When money is short, and gifts are expensive, Artists often use their talent in crafty ways. In art school, we’re lead to believe that craft is a dirty word akin to the death of your serious art career. How does one balance between the two?
First and foremost, you make whatever the hell you want.
I am giving you the absolute authority this holiday season to hot glue, puffy paint, and glitter whatever makes you feel good. Everything you make is not your art career, and everything you make isn’t art.
Pretend with me a moment that you somehow became absolutely, no doubt about it, everyone-in-the-world-knows-your-name levels of famous as an artist. You’ve made it BIG, kid! Kanye big! How would this defame your career if someone brought it back up? When was the last time you saw a major retrospective and the artist was mocked for something they made their mom? It’s not a thing*.
Furthermore, if your portfolio is full of craft, or artwork that could be confused for craft, there are much bigger issues than a clothespin reindeer coming to bite you in the proverbial ass fifty years from now.
Even though it goes against every instinct your mentors instilled in you, if your Aunt wants something involving a clothespin and some googly eyes looking vaguely like a reindeer? Go treat it like an assignment. Go make it three different ways. Then 30. Which ones were successful? Which weren’t? Why? What’s the biggest clothespin we can make? Or the smallest? What about materials choice? Scale? When was the last time you gave yourself an actual class-like assignment? Don’t settle for the prefabricated. Not only will you end up with something uniquely special (which is probably what your Aunt wanted in the first place) but it’s an excellent excuse to force your art skills back into action after a slump.
*If you’re able to find examples of otherwise, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
For tons of examples, do a search for clothespin reindeer for some inspiration.