Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Textile design: hobby, business, and is it worth it to you?

Value is such a slippery thing. Recently I've seen a couple of posts regarding value and success in terms of turning your hobbies into money-making ventures. I pondered and thought I'd put what I think down on paper.

Melissa Averinos of writes a thoughtful post in her blog and it's worth a read. Read her blog post here For me it's eye-opening in a good and bad way. I'm totally lucky to have had some successes and realize it's a long road to designing self-sufficently.

How do you judge whether you're good enough to be successful in your artistic ventures?

I design at I've had a moderate amount of success; I count that success in a couple of different ways. Here are my many measurements. Your milage may vary.

Sales: Nothing beats a sale to let you know someone out there can see a use for your design and clicks on the Purchase button. They don't have to buy but they chose that particular design to come live in their home. I love the idea that my design is out there in the world.

Comments: Comments from people who are not designers and comments from those who are; the timbre of the comments is important and what they don't say is important. Other than sales, this is an important feedback tool.

Favorites: Like it enough to be inspired by it or marked so maybe if the right project comes along this design was good enough for someone to mark as a fave.

Contests: I've entered a lot of contests. I count it as a success if I'm in the top 20%. I'd probably stop entering if I consistantly fell below that percentage. It's a great feedback tool too.

Personal satisfaction. I get huge satisfaction from creating, and creating something that others like is pretty nice validation. It makes me happy to create.

I'm extremely lucky that I won a Connecting Threads design contest. My collection of fabrics will debut in about August. I'm excited and impatient to hold that fabric in my hands. I expect when I get my samples I'll be estatic. I'm already so happy I regularly do a hop, skip and a jump for no discernable reason...but I know the reason. bwhahahahaha. It's ok if strangers think I'm a bit of a nutcase.

Now does any of that mean I can quit my day job? Nope, unfortunately it doesn't. Do I dream of that? Yes. What I'd really love is to have my day job be designing - whether for textiles, cards, websites; whatever allows me to create something. I'd still do my designing at night; to give more freeform designs a chance to live outside of my brain (where sometimes designs cook for a long time!). Can you hear those ideas simmering?

All of these things are valuable to me, they're all measurements of success. Add them all up and the internal value of creating is priceless. The external value is a huge bonus on top of the internal value. I'm happy creating, I've got extra happiness when I get money so I can exchange that for goods and services. Win. All of it is worth it to me.

If only all day jobs gave you tasks that always made you fulfilled. Each person doing that which gives them the optimal satisfaction. Now that's a big dream. Dream on!

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