A Flight of Fancy or A Potential Reality?

in art •  2 months ago

here I'm assembling a repeating tile design

If you’re a creative, you have no doubt contemplated the market, the financial end of your dreams and how to balance this with your creative process. I have thought about this a lot and particularly in recent years as the creative economy has changed dramatically both for better and worse.

Sometimes I consider the opportunities as they are, sometimes I think about potential long-term changes decentralized blockchain economies could bring but often what I’m thinking about is how much I see creatives around me struggling, hustling and still not really making ends meet.

When it comes to my own path, I've begun to wonder what would happen if I were to stop fitting into the paradigms available to me as a creative and instead consider what actually works for me! It actually feels like a daring act to even think about this!

Now I know that there is a different formula for each person and what works for me isn’t the same as what works for another, but my musing - at least for today - goes something like this:

Pook's Hill, sample sf.jpeg
a sample for a large chinoiserie style mosaic I proposed in 2007

In the interest of preserving my creative life force, the quality of my work, of innovation, of further developing mastery, I would say yes only to clients who support what it takes for me to do my best work.

I am an artist who usually has plenty of inspiration, motivation, experience and technical know-how, and what I need most is to be able to work at my own pace and to have sufficient funding.

a porcelain cup from the R+R Ceramics dishware collection
@greyhawk and I developed in 2014

Good work, good design, and transcendent creative expression all depend upon adequate time for reflection, experimentation and to make changes (maybe many times!). A piece can take 7 weeks or 7 months. I work diligently but it’s done when it’s done, not when your installer is ready.

Working like this enables my best potential and would make all the difference in what I produce. I do my best work when I feel valued, trusted and enabled as an artist. Some creatives need to be pushed hard by someone or something outside themselves, but not me. At this point in my career, I really don’t need that but instead I need a client to work with me, to trust and support me to reach for my most ambitious expressions and discoveries.

This reminds me of scientists and how they require funding and lots of time to discover, research and experiment to solve life’s persistent questions. We all live the benefits every single day of the endless work that scientists have devoted to their explorations.

@greyhawk at work in his painting studio

I also believe that creative discovery has equal merit in our world. We are graced every moment of our lives with the ubiquitous influence of musicians, poets, story-tellers, philosophers, visual artists, designers, weavers, architects, inventors, technological visionaries who have devoted their lives to the creative process. We have begun to take this creative equity for granted and often forget its value, but without it life would be bleak.

So this is my creative musing, but the bigger picture is that as a society, we are in real trouble culturally. Many aspects of our world are specifically counter-productive to creating the very content we need most. These destructive forces include:

  • the breakneck pace that creatives are expected to produce content is causing terrible burnout and brilliant people are dropping like flies. For example, fashion designers need to produce 7 new collections a year, meet unrealistic deadlines, and all for a lower price points than ever before.

  • As I’ve said, good work really takes time and reflection and a chance to experiment but if you have to produce constantly just to make a meager living, there’s no time nor money for it. This doesn’t produce quality work, just burnout.

  • Meanwhile knock off copies are created from designs that took real time and talent. These undermine creatives top to bottom and are reproduced with no regard for the ethics of manufacture. Unfortunately as consumers we don’t really understand the difference. [?Perhaps because the arts were removed from most public school curriculums in the late 1980s? I don’t know, just a thought.]

I'd really like to hear what these words spark in you....what do you see as life-giving paradigms for creatives as a whole and what are the destructive forces you observe or experience?

And if you could have your way, what supports your best creative work? What would you need to keep creating for the long-term?

Tell us about it in the comments!

Thanks Steemians for your support, friendship and all the ways you contribute to this platform and a special thanks to @creativecrypto and @sndbox (and so many others) who are working hard to make this a viable option for creatives at large!


IMG-9803 tiny.jpeg

aka Ruth Frances Greenberg, I am a ceramic artist who makes mosaics, tile and all things clay from my home studio in rural Connecticut. I’m here on Steemit to offer my support and friendship to creatives, individuals and projects that I value and want to see more of in the world. The decentralized economy and blockchain technology are promising and I am very pleased to be a part of this exciting new revolution.
Your support means the world to me and enables me to pursue my life and creativity with more freedom and opportunity, thank you! You can learn more about me and my work at www.ruthfrancesgreenberg.com

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It is, indeed, sad that most paradigms in the Western World do not appreciate art and beauty the way they should be appreciated. Science and technology has the advantage of building on each others' work, where the arts (although they can be influenced by previous work) cannot simply "plug-in a module" to make a symphony or a sculpture appear. Our life at breakneck speed also makes us too anxious to await the time necessary for a masterpiece to be created. Perhaps it is the artists that are truly mindful and living "in the moment."

