Sunday, December 19, 2010


electric skein cone done, 9 to go

Requiring creativity in my life on a daily basis, I chose to become a weaver as my career many moons ago. I love being a weaver. I love working with threads every day. I love it when people buy my textiles and choose to bring them into their lives or the lives of their loved ones. I love teaching and writing about weaving.

There are many things - just like in every other job - that I don't much care to do. But they are things that must be done in order to realize the larger goal of working with thread and textiles as my career.

There are also consequences of being a professional creative person that I don't much like.

One big consequence is financial.

Let's be clear. I'm not independantly wealthy. I am not married to a wealthy man who can support his wife in her creative pursuits. The income I bring in to the household is needed.

It's the same for other creative people. For every Dan Brown there are thousands of writers who aren't getting huge contracts for their books. For every Jon Bon Jovi there are thousands of musicians who are just scraping by. For every Robert Bateman there are thousands of artists who can barely afford to frame their paintings.

Now I am better off than some creative people I know in that I do have a partner. To make it on your own with no other support must be incredibly challenging. It's hard enough with the two of us, and that Doug is supportive in terms of driving to shows, helping with show set up and sales and making/maintaining tools. To do all that all by myself - well, I just don't know if I could.

People who don't understand the life of a creative person have no understanding of the sorts of things that go on in the background. I have done the local high end craft fair for over 30 years. So often people walk by and comment "Oh, you're still weaving? Well, how nice you have something to keep you busy."

It's all I can do not to grind my teeth to powder. Busy? If you consider that for many years I worked 60 hour weeks, 52 weeks a year, oh yes, I'm keeping busy. :}

People who don't understand what is necessary to keep a creative business going tell me that I am successful. Well, to a certain value of success, yes, I suppose I am. I'll never forget the day Doug's step-mother commented that Doug and I were rich. I told her that if by 'rich' she meant that I set my own hours and could take time off to have lunch with her, then yes, I supposed I was rich. But the fact was that at that time we were living well below the poverty level.

Because I travel a lot, people assume that I am wealthy. The reality is that the only time I travel is when a guild (or several) pay my way to teach. Or we drive long distances to attend a show/conference to try to sell yarns, books, textiles.

The reality is that we sold just enough product to cover the show expenses in Vancouver - notice I say show expenses, not the cost of the materials or the time Doug took off from work, using his holiday time to cover his time away from work. Not my time away from the studio. Not my time to make the product.

But we made some valuable contacts at the show which may (may!) bear fruit in the future.

Craftspeople and farmers - the most optimistic people on the face of the earth. Next show, next season, will be better.........

So why do I do this if it's so challenging? The reality is that I can't not be creative. And face it - after so many years of being self-employed I'd be the world's worst employee. You want me to show up, every day, on time, with a smile on my face? Ain't gonna happen! Because the only place I want to be is at a loom...


Sandra Rude said...

Hear, Hear! No truer words were spoken. Making a decent living as an artist (in any medium) is nigh unto impossible in this economy. And as you say, getting by without a partner/helper, truly impossible.

Anonymous said...

I could have written all of that myself - every bit, including the weaving, applies to me too! Well said. My favourite is when a couple come up to your stand and the husband nudges his wife and in a stage whisper says 'you could do that'. Priceless. Bev

Kelly Casanova said...

This totally resonates with me, great post, thank you!