In my last post, I shared how simply rearranging our work can result in visitors/customers “seeing” a work they haven’t seen before.
There’s another side to “old work”, though, that I share with you today:
Your old work still has value.
Here’s the long story:
My artifacts have evolved over the years, changing for the better (I hope!) in every stage. I loved each “stage” for what it was.
But when I look back at those earlier pieces, I feel embarrassed. How could I have thought these were the best I could do?? Should I just get rid of them all? Discount them and move them on?
I hate discounting my own work, as it implies it does not have the same value it had originally. It could make buyers feel if they wait long enough, the price could come down.
Now, of course, I realize that as my prices have risen over the years, even when selling it for the same original price, it will look like a bargain.
Here’s how I found my own truth: From a friend who set me straight.
When I complained that I wasn’t wild about my old work, and felt a little guilty selling it as it felt “less than”, they asked,
“Did you love it when you made it?”
“Did people love your old work when it was new?”
“Then there will be people who will love it now, too.”
Bam! Mic drop. Clarity restored. (Thank you, Ruth Parent, my good friend!)
I now keep all my old bits to use in newer work. They are stored in a printer’s type tray chest, restored by my son years ago. Visitors are encouraged to open drawers and explore during my studio events.
And by holding on to all my older artifacts, I’ve discovered another insight along the way:
It’s my “relatively-old” work that annoys me, seeing in the moment, now, what I could have done better.
And my “really old” work that I love even more!
I love the fearless outlook on my art career I had then. I had a fabulous photographer, too, who always made my work look incredible. (Thank you and good wishes to you, Jeff Baird, in the Great Beyond. I will miss you and your talents forever.) I sometimes wish I could recapture that old aesthetic, but it’s hard. I am here in the now, right where I belong.
As artists, we fall into the myth that we get better and better at what we do in our making career. Well, we do get better…usually. (Maybe). But it doesn’t mean our work is worth more, will sell more/faster, will be seen as ‘better’. Skills matter, of course. But my own personal lifetime collections of other people’s work, I simply buy what I love, not what’s new, better, etc.
It’s about what speaks to ME.
There are buyers who will appreciate our growing skill level, and our newest work, of course.
Remember, though, there will be plenty of people who have our older work, and still treasure it. And people who will love our old stuff now, too.
So instead of beating yourself up over “old work”, instead of hiding it, put it out there! Especially if your new work is all out in galleries right now.
Tell the story about who you were then, and where you were in your life.
Someone may consider it the perfect piece, for themselves.