Friday, February 06, 2009

Life as an Art Quilter

I've had a couple of conversations with quilting friends of mine recently.  Seems as though they are going through a similar phase right now - realizing how many skills it takes to be an art quilter these days.

It's not enough to spend time perfecting your style and techniques as a quilter - you also have good skills in (not in any particular order):
  1. Marketing
  2. Writing
  3. Design
  4. Photography
  5. Computer Software
  6. Research
  7. Persuasion
  8. Inventory Management
  9. Time Management
  10. Accounting
  11. Administrative Work
I'm going to stop at 11 because I'm already tired from making this list.  

You have an idea for a quilt - you take photos, sketch, research, and create your pattern (if you work in that way, which I do).  You gather your materials.  You use your Time Management skills to figure out when you are actually going to get into the studio to do the work.  You do the work.  Sometimes the project flows freely; other times you work in fits and starts.  Then you do the mundane stuff - binding/facing/sleeve/label.  You use your skills in persuasion to get your fabulous carpenter husband to make your hanging slats (which may necessitate a trip to Home Depot to get the boards and clear polyurethane along with whatever else may catch his eye) which need to be cut, drilled, sanded and sealed.  The quilt is done.

Then what?  Unless you are happy to simply hang it up in your house and enjoy it yourself, this is where the real work begins.

Is it for a show, sale in a gallery, a teaching sample?  Measure the quilt.  Take photos for documentation, publishing on the blog and/or website (make sure they are properly framed, lit, clear and square).  Take detail shots with equal care.  Upload to computer.  Post to website.  Prepare CDs for marketing and for show entries.  Decide which shows to enter and fill out mounds of paperwork.  Make sure show entries arrive by deadline.  Make notes as to when jurying and notifying decisions are made, and the dates the quilt will be out of your hands for the show if it gets in.  Make sure your show dates do not overlap with any other shows/exhibitions/commitments.  Send your quilt off to the gallery and hope that it sells.

Then you can write articles, prepare teaching materials, pay bills, pay your taxes, file paperwork, preparing shipping labels, buy more materials, get more ideas, make more quilts. Oh, I forgot read and answer email, exercise, work your day job, do laundry, spend time with family and friends, cook and eat.  Love your husband and take good care of him and your pets.


Good thing we love what we do.


Anonymous said...

No wonder your theme for this year is 'simplify'!!! Look forward to seeing you on Sunday! Janey

Ali Honey said...

Gosh it could be off putting!

If you only quilt as a hobby (ie. work as well ) it is even harder to make time. As a newer quilter than you I am still happy to keep mine or give them away to friends and family,
I imagine making it your business puts a whole extra layer of stress in there.
Enjoy anyway!

Brenda said...

Exactly! (she writes succinctly as she keeps in mind everything that has to be done today)

Kim Hambric said...

Good heavens, just reading that wore me out. I am most definitely lucky that being an art quilter IS my day job. Keep it up!!!

Grace said...

Yup....that about sums up my life right now......scary looking at it in print.

Helen said...

This is a great post. I don't do the computer stuff at all well. I entered a quilt for our up-coming national symposium. The entry form had to have saved on a disk digital images that were sized at 4" by 6" and have a resolution of 300 dpi as well as photo prints. Couldn't do it. I sent off the un-edited photos saved onto a disk. Must have been okay though because the quilt was selected for judging. I will find out in about 5 week's time if I made the grade.