Selling art quilts/fiber art

I’ve seen a couple of different posts on selling your artwork, mostly discouraged/downhearted, which I am too. People don’t value the time put into a handmade piece. Here’s another post about selling artwork, from Lisa Call. Be sure to read the comments too. There were two main points that I took away from a quick scan. One, we need to develop a larger audience (larger as in more than just other quilters) in order to sell our work. Two, we need to value our work appropriately; selling work at rock-bottom prices does no one any good.

Lisa also wonders if we are wasting our time, and should we just start painting? Me, I can’t paint, so that’s not an option for me. I’ll keep on stitching, because that’s what I love. I don’t care if my work sits in the cedar chest until there is room on my walls for it to hang, and I don’t care that when I die it will probably all go to the transfer station. I love my work; I love seeing other peoples’ work. I would buy more if I could, and in the meantime, I am super happy to trade with people. And if it doesn’t endure, perhaps it shouldn’t. That’s not my problem, because I will not endure either.

There are very few people that make a living from their art. If you probe below the surface of most of them, they teach or have a day job to support themselves. And if they do make a living from their art, they have a defined market that they sell to; maybe one they’ve defined themselves or one that has been defined for them, such as the tourist trade. It’s really hard and it’s a lot of work to develop your own market!

I know that I could sell my work, if I chose to make about a dollar an hour (or less) for the time I put into a hat. I always say no, when someone asks to buy a hat. As soon as I say I want $300 for a hat, you see the understanding bloom on the person’s face. There is NO WAY someone is going to pay me for the amount of time that goes into a hat. And no one gets them for gifts either (not the really crazy ones anyway), because there is too much of me in them. It’s also been suggested that I could farm out the work to the Chinese, and just do the design work. NO WAY am I going to support that kind of labor market! Someday I hope to take some hats to San Francisco, Los Angeles, or New York, and try to sell them there. But it will have to wait until I’m not working full time, and I have the time to make hats on a regular basis.

In the meantime, I’ll just bop along making what I want to make, trade pieces with other artists, and sell a few little things along the way. And maybe someday I will sell in a gallery, or at some major art fairs, and that would be cool. Until then, the sanity that each piece produces for me is enough.

The perfect quote:

Better to write for yourself and have no public, than write for the public and have no self.
Cyril Connolly
found at Inspire Me Thursday – August 2, 2007


One response to “Selling art quilts/fiber art

  1. Thank you for your letter and for your site. I am busy browsing and learning about blog sites. I understand how you feel about your work, especially all the effort and time that goes into it. Its almost like having a child that you have from a baby then watch it grow and then have to leave home.
    Good luck with your future and may you find the market you deserve for your craft.
    Bright & Beautiful

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