Friday, March 29, 2013

Toward Etsy: Cottage Capitalism

One of the reasons I started this blog was to focus on being resourceful. A resource I have often taken for granted or invested with more baggage than necessary is my artistic training. Regardless of any talent I may or may not have, I do have a couple of art degrees and learned a few skills along the way of earning them. So, lately I've decided to own those skills and try to put them to use. As mentioned in previous posts, I'm hoping to build or buy a tiny house in the near future. That is going to take money, so I'm trying to find ways to generate extra income. Among other ideas, I'm hoping to start making some digital prints as well as begin building some repurposed furniture and crafts. The plan is to try my hand at selling them on Etsy. I have no idea if I can generate any income from this, so I'm trying to make certain that A) I don't invest too much money in the enterprise to begin with, and B) that the time I invest in making this work is worthwhile even if I never make a dime directly from trying to sell the work.

Digital Prints

The reason I want to make some digital prints is because I enjoy graphic design and photography. I feel taking the time to make some new work can only be of benefit. I want to make images that reinforce the ideas I'm trying to achieve of living more simply and with greater connection. Forcing my mind to think creatively about this through making prints is valuable for that reason alone. I even began playing with some visual ideas and posted them on my facebook page (see pictures in this post and click for larger versions).

While I don't expect any of these particular images to be used for Etsy prints, I do think creating even this work was worth my time. It has already been helpful in trying to build a small audience for this blog and my facebook page.  Beyond that, crafting these images gives me incentive to work on my design and photography skills and allows me to add to my portfolio of work on my own terms, following my own aesthetic interests.  If I'm able to actually make some work that people want to buy, all the better. Given I already have the material necessary to make the work, including a great printer using archival inks, my investment is little more than my time, and I can definitely validate that investment with the benefits mentioned above.

Repurposed Furniture & Crafts

Digital mock-up using photos from backyard fence.
I am especially excited by the idea of making repurposed functional objects. My art degrees were in sculpture, so I'm lucky enough to have some modest woodworking skills and a fair number of tools (though I'm already regretting many I've sold in the past.)  I have some old furniture that is very ripe for repurposing, and I was able to get some pallets from my job as well. The pallets aren't those wonderful old rustic kind but instead are made from cheap lumber and plywood. This doesn't bother me at all, and I actually enjoy the challenge of making interesting objects from humble materials. Some of my favorite sculptures in the past were made from construction grade two-by-fours, so I understand the raw material is limited more by the maker's skill and creativity than anything else. My goal is to begin making some things that I actually need for storage and such. I'm hoping to make some small to medium boxes and perhaps a free-standing cabinet or two. This allows me to reacquaint myself with the process of building and making in a way that provides me some things I need.

I'm also planning to design these objects for practical use in the limited space of the tiny house I hope to acquire. This also gets me more focused on that idea and makes me feel like more of my time is spent working holistically towards one endeavor - living with more connection to my day to day activities.  So, even if I realize that I can't sell any of my wares on Etsy or that the time involved is much greater than what the market will pay for finished products, I'm ok with that. I will still have some interesting objects for my own use, I will have invested more energy towards thinking about and discovering what I want from a tiny house, and I will be honing my building skills which I'll need when it comes time to build or customize a tiny home.

To summarize, I'm trying to think about how to maximize my time and energy and how to maximize my resourcefulness while pursuing something I enjoy. We'll see how it goes. Hopefully within the next week or so, I'll have some projects in the works (or even completed) to post.  In the meantime, have a great weekend and thanks for stopping by.

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