Authenticity may very well be one of my core values. I strongly value work that attempts to stay true to its intentions from beginning to end. Understanding this about myself, I have been thinking a lot about how to market my work and coming across these challenges as I try to stay authentic in my process:
Can you make something with the intention of being a product and not have it driven by sales? Can you make holiday cards and not think, that last card sold really well so I need to make another one just like it?
Does mass production deteriorate value? Small wall weavings, for example, made a comeback, became extremely popular, and ended up in target. Their mass production made it hard for those artists who make a living off of carefully crafted weavings to now make a profit.
Paintings sold in galleries have to be priced high not only because materials are expensive, but also because both the gallerists and the artists have to make a living from the sales. The high costs of paintings limits your audience to a very elite group of individuals who can afford to spend a lot on art. Sometimes, gallerists will ask an artist to make a certain style of work based on the artist's previous sales. Can one really get away from creating work that is not driven by sales?
Perhaps which path we take to sell our work is less important in our attempt to stay authentic than the decisions we make within the path we choose. Yes, I believe one can make products without creating work that is driven by sales if one makes conscientious decision to do so. Yes, mass production can deteriorate value, so one has to decide how much is too much and turn down opportunities that feel inauthentic, if authenticity is the goal. And yes, selling work in galleries can sometimes lead to making work driven by sales, so one has to decide what feels honest when faced with that decision.
If you value authenticity in your work and process, no matter your career path, I would love to hear about your experiences and struggles in your attempt to stay genuine.