Sunday, January 15, 2012

Photographs/Avatars/Banners/Profiles, Brand/Range/Vision/Voice

* * * * * This is a long post, because I've been thinking about this for 25 months * * * * *

In the old days, life was simple. I wove wide shawls with a particular brand of NZ merino in the warp, and either merino, merino/mohair, (both from the same source,) or merino/possum/silk, (another source,) in the weft, and because I was restricted to two sources' color palettes, my pieces were either blue-ish/purple-ish/teal-ish, or black with/out natural. They represented, were, what I made.

Then I added cashmere; I loved colors available, but the yarns are tearfully expensive, so I decided on a range of small scarves with simple construction to make the most of cashmere's lightness and softness, and shorten the time and lighten the workload to weave each piece. This became my first merchandise/range, and in Nelson it came to best represent me. The two styles were so different in my mind, and I only sold in one gallery, so I didn't feel discordant.

Then I discovered the skinny cottons. There were gazillion colors, at least at the start, and oh, so affordable, at least at the start. These yarns enabled me to weave exactly the kind of cloth I envisioned weaving; to practice fine, flat weaving in case one day I can afford to do this in silk; to exhibit the kind of cloth I wanted to show, and to offer another merchandise range at more affordable prices relative to my other pieces. And they provided the exact kind of visuals I wanted to represent me as a maker.

Since late 2010, I've tried to add, for want of a better term, a "stash reduction" range. I have a wide range of yarns in my stash: yarns too thick/fat for my taste, colors not to my taste, discontinued products, yarns containing synthetics, ill-conceived purchases, and rescue yarns. I've wanted to reduce my stash and spending, I needed more affordable products for the-then third gallery, a non-profit. (I've always tried to differentiate style of work I sell to suit the mood and clientèle of each gallery.) Sales dropped (to the ground!) in 2010, and I needed pieces I could weave quickly and preferably on the 4-shaft Jack. And crucially, my weaving was becoming predictable and I wanted to experiment with sizes, textures, and colors/dyes, aesthetics. My current dye frenzy is partially for this.

And then I hurt my arms. Big pieces don't sell; cashmeres do better; cotton pieces don't and get stolen from exhibitions. I feel pulled in all directions, which in and of itself is not a bad thing as I can always delve further and develop ideas in any of these areas, not to mention new ones I want to try. And then there is the unsmall matter of conceptual/fiber/textile-art, which has a much wider appeal to exhibition selectors/judges/juries in the current climate, but oh, so foreign to me. And as a maker, I have been feeling eclectic, frantic, and all over the place.

In the old days, life was simple. I made a logo, picked out a typeface, and colors to for each, and used them whenever I needed a tag, an invoice, or a business card. With my woven tags, I used the typeface and colors I already used.

Then Ben made me my first website, and we considered contents, arrangements, photographs and word for months to make sure the website represented what I made and me as a maker in ways I wanted my website to. Then I started blogging, and we used as many of the same elements as possible in the appearance of the blog, and I even had an editorial direction but that went out the window fast. I also started participating in things online and created/registered/listed accounts/profiles as required, and though I tried to use the same visuals, I was seduced to using newer images from time to time. I can't recall all the places I have created/registered/listed myself any more. (Fortunately, I usually chose MegWeaves or "Meg in Nelson" for my account name because early on I tried to avoid being identified as Japanese because "Japanese+weaver" felt such a specific, cold, elite box, of which I am not a member. Nowadays, this is at the back of the queue of things to worry about.)

Ben and I made my second website on Blogger so I could update it myself, and changed quite a bit to suit where I was at the time. I had another look last year and made numerous minor changes; what you see now at is, in effect, V2.5, but I don't feel comfortable/confident/sure if it represents what I make and me as a maker at this point.

It all started with photographs, most specifically when we spent a day with Doni and Husband. I always loved the quiet and uncluttered photographs on Doni's blog, (Shipbuilding posts in similar style); they allow me to focus and contemplate. Best of all they envelope me in a cocoon of calm.

After watching Doni and her camera in action, Ben explained to me some of the qualities I love are characteristic of SLR cameras, and I could emulate, to a degree, using his first, ancient digital Canon. I tried, but an old worry resurfaced: it's not only the camera, nor the lens, but what I have around me, how I see the world, how I live that's reflected in my photos. My photos are eclectic, frantic, and all over the place.

My present conundrum is not a marketing exercise in the first instance; I can't be bothered updating everything constantly and simultaneously. But it is a "Who am I? What am I supposed to be doing?" question, supported by an affinity with/for uniformity and simplicity.

What visual elements am I using now to represent me? (That I remember?)

I still like the grays I chose, pale yellow in combination, typeface Monotype Corsiva, my tulip weaving draft logo, and the smaller of my tags. I like the colors of the banners but I feel they don't represent what I make, and both avatars feel ancient; I dislike how vivid I made the gold, (though it stand out as an avatar, and when I'm depressed it takes that degree of saturation/contrast to see things.) Most of all, I don't like so many different elements from different era purporting to represent what I make and me the maker today. Variety is good, but I have a blurred vision of the present, and until I can see more clearly, I don't think I can't solve the present conundrum.

So, is that it? Is this where I am? Thanks a bunch for clarifying it. Do you think I need a colorful goo image in the meantime?


  1. You are right. It's not only the camera or the lens but how you see the world or want to see the world. I want my world to be as calm and serene as possible (even when chaos reigns) so I guess that comes out in the photos I take.
    I found it helped me to describe my work using a few words and then take my visual representation cues from that. It's not an easy task to keep it all consistent though or to settle on something in the first place.

  2. Yes, it takes a strong will to stay with a policy - I found that out when I first started blogging, and the nature/purpose of this blog changed rather quickly after I abandoned the policy...

    If the photos reflect the way I live and the way I work, perhaps I should just keep it all-over-all-kinds? Clearing and calming my mind, sometimes, feels so counter to the excitement I feel about weaving in general, in a way.

    Or do I want to decide one way or another??


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