5 Powerful Keys to Making Your Competition Irrelevant

5 Powerful Keys to Making Your Competition Irrelevant

Jealousy. We have all been there. It does not matter if it is amongst stay at home moms, corporate executives and yes, even artists. There is a time in EVERYONE’s life when you are green with envy over what someone else has. And while I think jealousy is just a fact on every life, I am going to focus today on jealousy in the art scene.

Jealousy can be a good thing in a way. It can fuel action, take your work to the next level, set that bar higher than you would without the challenge. But here is what I hate…the bitterness and even hate when artist become jealous. I don’t know about you but I want to live with as little hate as possible AND to advance and challenge myself to do better work. Jealousy means you are gauging your work against someone else. So today, Fiberista I give you my to 5 Keys to making your competition irrelevant.

Honor what is awesome in other’s work. Let them have their moment without interjecting ANYTHING about yourself. Yes you may have done this before, Yes you may have done it better. So what. This is not your moment, it is theirs. Share in their excitement. Ask questions and LISTEN to what they say. You are being given the gift of seeing something beautiful. Be in that moment of awe and be happy that it happened, even if it was not by your hand. It is just good Karma.

Blue Ocean Strategy. The theory being, rather than operate in an artistic shark tank, competing for the same customers (red oceans) you actually should follow your ideas out into unchartered waters(blue oceans). These ideas are formed by highlighting the differences between you and the competition, and build on those differences. For example, Steve Jobs did this when he designed Apple. He took those differences between his computer and others, amplified the differences, and built on those differences to form more unique ideas. Another example, thing of the differences between Cirque Du Soleil and a traditional circus. Cirque Du Soleil highlighted and built on what set them apart. I might also point out in both cases, these differences were not hamstring by cheaper prices. In fact, these companies are actually able to charge more for their unique offerings. This is all based on a marketing strategy book, called The Blue Ocean Strategy.

Turn down the noise. If you find yourself only looking for your inspirations in other’s work, it is often hard to listen to your own ideas. And especially if you hope to excel in your work, pinning your ideas to another’s pace will eventually limit your growth. Don’t hang faith in your own art on some one else’s path. Sometimes, you just need to detach from the hive mind and go make some stuff. Find inspirations in everyday life, and art journal like crazy.

Be okay with working through bad ideas. Ugly art happens to everyone. But I promise it always leads to better work. It does not make you a bad artist. And it is okay if you don’t want to show any of it. However, I find the most confident artist will show their most self deprecating work bravely. If you are at that point where you are confidently showing your mistakes, I think it is a strong indicator that you are not afraid of competition.

Show your work humbly. Remember when I said to honor other’s work? Eventually it is your turn to show your work. It will be your moment. Despite all the find-your-own-path talk I mentioned in the last three steps, there comes a time when you will have the opportunity inspire others to find their own path. That is where art communities happen. Welcome questions, share information freely and confidently, and encourage others to build their own path through any inspirations they might glean from you. It is okay. Those who copy will find the path short and frustrating. Encourage them past that dead end and into their own ideas. There is no finite resource of creative ideas, there is enough for all. Blue Oceans for everyone.

 

 

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Your Art is Not Your Technique

Your Art is Not Your Technique

Let me clear something up, your art is not your technique. Technique involve process of habit, muscle memory, physical skills of precision. Art involves right brain creative genius being brought into form through your technique. Techniques are just a way to express your art. Your art is your visual language. Technique is craft, visual language is art.

 

Craft vs Art

A quick google search will show you just how common the argument of craft versus art is. And it is true the line between art and craft can get awfully muddy. Some people will argue that art is strictly aesthetic and without function, craft being anything functional. But spend any time in a fine craft community (Like Asheville) and you will see the line is so very muddy. But dive deeper into the stories and ideas behind any fine craft piece and you will see a right brain expressing ideas. Suddenly even the fact a piece of weaving or ceramics, normally considered craft and you are even looking closer to see the art…indeed becomes a part of the visual language in and of itself. Fine craft is that line where craft crosses the line into art. It is art, despite being rooted in mastered craft skills.

