Sunday, December 20, 2009

Do You Know Me?

I've been thinking about this post for days -- months, actually. It's one of those soul-seeking sorts of blog entries, an introspective "take a good, long look" posts, and I wonder, how many of you have had the same thoughts?

I started making jewelry back before Zack was born, when I was on a short period of bed rest. I played at it, but quickly got hooked. A move to a new house and a new town and then a new baby squashed that hobby for a while, and it wasn't until about a year later that I dug in with any real seriousness.

Over the past five years, I've learned a lot. I've learned most everything on my own, making a ton of mistakes along the way. When I look back at what I made in the beginning....

Well. Um. Hmm. I guess it's safe to say, I've come quite a long way.

But not nearly far enough. Not in my mind. I want to Be Known.

Just reading that sounds horribly narcissistic, but let me explain. And maybe, at the end of this post, you'll understand what I mean.

Once I figured out how to make decent jewelry, I started the juried craft show circuit with a vengeance. Most years I did 15-20 shows a year, and the shows were mostly 3-day shows. That translates into having to create a LOT of jewelry in a condensed period of time. I wanted to try all these new techniques, but where was the time? Even though I am a full-time jewelry designer, I'm also a full-time mom and wife.

At first, it was all a rush, selling things and making things. But then this nagging thought kept pecking at my brain - did people buy my jewelry because I knew how to pick out pretty beads (that someone else had made) rather than because of the design?

More and more, this has bothered me. I love supporting other artisans by buying their amazing glass beads, but unless I step it up a notch, I'm never going to make a name for myself. Yes, I've been published in magazines, but that's not from their noticing ME -- it's from me sending in a huge number of emails with photos in it, and getting a lot of rejection letters in the process.

I have talked about this recently with another designer friend of mine -- that never ending quest to get noticed, to make a name for ourselves, wondering how others do it. I look at artists I admire -- Stephanie Sersich, Deryn Mentock, Kecia Deveney, Vanessa Valencia -- all who have huge followings. They're also giving and gracious, which I strive to be. I know I'm always disappointed and lose my opinion of those I admire who don't take the time to acknowledge those who look up to them.

(art by Vanessa Valencia)

So what do I do? How do I get noticed in a sea of millions? How do I get the authors of the beading books and magazines to seek ME out instead of the other way around? How do I attract people to my blog and how to do I touch anyone's life, inspire someone to creativity, if I doubt my own?

That's one of the many reasons why I started my new blog, An Artist's Year Off. In order to get noticed, I think I need to set myself apart. Make my own beads. Learn to use the beads I have in innovative ways that don't look the same as everything else. Up the ante with my photography. Something. Wish on a star. I don't know. I'm not going to be like Lana Turner, discovered at a soda fountain.


I've gone on quite long enough. I didn't write this to have commenters pat me on the back or anything, so please don't think that. I'm interested in how you hurdled any road blocks, how you found your muse, and how you reconciled yourself to yes, you ARE an artist.

Thanks for reading.

On January 1st, I'll start writing An Artist's Year Off, my blog that will be a journey into different art media, a search for who I am in the art world. I hope you'll follow it, and start your own!


  1. A good introspective - I know I'm certainly not anywhere near being the kind of artist that someone looks to... and I truly only do what I do because it's fun and it is such juxtaposition to my normally OCD uptight personality that I think it brings balance to my life and I'm a better person for the artistic experience. That being said, of course, I would love to advance my skills and vision to be so much more than what I am - and I applaud you for taking the challenge head on and I look forward to following your journey on the new blog =)

  2. Anonymous9:07 AM

    I am new to jewelry making and got hooked by the lampwork beading bug. Recently took 2 torch classes and realize I have a lot to learn. (it also makes me appreciate what goes into some of these beads!) But I loved it. What I did find is that like any art, jewelry making is extremely competitive and there are thousands of listings and artists! I think at the end of the day, YOU have to be happy with your creation and the process and hope someone else enjoys it as well. Promotion, promotion, and more promotion will get it out there for others to see. And, having a unique signature way of doing something, putting your mark on it, helps too. I look forward to reading more about your adventures!

  3. I think says a lot about you that you are constantly seeking to improve what you do. That you are not satisfied with the status quo and that you are always looking for ways to improve, to learn, to grow.

  4. Lori
    Look at these wonderful responses already. What a great post, Lori. I think you were so brave in expressing the thoughts that many of us are having. I have a really good feeling about 2010 for you...and I hope to be there alongside you on your adventure. {hugs!}

  5. first of all, wow - thank you for pointing me out in your post. i was a little startled to see my name there. believe or not, i feel the same frustration. i work so hard and sometimes i feel it is futile. but happily those thoughts were just reeled in by seeing how my art has affected and inspired you. that to me, is a gift in itself. honestly, i will say, that i tire of seeing the same old artists in publication. even a huge name in the publishing world is stepping out into her own new adventure and she is posting notices on FB about upcoming artist interviews, etc. and guess what? it is the same old artists that we all already know all about! i find that frustrating and lack of vision. i'd like to see someone start searching out artists like us, me, you and the rest of us who have not had the same privileges or "luck" to be noticed. so that is my insight. and i don't think it is too vain of us to want our talents to be rightfully recogniized!