Yes all so true! And I look forward to learning how others are navigating this


You bring up so many good points in this post. I really identified with this one...*I do my best work when I feel valued, trusted and enabled as an artist. *

As we're building our creative careers we all have to focus so much on the financials, struggling to find ways to allow our creativity to sustain us. It's so easy to lose the spark of what drew us to create in the first place.

After you've found your niche, I've found, it's equally as tough to protect that creative spark.


Such true words you say here..... the creativity has to be alive and flourishing and somehow we have to able to sustain our lives. And how to protect that creative spark is really an art in itself!

I've always had a fire in my belly to be a real master within my medium. My ambition set me apart and I wanted to be one of those artists who could make a few simple lines with so much expertise and grace behind each stroke that it would sing. My ambition has always pushed me hard to become better and to stay optimistic despite the ups and downs financially. And to willingly forfeit financial security to be found in a cubicle for the sake of preserving my creativity. But I do admit that all those years I assumed that it would get easier to make a living, that becoming good at what I do would actually yield more financial rewards even if still a humble livelihood.

Discovering that after 32 years in this medium, making a living isn't any easier has kind of knocked the wind out of my sails. Yes I've had some very good years and some amazing acclaim (acclaim that others lust after) but the world changes have really shifted my market and the fact that we as a society don't hold value for mastery have left me rethinking things. While not all those changes are negative, and I'm certainly not one to advocate for things to stay the same, at this point the paradigm I outline here is just about the only one I can say yes to anymore!

I truly am rethinking things and that's very healthy. We'll see how things shake out over the next year or so, I feel change in the air for me....


You definitely have mastered your craft, your work is incredible. I love your attitude towards deciding what's next.

It's so sad more people don't appreciate the sacrifice and talent of artists and craftspeople. Sooner or later I expect a backlash against mass produced, fast and cheap goods but the economy will need to vastly improve first. I see a great future for tokenized digital art of the sort found on SuperRare. @Opheliafu is doing great work in that realm.

I've been experiencing the same sort of soul-searching for the next few months. I feel like I'm the cusp of a shift, and although writing will be a component of it, it might take a back seat to other things. The vision is coming more into focus every day.

I wish you luck in figuring out the next steps in your journey! The answer will materialize for you at just the right time and it'll exceed your expectations. Have a great weekend!


Thanks for your kind, encouraging words! I agree that tokenized digital art is an exciting new frontier (and @opheliafu is definitely doing great work within this genre!) but I have to say that it has no draw for me. I can appreciate and support that work for others but have no interest in doing it myself. But I do think the tokenized world will also support physical art work so that's good news.

Interesting that you're going through some soul-searching re-thinking of your creative world as well, and very interesting that writing may take a back seat. I've been feeling that my art, my making of things will also be taking a back seat for me. My shift will overlap since I still have many projects I'm pricing out right now and it's likely I'll still be doing that work for the remainder of the year but I can feel that a new path will be opening up and I'll be simultaneously applying myself, engaging, giving in a different way. I 'm not sure about the tangible details yet and right now I'm getting glimpses, feelings, intuitions about what's ahead but can't quite define it. It'll be fun to see how things shake down for each of us!

I 100 % agree with you! Reading your post I can say I have the same thought of you. Me and my hubby are both artist, so you can understand how difficult could be to find the right "equilibrium" between our creative work and the money we need to live (and to buy tools and colors for our works too ^_^). As you wrote, in every creative work an "adequate time for reflection, experimentation and to make changes" can take few or a lot of time, simply it's done when it's done. It's not simple to live doing art because the market crisis, so we also do different "things" like to teach art in our lab (my hubby) and, for me, to create something more commercial (and less expensive for buyers) to sell.


Yeah I really empathize with you and Paolo! You two are an artist couple just as Rob and I and neither one has a regular income or even an adequate income!
Both of us have done teaching and all kinds of supplementary kinds of work over the years including making "products" that are more sale-able. But often those "products" wouldn't make enough money, it's very very tricky!

This paradigm I write about is one that I would love to have but haven't ever had the luxury to experience. I hope that one day it will be possible for all of us!

This post is sponsored and featured by @Appreciator in collaboration with @c-squared. Just keep up the good work.

