Saturday, February 23, 2008

The Quest For Cute

It's one of those nights that most people find kind of gloomy. There are storm clouds that give the sky that stark, greyish-purple bruised look against the black sillouette of the barren trees. But ever since I was a kid I found those nights magical and full of promise. We need to have storms so that we can experience the calm that follows. But I like the storms too sometimes.

About a million or so years ago when I first began making bears, our world was a different place. We didn't have the internet and all that it entails and so to sell bears we had to get out of our houses and go to shows and signings and teach classes and interact with each other face to face. While the internet certainly has some merits and you can reach a larger audience, I miss the human interaction. Apparently certain members of this new breed of cyber artists consider me a fossil for that line of thinking. I in turn consider it sad that they have never experienced shows, and that idea isn't as antiquated as they might think. They have no idea what they missed or the camraderie and true friendships that were formed at those shows.

In the beginning of shows people were more concerned with the love of the bear more as a toy rather than an art form or scoring a collectible from so and so because they happen to be the hot artist du jour who is selling their pieces for very high prices. So it was not uncommon for collectors and artists alike to bring members of their collections to share at conventions. Sort of like a grown up show and tell. You were encouraged to touch and hug their bears and they were encouraged to do the same to yours. It was fun! We don't seem to have as much fun anymore because people are so caught up in the politics and worrying that what they say will be taken wrong and offend someone since it's all said online and no one really has any understanding of each other.

The Kansas City show was always one of my favorites when it was put on by Bill Boyd. It was a fun show, the atomsphere was jovial and light hearted and everyone always had a good time. It was really well attended by collectors. At that particular time I was going through a change when I had decided that I wanted to make very serious bears.

Now I don't design patterns the way most of the rest of the world does it. I don't use a formula for ratio or any type of template and add the seam allowance after. I simply sit down and draw it out freehand. BUT it has to be perfect. So when I want to design something new or different I have to make it from start to finish over and over in my head for about two weeks before I sit down and pick up a pencil and paper. I am sure you're scratching your head and wondering why I would do that when there are easier ways. I don't have an answer, it's just how my process works, and I can't seem to do it any other way.

At that KC show there was a really fun couple who collected bears together. They would arrive at the show every year with a vintage baby carriage that had a bell and a supply of poptarts and it was always FILLED with bears that got to come along to the show, and each one had a story. I am not going to mention their names just out of respect for their privacy, but if you attended that show you will know right away who they were. I always looked forward to seeing them because they were such fun people!

On this particular year I was lamenting the fact that I couldn't make "serious" bears over dinner, they always turned out cute and I couldn't understand why I couldn't make that serious bear face. They both just stared at me for a minute until I burst out laughing. He said; "That's why!" We all laughed harder after he said it!

As time progressed I did learn to make that perfectly old looking serious face that I wanted and I have sold thousands of very serious bears since then. But lately I have been wanting to make something that is more "cute." The thing is after all the years of making serious bears, I am not sure I know how to go back to cute. I am not sure the bear world IS cute anymore, and I am not sure I am cute how do I find cute inside me now? Surely there is a latent pool of cute waiting to be tapped?

I want to make a little chibi style bear, and I have been obsessively making and adjusting and remaking the little thing inside my head now for about a week. I've also been making some mermaid boxes in there over the past week as well, but those are are ready to brought from my brain into reality tomorrow. (Stay tuned for the pics.)

I am not sure why I want to do cute all of a sudden, what does it say about me? What does it say about this part of my life? Maybe I am ready for a little less seriousness and want to move on to some fun kind of like the calm after the storm...

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