This week's blog post was written by Fiber Artist Sherry Bingaman of Nueva Vida.
My parents were both artists, and all four of their children went into various art fields. My three brothers and I had very interesting childhoods with a lot of craziness, drama, and the usual dysfunction, but most important lots and lots of laughs. In my 30+ years of doing art fairs and teaching art to kids and adults I noticed one thing the most creative people have in common—a full appreciation of funny stuff. Why is it that so many creative people have great senses of humor? In her book InGenius, Stanford Professor Tina Seelig writes "Creative people have apparently mastered the art of turning off parts of the frontal lobes of their brains to let their ideas flow more smoothly, unleashing their imagination.” When you are feeling creative, you tend feel less inhibited and more playful.
I have always tried to find the humor in everything. Life is just more fun that way! I taught art and gifted kids for 19 years, and I tried to inject humor as much as possible daily. As a result, I became pretty accomplished at unleashing the creative talents in my students.
I love art history, but this can be boring to teach. I found the artist series “Getting to Know the World’s Greatest Artists,” by Mike Venezia, to be a terrific way to teach kids and adults about famous artists. If you have not read any of his books, I highly recommend them all. They are full of great information along with his comic illustrations relating to each artist.
So when you are working on a project and feel stuck, stop and try to find the humor. It is there somewhere, waiting for you to discover it and enjoy the laugh!
This week's blog post is written by fiber artist Sherry Bingaman of Nueva Vida.
I have been selling my artwork since I was nine years old when I began hawking my handmade cross stitched aprons door to door to my neighbors. Selling my art was a thrill then, and it is still a thrill now.
I started doing art fairs around 1975 when I lived in my home town of Kenosha, Wisconsin. I began with small local shows and expanded to fairs in Chicago and Milwaukee—Kenosha was smack dab between these two large cities. In 1980, my husband, Jim, and I moved to rural Missouri with our daughter, Kate, where we made our living doing art fairs all over the country for the next 15 years, and it was a fun and crazy time. Another daughter, Kory, was born in 1984, and after ten more years of full-time art fair life, I went into teaching art and gifted, while Jim pursued his passion for computer technology. I still did summer art fairs because I just had to!
Today my passion is selling my fiber art at the Portland Saturday Market and at Artistic Portland. I love meeting the people who buy my work and talking to people who love and appreciate fine art and craft. It has never been a chore to me but rather tons of fun….most of the time. I will say that while the vast majority of comments from the public are wonderful to hear, there are always those few comments that make you cringe—“I am going to ask my aunt to make something like this for me” or “Why does this cost so much? I could make that for a lot less.” You have to have a sense of humor when you hear comments like these because smiling and saying nothing is better for you in the long run than giving in to the temptation to punch their faces.
Over the years, I have learned some tips to consider when selling your art to the public:
Keep a smile on your face: People want to buy something that makes them happier than they are now. They don’t just want your art, they want your happiness. Spread that sunshine!
Don’t think it because they can hear it: They can hear your thoughts, because you are sending out your vibes even when you don’t realize it. Any negative thought you have about yourself or your customer gets communicated to them without saying a word. Give them your peace and make customers feel happy and comfortable around you.
Be prepared with healthy food and snacks: Steady energy and stamina are important to staying positive. It’s hard to be present and positive when you are tired or have low blood sugar. Bring high protein snacks (hard boiled eggs, cheese, nuts) and fruit for some sweets. Don’t forget water! I also must have a small amount of chocolate to keep my mental health at peak performance!
Why YES you love what you make, and “No, it’s not on sale:" You have a passion for your work and no one else is quite like you. Your skills are valuable. Your art is special. This all should not come cheap. If you don’t value your work, how can you expect others to? It is not uncommon for someone to ask for a discount, but you can politely decline with a smile. Don’t get angry or insulted, and let the customer save face. Many artists play the discount game, so you can’t blame them for asking. You don’t have to play this game unless you want to. Just be polite about it.
I have always felt lucky to have a passion for making things. It is my reason for getting up in the morning. Selling my work is a bonus and allows me to make more stuff, so I work at being successful at it. It’s my circle of life!
This week's blog post is written by Sherry Bingaman of Nueva Vida.
I have been thinking about a topic many creative people discuss over and over but on which they seldom agree—“What is ART, and what is CRAFT?”
I have been a textile artist for most of my life, exploring various techniques and media to help me express my visions. I weave, felt, fuse, sew, crochet, knit, collage, papier mache, paint, whatever form I need to use to create the ideas in my head. Is it ART or is it CRAFT? I really don’t know, and I really don’t care. I love what I do, and it brings me great joy. My work is something I am compelled to do or I am sad. I feel lucky to be obsessed like this!
So much of what I have read about ART vs. CRAFT is about how different they are from each other, like comparing philosophy to engineering or something. So often you will read that ART is the communication of an idea or emotion, while CRAFT is the physical manipulation of material. One object could be viewed two ways: if you look at the way it was made and the materials used, you are looking at it as CRAFT. If you think about its emotions and ideas, you are seeing it as ART.
Artists all work with some type of materials whether it’s paint and canvas or yarns and dyes. So much satisfaction comes from the process of using these various materials, no matter what they are. I spent 13 years teaching kids in grades K-12 and so enjoyed seeing their pleasure while creating, no matter the quality of the end result. Their circle of joy became complete when they were also proud and inspired by the results of their work. Did they make ART or CRAFT? Does it matter?
The ambiguity inherent in the question “Is it ART or is it CRAFT” is part of the mystery of creating. Many people are very rigid in their definitions and feel ART expresses emotion while CRAFT represents function. I believe that the best work is a combination of both.
Creating is a personal experience with different rewards for each of us.
In my work, I aim to express an idea using whatever materials I choose and create it in the most excellent manner I can. I like to think my best piece is my next one and hope to continually improve and evolve. My heart speaks when I make something from ordinary materials in such a way as they become extraordinary.