Saturday, March 30, 2019

Selling Blue Skies


Just a bit of musing: The American culture is one that values the individual in ways other cultures don't. That's not to say we value him/her more, but we value the individual differently.

In our culture we seem to bend over backwards to not fold the individual into the group. That gets expressed in various, sometimes ironic ways.

To a much greater degree than other cultures, we seem to have more difficulty accepting the "anonymous craftsman" concept. Sure, the phrase became popular in the 50s and 60s, but ironically, it is the artist/craftsman America that may have adopted it the least.

I had a conversation with one of the fellows who founded the immensely successful Rock Hard Pottery.  The conversation circled around the conflict going on back then in the art fair world between the individual artist/craftsman and the studio potteries.   The art fairs quite often had restrictions against production studios. The art fairs wanted potters who produced and sold their own work.

This fellow potter was observing that this kind of restriction – this sense that there should be some sort of distinction made based on the process by which the pottery was created – was almost uniquely American.  Everywhere else (especially Asia where the finest pottery the world has ever known has been made for millennia) the notion of such a distinction by means of production is almost unheard of.

And as the discussion went on both of us observed from our own art fair experiences that it has quite often been the case that some of the very best pottery sold at art fairs was the result of potteries that employed numerous anonymous craftsmen to produce the work:  Bill Campbell, Deb Vestweber, Rock Hard Pottery were just a few that sprang immediately to mind.

Meanwhile, though the American craftsman has been loath to accept the anonymous craftsman (as the art fair rules would indicate), the American corporate world adopted it wholesale.  The individual is subsumed into the machine as but a cog in getting things done.

And time and again -- just as the art and craft world of everywhere else in the world demonstrated -- the specialization of anonymous craftsmen actually led to superior products. And with ego in its proper house, the community was better served.

Many of us (myself especially) had trouble accepting what we perceived as the meaninglessness of serving another's creative vision.

But some of us still perfected our craft in some sort of apprenticeship situation -- again, subsumed to another's vision.

But we're learning the hard way that things created by anonymous craftsmen serving another's creative vision are producing work that is in many intrinsic ways superior to our own.

We, meanwhile, are finding creative ways of selling our stories in lieu of that intrinsic value. Others are finding ways to stay ahead of the creative curve.

We're all just finding our way
No matter how much pushing and shoving
We're all just finding our way

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