Before we start this, this is not going to be a tell all, “Etsy is the worst” or “Etsy is an unethical company” type of post. Etsy has been a great platform with good customer service and excellent tools. It simply isn’t what I’m looking for for what I want to do with my art. I’m now selling all of my visual art through my website here on a Pay What You Can basis. Let me tell you why.
I have painted and drawn off and on since childhood. At one point I wanted to be a professional visual artist, and even entered college as a studio art major. Life and society dictated that I go in other directions and on other paths, and I ended up in theater and as a writer. I’m super okay with that! And that journey around the wiles of the educational system as an artist is an entirely different discussion for another time (because man is it a while, terrifying, pitfall laden ride).
Around this time last year I picked up painting again for the first time in LITERAL YEARS. The big difference this time around was that I wasn’t doing it with expectations. I wasn’t trying to paint realistic portraits or anything like that, I wasn’t taking a class, I just wanted to MAKE something with my hands. I grew up building stuff with both of my parents or working in the garden, I always had something in my hands, I was always making something. I had forgotten how incredibly satisfying that is. Painting very quickly became a way for me to clear my head, get my emotions out in a tangible, tactile way, and produce something if not beautiful, interesting.
Then the eventual “but what are you going to DO with this” came up, the more I painted and the more I enjoyed it. This voice pops up a lot. It’s not fraud police, it’s usefulness police. How is what I am doing USEFUL in some way? How will it better my life? I have gotten a lot better at realizing that non-monetary and non-visible improvement of my life is still important improvement and still a necessary and healthy investment. But I digress. I started the Etsy site because I was in the middle of a lot of mental turmoil in terms of what I wanted to DO with my life. Which parts of my jack of all trades-ness would be my main focus, my main goal? Maybe it would be this? or at least partially this. So I invested in it, time, resources, everything I made prints, found other ways to make my art available, went to art shows, and I’m genuinely glad that I did. I love making art, I love seeing it go to new homes, and the look people get on their face when they find something in whatever it is that I made that makes them smile. I love it. But it is not my main focus or my calling. I don’t want to try to make it a career because I love it. I’ll do commissions if I want to, but Etsy is going to be closing down.
So why go to pay what you can? I have, my entire life, been of the opinion that art is for everyone. Or at the very least, that it should be. I never understood the idea that someone “can’t be artistic” or really in general the gatekeeping mentality that surrounds the artistic community. I don’t like it. I hate the barrier between people who want to enjoy art and one of the biggest ones is money. It has only been the last few years attending conventions that I’ve allowed myself to collect art because of money, and because of the perception of being in my mid twenties and trying to afford art. That I should buy it because that money could be saved for the future. that I should skip making my home somewhere I love to be with art that makes me feel something. Yes, save when you can, but sometimes you find yourself with that extra $10 that you want to put towards something in your life, in your world, but that $10 isn’t going to get you much.
I don’t want my art to be a part of that battle ground.
If my art makes people feel things, I want them to have access to it. If they only have $10 for my print, I want them to be able to have it. The purpose of art is to make people feel, to give them something to connect to. The only way to do that is to give people access to it.