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Archive for April, 2019

I just wanted to post a little note I wrote about my thoughts after the Start the Holidays show in late 2017. I’d shared to a group I’m in but realized I’d never put it up here.

As a not-wildly-successful artist/crafts-person, it’s often hard to feel like the things we create matter to others, but sometimes they do, and they matter more than you can ever predict. I do most of my selling in person, at shows and in the shop, so I do get to see the positive reactions by people coming back, bringing their friends over to see my booth or sharing what the stuffie they took home has been doing since it left. That is great, and always brightens my day, but this past weekend I had a couple of interactions that really made an impact and stuck with me so I wanted to share them.

It’s was at my last craft show of the year. It’s a little local one that’s pretty much the only “straight” (non-geeky) one I do. It’s 10 mins from home, in a lovely venue and has a great crowd and reasonable hours so it’s always very relaxed and pleasant to do.

The first was a woman I saw on Saturday. She came over to thank me for helping her son. Now, you have to understand that the stuff I make is strange, which I why I generally don’t do the “straight” shows. I’ve had people be freaked out and quite offended by my altered stuffed toys. (not that they are gory, gross or icky, just the fact that they are on the creepy-cute spectrum is too much for some to handle) My jewellery is all salvage, usually with some usual materials and I’ve always got a few more oddities floating around at my table. Anyway, a couple of years ago, when he was 11, they came by at this show. He is a kid who loves to make things and while his parents are supportive, he was running into trouble with his peers and some other adults since his stuff was also “different”. His mother had pointed my table out and he and I talked a bit about doing stuff that isn’t standardly pretty and how some people are going to react to it and how not to let that limit you. (I honestly don’t remember the details since not dwelling on these sorts of interactions is part of how I deal with my own show anxiety. I work on being open and honest in the moment but then let it go so I don’t end up rehashing things over and over again) She wanted me to know how much I had helped him accept his own work, that he was doing much better and how much she appreciated what my example had shown him. I’m….still working through my feeling about all this, but it was deeply moving to hear.

The second emotional hit of the weekend was a person who had bought a couple of my monsters at a show in the spring and SO excited to see me again. They told me how much they loved their monsters and that I was one of their favourite artists. It was clear that what they meant was how much they appreciated, and needed, having found soft, cuddly comfort objects that felt like them. The mutants may look different, and a bit scary, but they are just right the way they are and lovable. The very first mutant stuffie (a pair of conjoined bears) I ever sold to was to an older gentleman. (and by that I mean well over 65) I had asked if it was going to be a gift and he told me “No, it was for him”. I was surprised, but learned very quickly that I could never predict who would respond to the altered stuffies and how many wanted their own strange monster friends because so many of us feel like we are monsters on the inside. A few years ago, I’d had another customer tell me that I was doing a public service by making things that allow adults to buy themselves comfort objects and it was SO clearly true in this case that it hit me right in the feels.

IMG_8503

small demon bear, 2016

It’s been a difficult year and I’m (still) trying to decide if I want to keep trying to make stuff to sell stuff or just taper it off and this made a whole chunk of the struggle feel like it does have some value, even if it’s hard to see in the moment.

Tldr: I had a couple of people show me this weekend that my weird little creations are doing good out in the world, thus restoring some of my sense of artistic purpose.

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