One-of-a-kind vs. limited edition pieces

105053-371736-thumbnail.jpgDo you consider yourself to be flexible or fairly rigid when it comes to work processes and routines? Because of the need to examine such a question in my own profesional process, it occurred to me that I should share from a current challenge here in my blog. Perhaps others will have some helpful insight. It seems I'm a little more rigid than I'd realized. This is becoming clear to me as I ponder the way I approach my jewelry designs.

Since I started making necklaces with clay pendant focal points, I've rather enjoyed knowing that none of the pendants would be duplicated. It's given me pleasure knowing that all my designs would be one-of-a-kind. The necklace designs have, however, thus-far been only one component along my professional path. So "making up designs" every time I made a new necklace wasn't really a hardship. My livelihood, see, hasn't been completely dependent upon my ability to sell these necklaces.

Lately, though, I've begun working on the best way to focus more of my creative and professional energy toward seriously marketing my jewelry designs. Such a plan involves questioning practices I've grown comfortable with. One of the practices that has come "under fire," if you will, is my former unwillingness to duplicate a design.

As a friend gently pointed out to me recently when we discussed my quandary, "They're one of a kind, anyway." We all know that when you make something by hand - particularly high-fired, glazed clay pieces - there's very little ability to ensure that each one is going to be exactly the same. It's one of the inherent joys in using handmade pottery and in enjoying handmade items in general. Later in the conversation she also asked me, "Why put yourself through that?" She pointed out that in spite of my current assertion that it's fairly easy for me to come up with a new design every single time, this seemingly simple process could turn quite different once I begin earnestly marketing my work and ensuring that it's available in shops and galleries at the broader level I'm considering. Besides, (my friend heartily agreed,) I'm not really charging "one-of-a-kind prices." Good point, that.

My challenge, of course, is to make and sell my work at prices that are accessible to average women. Perhaps that's why some artists choose to market their work in a variety of ways. If I do this, perhaps I could have three categories:

  • One-of-a-kind
  • Limited editions
  • Original designs

With, of course, "original designs" covering all three, and meaning merely that the designs are my own, but that I am free to create as many of each piece as I desire. Creating a line of "original designs" that aren't guaranteed not to be duplicated would leave me open to the option of making many, many of them, but nobody says I'd actually have to. I could sort of make it up as I go along, depending on the demand and feedback I received after such pieces were available.

Perhaps before I go making firm decisions concerning this question, I should try my hand at duplicating designs! It occurs to me that if I've never tried it in the first place, it's gonna' be pretty hard to know if I can change my process to include a practice I've never actually tested.

Back to the drawing board. I guess you'd say, "to be continued..."