  6. I love this post Lori, and thanks for finding me! I love seeing new comments on my blog, it is such a journey. Wish I had all the answers girl, but it looks to me like you have a great start on what your goal is. Networking, and blog-o-sphere seems to be a huge step in moving forward. Teaching can help as well. Writing the articles, and publishing is another huge networking tool. I look forward to your new blog you're talking about, and see what your adventures are. I'm going through a bit of your "searching" myself, and loving the outcome so far. Be teaching at my first national retreat in Houston, Adorn Me. I look forward to it and meeting lots of new people. Just don't forget to have fun along the ride, and follow your passion. Best to you girl. Riki

  7. Happy to have found your lovely blog :) Adore your work!


  8. so many good questions to ponder. I do not have the answers to any. But I think that the journey as an artist is always interesting ans always worth it, no matter the outcome. Enjoy your great talent and keep creating...

  9. I consider you one of the known artists! But, I understand the need to explore. I'm forced by circumstances to explore other mediums and I'm still feeling the fear right now. I'll be joining you in the exploration! 2010 will be fun!

  10. This is a great post and I enjoyed reading the responses as I believe most of us ask these questions to a certain degree on our journey as a creative person. Some (not all) want to be known and loved for what we do and I am no different. I strive for it but it's only one factor in my creative process. There are so many variables and everyone has there own way of experiencing success. If you look at the history of some of the "known" artists in the jewelry world as we know it, most of them have been working their craft for a long time and have paid their dues. We only see their most recent notoriety and think it was over night. Then there are the hand full of more recent success stories that seemed to have just fallen into notoriety with out trying and we feel a bit jilted. If you read interviews with some of your favorite artists you might find a common thread to their success. For me that common thread is to focus on one medium that you love, be innovative, explore, expand and make happy mistakes into successful art and do it well. One thing I stopped doing was buying tons of jewelry/mixed media magazines because inevitably what I see in those magazines seeps into my work and makes it less "me". I need to have deadlines to conjure up new projects wether it's for a magazine, teaching appointment or trunk show. One last point: When you question what you are doing and the value it has, put things into perspective. It's all relative to your immediate surroundings and exposure. There are literally billions of people in this world that have not been touched by your brilliance, talent and light. Think about that! Billions!

  11. Lori, thank you so much for visiting my blog and for your encouraging remarks. I've been taking photography really seriously for the last eighteen months now, albeit on a part time basis, as I need the day job. It's also extremely competitive and the older you are the more difficult it is to break into. You have to keep your vision fresh and look for beauty in the unexpected. So I guess all I can say is keep challenging and promoting yourself.

  12. thank you for opening that dialogue... i completely understand how you feel... i have felt compelled myself to broaden my horizons, try new things - make it all more 'me'... find out what 'my' thing is... how does the aesthetic come across? and then the time balancing act of family... it can become frustrating as the creative woman/self feels pulled at times... because, let's face it, you need to get into a flow at times... and being called 'mom' every 5 minutes is tough... it's funny, this is going to be an upcoming blog of mine... it's been mulling around for a number of months...
    congrats on the progress you have made - truth be told, my early attempts are very similar to yours! and they sold... but like you i seek to become something different... until later -

  13. Like you my road is littered with mistakes and triumphs that led me to start a blog. There was also the suprise of finding support in the most unusal places but mostly it as been friends like you. Thank you Lori. You are a good person who is as lovely as she is creative.
    Every happiness and success to you.

  14. I think this sounds like there will be big changes for you in 2010. Why not try to change things up a bit? Take classes and practice techniques that are time sensitive. Come up with something that's super creative and let everyone know that you want to stand up and be noticed. Go for it!

  15. Nice post! You have talent, a fabulous attitude and the drive to succeed. That's half the battle.
    Regarding those great artists you mentioned, and that great comment by Robin Dudley-Howes ... Robin is right. Those artists have really worked hard to get where they are. They aren't overnight success stories. I've been fortunate to know Deryn Mentock for 5 years and count her as one of my dearest friends. Her success is the result of talent, hard work, persistence, generosity, and constant study. She never stops taking classes, reading, studying, blogging consistently, and making piece after piece of inspiring art jewelry - always striving to be better. Deryn, as well as the other artists you mention, didn't really seek to "be known" - they sought to be really really GOOD at what they do. "Fame" was icing on the cake.
    I know it's difficult to hear, but don't give up. Keep submitting. Keep creating. Take tons of classes. And believe in yourself!
    I just know you will reach your goal - so I'll be watching your new blog to see what you learn this coming year. Brave girl! It takes guts to take a year off to concentrate on your craft. I'm proud of you!

  16. Well, Lori, I'm coming into this conversation very late, I'm afraid, but still had a bit to say. I think your decision to take some time off is wise and I have a feeling it will yield great things for you. You have a great set up at home for creating your fantastic beads and I think you do need to spend more time in that time-intensive, creative mode.

    Recently I blogged about National Novel Writing Month, and how it's always important for me to force myself to do the daily writing, and how it often takes 15k words for me to get into the zone of writing in my real voice, where it's just flowing. I think you might need to experience something similar with your art: give yourself the time to create and investigate, not worrying about what is "wasted" (like those 15k words); the only way to feel free to do so, I think, is to commit to it. That means taking away the pressure to make your time completely productive, which you couldn't do if you had all those shows to produce for.

    Does that make sense?

    Besides my writing, I would have to say that all my "art" is mostly for myself, even though I do sell some of it on Etsy. I hesitate to call it a hobby, because I'm passionate about it. But, I don't have the time to produce enough to really market it, so I don't have the goal of making a name for myself. Unlike your jewelry, my pillows and things have no wide appeal. I'm pretty happy with where I am. I make enough things to have a small store inventory, and the best perk of it is getting to rub elbows with real artists like you!

    I'm glad you're going to blog about your explorations, and I'm looking forward to do it along with you.

  17. Wow, this was the perfect blog post for me to read right now :)


I appreciate comments! Thank you for contributing to the conversation.