Thursday, January 10, 2019

An Anachronism

Anachronism:  person or thing out of harmony with the time

I am the very definition of an anachronism.  I knew very little about weaving when I chose to become a professional weaver.  It had not been a hobby that grew.  I wasn't trying to sell enough to cover the cost of my materials.

In fact, I realized that the accepted pricing 'formula' of the day of 3 times the cost of my materials would lead to not being in business very quickly.

I also recognized that in order to make any kind of money at all, I was going to have to become very efficient at doing it.  I bought the most efficient equipment I could afford, or borrow to purchase it.

Weaving was not an escape from work; it was my work.

I had to learn how run a business as well as hone my craft - and that included doing market research (what would people be willing to purchase and for how much), manage my finances, discover exactly what it was that I was actually selling (it wasn't my textiles as much as it was my designs and the uniqueness that my personal creativity brought to my textiles), and develop a reputation for producing quality textiles that were worth the price I was charging.

With income from selling textiles being quite cyclical, I also started teaching and tried to balance my life and approach as a teacher with producing inventory for the shows that I deemed worthwhile presenting my textiles at.  Because not all of them bring in the type of clientele willing to pay my prices.

I had to learn how to respond to comments that were less than positive in their nature.  Both in selling and in teaching.

There is no real need for anyone in this day and age in North America to hand weave cloth.  I do it not because it is necessary but because I am offering my creativity - my designs, my colour ways, my approach to creating functional cloth that will do its job as well as I can make it.  What I am selling is myself as a designer.

All of this did not happen overnight.  At times I was more successful than at others.  When ever I wasn't as financially successful as I wanted, I had to look to ways to increase my income.  I wrote for magazines.  Eventually I wrote a book.  Two. 

My income streams were diverse, and at times unequal.  There were times when there was very little in the way of income.  At times it was our only income.

What I never did do, was quit.

Despite the challenges.  Despite the insecurity of income.  Despite negative comments.  Despite the stress.  I tried to figure out another way to make this career work for me.  Being an anachronism in the 20th and 21st centuries.

With 'retiring' from teaching guilds, making a firm decision last summer, I fully expected that my income would decrease severely.  Instead a couple of opportunities have gently strolled into my life and I find myself approaching teaching from a different tangent.  Only time will tell if these opportunities will develop into something long term, or just as an interim while I sort out what the future holds for me.

In the meantime, I have a book or 3 (hundred) to go sign...


Brenda Giesbrecht said...

From one anachronistic artisan to another, I enjoyed this post very much. It is a strange life we lead. Wishing you all the best as your life going on in new and interesting directions.

Laura Fry said...

There are more of us than media would like us to think there are. ;)