I'm allowed a few cliché post titles now and then...
I've been working on some ideas for prints and cards for the art shop, and I'm finding myself torn in a battle- What sells versus what I want to make. No one's suggesting the two are exclusive- I've proved that what I sell in jewelry does well despite not being the cookie cutter status quo. Apart from a small moment involving a crystal and a bullet shell, I've never caved to just offering 'hipster fodder', despite the doubtless rise in business that would occur.
When I first made the steps toward having a photography shop again I was firm with myself- it holds the same for it as for my jewelry, I wouldn't start peddling the same consumables that so many others do. I would offer work that mirrors my lifestyle, my aesthetic, my jewelry shop. Dark, earthy and bohemian with a touch of Dickens. There would be no polaroid format TTV carnival in Paris.
But there's no denying that when it comes to selling on Etsy, providing for demand is a good way to guarantee sales. Though the over-exposed vintage pinky/green look isn't my exact cup of tea, I do like it. It doesn't fit the core value of my shop, but as proved by many- it's a good seller.
I'm trying to come at it from a compromising point of view. I still see myself as an artist, and as such (annoying as it is) I have integrity. All my processes, ideas and themes from my exhibition days are now funnelled into jewelry. I've had talks with other artists before on the subject and I do not believe it's 'selling out' to offer retail goods rather than exhibition work - I refuse the idea that art is something ethereal and precious to be stuck on the wall and pondered over. Art- if it wants to sell- must be a little aesthetically pleasing. Aesthetics is seems is the last great taboo in 'proper' art.
My work is created by an alter ego in me, a 19th century carnival urchin who picks up trinkets on the road as she wanders, and using the simple tools in her pockets, threads the found glories together. Now instead of making curious little objects to hang on the wall, she makes wearable things.
I explore beauty and decoration from a value/condition point of view- why should a diamond brooch be any less desirable if a stone is missing? Why should an antique dresser be less valued because it's handles have been replaced, or it's legs cut down? Why are chipped china cups unwanted?
When it comes to my photography I explore much the same thing. Though the 2 shots above are clearly meant to fill the market request for Europe-centric images, it's also explored in my own way. The Eiffel tower is dirty and the model bus is in poor condition. It shouldn't make it any less valuable, or beautiful, in the eyes of people like me it only serves to improve it's desirability. To go out and buy a new London bus would remove this personal aspect of my work, leaving nothing but fodder for market demand.
What's the point of all this? Perhaps I am just trying to justify to myself that it's okay to serve up what's popular. A diner can be as independent and different as it likes, but there's no going past the fact that if you want to pay the rent, you'd be crazy not to offer apple pie.