Today I wanted to share with you something that has been on my mind and felt that I wasn’t the only one thinking or feeling this.
I’d like to talk to you a bit about Value verses Volume. And how when our focus is on revenue instead of value and originality we can begin to fall in the trap of mass production, then that turns into people pleasing or performance, which usually stems from a deeper root. It’s a subtle road but it can creep up on us.
THE PUSH IS ON
The holidays are approaching and this can bring urgency, anxiety, loss of focus or plain old exhaustion. Every artist feels that “pressure” or “push” at this time of the year to produce and to produce in mass quantities. Everywhere you turn there are craft or art shows. The race is on to produce and buy Christmas gifts. And if you’ve procrastinated then you are definitely feeling that pressure. Pressure without growth is purposeless. Often times we can be under pressure but it never produces good fruit, just frustration. If this is you - nod your head and say amen. I’ve been there done that. But not anymore. It can feel like a merry go round. Always going around and around but never getting anywhere. The ride is fun for a while but the same old scenery, motion and music gets tiring.
PEOPLE PLEASING- REVENUE AS THE FOCUS
I used to be a “crafter or hobby artist”. Selling at craft shows or church bizarres and I was producing things that I thought people would like. Matter of fact I tried to create everything under the sun in one way or another to appeal to everyone. Trying to “make” money all the while being miserable. I had the skill but not the passion for what I was doing. It wasn’t enjoyable. It wasn’t me. There is nothing wrong with selling your crafts or items at these shows but I want to challenge you to think of it in a little bit different way.
VENDORS AND BOOTHS
Recently I attended a large craft fair. The vendors ran the gamut. From painters, potters, jewelers, woodworkers, leather goods, to beautiful apparel. As I strolled the aisles it was interesting to see what booth caught my eye. I didn’t have an agenda nor was I shopping for anything in particular. But some booths drew me in because of atmosphere and the composition of the materials displayed. Some things I would have never thought to have caught my eye -DID. I stopped and talked to the different Artisans, asked them some questions about how they came to create and what their story was and complimented them on their work. After leaving that day, I look back and thought about the vendors and booths that made an impression on me. Some so much that it drew me in to their booth and some I even purchased product from. Interesting for what you will pay for at a craft/art show as opposed to what you think of paying for something in a “box store”. It’s a mindset! If you don’t see yourself and your art valuable then more than likely, others won’t either.
So what drew me to their booths or art? If it wasn’t a bold statement piece or color then it was the atmosphere. Yep atmosphere. Was it appealing to the eye, did it have an inviting and organized feel for browsing or admiring? Or was it overwhelming with all different kind of products or too many products like a flea market? Was it professionally displayed? Were the people friendly and did they have an inviting spirit or were they sale vultures? I assessed, all of these and thought to myself - that could have been really exhausting if I wasn’t filtering where and who I interacted with. I was drawn to the minimalist booth. The booth that was well staged, the ones that had colorful items displayed well almost museum like, the ones that looked professional-The items and the people. And to the one that the vendor was not acting like a salesman. Art is to be experienced, art is about connection no matter what craft. I needed to observe and experience the art before I knew if I had a connection or not. If I was looking for a piece of jewelry and I was given the option to choose between 10 beautiful pieces or 100 pieces I would choose the booth with ten. How valuable those 10 piece must be and the time it must have taken to create and produce. It’s priceless to the one who created it. I know I feel like that often about my pieces. Pricing our art is necessary but usually our least favorite thing to do. But now that I know my value and the value of the gifts I possess it is enjoyable to put a price on my work.
MINDSETS AND VALUE
It’s time to change our mindsets. Choose to focus on God’s value over volume when creating and producing your art. In America value has a completely different definition. The mammon spirit is rampant in our country. When companies advertise “a good value” its odd that there is a low price attached. Usually “good value” in America means mass produced cheap stuff which has made it hard for us artists to be recognized, or our art to be seen with value and thrive at all in our giftings. This is frustrating. They aren’t seeing us, our gift or art as valuable...It’s unfortunate that a price tag defines a value of a piece. But in the society we live in, it does.
PEARL OF GREAT PRIZE
Think of something that has been given the label of “rare”. It will have a high price on it. Maybe not even be able to price it at all but WE put the value on people, their Gifts and the fruit they produce. It’s true that we are made worthy through Christ and have incredible value to him but the “value” the world defines is different than the “value” our Heavenly Father places on us and our gift. We have to start seeing the value in each other and what they offer. I’m reminded of the parable of the pearl of great prize. The pearl must undergo an intense process of being under pressure in order to become something beautiful. This is not a quick process. Methodical, yes, but not quick. The environment and elements must be right, there are boundaries and a lot of filtering goes on to create this beautiful pearl. Unique, a story of its own, holding incredible value. We know that this was metaphorical but the person who saw the value in it is the one who is willing to pay the highest price.
VALUE TAKES TIME
So back to value over volume...Over the last 6 months the Lord has been speaking to me as I create. Layer upon layer, walking through this process of producing a piece or even a series of great value. He told me that Nothing of great value is produced quickly. That’s unfortunate in our age of instant gratification. Beauty takes time. Refining takes time. Healing takes time. Under the pressures of HIS hand, not mans, do we become and produce a “rare” beautiful pearl of great prize. But we have to understand the process and the purpose in the process. If I just create to create then I’ve missed The whole point of why he gave me my gift to begin with. I’ve had to pull myself out of the flow of the world to put myself into the flow of Him and his Holy Spirit. I’ve retreated to reassess the situation and my focus. We cannot lose sight of what it is He has called us to do. We cannot make revenue our focus. Revenue is the fruit of the other. It is the fruit of our valuable and precious relationship with Him and the pieces we produce with Him. When done in the right spirit, in the right time, our pieces will produces the reward, money.
REALIGNING WITH HIM
When we allow man and the world to dictate our production then we can be put under the wrong kind of pressure and purposeless pressure leads to loss of passion, focus and possibly depression. I’m not saying don’t do work for clients or enter a show, I’m just saying check your focus on your journey. If my focus is to produce volume over value and make a ton of money then I’m not aligning with His thoughts first. He gives us the ability to create wealth and when we align with Him the fruit and funds come.
CHOOSE TO THINK DIFFERENTLY
So release yourself from the pressure and of the demands of the world and begin to take a new approach at what you do.
I don’t know about you but every season is gift giving season. Yes everyone loves to get a great deal on something of quality but that can’t be the aim for our own art.
If we begin to think differently about our art and this journey, then begin to treat it with great value, eventually you will begin to change the mindsets of the people around you. Your sphere of influence. Even just talking about it differently- it will begin to change peoples perspectives. At least I hope it will!
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR ME AND MY ART?
Well this a spiritual journey as much as it is an creative journey. They converge. They are one in the same for me. God is refining my heart and reshaping my thinking with every piece I create with him. He’s teaching me about time with Him, he’s teaching me about Him. He’s teaching me how to be patient in the process. So much so that He’s tempted me to paint with oils.. hahaha. Not sure I can go that route yet. LOL. They take a long time to dry. LOL.
I’m so used to having my hands in the creating process and moving on quickly.. He is allowing me to continue with acrylics as long as I methodically take time to understand the process and learn from it. As long as I let the piece sit and settle before moving on, not rushing the process. And most importantly as long as I stop, rest and SEE that what I am creating with him is good.
So choose value over volume. Value translates into time spent in the process, understanding the purpose and importance YOU place on something. We have to begin to see things of value like He does.
Written by Dionne White