 

Copying the Masters

When you master a craft skill that as an artist you find room to focus on where you can add creative genius. A popular exercise for a student learning how to paint is to copy master works of art. It is an exercise designed to learn the literal strokes of paint that will yield a specific visual effect. But of course the student can not call it quits once they copy a painting. They go on to learn how to apply the painting skill to their own ideas.

And there is nothing wrong with just being content to master a craft skill. In fact not all knitters want to go further into fiber art. I can’t blame them, knitting on a master level is crazy hard and an accomplishment itself. But if you find yourself filled with new creative directions as you work, then you are crossing over into fiber artist.

 

Sharing Your Techniques Helps You Stand Out

I have been guilty of this myself. There was a time when I did not want to share my craft process thinking that I would be giving my work away. But honestly, I had to learn my process from someone else as well. And I have even modified that process to accommodate a different look for my work. So like the student painter copying the masters, by doing a process over and over again, with the small tweaks and creative curiosity I moved that technique into expressing my own visual language.

When you share your techniques, you are inviting others to step into a community. It is in community that one can get feedback and challenges to stretch you own creative genius. It is actually in community sharing techniques that you can actually STRENGTHEN your own visual language as you see how it contrasts with others doing similar work. I find in community a drive to explore my own ideas deeper for new directions.

So master your techniques. Be in your craft and observe. You will find your visual voice while you work. Share your ideas, and you will find strength in your voice and inspiration for more ideas.

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When You Just Show Up

When You Just Show Up

Procrastination. I have to admit, I am so freaking guilty of procrastinating in a big way when it comes to making art. Seriously? I love art. WTH am I doing? Why do chose to do laundry over getting into the studio I love, sitting with an obscene amount of great yarn and make stuff? Just freaking do it already. This is nuts.

Here’s the thing. No matter what you are making, when you are using your right brain you are awfully close to your subconscious, emotions, your vulnerable side. And you may never show your work to anyone, but sometimes the act of facing your own feels no matter what they are is just not what you want to do. Facing self judgement, doubt. Jeez! Art is suppose to be fun not pressure.

It is a simple theory really. Sometimes to break through a creative block, you just need to show up. Get into the studio, straighten up, read a magazine. Sometimes just showing up will get the ball rolling.

Having confidence. Whatever you make is fine. Even if it is bad, mistakes lead to better work. No one has to see the ugly stuff. Make bad art on purpose, then the pressure will really be off of you. Who knows you just might stumble onto something brilliant.

Just being lazy? Fine, be lazy. Do it in the studio.

Entice yourself with good snacks and music. Or movies. Whatever gets you to want to hang out in the studio and maybe do some work

Just schedule it. It does not have to be a lot of time. An hour a week might be plenty of time. Or at least a good start. If you need time to set up space (like the dining room table) then schedule time for that too.

In a nutshell, art won’t make itself. The first step to inviting inspiration for that art is showing up.

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Am I good enough to be a fiber artist?

Am I good enough to be a fiber artist?

Yes.

Last month I saw an exhibit of painted and stitched tissue paper hanging from the ceiling. It was fiber art exhibited in a gallery. My lizard brain stood in front of this work gobsmacked, all it saw was colorful tissue paper. My creative brain saw movement color and play orchestrated by exactly what this artist wanted me to see weightlessness and joy. Rather than comparing my work to this artists, I decided I wanted to compare my courage to hers. I want the courage to say, “Hell yeah it is tissue paper…on the ceiling… and I am daring you to reach deeper.”

What if it were a row of socks hanging in that gallery. Or a series of felt patches. Or yarn. Or weaving. Sometimes it is easy for us fiber artists to get hung up thinking what we are making is too mundane to be considered art. But this is the medium where we find creativity in texture, color and form.

