Saturday, February 03, 2007

There comes a time in every artist's life when they have to make some decisions about the direction of their work. It's often a hard, confusing time, where financial matters are offset by artistic expression. In some circles, it's known as the big sellout.

Or not.

If attention is paid, an artist will probably remember the piece that sent them to this precipice. I remember mine; it's this newspaper/magazine holder that I made in the late 1980s.

I opened Wood It Is!, a small gallery near Akron, Ohio. My original concept was that we would only feature work from woodworkers. No paintings, ceramics, prints or glass....only wood. And while it was marginally successful, it attracted many woodworkers, who would stop by to chat and check out the competition. It morphed into a woodworking supply store; I sold far more lumber, veneer and inlays than I ever sold furniture. But custom pieces became commonplace. Customers would venture in, look around, and see a piece they wanted, like a desk or a cabinet. But they would want it in a different wood, or a different finish. To stay afloat, I found myself making (and selling) custom pieces, exactly they way the customer wanted them to be made.

The defining moment for me came when a customer commissioned me to build them a small newspaper holder. I came up with a few sketches, none of which they liked. So they came up with their own drawing, I'm not sure who designed it or sketched it on the napkin on which it was presented. And WHAM! the moment was at hand- to build or not to build?

Rent was due, business was slow, and ... and ... I built it.

The big SELL OUT was initiated...

To be continued...

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