Sunday, October 16, 2011

Things That Make it All Worthwhile

Taj hams it up for his photo shoot on my DS.
 One of the Etsy teams I belong to is dedicated to videogames.  I hadn't been very active, but decided to participate in a "Game of the Month" competition they hold.  "Diddy Kong Racing" was the month's theme, and even though not a favorite game of mine,  it was a good opportunity to connect and share with others, and to get back to  3-dimensional pop-art figurines I used to do more frequently before I branched off into tapestries. 
When I put my entry "Taj the Elephant from Diddy Kong Racing" up on Etsy, it was purchased in less than 24 hours.  The collector that purchased it was thrilled when it arrived and sent me a lovely note: 

"I LOVE that Taj elephant!!!!! It is even more awesome in person. It really is a beautiful piece of art, so happy to have for my "pop art" collection. I really enjoy looking at it. Can't wait for my 8-yr-old artsy son to see it when he wakes up."

Then later:  "My son thought Taj was awesome this morning.  On a scale of 1 to 10 he said 100,000!!! So thanks again for making such a beautiful piece of art and putting a smile on our faces. And also, the moment our dog Lila saw it, she barked and jumped with excitement because she thought it was for her!!! How cute and funny is that?"

This melted my heart.  I am generally a selfish artist, and pursue strange visions that are sometimes alienating, caring only if I achieve personal satisfaction from the process.  But Taj the Elephant was created initially to bring joy to the Diddy Kong fans in my Etsy gaming group.  It was a surprise lesson that working from an un-selfish place ended up bringing happiness to others too. 

But there's more!  The lady who bought Taj let me know how much she liked my "Sea Serpent Triptych" and wished it weren't so expensive.  We exchanged a few messages and I agreed to do a a new, smaller sea serpent for a lower price. 

It's always intimidating for me to make a custom piece on request, and the technique I use for my magical creatures (finding the shapes and features randomly in tufts of raw wool) is so different than the more concrete, controlled approach I use when re-creating videogame or cartoon characters that I was a little nervous the customer might not like the serpent in person. 

But I put my 100% effort into the new sea serpent, and sent it out into the world, hoping it would bring as much joy as Taj had done.  I should have trusted this lady's exceptional taste in art (wink wink!).  Her reaction and story brought so much joy to my day I have to share it:

"You are so awesome to make the serpent for us. We love it and now fight over positioning it! Every time I walk by I separate it out and make it curvy, then my son goes by and puts it close together and straight. Two perfectionist type A personalities-- my karma is biting me in the butt. But it is pretty funny to both of us. 

Anyways, everyone that sees the elephant and serpent love them. Thank you for the beautiful art. You are one of my favorite artists. Can't wait to see your other items you post. Later when I can shop again if you are interested I would like more custom items. Thanks again for everything!"

I owe a huge debt of gratitude to this customer for taking the time to share her experience with me.  I have aspirations (perhaps beyond my skill, and tinged with delusions of grandeur) to take textiles somewhere new, push boundaries, to explore darkness and taboo, and to develop a thematic and stylistic coherence in a collection that communicates a more complex vision of what it means to be both animal and divine.  But it was humbling to be reminded of the power of simplicity. . . that art for the sake of beauty and aesthetics--art snobs be damned--is also important and meaningful.

So many different kinds of wool in this sea serpent!

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