Tissue paper…

There is no magic formula to being a fiber artist other than committing to move forward. Even if you were the best fiber artist in the world, you would still have to commit to continue to grow and move forward, exploring new ideas. Growing. So if you are using fiber to express your visual language no matter what that looks like, then you are already a fiber artist.

Good enough is subjective. So commit to strive to make fiber art that you love. Your heart will show through if you are being true to what makes it swell with pride when you make something you love.

So, today is going to be about moving forward with my weaving. How are you going to move forward today? Leave me a comment below.

 

 

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Making Fiber Art: It is all in the details

Making Fiber Art: It is all in the details

Check this out. This is my most recent yarn…

It was made from this fiber I dyed a couple of weeks ago. The first in the new dye space.

So this fiber was a miss mash of mill ends, farm wool, angora from my late great bunnies, and sole roving ends. I could not tell you what breeds of wool was in there. This was in a box and I just needed it dealt with as opposed to actually having to sort it into the organized stash. I did not even bother to card it all together. I just dumped it into the dye pot. It was my first run in the new dye space and I just needed to see if my set up needed tweaking. When I spun it up, I just divided the whole batch in half and set about spinning it up into a mindless two ply I could make while watching a movie and using my espinner.

There is something about the mishmash of subtle textures that is just awesome. Look closely, you can see a sheen from a mixed fiber containing silk, some fuzz from the angora, rich colors where the dye strike was deeper in one type of wool compared to another. There was also a good bit of white in this batch. I know so many dyers hate having white in their batches. I think the white provides a much needed separation in some of the colors. The white also affects the range of values for the colors, adding a lot of depth within the yarn.

Check this Superwash BFL dyed and spun similarly. While this is a lovely even yarn, there is something predictable about every inch of the texture. And there is nothing wrong with that. It is interesting how just the subtle difference in the wools of my recent yarn adds so very much interest was. This yarn was also dyed with no white, and a smaller range of colors that were within the same value.

You can see while these yarns are similar, the subtle differences will affect how I use each skein.

While I love this new yarn and I am all about art weaving lately, I have to admit, I do not think this new skien would be best suited for art weaving. I think the texture would get lost against the warp (I am not a big fan of weft face weaving). There is a lot going on within one skien, so there is not much need to add to that visual language with other yarn. I really would like to use this skien in some knitting. But chances are I will need to add come other skiens to stretch the yardage for a project. Those yarns will need to just amplify what is already going on in this skien, be it a color, of texture. That may be as a compliment or a contrast.

The BFL skien however would be great in some art weaving. It has a subtle enough variegation to make a weaving section to work in concert with other sections and a panel as a whole.

So yeah, for me fiber art is not necessarily about high end materials or even the techniques I use, as much as it is finding the the ways to show off the best part of each material and technique in a whole piece. You kind of have to really get down to the details of your work and how each bit contributes to the aesthetic of the whole. It is really not that different from what you may be doing as a hobby knitter/crocheter/weaver, It is really all about being thoughtful and observing how each of your choices affect your project as a whole.

Want to know more about how to take turn your knitting/crocheting/weaving hobby into honest to god fiber art? I am hatching a new offering. Sign up here to get updates and notices for when these lessons go live.

Check out my art journal and the art it helped me make

Check out my art journal and the art it helped me make

So, today, Fiberista, I have a new video for you.

I was looking through some old posts trying to think of what we would talk about today and I found this post where I shared a video of my art journal. Can you believe that was 6 weeks ago? I have to say, my journal has evolved so much since then. Not just as a work art in and of itself, but in relationship to how much work I have done in the last 6 weeks.

Ever since art school, art journaling has been hands down the best way for me to stay creative, process ideas for my work, and keep details as I work. Here is an updated video of my journal today, and some of the work it has inspired in the last 6 weeks.

I can kind of feel my momentum taking a tiny dip and I really want to keep it going. So I am challenging myself during the month of April to work my art journal daily for 30 days. I am going to post the work daily to Instagram, and will be using the hashtag #30daysartjournaling. Feel free to join in!

 

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