Creative Entrepreneurship

04-16-08_SantaFeSkies Blech

This is a topic that comes up from time to time, mostly in a cringeworthy fashion, “I can’t believe how far I’ve come since I made that embarrassing piece?!”

Fortunately, with my hand stitched paper art, the materials are so inexpensive, that I feel no remorse in throwing something away if it’s not up to my current standards. Or I’ll disassemble it and reuse the good parts.

(Which reminds me of the time a woman at work, took apart the birthday card I’d given her (a month or two after her birthday, not right away) and gave me back a part I could reuse. She was one of the most frugal people I ever met, so I understood her thinking. And I did reuse it, but it was a little weird! It’s okay if I do it, lol. I was thinking I’d rather she’d thrown the whole thing away then cannibalize it. No, I don’t get me, either.)

I have always thought I would have a section in my booth or online called, “Retired Designs”. It sounds more elegant than, “Crap I Can’t Stand Looking at One Minute More”. But I’ve never really had enough to do that with so I’ve just marked down the price on a few things and of course they sold. And then that irritates me because people are buying according to price not how stunning my work is, she says modestly.

When I’ve written about hating my old work before, people have commented that just because I don’t like it, doesn’t mean that someone else won’t. Another school of thought is, the one I subscribe to for the most part, is that I don’t want my name on anything that doesn’t represent me well.

All of this came to mind when I saw Gia Conti’s invitation to her Super Sale at the upcoming Corn Hill Festival. She’s making a point of letting people know that older works will be marked down so I’m sure her collectors and wannabe collectors will go scoop them up. It seems like such a win/win when it’s someone else doing it.

Then today, Alyson Stanfield wrote about the very same topic, Earlier Work Not Selling. Be sure to read the comments below her post for a myriad of ideas on how to deal with this very subject. The common thread seems to be that one should carefully go through the rejects and deal with them on a case-by-case basis.

What have you done in the past, that’s worked for you?

Robyn 404


Comments on: "What to do with unsold work?" (18)

  1. Stefani, great topic!
    I am just now in my art career, amassing some artwork that has “missed the mark”. In other words, artwork that hasn’t appealed to anyone or something I created that I know is either subpar or just didn’t end up as I thought it would. I wondered what to do with it.
    One piece in particular, had been around for about 3 years. There were parts of it that bothered me and other parts I loved. I finally decided, after some trepidation, to remove the parts that bothered me and rework them. It is still a WIP, but I’m happy with the changes I’ve made so far.
    My trepidation was the fear of dismantling something I created. Admitting to myself that I created something that wasn’t “good enough” gave me a twinge. I had to choke that down and just think of it as a “remodel”. In other words, it had grown old and needed to be revamped. That helped.
    Another piece, though in theory was cool, never quite got there. That one sat around for a few years before I just began cannibalizing it.
    I think that reworking something or cannibalizing is ok. Does it bother us because it had already been introduced to the market? (What will they say when they see this again?) A real fan might notice, but I think they’ll appreciate it. At least I hope so! If it sat in our studio and never saw the light of day, would you think twice about reworking it? Probably not. I also think sales are ok, but I, personally, would only do it on lower end works or reproductions. But that’s just me.


    • Rochester Artisans said:

      Remodeling a piece plays into my love of recycling too. And if I really hate something in total, I do throw it out and never think of it again – amazing how that works. Much better than stewing over it over time.

      Good comment, Melissa!


  2. So funny! I think about this often, what to do with unsold pieces or ones not up to my standard?! The other day my sister was over, she sat down at my desk and said “Oh I really like these earrings!” I said “Really?” They were a pair I had made but hadn’t taken to a show because I didn’t really like them. Everyone has different taste (I need to remind myself of that more often)!


    • Rochester Artisans said:

      I know! That’s happened to me too, Betsy. I have to refrain from saying, “Are you nuts?? I have much better stuff than that!”


  3. When I make something that I don’t really like, I lower the price on the item. And people buy them. I think to myself as I mark down the price, who would want this one — I think it’s ugly. But, like you said, everyone has different tastes. Perhaps I shouldn’t mark down the price after all!!


    • Rochester Artisans said:

      I think you’re right, Linda – try *not* lowering the price and see what happens. 🙂


  4. Sometimes my favorite pieces will just not sell, then the become MINE. Otherwise, I cannibalize like a madman.


  5. I’m glad I’m not the only one with this problem. When I’m not sure of something I’ve done I’ll show it to a few people (that I know will be honest) to see what they think. I also end up with alot of single coasters that I have come up with in the design process or just didn’t quite match enough to put in a set. I’m thinking of having a ‘Christmas in July (or August)’ to sell some of the orphan pieces and some things that no longer fit with what I’m doing now. Plus it would give me an opportunity to show what I’m planning on doing for this Christmas – I”m thinking pre-orders and to cater to people that can’t make it to craft shows. Has anyone tried ths??


    • Rochester Artisans said:

      I like the word “orphan” actually – pulls on the heart strings in a subliminal way, maybe. And taking orders for Christmas is such a good idea – just might steal that. (I know, it’s such an obvious idea but clearly, I never thought of it before!)

      I know plenty of artists who sell ornaments in summer shows. There are lots of customers who do plan ahead that far. And not every ornament is Christmas-themed. I’ve always wished there was a word that meant the same thing but had a more year-round feeling to it.

      Thanks Tracy!


  6. I have had pieces that just didn’t work colorwise, sometimes you can throw it into a dye bath and somehow magic happens and it works. I have felted woolen items that were awful and used the resulting felt for other projects. And the most awful thing I do, if something doesn’t sell, or it doesn’t represent me well, I donate it to a fundraiser. Shameful.


    • Rochester Artisans said:

      Susan, I’ve done just the opposite. I’ve donated pieces to fundraisers that were nicer (more expensive) than they needed to be. Once I realized what I was doing, I stopped.


  7. Interesting topic! I usually take the art piece and cut it up and upcycle it in another project. I’ve never marked it down. But I may try that in the future.


  8. maryanna mueller said:

    Very thoughtful and useful!

      Ridin’ With The Light In Gratitude,



  9. […] The most commented on post in 2014 was What to do with unsold work? […]


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