Friday, October 29, 2010

Why create?

Why? Why create?

I ask myself this question quite often.

Most of the time the answer is for distraction or relaxation.

It's never been for money with me. Probably never will be.

Creating for money
The thing about "creating" for money, (well there are lots of things about "creating" for money, but I’ll just mention the main one for me) is the issue regarding return on investment.

It’s pretty simple. The return on investment (ROI) has to be equal to or greater than the investment.

For example, when I created the drunk trunk, I had to prep, paint, decoupage, and polyurethane the thing. It was at least 20 solid hours of craft work. Then include drying time for the paint and polyurethane -- 24 hours per coat of paint (2 coats) and 72 hours for polyurethane. Then there is time for touch-ups, final reassembly, hardware, etc.

Let's not forget to add the cost of materials -- trunk, paint, irreplaceable ephemera items, polyurethane, paint brushes, and the list goes on.

If I charged $10 an hour, I'd be at $200 just for the initial 20 hours of craft work. It's been listed for $150 on Etsy for almost 2 years now. I’m sure there are many reasons that it hasn’t sold. I’m also sure if it was much cheaper, it would increase the odds of selling.

But why would I want to do that? To save the world with cheap drunk trunks for all? I think not.

In this case, after adding up the dollars-per-hour and the material/overhead cost, it is clear that the ROI is nil on this creation.

But does that mean that I should not have created it? No.

The drunk trunk sits in the corner of the guest room and does its job just perfectly -- holding everything an overnight guest would need.

But how many drunk trunks can a person make for them self? Two was my limit.

So why? Why create?

To fill our own homes with trunks and paintings and knitted scarves? No, but that's where I'm at now.

To give away as gifts? Good idea -- in theory.

Creating for others
This is another thing about “creating.” Gifting a personalized original creation to an unsuspecting recipient is always awkward and usually borderline gut-wrenching for me.

I’ve given it up.

There is nothing worse than spending hours pouring over a handmade gift for a loved one -- the whole time thinking how this creation is perfect for the person and will be the COOLEST.THING.EVER. --  just to end up with no acknowledgment of the gesture at all.

I would rather hear, “What the fuck is this pile of shit!?!” than silence.

Silence is like a loaded gun.

I've gotten some of my best feedback on a painting from an eight-year-old. Kids are awesome because they don't associate guilt with honesty yet. There is no filter. It's refreshing. Now, everytime I look at that painting I see what she was talking about and want to make the change.

Initial reactions
So many times I've watched the look on people's faces as I show them my crafts and it's a pretty interesting observation in interpersonal communication.

Their faces will show the immediate first reaction - smile, grimace, confusion (this one is popular) and then almost immediately it's wiped away and replaced with a look of social anxiety. The anxiety of giving an opinion - committing one way or another. Feeling guilty that if their honesty doesn't please me, that I'll be upset.

But I won't be upset about how you feel about it, I'll be upset if you can't be bothered to feel anything about it.

My dad has a great non-committal way of showing interest. He looks, observes, acknowledges. He exclaims, "Neat!" and then throws a handful of roasted peanuts in his mouth and chomps away. (It's funny how the peanuts always magically appear at the perfect time.)

But this is fine with me because at least I can see that he took a moment of his life to look at mine and that means a lot.

So why? Why create?

Well, I had a breakthrough recently -- or at least I am closer to understanding why.

I was meditating the other day and I tried to pull up an image in my mind that represents the love that Jason and I have for each other. I couldn’t think of an existing image in my head to fully represent that love.

So then I started to create one in my head. The layers and lines laid themselves out and the color filled itself in.

I had to CREATE this image. I had to get it out. I had to see it in real life.

I looked through the arts and crafts materials I have on hand.

I chose my weapons and my medium -- water soluble oil pastel crayons, paint brush and 140lb watercolor paper.

I sat down. Time stood still.

I created the most beautiful thing I’ve ever made -- because it is beautiful to me.

And now every time I close my eyes, I can bring up this image and it makes me warm and happy. And that is the best ROI that I could ask for.

So why create?

I create to project my visions into the real world of things that make me feel good.

Maybe you'll enjoy it, maybe not.

That’s okay because it’s not for you, really, it’s for me.

And that's why I create.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Grams thinks the postcard of your vision of love is wonderful. She has it sitting on the table where she eats. I'm sure she glances at it with love and feels the warmth with every meal. She probably pats it and tells George "my grandaughter made this."