Monday, July 11, 2011

The Artist's Hand: Critical Shopping

Happy Monday!  Lost Coast Post went on holiday this weekend as I took time to trapse around ancient redwoods, chase my darling nephew, and sit in the sun with my parents.  Sweet!  I needed a little recharge time and now, I think I'm ready to face a crazy busy week, full of doctors' appointments, errands, show planning, and Etsy shop business....

I'm also ready to leap back into my July post series celebrating "The Artist's Hand."  As you can see from this shot of my studio, I am surrounded by supplies (and there's a bunch I wasn't able to capture in this single picture as well as another room downstairs devoted to art stuff.)  I keep things super organized and clean but even so, I often feel overwhelmed.  About a year ago, I realized that I had reached my "stuff" saturation point.  Enough is enough; I was ready to prioritize creating over collecting.

It is tough.  The industry is constantly releasing new and tempting goodies.  And let's face it: sometimes it's just a lot easy to shop than to actually make art.  I still buy things from time to time but in order to stay on track, I've become extremely critical about what I bring into the studio.  Here are some questions I ask myself before I make a purchase:
  • Is it essential?  These are supplies that I use up frequently such as adhesives, brushes and most commonly used paint colors.  I keep a master list as I run out of something so that in the store, i can focus on what I really need and not what I want on impulse.
  • Is it a duplicate?  I keep a swatch book of the paints, markers, pencils, and inks I own so I don't buy something I already have.  And if I already have plenty of a particular supply (i.e. brads), I don't buy any more even if I see it presented in a brand new way.  I have learned to make what I have work.  (This is sooo important!)
  • Is it a neutral/universal product or is it pre-determined?  Will it support my creativity or stifle it?  (See last Friday's post for more on this.)
  • Is it a one-shot item?  I no longer buy project-specific supplies.  If I can't use something across a variety of projects, then it doesn't come home with me.
  • In regards to books, does it provide new information?  Books are deliciously tempting but I realized that a lot of the art books out there are repeating the same basic material.  I love to shop on Amazon but I browse the books in the bookstore first to see if the book I'm drooling over online is really worth the cover price.
By getting tough and critically evaluating every potential purchase, I've been able to cut my art supply buying habit by about 90 percent.  Honestly, I have enough stuff to last me years and years.  (What about you?)  I want to my family to inherit finished products, NOT box upon box of raw materials.  When I pass on, I want my heirs to gather 'round my work and laugh and read and remember; I don't want them to have to gather with strangers at a mega garage sale of all my unused supplies....just something to think about. 


Donna, Doni, Lady D said...

Oh so very wise. Agree 200%. I am attempting to do the same. I moved to Mexico without anything, and went a little crazy ordering supplies and ephemera etc. from just about everywhere! ENOugH! I'm now on hold, using what I have and being very grateful. You sound so organized ... want to come over for tea??? :o) donna

Terri Kahrs said...

Too bad you're not "for hire" to help organize studios, Michelle!!! You've no idea how helpful your tips in today's post are. Every time I go out to buy one or two things, I come home with a bag full. Thank you! Hugs, Terri xoxo

Lotus said...

To be honest, I could barely read your post! I was sooooo fascinated with your studio!!!! Wow! It's like a candy store for me! lol!

Emma said...

OMG!!! Twice over and then some! I have to 'fess I thought it was a photo of a shop!! It's just the way everything is so organised and neat and tidy that it looks just like an art supply store - I want mine to look like that :D Love it totally!!!

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