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Monday, August 20, 2012

handmade nation

I've been creating since before I can remember.  I loved drawing, coloring, and making bracelets and "jewelry" as a kid.  I went through a big American girl doll phase and loved making recipes and crafts from American girl themed books (with my best friend in grade school).  I even had a short entrepreneurial streak and sold crafts I made at our church's craft fair for a couple of years.  As an adult, I still really enjoy painting, crafting, baking, cooking, gardening, and creating all sorts of things, but my slightly perfectionist nature can make it difficult to enjoy creating just for the joy of creating.  

Reading Handmade Nation was a bit of a revelation for me.  The book focuses on the rise of DIY (do it yourself) art, craft, and design that has been happening over the past decade or two in the U.S.  Websites like Pinterest and Etsy have made it increasingly easier for more people to be inspired to create and sell their own products.  More middle of the road artists/creators/makers are being recognized and finding it easier to make a living from their craft. 

I loved the book because it spoke to the dilemma I've had about whether to call myself an artist.  Though I love to paint, I've never called myself an "artist" because to me it implies artistic professional -- and I just don't feel like I fit into that world.  I don't know the official lingo, I don't know the official supplies, I don't know the official techniques.  The professional artistic world is completely intimidated.  

But the creators in Handmade Nation have helped create a niche for people who fit into this exact category.  They create things that fall somewhere in between embroidery thread bracelets and high end art.  While reading, I kept thinking "these are my people!"

Reading this book reminded me that it's not necessary to be a high end artist to be creative.  It's inspired me to foster my imagination again.  I can draw things that aren't museum quality, create things that aren't super professional, and they can still be beautiful and good.  If it makes me happy, I can do it.  I can find the joy in creating without the pressure of having to be perfect. 

This book (along with my current obsession over A Beautiful Mess) also helped spark my interest to start an Etsy site with my sister Libby.  This weekend, we made a trip to the craft store together and spent our Saturday evening sipping wine and creating pieces to sell.  We had such a good time, and I felt so rejuvenated spending time creating together.  

I love the feeling that I can do what I love without trying to be anyone else but exactly who I am.  And I am very intrigued to see where mine and Libby's vision might take us....I hope this post has helped inspire any of you who may feel in the same boat -- remember that it's not necessary to be the best or to be an "artist" to spend time enjoying being creative!  

What do you like to create?  

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