A Question of Integrity

7 Oct

So about my booth in downtown Asheville, at the Woolworth Walk Gallery. I need the booth to at least pay for itself and monthly rent is $45. I’ve been there a month and two cloth pieces have sold.  Both cloths were $45 each. I’m mentioning price because the two that sold were the least pricey pieces hanging. Is that why they sold?–their lower price? And then I’m wondering that since both pieces were part of the “supermoon” series — is that why they sold? And if so, should I continue with this series, at least one/month?  I’m thinking about this and it’s disturbing me. Because…

…because…the thoughts I’m having are alien to me.  Thoughts like, “I think this might have more universal appeal.”  And “Maybe something like this will pay October’s rent.”  I’ve never considered marketability.  Never.  I made/make cloth because I can’t help myself.  But now I’m thinking about paying rent and making one cloth a month that will do that…and this brings up questions of authenticity and integrity.

Actually, it’s this cloth–“Supermoon with Pacyderms” that brought these questions of integrity to the surface.  It’s  VERY different from my previous cloth work.  Perhaps it borders on trite?    And even though it embodies a certain tenderness,  my personal discomfort level with it is still high.

Beth  commented that it would be interesting to see how and/or if my work changes as a result of going public.  I think that’s my concern.  That marketability–to a degree–influenced this cloth.    And even though, for me, there is a heart element with Pacyderms,  I did not want to “show” the cloth here.  Maybe that’s what I should look at–the not -wanting -to- show .  Maybe that feeling holds the answer to this question of integrity and standing true.





26 Responses to “A Question of Integrity”

  1. sue cater October 7, 2014 at 3:51 pm #

    there’s always the buyers perspective when considering all these whys – why deprive someone of a piece of art that evidently caught their eye and has meaning to them – at least enough to pay 45$ for – that’s GOOD!


    • Patricia October 7, 2014 at 5:55 pm #

      Hi Sue. I understand what you’re saying…and I don’t think I expressed myself well in this post. The question boils down to whether or not I’m creating from heart or simply making something that I think will sell. Big difference. So glad to have your input though.


  2. Mo Crow October 7, 2014 at 4:13 pm #

    stay true to your heart otherwise what’s the point?


  3. Deb October 7, 2014 at 4:36 pm #

    What if you run two versions of what you do at the same time? Do small sized pieces of the theme that is selling purely to pay the rent, knowing that is the purpose. Then do a range of the pieces that you want to do , think of them as gallery pieces, and if they sell great. Think of the commercial line as a way to get exposure for your art.


    • Patricia October 7, 2014 at 5:58 pm #

      hi Deb. essentially that’s how the booth is set up. my cloths that clearly are not commercial–and then the one little corner space where i’ve been hanging the supermoon cloths. i like how you phrased this–“the commercial line”- i can picture it as a pathway of sorts, leading traffic into the heart of things. thanks for commenting.


  4. deleted October 7, 2014 at 4:50 pm #

    we’ve talked before about living in the Right brain – by considering marketing, you are in your Left brain. I believe in balance. I don’t think you have to compromise your art – your artful soul trueness – to think about making money from your work. We all have to live and provide for ourselves….and giving your art to a larger community is such a gift to the world.


    • Patricia October 7, 2014 at 6:01 pm #

      you know, your comment rings true for me in many ways. my innate tendency is to see things in a polarized way–this or that. when in fact, all things…ALL things…comprise the whole of it all. and yes, balance. lovely when the center holds. thanks “deleted!” (who are you?)


  5. jstockler October 7, 2014 at 5:02 pm #

    Maybe it would be less complicated to just work piece by piece and see how it goes? Something that works for your booth might still give you pleasure and leave your hands willingly.


    • Patricia October 7, 2014 at 6:03 pm #

      i’m wondering now if part of this conundrum results from the fact that i’m doing a series–a supermoon series. taking the same concept and changing the characters. this approach may be too formulaic for me. too predictable.


