I've listed I'm kind of embarrassed about now and I intend to re-do them. On the other hand I need money now. So what to do? I think if you really care about your work you have to bite the bullet and hold off on selling it. You can't wait forever because, honestly, your work will probably always be changing and improving your whole life; but wait until what you put out there is a good representation of quality work. I think that way people will buy your items because most people buying handmade can tell the difference between good, quality, handmade items and mass produced junk. The people who can't tell the difference will never be your customers either way.

I don't agree with the idea that if you're an artist you're selling out by trying to make a living. You should be able to do both, and if you can make a living doing what you love then I say good for you! I love some of the things I made, I enjoy wearing them, I want to share that with other people, there is nothing wrong with that.

I'm currently working on several items that I think show a huge leap in the quality of my work. Once I'm done with them I'm going to write a post showing the differences. I'm also going to be taking a class at the local Community College to learn some more about jewelry making. Stay tuned, there are some exciting things coming up and hopefully the people who are reading this blog are learning along with me.


  1. To reply to what you were saying about editing and relisting your work, its really up to you :) My personal opinion is quite similar to your own.

    Artists improve over months and years, so your work will sometimes be constantly out-doing your last piece, but I think if you're just starting, I would consider quality over anything else :) Once people are interested in your shop because of a standard you set for yourself, they'll come back and also be able to see even greater improvements. ^_^

  2. Thank you, maybe I'll hold off on re-doing old work and just keep working on my better quality pieces for now.

  3. Thank you for the post!
    Since I wanted to make my own things and make a living from that it is really hard to stay motivated and patient. Because.. I invest and invest but the income is very slow. And I don't know how to handle it. Should I take a risk and invest (all) my money in my supllies in hopes to be successful someday?
    I have a lot of ideas that I want to realise but it takes so much time! And money...
    I have not that much things I can sell because a lot of my stuff is not good enough or drafts.. Maybe I should start painting again! I have a lot of paper and colour tubes....

    It is really hard for someone who don't have a "real" job and a fixed income..

  4. I know exactly what you mean, I just came off of a year long period of unemployment and now I'm only working part time. What I've been trying to do is use up everything I have before buying new supplies. Sometimes I can't always make exactly what I envisioned but what I do end up making ends up being cooler than what I had dreamed up in the first place. I say don't give up. I firmly believe if you keep working at it, do your best with what you have and maintain a positive attitude you will eventually get sales.

  5. Oh, thank you!
    Yes, I will try to stay positive and create something beautiful out of things I already have. But sometimes it is not easy. But I will try!

  6. I enjoyed your hearfelt post. I agree, it is not selling out to make a living selling your work. That is a mindset which feeds into the myth of the starving artist.
    Like any job, you have to plunge in even if you feel you aren't yet a pro. As you find what sells and what your audience likes, you can design and fine tune to present a cohesive and profitable line.
    Best of luck to you in 2011!

  7. Thank you. I think 2011 is going to be a good year!