Democratizing Creativity Part IV: I can do that too-itis,

dreamstimefree_2396935I absolutely love Etsy. I adore Etsy. I wonder how we ever sold our handiworks pre-Etsy. There are some really innovative and talented artists/designers/crafters/makers on Etsy. They make me want to step up my game.

BUT.  There are also lots and lots of copykitties.

I will scream directly in the face of whomever is unlucky enough to be standing next to me the next time I see one more permutation of “Keep Calm and Carry On.” Ugh. 

Just try being a jewelry maker on Etsy. Like a needle in a needle-stack.

I have often struggled with what to sell on Etsy, because it SEEMS that just about any product idea already has a million and one variations. (But then every once in a while I am pleasantly surprised to find a twist on a  common product. Then I’m mad I didn’t think of it, lol. )

The low cost of entry into such venues is a double edged sword. It is wonderful that you can get your shop up and running relatively quickly and start earning income on your own terms. On the other hand, there are a lot of shops that don’t appear to take the time and effort to hone their skills and craft before setting up shop.

While I am of the belief that the cream will always rise to the top, I have a nagging concern.

I want you, dear readers, to be aware that I express this concern with great hesitation, because far be it for me suggest that someone’s else’s creation is crap. I struggle with this concern as a hardcore diy-er and maker extraordinaire.

I wonder about the clutter impact of all our making stuff.  Are we really being more environmentally conscious, are we just creating more things that will end up in our landfills one day? Does the world really need yet another tote bag? Is the world really a much better place because of our handmade doo-dads?  Does anyone absolutely need a cozy of any sort?

What about all the products created and sold purely for zeitgeist, i.e, Moustache-themed anything.  When I look at some handicrafts, I can’t help thinking how much more complicated packing up and moving would be if I was a collector of stuff. I guess that’s why I’m always purging.

I can’t help thinking that I don’t want to contribute to the clutter in the world. These concerns are probably why my Etsy shop never get filled up past 15 items (which I hear is bad for sales).

I blame this nagging concern on having been raised in a no-frills culture during a no-frills period in time. Nigeria in the 80’s wasn’t exactly a buffet of choices, though it was (and still is) a haven of creative handicraft.  As hard as I fight against it, that no-frills sensibility still informs what I do.  I want to make unique, beautiful useful things, not trendy throwaway items for a quick buck.

Like a previous commenter mentioned, just because you can do it doesn’t mean you should.

Am I being cynical, harsh, or a hater? Do I need a nice tall glass of STFU? Bring it!

8 thoughts on “Democratizing Creativity Part IV: I can do that too-itis,

  1. Dee says:

    I don’t think you’re being a hater at all! I’m asked every once in a while why I don’t have a shop to sell the things I make.I usually say that I don’t have any original ideas and that the market is saturated. As for the environmental impact of all this “stuff”, I know I personally try to limit the amount of things I bring into my home. I totally understand what you’re saying, I just don’t have a good answer for ya.

  2. Eliss says:

    No, you’re not doing anything wrong. You’re just voicing your opinion. I’ve been on Etsy a few times, looking for something to puchase, but like you said, almost everything looks the times. After that, I look for the cheapest price (although, I have yet to purchase anything). I’m the kind of person, if I purchase it, I’m going to save it. I don’t believe in wasting anything; even if it breaks, I will use some glue and try to fix it (I’m frugal like that…can’t help it). I can’t stand clutter, so I organize all of my stuff, and if I don’t need it, I don’t purchase it.

  3. Fresh Goddess says:

    You’re right to vent and voice your perspective. I often wondered how designers and artists can stand out on Etsy, unless they already have their own fan base and foundation prior to being an Etsy shop seller. While I’m a firm believer of “you have no competition but yourself” and that there’s enough shine to go around, it seems like you have to go to extraordinary lengths to promote and market your Etsy and why it’s different or higher quality than others. I guess that’s the nature of business. Everytime I meet a self taught, crafter or jewelry maker the first thing I ask is “Do you have an Etsy?” I thought it was the way to go, but maybe not so much. Best wishes

  4. Robyn Oyeniyi says:

    I think you are just being practical or realistic – take your pick of words – perhaps both.

    I’m a firm non-hoarder. I’m not a knick-knack person either (they just collect dust).

    The fact I hate shopping helps!

  5. Clara in Paradise says:

    Well, there you go, you stole my thoughts and put them into words. I shall now sue you for thought infringement.

    No, really, I have exactly the same concerns. Trying to find something useful in Etsy has turned into a nightmare, at this point I almost always quit before I buy anything. Bummer.

  6. Day Acoli says:

    heavy sigh…thank you for saying this. i make and sell accessories and art full time and etsy is one of the vehicles i utilize as an online boutique. but i find even in festivals and markets when vending there are times when people don’t feel an obligation to support because they assume we are all just housewives crafting on the side. or the horrified gazes i receive when i tell people i make jewelry for a living and they ask me how am i making a responsible living and taking care of a child doing that, don’t i want a real job and not a hobby? or its easy for people to suggest to me that i get a “real job”. i feel like everybody should feel free to make things. take up new trades and hobbies, give them to friends and family members. make something practical that you can use for yourself. make your own earrings. my mother took pleasure in sewing her own wardrobe. but there’s a certain dedication that running a store or creating a niche style or market requires. i wish that could be more reflected in our online shops without making hobbyists feel like they shouldn’t show their work. by all means, make whatever you want, but there has to be a certain place we reach before we sell it… if only that were a defined thing…lol

    • AfroMartha says:

      @Day I feel you 100%. I feel that there should be some sort of a jury…though that flies in the face of the definition of ‘art’. I say, don’t let the haters get you down…haters gon’ hate. Someone’s always going to have something to say, no matter what you do. If you stay home and raise your child while making a living, they will question you. If you go to work to make a living, they will still judge you. Do what is right and what makes sense for you, is what I say. As for me I had to leave Etsy alone…for now anyway. I find that I don’t enjoy production work. I’d much rather design it once and be done. It does take a lot of dedication to make and sell, and I found I just don’t have that.

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