Thursday, October 06, 2011

How Steve Jobs helped me personally

How did Steve Jobs help me personally? 

In watching the news coverage last night of Steve Jobs passing, I realized just what an important role both he and his generation of entrepreneurs have played in both my life and my art. I am by no means an Apple fan boy. I was raised to be a windows user, and have successfully resisted the urge to buy the more expensive machines that Apple offers; however the influence is everywhere, and a huge part of the world we live in today.

However, the vision of a tech enabled world has changed the way that small scale businesses and artists can sell their work.  I was college trained to be a working artist/crafts person before the last great digital revolution. My senior seminar class was all about producing a slide portfolio, approaching galleries and the traditional model for making and selling art. The time from the creation of the object and the actual sale of the object could easily be 6 months or more. If you went down the craft show route, you would spend months making inventory, travel halfway across the country, set up a tent and hope for good weather and a few customers. If you went the gallery route, you would spend that time making objects, writing resumes and cover letters, hiring a professional photographer to make a portfolio, and hope that you could get 10 stores to agree that your work was worth selling. You would then ship off the work, and it would sit in a store, hoping the right person would walk through the door one day. 

Now I can make a marble or bead in the morning, photograph it in the afternoon, edit the photographs and list an auction or sales page at an online venue, post about the new item on any number of forums and online communities, finally to wake up the next day and find that the item has sold within 24 hours of its creation. In addition some of those items are seen by thousands of viewers online. I happen to think that for me, this is a much better business model.
I can hear us old timers already saying “ well, back in my day,………….”.

Now I know that all of this change is not only Steve Jobs doing, but he played a huge part in pushing the culture that made this possible. Now a hobbyist that makes a few beads a week can look as legitimate as a “pro” that slaves away 8 hours a day on the torch, all you need is a slick website and the skills to make good work. I personally think that this just pushes all of us to be better. Innovation and excellence are being pushed further every day in the arts and crafts, due to the rapid ability to share ideas, post photos and do research online. When I want to see a collection of images to refine an idea, I just pull up Google’s image search. My community of peers is no longer the local crafts guild, but an international group of like minded people on Facebook and glass forums.

It is a great time to be a maker of objects. It is ironic that the cold digital world has allowed those who choose to pursue these ancient and labor intensive craft forms to make a better living. It has allowed me to stay at home with my kids, still sell my art, and never have to stand in the rain at a craft show and hope it lets up enough to allow a customer to buy something, just so I can earn the gas money to get back home. Now I just sit at a keyboard, while dinner is simmering on the stove, the kids are doing their homework in the next room, and I reach out and show thousands of people what I have for sale with the push of a few keystrokes.

The home computer also allowed me to publish 5 books and an instructional DVD. I was able to layout and print the books without the backing of a publisher. All it took was the seed money and the help of a very talented friend ( thanks Julie!) who did the layout and design.  The first book sold 3,000 copies in less than year, only because of the internet.  Even this has changed over the last ten years, my next book will only be digital, no printing costs necessary.
Not like back in my day when you had to walk your item to market uphill 10 miles both ways in a snow storm to do a show that no one came to see.

A bead inspired by fabrics found on Google's image search
 Thank you to Steve Jobs and the visionaries that brought us the internet and the applications to use it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I bet you didn't have any shoes, and only a flat-tired wheel barrel to haul your wares with as well. Thank goodness for the internet.