Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Stepping Back, Mission Statements, My biz and Me

I've been thinking a lot lately about how and why I use my blog. I'm an avid blog reader, mainly reading design blogs but also ones about having your own business, cooking or traveling. I want to enter into a new phase with my blog.....and announcing this can be a good thing to get me going. I'm not sure what that means right now, but for this post it's about looking at the bigger picture, about my work and my passions.
papaver vert studio crocheting
So stepping back for a moment to Business 101 is the ol' mission statement. I cringe at this type of thing because having to really sit down and think about the bigger picture can be hard for me while I'd rather be just doing "it". But I realize the importance of things like this so here's what I've been using:

"Papaver Vert creates beautifully functional vessels by sculpting and shaping yarn into bowls, vases and objet d'art for your home. Focusing on color, form and function, Papaver Vert utilizes the time consuming technique of crocheting and wet felting wool to create tactile pieces with a contemporary twist, making each piece one at a time with the hopes of the item becoming a much loved piece in your dwelling."

Speaking in the 3rd person can be so weird, especially about the business that's me. This then makes me think of branding and I just hate that word even though I realize that that's what it is. Putting branding aside, I foremost think of myself as a designer over the word artist, but at the same time, my goal in creating the work that I do is to really hone my craft and technique to an artisan level.

To me, becoming a craftsman in the old-school sense of the word is the end-all be-all. When I first saw the Craft In America series on PBS, my brain and heart did a complete flip-flop and it really changed my whole outlook on what i'm doing and who I want to be. I watched those people using ceramics, wood or reeds as their medium and I loved their passion and sense of serenity when they spoke about their craft. Many of them saw themselves in the role of educator. This was a surprising thing to find out about myself -  the kick I get out of wanting to talk, educate and amaze people about the medium that I create with. I always love the look on someone's face when I describe the felting technique for the first time and watching their eyes getting bigger and bigger. It's the coolest thing ever - ok actually....It's seriously the BEST! And for those few minutes I revel in all my felted glory!! (sorry, not the most humbling of statements!)
patty benson teaches hand felting wool class
So how do I see my work and my passion? For me it's simple. I love designing. I love creating. I love working with wool, seeing what it does and where it takes me. I love things for the home. The joy I get from my surroundings - ok folks, literal joy - is what I want to share and be a part of for others. It's that simple.

And now back to you guys...how do you see my brand and work? Is there something you love over the other? And for other artists/designers out there, do you see yourself as brand, artist or both?


bradley b said...

Hey Patty,

Funny. I was just stalling while trying to write an artist statement for a new store. I wanted to see who was and who was not speaking from the first person. I really struggle trying to avoid the "I" and "me" in my text.
Why should I? I design it! I make it! And I am proud of the effort I put into my work. Why do I need to be anonymous, replaced by "we" or a brand? I want what I do to be more personal than that.
I love what you do and I love it even more because it is you that designs it and you that makes it real through effort and skill. Your eyes and your hands. Amazing! You deserve so much credit.
I look forward to seeing you again! Say hello to your lovely husband too.

Brad-Tiny Sparks Design

Cat said...

I guess it depends how you want people to see your work, as much as how they will see you.

I put myself as an artist before branding, because the drive and inspiration behind what I do tends to ensure I make one-off unique objects and images, and how would I "brand" that? Maybe being an artisan is my brand?

Conversely, it is - I think - crucial to understand the importance of being recognised, so that I can build up a group of people interested in following my work. I hope to have surmounted this problem by effectively branding myself with my own name. Now, when someone buys one of my felt pots for example, I want them to associate the quality/structure/use of colour/etc with me: Cat Moore.

So for me, branding and artisan quality go hand in hand, and whilst it is possible to have one without the other, it could eventually impede on the expansion of my work.

And I am always "I" when writing about myself. It's a personal prefence, but I want whoever reads it to feel like I'm talking to them, not through a third party.

I hope some of these ramblings are useful!


Papaver Vert said...

Hi Bradley!
Thanks for your lovely comment! I totally agree with you. In fact I think we should make t-shirts that say "I design it! I make it!" I love it :)

I feel the same about your work. In fact, since I've gotten to know you a little better at each show, the combination of your work and your personality are a 2-for-1 for me....making what you create even that much more kick-ass.

Hope to see you real soon! And Chris says hi back.

Papaver Vert said...

Hi there Cat!
Thanks for stopping by my blog with your comment. Your ramblings are very useful! I think you wrote what I would like to say very eloquently. Even though I don't use my own name as my business name, if I'm written about in a blog or magazine article, I am always written about as Patty Benson - the 2 are linked into 1.

I feel that in the future, Papaver Vert will have been just one part of a phase that is me, Patty Benson, but with the hope that the artisan quality will always be the backbone of whatever I do.

P.s. I loved the photos on your blog! I used to live in Guildford, Surrey so your pictures bring back lots of good memories. I'll be checking back often :)