Every so often the question of what we do as teddy bear artists comes into play. It's a debate that has been raging on for the nearly three decades I have been making bears. We are considered artists and we should be. There is a lot that goes into the making of a modern day collectible teddy bear. Aside from pattern design, there can be painting, sculpting, needle felting and a whole variety of other previously accepted forms of art incorporated into our soft sculptures. We also don't make things that are child friendly as a rule. They are intended for adults to collect the same way they would any other type of items to be displayed and enjoyed. We have fought long and hard to be accepted as artists as opposed to crafters or hobbyists.
On the other hand, if it weren't for the fact that teddy bears were initially playthings we wouldn't do what we do. You cannot deny your heritage and claim that the teddy bear is not first and foremost a toy. Those early bears designed for children also wouldn't be considered child safe under current US laws.
I personally make a "vintage reproduction" style of bear. While I am not outright trying to copy any particular thing and always design my own patterns, it's my goal to evoke memories of a childhood past or a childhood wished for. I like the magic of a time forgotten, when things were created by hand with greater care. I would be lying if I said I didn't have romantic notions of being in the same class as Herr Drosselmeyer, Geppetto, or even one of Santa's elves. Bottom line...I like making toys for collectors.
I belong to a team on etsy that is dedicated to artist created bears and other animals. One of the goals is to get a category specific for Artist Bears and we are being urged to do this by not listing our items in the "Toys" category. Instead we are to list them under "Everything Else." As of this morning Etsy has over 100,000 vendors. Only 397 listings were for Artist Bears. I think it's slightly folly at this time to believe that etsy is going to give us our own category based on those figures. In the interim while I am not that thrilled with listing in the toy category aimed at children's items, I am also not comfortable with the idea of listing under the everything else category. Ebay has set a precedent years ago with this category as it being oddball stuff like ghosts in a jar and selling your chest for ad space. That is not the image I want to convey or be part of. While I am sure that's not what's in the etsy category, ebay has had an influence on that type of site and how certain things are perceived. Also when I would just look at etsy I would automatically go to the toy category to search for bears if I went by category at all. It's the logical conclusion based on what they have.
I propose what we should be pressing for is a "Collectibles" category instead. I believe esty would be more ammenable to that idea. That would narrow the range, but yet include a lot of people who are left wondering exactly where to list their items. If you are one of these people, a friendly little letter to etsy suggesting this might further the cause. If you choose to do that, I would like to thank you in advance for you time! I am going to go write my own letter suggesting this very thing right now! Have a lovely day!