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No quote, back to the original topic, taking off of some of the
I believe it was Barbara who mentioned "us vs them", though she's
certainly not the first. I especially liked somebody's reference to
"the file pushers". That's real useful. There is, of course, no us
and no them. We have met the enemy and he is us.
I'm going to write with "you" just because it's easy to do: "Any
resemblence to actual people, real or imagined, is coincidental".
Here's the deal. I read some 20 years ago in a JCK analysis that
jewelry which calls itself "art jewelry" had around 2% market share.
That market has been steadily shrinking since then, so it's
considerably less, now. That's just a statistic, like it or not, but
the question is Why? I can feel people looking for a reason to
become offended, but hang in there....
So, you went to University or Art College and they taught you how to
solder and etch and all sorts of cool stuff, and after some 40 hours
of actual work - it doesn't mattter if it's 8 or 80, it's still only
two weeks work at making, maybe a month, they kicked you out (OK,
they laid garlands upon you and rose petals at your feet :-) and
proclaimed you an artist/metalsmith.
My quick assessment is because you all get it, and I don't want to
write a book. What you learned is a genre, which most of us call
"University Jewelry" It's typified by certain characteristics that I
won't list here, but make no mistake, it's a genre. And what you also
were at that point was maybe an apprentice, in your skill set. Many
apprenticeships run 6 years, which I could do the arithmetic but
it's like 5,000 working hours. This is background, yes, there's a
So, you hit the gallery and show circuit, because that's what's
available, and maybe you sneer a little at "the file pushers" and
think that "fine jewelry" is a dirty word and how could they ever
know what it's like? Or something, or maybe you don't.
Thing is that none of that is actually true. It's all made up. I can
name 3 or 4 stores ~right now~ that would love to, are aching to, are
dying to show your art. The problem is that you don't know how to
make your art with any real facility. That's the point - it's not
that they don't like your art, it's that they don't like your
~craft~. All you would need to do is actually learn how to make
jewelry in more sophisticated ways, and everything would be hunky
dory. I'm not saying anybody needs to do anything, just that the us
and them line in your mind would vanish. There are flea markets and
there are chain stores selling "file pusher" jewelry.
There are also smart, progressive, intellegent, savvy people looking
for innovative designs that are WELL MADE. It's not the art that
kills people, it's the well made that does it. And sitting there
thinking about "those people", whichever those people you mean, puts
you in a prison of your own devising. You want to get there (if you
do) then go out and actually learn how to make jewelry that's beyond
the ordinary, aside from design. Design without execution is no
better than execution without design. It's not that the world
doesn't want, appreciate or desire your art, and the notion that fine
jewelry chain stores just means you need to get out more.
It's just that you actually need to learn how to make jewelry beyond
rudimentary skills, there's just no getting around it. You'd be
surprised how quickly you can actually become "them" if you just