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The state of craft in the state of Vermont

As I mentioned in this post, I resigned from my full-time job of 4 1/2 years. I am definitely going through a period of adjustment, trying to figure out what it means to be a full-time artist (what it seems to mean so far is that I get to clean my studio and sort through the evil piles that accumulated during the holiday season. Meh).

An obvious concern of mine is how the timing couldn’t be worse for a career shift – as you all know, the economy sucks right now. On top of that concern (for me) is how the nation’s financial picture is affecting the world of craft. In general, artists tend to live close the edge, financially-speaking. It must be even harder now for artists to stay in business. As much as I would love for artists to be eligible for bailouts, it just ain’t gonna happen.

On a local level, I’ve become very aware of how not just artists are struggling, but arts-related businesses are as well. Yesterday I had to drive to Shelburne, VT to pick up my inventory from the Shelburne Craft School Gallery, which recently closed after five years in business. I really loved the gallery’s visual presence…very elegant. With their skill, they could make an old sneaker look good.

Frog Hollow also closed their Manchester gallery last year. Their Burlington and Middlebury galleries were hit hard by declining economy and they are in danger of being closed as well. As a frequent visitor to Church Street, I can attest to the significance of Frog Hollow’s presence there – they are a highly visible representative of the amazing talent of the residents of this state. That’s the thing that really breaks my heart – when a gallery closes, it’s not just one business that’s impacted – all of the artists exhibiting their work there are affected as well. Frog Hollow alone claims to represent over 250 Vermont artisans in their galleries – that’s a lot of businesses losing income.

Now if only the state of Vermont would invest money in promoting Vermont craft in the way it has for the maple industry…

4 Responses to “The state of craft in the state of Vermont”

By Tedorigawa - 9 January 2009 Reply

You’re a brave human to cut ties and leap into the fray. I was just listening to a podcast about starting a full-time business in the midst of a (don’t-say-the-d-word) Recession. The commentators were saying it was a Great time to start up.

First, things are cheaper (rent, for example, because no one else needs it), and businesses that start up in a recession tend to be quicker, leaner, faster and, when the good times come, reap the largest profits because they are quicker, leaner, and faster.

Anyway, here’s to your success in the coming dark days of the economy and I hope you emerge on the otherside richer and wealthier (not necessarily in monetary terms but also in terms of ‘I did it!’.)

PS. your books look great.

By cropandscrapdesigner - 9 January 2009 Reply

Your books are beautiful! Blessings to you and your new venture!

RP

By Carol - 10 January 2009 Reply

All the best for your new life as a full-time artist. It is a difficult time but I think we’ll all have to be more inventive, more thoughtful about the resources we use. I know I’ll be using up all my supplies that I’ve been squirreling away instead of buying more. To hear of all those galleries closing is very sad. Keep making your beautiful books. The good times will come again.

By elissa - 12 January 2009 Reply

Thanks to all of you for your kind words.

I’m doing my best to stay positive. Luckily, I do have quite a stockpile of supplies (you’re not alone Carol), so I have more than enough to keep working for a while. Of course, I always want paper that I don’t have. 🙂

So what do you think? I'd love to know!

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