Artist vs. the machine
I have this debate with myself a lot. How can an artist compete with the machine? Computers can do just about anything these days. You can find a pretty picture online and have it printed in a thousand different sizes. You can draw an image and have a 3D printer make the object right before your eyes. Large companies spit out thousands of pieces of jewelry from rings to necklaces to body jewelry all for cents on the dollar. How does an artist compete?
For me, I make jewelry the way I would want it. It is made to last. I keep making it in the hopes that the right person that knows the time and value involved will find it. Sometimes I feel like I need a match.com site for business (Hint, hint...someone would make millions). I can beat the machine with overall value, but only if the consumer has done their homework.
Who shops for one of a kind? Is it only the people that can afford to buy one of a kind? I have to be honest that the custom exclusive goods category is at a much higher price than the everyday sitting on the shelf pieces. What kind of shopper are you? Do you buy a piece knowing the extra work that went in to it or based solely on its appearance? With such a small group of individuals that value the blood and sweat of a handcrafted piece, does it mean the artist is on the way out? As a jeweler, am I now competing with a software engineer who can print a thousand of their pieces in the time it takes me to make two? How does one adapt?
I believe individuality is the answer. The next big thing is out there and it doesn't matter who finds it first. Whether you are the artist or you run the machine, you have to find a great idea, something that is different from all other things and run with it. Take hold of that idea and run, don't look back, keep pushing. If the stars align and you find that one special thing that the world needs, the battle is over (or at least until the next big thing). The artist can keep on being the artist. It means that us artists can keep doing what we love all day everyday. Maybe I'm still looking for my idea, or maybe I've found it and I'm just not running fast enough. Either way, I'm going to keep dredging on because you never know when the world will decide to take notice.