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Shop as art

April 30, 2011

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We’ve been working for the past 4 months clearing out the etalage and knocking out a wall to create a shop/exhibition space. See Craft Chronicles .

After the last coat of fresh paint, textile artist Sandra  Jongedijk came over with her wares. It was so nice spending time with her before her vacation and discovering each new piece she had brought. Everything she makes radiates a calm mastery of technique- she has been sewing since she was 12. The shop is filled with the warm playfulness of her work- from stools covered with recycled wool blankets, to purses called ‘Grandma’s curtain’, meticulously designed and put together and always carrying an extra touch such as hand printed motifs on the fabric.

I decided not to open for the public, but rather invite interested friends. I sent out about 30 personal invitations for the 3 weekends I’ll be open.
This shop is an experiment for me in exploring the new anti-marketing I’ve been writing about here for years:  create a local base; commit to something you are passionate about and prepare to have staying power over the long-term; trust it to work; avoid manipulative sales techniques; concentrate on finding your own audience as opposed to a mega audience; team up with collaborators; offer a service;  and use art to create community and inspire others. 

As I sat in the shop yesterday and no one showed up*, I began to doubt in myself and my seemingly naive expectations. Was this all wishful thinking? ‘What, just do something you believe in well and assume that eventually it will earn money? How do you expect to earn money when you don’t even add a percentage above the artist’s price? How dumb is that by modern marketing standards?’ What! You’re not on Twitter, or Facebook or Linked in! Then you don’t exist. Not for most of the internet using public.’   *(Later: today there was more interest and a few sales, that’s better!)

But for now the internet using public isn’t my primary target group. Of course I will use the web as a supplementary tool, and I always will link to the artist’s site, so international readers have a chance to buy directly from them.

However, the local aspect, having a neighborhood store where people feel comfortable to drop by, Read the rest of this entry »