Thursday, September 23, 2010

Creating a Sustainable Business - Part III - Aesthetics

"form ever follows function" - architect Louis Sullivan

Now, aesthetics is a tough thing to describe- it does have a real definition, but whether something's aesthetic is good or bad is a pretty subjective thing.

We all have our own likes and dislikes, history and culture that create our predisposition that goes into judging the things we create and the things we purchase.

Function used to be (back in the days of the industrial revolution and today for some people and within some cultures) the most important part of any design and then form followed.

And, maybe for our handmade work to be truly sustainable this is still a good model for us to work with.

As customers become more conscious of how they spend their money it is very possible to see function pushed ahead of form again and this is more good news for the handmade movement where we control both form and function.

So, if you are a maker of flower vases for example - you might think first people want their vase to be cool (whatever that is to them) - to be their own aesthetic whether that be traditional or modern or whatever and obviously the form your work takes is very important and will stir up a certain audience and is the part that most personally reflects you as a maker ...

but, if the top of the vase, for example, sits in such a way - that is very cool and modern and pleasing to the eye of those who share your aesthetic - but will not allow a flower stem to sit straight in water and loses its function, well ...

for makers seeking to create a sustainable business with customers who are making conscious spending decisions putting time and energy into function can be, to quote Martha here, "a really good thing".

I just bought one of the very gorgeous jewelry hanging cases that the amazing Jessica of bluebirdheaven upcycles from antique printer drawers.

Now, as a customer I didn't go searching around Etsy thinking I wonder what interesting something or other I can find made from an antique printer drawer - I went looking for a jewelry case and my aesthetic led me to hers.

(and I am so happy with it by the way!)

Now, I do not know if form or function came first for Jessica - did she stumble upon a stash of amazing vintage printer drawers or want to create unique jewelry cabinets - but because she has taken into consideration both form and function she has created a very sustainable piece.

Functionality is also why sometimes even the most amazing illustrators find it easier to sell their work on t-shirts and jewelry and fabric and coasters and the myriad other functional processes available to them than to sell an 11X14 print.

(that and the fact that so many people have had the same art on their walls since Clinton was president - let's all buy some new art this week - we should start a movement - change your wall for fall or something catchy like that)

I have a beautiful bracelet that I would wear alot more often if I could latch the damn thing without giving myself a carpal tunnel injury or calling out for reinforcements.

(and I am not a "get hubby to zip me into this dress" kind of girl although that does sound kind of cool, if I had a dress like that ... now that I think about it)

Now, all of this is not to say that things can never be just 100% about form

(because all beautiful things serve their own function, of course, what higher calling than to give birth to something beautiful - something that moves us and makes us feel something)

but as makers looking to sell our work and create a sustainable business at the same time, the balance of form and function is surely something we might want to keep in mind.


donauluft said...

yes, sometimes I´m fascinated about something because of it´s form, and sometimes because it is so useful!..But I´m really thrilled by things that are beautiful AND useful! That is what good design should do...

M.M.E. said...

I couldn't agree more about illustrators selling more functional work than prints. It's a sad truth. And we should totally start that 'change your wall art' movement! My parents are nice and change theirs every 2 years. My grandparents, well, it's probably been up since Carter. :)

Red or Gray Art said...

cat as always so interesting to read ..ponder

madder root said...

Inspired by your post and a new wood engraver I discovered I just bought two new prints.