Time's Catching Up: making big changes

Everything has to change at some point. We rearrange furniture, move, meet new friends, watch old ones move away--even our bodies change, we grow, cells die, new ones are born. In the end, it's all the work of that ticking crocodile from Peter Pan as time catches up with us.

The Cardinal -- retiring on April 6th
 Time has caught up with my little business. Since beginning in May, 2010, I have made many changes to the way I present my work and sell it, but not much to the actual work itself. For the last year, things have been pretty static. I even sold most of the same designs I have been carrying from the beginning! Customers who had bought a cardinal necklace from me in November of 2010 could buy it from me again and it would look almost identical. Because every single one of my pieces is an original tiny painting this meant I was often painting the same things I had been painting for far too long. The feeling of stagnation was starting to creep in and get to me, but I didn't really do anything about it.
My husband and I in the Appalachians shortly before we moved to Asheville
Early this month, my husband--who had been a huge help in my business by keeping the books, shipping, and boosting the morale--left for basic training in the US Air Force. Before he left, I thought, "No big deal, I can handle this--easy." Once he was gone, though, it hit me like a bomb had gone off in my life. It didn't help that our lease had ended and I was having to leave beautiful Asheville, North Carolina at the same time. I was a mushy mess for about a week.

When the dust settled, however, I was left reflecting on how I had gotten here and where I wanted to go now. My husband's career would now occupy most of his time and though I can count on him in the future to help with little things, there's no knowing how much time he'll be able to devote--certainly not what he used to. I took a couple of days really thinking about what I wanted and where I saw my art going. I didn't think about it from a business standpoint, but from the standpoint of a creative person who was ready for the new and tired of the old.

Last week, I set to work picking out designs to retire. I began listing old designs with free shipping and prepared to get them out and make way for newer things. I began looking more thoroughly into precious metal options and I began to paint the more detailed pieces like I like even though I can't replicate them as well as the simpler pieces. This means that rather than being able to duplicate the majority of my work, most of it will now be one of a kind. I really like the thought of that and how much that uniqueness will enhance the pieces. To add to this, I've started to really focus on how my photographs are styled rather than just snapping a shot of the piece against white. I wanted to tell even more of a story with my images. 

Cherry Blossoms -- limited edition necklace with new photo styling

Have you taken a look at your work recently and felt like it's time for a change, or are you completely happy with where things are? I say, there's no better time than the present to shake off the old and look ahead. 

Good luck!


Lauren said...

Thanks for this- I have been feeling the same way and have become hesitant to hit "renew" on a piece that has sold. My shop is quite full and I only LOVE certain items. For 2012, I too am in the process of creating brand new designs & limited edition pieces. They will be one of kind pieces - not to be duplicated. Your work is beautiful and I am glad the dust has settled for you and bit- good luck with your beautiful new line!

Lee Wolfe Pottery OneClayBead said...

Congrats on the upgrades, Sarah! Your new work and look are inspirational. I saw a potter's work on Pinterest lately and recognized it from 20 years ago! I clicked over to her website and she is still making it today. This, to me, is sad. I live in that flow of new ideas and wouldn't be as happy just cranking out the same old thing year after year.

Marie said...

Great article Sarah. Your work rocks and change can bee freeing... good luck with all of the life changes. I can;t wait to see new pieces pop up in your shop.

Sofie said...

It is such a pleasure to read about your process and I look forward to seeing how your work evolves in this new phase. It sounds like a great direction!

3 Divas Studio said...

You have touched on something I've agonized over for the past few months. I am so excited for you, and hope that your newest journey is a rewarding one! Looking forward to watching you grow....xoxo

Viktoria said...

I think it is a natural consequence of being creative to make changes from time to time.
Your beautiful miniature artwork will look even more beautiful with precious frames.

steinschmuckdesign said...

Allthough changes sometimes can be hard, they keep us / me alive. Wonderful to read of you Sarah how you went trough all this!!

Sumner said...

How exciting! Change is fun (and sometimes maybe hard), but I always think of something a yoga teacher told me - "the only thing constant in life is change." So you might as well embrace it for the good! Love the new styling and work - can't wait to see more.

Eve's Little Earthlings said...

I love to make new items for my etsy store, but I have designs in my shop that I have been making for many years and continue to enjoy making. The trick is to discontinue items that you truly are tired of. I find it quite meditative and restful to make my old favourites and I still enjoy putting their little faces on as a last step. It is all a balancing act. Allowing time for play in the studio is crucial to the creative process.

Nicolas Hall said...

Sarah, this is a wonderful peek into the cycles we must surrender to. Everything must change and life brings about so many of these with or without our readiness. Others, such as our creative growth and our spirit must be a choice. It is up to us to grow and to pursue that growth. We, as creatures who love and embrace the specter of life stability, often miss out on the wonder of our own seasons.

Your new work is awesome and you will find the seasons ahead simply grow moe beautiful. . .


Genevieve said...

I recently "retired" a design that I started selling in 2009. It was still selling but I felt emotionally finished with it and I figured that eventually it would show in the quality of the pieces.
Growth is good!

IKABAGS said...

Congrats on the upgrades, Sarah!

And new things like a fresh bearthe , like sunshine, like blue deep sea , like moo, like fesh lie, like new born bab y, I am sure we will see how they are growing up !

Take care and good luck for you and yours :)

anakim said...

Excellent post Sarah - thanks for sharing your thoughts and process.
Keep doing your beautiful work!

Beliz said...

Wonderful post Sarah.I couldn't agree more.
I just need time for shaking up and make new things. Even change photos.
Thank you for reminding.
Wishing you all the best !!

PurePixie said...

Congrats Sarah! It feels like your shop was reborn! That's quite exciting!
Regarding my own shop I have so many ideas of products, pictures to be taken, etc. I just need a few more hours every day. :)