  6. grace October 7, 2014 at 6:01 pm #

    there are a lot of answers to the Question and really, all are valid at different moments for
    different reasons. If this were me, the second $45 would be almost what a month of Goat
    pellets costs. Then, there is the $200 for the actual baled feed/month.
    SO. what would I do if i had your space at this Gallery? I would just make cloth. I would
    hope that people wanted what i make. whether it is for the amount of $45 or $150.
    and really, doesn’t Every cloth we make FEED our sense of Cloth Making as a whole?
    The Elephants in this simple cloth are FULL of such a sense of them, the loving touch
    of the two, and the eyes…oh the eyes, which would not be The Eyes that they ARE
    in a more bizzy complex surrounding.
    I don’t know Patricia. But i think it’s too soon to make decisions but time to make Cloths.
    See how it goes. Just keep making. And if someone can look at and love Elephants
    and Moons, then all the Better for the world of both Moons and elephants…all the better
    for the world.
    It’s important to not take all the parts of making and buying…as Sue C said above, it’s
    negating the person of the buyer. that’s not right either.
    i am going to continue thinking about this.


    • Patricia October 7, 2014 at 6:21 pm #

      hi Grace. i was hoping to hear from you soon. i’m getting clearer on what i initially saw as a “problem.” and i’m thinking that the act of framing this as a “problem” was a self-fulfilling prophecy in itself. so. perhaps not a problem so much as an opportunity to clarify need and intention.

      initially, the thread of this thought began with a vague almost non-structured thought i had that went something like “i want to make a cloth that someone will buy.” NOT “i want to make something that i will love and someone else will love as well.” HUGE difference. and when i acknowledged that first thought–when i acknowledged it and owned it, i was stunned.

      and you’re right. every cloth i make, whether it’s good or not, feeds my relationship with clothmaking–i’m actually constitutionally unable to make something i don’t love. so why all of this hullabaloo in the first place?

      wondering how my current state of transition–relocating– plays into this? this afternoon, when i posted, i felt momentarily un-moored. yes.

      but all i need to do right now is to continue with cloth. expressing through cloth. staying connected through cloth. learning through cloth. the rest will take care of itself.

      I AM SO GRATEFUL to you…to you Grace and all of the rest who commented today. sooooooooooooooo deeply grateful.


      • grace October 7, 2014 at 8:55 pm #

        i KNOW this to be true of you, that you are “constitutionally unable to make something i don’t love”. YES. glad you are solid in that.

        i want to sleep on all this and think again tomorrow. These considerations are common to all of us, i think, Me for sure, so
        the looking at it helps me too.
        i so much appreciate your honesty and willingness to “put it out there”. Again, important to me for my own sense of things.
        Sleep well and we’ll Just Go, right? right.
        BIG love,


  7. grace October 7, 2014 at 10:02 pm #

    it’s late. time for me to go to sleep…but Goats out there , running around. I can hear the clicking of their hooves…..Moon still bright. and i look at your Elephants. I hear the word
    in my mind
    and i clicked up closer
    and if you took this cloth, Patricia, to where Elephants live and walked and pressed it
    to the face of the Mother elephant…against her face
    She would know you.


    • Patricia October 8, 2014 at 8:39 am #

      i had such a powerful reaction to reading this. seeing self doing what you suggest…walking up to a mother elephant…and being known by her. the thought of such a thing brought warm tears.


  8. nanacathy2 October 8, 2014 at 4:49 am #

    I love the elephants. If you want people to buy what you make you have to gear what you make to the people who come by, or change the people who come by, maybe it is the wrong location? And maybe the people who come by don’t have much money to buy more expensive pieces. how many bys and buys can I put in a paragraph? Sorry


    • Patricia October 8, 2014 at 5:22 am #

      hi nana cathy. first, i’m really happy you stopped in and commented. thank you. and i’m glad you love the elephants. i think you summed up the whole of this conflict. i do want people to buy my cloth, but i don’t want to create cloth with that in mind. that’s the whole rub for me. i’m working through it–sensing the middle road here where i can continue to put my work out there but be less attached to the results. yes. that’s it. letting go of attachment to results. THANK you for helping me see this!


      • beth October 8, 2014 at 11:48 am #

        Ah… It’s a tough one isn’t it? Selling changes things. And the pressure of that monthly fee must be intense. But I don’t think you have to look at it as giving up your integrity. Maybe just add another filter to look through. Some smaller work to have a range of prices? Some bread and butter type work? Or look for another venue that sells by commission only? But I really love that you were willing to put yourself out there and try this.


