I've been making and selling jewelry on Etsy for about 5 years. I have found that my "eye" for jewelry design (my own and others' creations) is always developing and changing. I am always eager to explore new materials and try new ideas. In fact, the quest for the "new, rare, one-of-a-kind" element (beads, pendants, etc.) that will make the next piece a knockout can become obsessive!
Reviewing the Old
In the New Year, however, I decided to take a critical look back at items that had expired or been renewed multiple times. Some of those pieces represent a significant investment in materials. But instead of helping me fund new supplies (or recoup past expenses) they were just 'sitting on the shelf.'
The first older piece I redid with a new vision of its possibilities sold almost as soon as it was listed. Other pieces I've redone haven't sold yet, but I'm happy that they better represent who I am now as a jewelry designer. Not all crafts lend themselves to makeovers as easily as jewelry, but looking back at past creations and reflecting on what worked and what could be stronger can help all artists to grow.
Looking objectively at your own work isn't easy, however. Here is the single most important tip I've found for bringing a fresh eye to your own pieces: Look elsewhere first! Go hunting for inspiration! Look at a LOT (hundreds, at least) of creations by other people working in your craft. Don't limit yourself to a single style or time period or theme, or to what you already know you like--just look for ANY jewelry (or pottery or fiber art) that makes you catch your breath, makes you want to reach out and touch.
Make an Inspiration Gallery
Use Pinterest or your Etsy favorites to make a good-sized collection of the pieces that resonate for you. Do you notice any patterns, colors, or small details that stand out in the pieces you especially love? Which ones surprise you or intrigue you the most?
Don't worry about being influenced by other artists' work. As long as you're not copying someone's creation, there is nothing wrong with absorbing fresh influences and then bringing them into your own creative process. Artists have always been inspired by each others' creations. Chances are, when you come back to your own pieces, new possibilities will jump out at you.
Here are some pieces by other jewelry designers that caught my eye--and some words for what inspires me in them:
Storytelling, Asymmetry, Unexpected, Bold Colors
Small Changes Add Up
One other tip I've learned from revising my past jewelry designs:
Sometimes a small change can make a piece feel new. Here is one piece I redid, adding a pendant to give the necklace more interest.
Sometimes, also, a new photo of the same piece may be all that's needed! Product photography is another topic and a HUGE challenge for jewelry sellers--one I'm still working on. I just bought my first DSLR camera--now I need to learn how to use it!
There is certainly more to growing and developing your shop than revising older listings. But if you make pieces that can be altered, looking back at older listings might present the opportunity to refresh past creations, revitalize your shop, and boost your sales for 2015.
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