Nye on Art Glass
Focusing On Success
It's a Big, Wild World
The world of glass is filled
with opportunities and distractions. Knowing the difference between the
two is what focus is all about. Most of us start out making simple
plates and tiles, which can be really rewarding as a hobby, but if you
want that hobby to turn into a profitable business, what then?
There are so many directions
you can take just within fused glass these days. Do you want to cast,
kiln shape, or rake? There are decals, glass paints, enamels, metal
inclusions, millefiori, frit painting and pattern bars to choose from.
Or you can do pot melts, twist and lampwork your own stringers or go in
depth with coldworking. There are large architectural applications,
garden art, fine art or good old production work. But how do you refine
and focus your skills without getting distracted?
You can't truly focus without
choosing a direction. I once heard someone say "If you don't have a
goal, make one up because it's easier to steer a moving vessel than one
sitting still." So, to choose a beginning route, think about what you
love and it will lead you where you want to go.
I think, for the most part, we
love what we're good at. What part of the process do you love and what
parts do you dread? Don't try to force yourself.
Different techniques require different personalities
Also, what style of art
attracts you? What do you love about it? Is it shape, color, texture,
or a combination? If you can identify what you love and what you are
good at, you are well on your way to finding out who you want to be
when you grow up and where you need to focus.
To Right: "Sunset Mist", "Lakeside Evening", "Honey Moon" ©Anne Nye 2012
I started out in art as a
painter and no matter how much I loved the glass I missed painting! I
missed pushing it around, blending it and layering it. I was also a
graphic designer for many years, so my glass skills developed using a
hard-edge style you see in my early pieces. But it was only when I
began to use frit and powders that I began to get some kind of
"painterly satisfaction." The other thing I love is color but I'm not
crazy about coldworking or making functional pieces. My style came out
of these interests and quirks.
To Right: "Majestic View", "Lakeside Morning", "Safe Harbor" ©Anne Nye
Finding Your Path
Once you know what part of
glass you love and what style of art attracts you, let's go a bit
deeper and answer a few questions:
||Be a big fish in a small
pond: What can you do, that's different from what others are doing? You
might not be able to answer that right now, but keep it in mind as you
||Is there another passion or
hobby in your life that you can translate into glass? I grew up in the
Pacific Northwest with lots of camping and fishing, and that along with
my love of gardening gave me my general focus.
||Money, Honey: Do you need
to make a living right away from your art or can you afford to pull
back and develop a body of work? If you can't, you will need smaller
production pieces to be your "bread and butter." I still do bread and
butter pieces but hired someone to help with them, giving her a job and
me more creative time.
||Fresh Eyes: Ask a respected
artist to critique your work and evaluate your strengths. Sometimes you
can't see it yourself but an experienced teacher or gallery owner,
who's used to looking at lots of styles of art, can easily point out
what you do well.
||Evaluating Skills: What do
you need to learn to go further? There are all kinds of classes
available. Maybe a traditional art class like watercolor will further
your skills. One-on-one classes are sometimes available with an artist
whose work you love. Business coaches are another option. Or, can you
outsource part of the process such as coldworking or production work?
Please Fence Me In!
Time: Once you've decided on a
direction, it's time to build your fences. If you're serious about your
work, hopefully you've already set up a work structure and let people
know you're not available during this precious time. Even if it's only
a few hours a week, regular time to work is a must have!
Grass Is Always Greener!
Sometimes I'm tempted to jump my own fences. An occasional stray into a
new method can be refreshing as long as it doesn't get you off your
path entirely. I have to leave my world of botanicals and landscapes to
design new Christmas ornaments for my "bread and butter" line or take a
little "graze' into abstraction to polish my color sense.
The fences cannot be so tight
that there's no room for growth! I now keep my Friday and Saturdays
(sometimes, Sunday) for experimentation within my chosen discipline or
Look Before You Leap
Poke" Tree Ornaments ©Anne Nye 2012
©Anne Nye 2012
||What will it cost and can
the technique or product be used in other ways? If I can afford the
time and money, a play day can be just what the Doctor ordered. When I
get home, I appreciate what I'm doing all the more.
||If it's a major commitment,
is this the right timing? Have I fully explored the track I'm on or am I
on the verge of a breakthrough if I keep going?
||Could this departure create
another revenue stream? A while back I turned some of my early
paintings into greeting cards. Initially it took a lot of time, but now
it's extra income and takes no time and brings in extra money.
||I started teaching and
writing a couple of years ago and wasn't sure how it would affect my
work but I'm finding that it makes me analyze my techniques, gets me
out of my ruts, and exposes me to new ideas that can make my look
Staying focused on what I'm
trying to accomplish with my art has definitely helped me. Give some of
these ideas a try and see if you notice improved sales and more