        • Patricia October 9, 2014 at 6:17 am #

          I need to do that–find other venues–and plan on exploring those possibilities after things settle a bit more. And I do love your suggestion or perception–to add another of looking– or seeing. it’s so good to be reminded of this, especially when i sometimes get tied up like an old horse with blinders. thanks Beth.


  9. jude October 8, 2014 at 1:33 pm #

    these questions cannot be answered easily. I always have them. the answers are different day to day. if you need to make money, you must consider what you are selling, how long it takes you and who your customer is. If you don’t need the money it is all different. Integrity has to do with need I think. Never be ashamed or unsure about considering how that can work. . It is part of the truth you live, My pricing is not consistent. I do what I can do. It changes and I change with it. I got an email not so long ago. I am selling myself too cheap. I don’t think that is fair to say. It is my work, my life, my heart.


    • Patricia October 9, 2014 at 6:21 am #

      this word–“need”–is popping up constantly these days. asking self “what do i really need–o” a very different question from “what do i THINK i need.” i find your last comment so touchingly poignant–your work, your life, your heart. and yes, your choice to decide about it all.


  10. Dana October 8, 2014 at 4:39 pm #

    This is such a kettle of worms….I, too admire your willingness to face it, and to share your dilemma. The suggestions above are good; my two cents is that practicality and selling out are not necessarily the same thing. Walk the line as best you can and report back. Thank you.


    • Patricia October 9, 2014 at 6:24 am #

      i like that image–a kettle of worms. can you see it? super moon with worm kettle? i’ll give that thought with the moon series. have only been considering animals. why not other life forms? trees, bugs, fish? appreciate your support and advice–walking the line as best i can–and finding it’s best not to stare down at my feet, but to keep my gaze a bit out in front. thanks Dana.


  11. The Fiber of My Being October 11, 2014 at 6:54 am #

    Hi Patricia. so happy to hear you are in Asheville. I live in Raleigh and travel to Asheville several times a year. (just got back from booking our little girl’s wedding at the conservatory at biltmore!) I will for certain stop and see you – and will drop you a note before I come over again. I frequently travel to Asheville to take in the blue-ridge-beauty either via motorcycle or car. I also take fiber art classes over there every once in a while. Asheville is a very unique microclimate of humans. Your art will fit right in – it will. You may want to consider your subject matter – broadening it to include those beautiful blue ridge mountains and pine trees. embrace your surroundings – fog, mountains, moons, pine trees, rocky creeks to appeal to the visitors (and locals). that shouldn’t be a stretch for you as your work is in that direction anyway. maybe try an additional color pallet of earthy natural dyed pallet of blues, greys, greens, etc. Oh, and make sure to go down to the drum circle at the square downtown on a friday night – you will get tons of inspirations there. looking forward to meeting you soon!


  12. The Fiber of My Being October 11, 2014 at 6:57 am #

    such a sweet piece. it speaks to me of a very private, sacred love.


  13. deemallon October 28, 2014 at 9:20 pm #

    It is impossible in my world for the audience/price/selling aspect to be absent, if I am attempting to sell my work. Sometimes, I have tried to ‘trick’ myself into thinking I am making a gift for someone, even if it is meant for a sale, because generally work made as gifts comes out better. I have tried repeating myself – which works sometimes (a successful series) and not other times (beating a dead horse – not even enjoying the cloth anymore, but not even necessarily knowing that). As for time, mostly I try not to worry about how long a piece takes me to make (people often ask and I shrug). Price point really does matter. People will fling $50 around in a way they must consider when spending $200. Sadly, I’ve discovered that some buyers (LOTS of women), will without a second thought buy a pair of $90 earrings at the booth next door, but hem and haw about a vintage sachet with antique lace and Victorian transfer art filled with organic balsam needles that costs $22. Go figure. If it were me, I would want to earn the cost of the space and at least that cost again (and maybe twice) to feel like it was worthwhile. It’s great to be able to put your work out there without having to stand around!

    Anyway, it’s all kind of a mystery, how selling works or doesn’t, and I am not very good at it, but I share your pain.


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