I know you're probably surprised that I am making another post so soon after my last two, especially when I am probably jumping from the fire into the frying pan here. But I have had one of those storms in my brain all week that clearly was leading me along a path, and it's finally come to a head. (Pun intended!) I think in the long run despite all the people who read my Etsy post, I have learned the most. I also think that sometimes my subconscious is far wiser than my conscious.
When I was in my teens and twenties I had this uncanny ability to pick the next big fashion trend. I was always the first kid on the block to have the latest thing when people were still in the "eww" phase right before they embraced it and wanted to be wearing that hot item. By the time they embraced it I was off on the next thing. As the years have rolled by I have lost that ability, I think it's because I found my own style and don't care what the current fad is as long as it works for me and makes me happy. Sometimes that involves something trendy because I like it, and sometimes it doesn't.
Fads and trends extend further than the fashion world though. Lately I have heard the phrase "Cafe Culture" bandied about quite a bit. In a weird way something impersonal as the technology of computers have brought us to a point of where we want to be more social and intimate even on a business level. Now if you're an artist you have always been a part of cafe culture to a degree, because we interact on a more personal level with our customers. But it seems as if lately everyone wants to get intimate in the way you would if you were chatting with a pal over coffee.
Things like blogging and Twitter and yes even Etsy have upped the anty on that a little bit. For some reason people aren't happy just buying something they like that catches their eye, they want to know the person who created it on a level that is akin to being their friend because it makes the item more special in some way. They are more interested in the biography of the creator rather than the history and motivation of the piece. If you come off as charismatic that can work for you, if you come off as abrasive it can work against you. I am not really sure which I am at this point. Maybe a little of both. *Shrugs*
One thing that I am certain I am is a magazine reader. I really love magazines. A lot! In recent years the Somerset brand magazines have practically dominated the craft scene. They are expensive, but the paper is high quality, the pictures phenomenal and they are a wealth of inspiration.
One of the publications they put out is called "Artful Blogging." Last year at some point after seeing my first copy of this magazine I posted about it. I was convinced I was doing the blogging thing all wrong. I felt I needed to paint my blog with soulful lush images and words, the way one would paint a canvas. The people featured in it are portrayed as being unique, artistic and as having a way with words and images that makes them stand out. I secretly dreamt of creating my blog as a work of art and wanting to be featured in the magazine. While I do agree that with the last two, lately I am starting to have my doubts on the unique part. I have noticed that all this uniqueness is presented in a certain same way that makes it the current trend that many are jumping on board to do.
Many people have been trying to capture that quality in their works because they want to emulate what they see and be cool and trendy too. I would imagine they feel it will increase their popularity and traffic and thus sales. I have been thinking for a while I should do that too. But tonight I was smacked upside the head with one of those big ole mental bricks that I toss at myself when I start getting these kinds of thoughts. I wondered why do I want to fit into this mold? I admire and appreciate that type of thing and if it's who you are then you should do it. But it's not who I am. I can't photograph a close up of part of a worn out shoe with a bird sitting in it wearing a rhinestone bracelet around it's neck and write an ode to it that sounds insightful and avante garde in a way that makes people look at shoes, rhinestones and birds in a whole new light and want them desperately because that's not my perspective and it wouldn't spring forth from the depths of my soul. (To the best of my knowledge, I never saw a pic like that. It was an example, so I am not singling anyone out.)
I have determined today, that this is probably another reason I am not popular on Etsy. They tend to favor people who photograph their work in that style. But enough about Etsy for one week. The trouble with trends and trying to fit the mold of the current thing that is popular is that we become dissatisfied with what we are already capable of and we doubt the style we have already built up. We discount what earnestly springs from our heads and our hearts because we don't think it's good enough. Sometimes this can be a growth period, other times it can cause people to stagnate by trying to do something that isn't true to their nature. Another type of fallout is that people really like the current thing and in trying to emulate it they copy someone else and over saturate the market with it until people get sick of it and move on to the next trend where the cycle starts all over again.
We get smart about developing our own fashion style at some point in life, so why do so many of us forget that we should stay true to our own style in our other areas of life? I think it's important to remember that we need to believe in ourselves...our TRUE selves, what we are about, who we are, and how we want to express that. I will probably never fulfill that secret dream of being featured in Artful Blogging, because I am too wordy and don't post enough original, stylish pics. But I will rest easier tonight knowing that I make what I make and conduct my business the way I do because it's who I am and I woke up today realizing I don't have to fit into any type of mold.