Sunday, February 18, 2007

To Niche, or Not to Niche, That is the Question

Water in the Dasani bottle, "It Ain't Necessarily So" performed by George Winston on iTunes. It is Day 3 of the Buyer's Market of American Craft. Yesterday and Friday were both slow for me--not great news, but not unusual for for me for this show. I was confident that today would bring the orders streaming in. The day is now half over and I have had one order from an existing client and nothing new... Hmmm. Should I be worried? On the other hand the Jewish Museum of New York has asked me to design some menorah for them to carry. And I had a gallery owner from Orange County who might want me to do sugar and creamer boxes (no lids) and a vase (essentially a tall box with no lid) in Pop Art. These projects both have the prospect of being fun, if not necessarily lucrative.

This show brings out my tendencies towards reflection and contemplation. I think all the should-I, would-I, could-I thoughts. I am simultaneously humbled and validated by the art around me, and appalled at the callousness of some of the other artists. Clearly their grandmothers were not like my grandmother and the whole "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all" edict just passed them right by. I can honestly say that I can find something good to say about everyone's boothes or work. maybe not both, but all I need is one nice comment and I'm done. It might be damning with faint praise, but at least I am not slashing bloody strips and leaving viscera to dry on the floor. Why bother with the viscera exposure? There is no need to state the obvious and it is much more rewarding for everyone if you make the effort to find the kernel of good. I wonder about the ego of the of the person able to so cruelly dismiss another's efforts. And I am forced to wonder what they are saying about me behind my back. And I dread the release of the book (and my exposure to the cruel world) , and I stall on the copy-editing review.

Part of the problem with the book right now (post copy-editing) is that the edits are so damn perky! No, this *isn't* my voice anymore. It is not darkly sarcastic enough--and as I just got through saying that I don't really see myself as predominantly darkly sarcastic, that's saying a lot! I asked my editor today about the edits she made and did she try to give the projects all the same detail and feel. She said no, she mostly put them in the style of the publisher. Oh dear. I delay reading them again.

And tonight are the Niche awards. Part of me says, "I'll never win. It may be my best piece ever and it may hold up well to all the other pieces in my category for artistic merit and technical excellence... but I'll never win." That's the part of me which does not believe that the prizes will be given for merit alone and that there will *always* be additional factors which determine the actual outcome. Which is not to say I think my piece is the best and I should win. Really. I want to, but that's a different story. Maybe it's just a human failing that looks for easy (and not my fault) reasons for why I didn't win. So I'm a bit petty and not perfect. I can live with that.

After the awards I will be joining friends at Morimoto for dinner. The reservation is for 7:30 and that's when they are all going. I will be at the awards alone, grumbling that I could have been celebrating life with friends instead of having my hopes dashed again.

I know! I'll think of it as celebrating the achievements of the people who do win! I told you I could always find something good to say....

6 comments:

andrea said...

Well,let us know what happened either way! I've been thinking about you off and on all evening.

One of the hardest things for me about becoming a fulltime artist was discovering how snarky other artists can be. I'm not sure why it was a surprise...people were snarky in the web design world,they're snarky in academia. I guess I assumed artists are happier and therefore have less reason to pick on each other. THAT was naive of me. Jealousy is rampant and it can get truly ugly. Snide comments are INTENDED to make you feel bad about yourself and doubt your work. Holding back because you fear criticism is giving in to the jealousy of others. I've done it myself, so I know what I'm talking about. I don't put myself out there as much as I really should. When your book comes out, there will be people who'll think "why her and not me?" but that's not what they'll say...at least not out loud. If you do hear negative feedback, keep in mine the unspoken subtext, and try to realize they aren't worth listening to. They really aren't.

andrea said...

PS Typo alert -- You could keep in mine, or in mind. You know, whichever you prefer.

Anonymous said...

Also remember, they are probably jealous that they didn't write it first. Artists have a bad habit of saying I did it first, hers is just a copy of mine. Even when they know that they couldn't even come close to to making the object. Chrissie has had several people copy her work or displays and then turn around and say to others that they were their designs. It is really a sort of flatterly. Remember that what goes around comes around. Besides, who cares what others think or say. You are above all that.
MONYMAN

Bill Paley said...

You're taller than they are, and therefore they'll try to tear you down. Don't give in to despair; in that path lies the Dark Side...

ren said...

yep yep. i know what you mean. i am not a pro and never will be, but i am terrified of what they will say about me. and then i think..."ah, screw them." and i walk on by.

terribly jealous of you though. i want to go to morimoto! good food, hot chef. what more could you ask for?

good luck, even though you don't need it, you have talent and skill...luck is just a decoration.

Brenda Griffith said...

Thank you all for the lovely comments and support. I *am* a winner even though I didn't win! (LOL)