Really nice and valuable to hear your thoughts on thus! oh i have thought how to make it work too, but I haven't found the solution at all! at some point I worked my was out, trying to "be visible online, at it took all my energy away from being creative! then I got burned out at some point and decided to fuck it all and just work with my garden and as a mother. but I started missing art too much, and parts if me still wants it to be an income, since I think everyone should make a living doing what they live and using their skills, so I am slowly coming back - but very slowly, since I don't want to burn out again!

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Hi @frejafri, oh yes the burn-out!! I completely understand how you try and give it your all - both to the creative part and the pr/ marketing - and even then still not making enough money. Pretty soon the work you loved has become a drag and has left you in poverty! I hope that in time you can find satisfying ways to keep your creative self thriving while still making the money you need to.

I am totally with you, and I believe you made the right decision to actually pick and choose your next projects. I am glad that you are in the position to do so as well :).
And yes, I wholeheartedly agree that creating good design is usually underestimated by everyone except the designers. It is quite baffling and sometimes depressing, if it's so easy, then no one would have stolen other people's design.


I would like to make this paradigm I write about a reality and hope someday it will be possible! Right now I don't have the luxury to say no to any clients and in fact don't even have enough work. Both Rob and I are creatives and these days have been a constant struggle to make our bills!

you are so right that if good design was easy then no one would have to steal other's designs! I've often heard people in museums saying "I could have made that" and I always know that clearly they have never even tried to make something themselves! Yes it's so easy to make something after you see someone else's idea after they solved every problem to make it look stunning, then it looks so easy, but to create it yourself is another story!

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A very thoughtful and well written post, which is something that most artists will have to think about, specially in the world of blockchain economy that we live in, these days!

I think it is a difficult pull and push, to commercialize and attain monetary success or to stay true to the muses and let your art journey for the sake of art itself.... Hmm, I believe most artists would be somewhere in the middle, because it IS important to be able to make a living through art for artists, but it is equally important to also follow our natural creative processes or else, I believe strongly that those inspirations will rot inside of us.

I also believe that to periodically reflect on our stances of where we stand on this spectrum, as artists, is a healthy undertaking. From time to time, stop and reassess, and so we may able to course-correct (if required)....

And lastly, you spoke about how 'knock off copies' undermine the entire creative process from top to bottom, and this is very true. Specially on social media, and on Steemit in particular, we see there are some 'artists' that are basically out to make a buck, which a veritable quagmire for other legitimate artists to deal with.

Thank you for your insights, and for the food for thought, Ruth ! And thank you, as well, for sharing with us, your beautiful, unique, and precious artworks here on Steemit :) I hope you will continue to thrive both in your success and your artistic journey <3 <3 <3


thanks for your thoughts @veryspider, we all know this struggle well in our ways. I really do hope that blockchain continues to be a viable option for creatives since it has so much potential. May we all thrive creatively!

Such important thoughts to have as a creative and human trying to integrate art with finances and sanity. Thanks for sharing this post!

I like to see self-conscious artists like you. You know what condition you need to be creative and to create your art. You know that you want to work with the client and not only for the client. You probably need a free hand in details (this is what I understood from your text).

I think it's unrealistic that there is so much pressure put on artists. Everyone works differently and the inspiration doesn't necessary comes every day so how you are supposed to be able to produce 7 collections a year? Is this still art or does it change into mass production?

I think we should not overwork our creatives as this is when we lose them. Creativity is not something what can be forced. If you have a period that you can't create well you can't create..

I wish you a lot of happy projects and clients who will understand you and the way you work :)

Thank you for sharing your thoughts!


Thank you for your thoughts and wishes @delishtreats! You're really right that overworking our creatives hurts everyone in the long run because we as a society lose out when we lose them. And I agree that 7 collections a year turns a designer into a machine and there is no way to do quality in that kind of quantity so again we all suffer as a society! Better to have one knock-out and innovative collection than 7 so-so ones.

I remember being baffled, Ruth, when a journalist family friend (who doubled up as a mentor of sorts) told me to make sure to protect my art from the demands of making a living. I believe this was my second year of university and I was too passionate and idealistic to fully process what she meant... Now, I've come to think of creativity as a form of prayer, and recognize rush or straining for feeling as a form of falsifying or harming this holy activity, which is essential for my own well being (and also tied up with how I see my role in the world and what I might contribute to it).

I admire your ability to cater to both world, inner and outer, while not doing violence to either. This, too, is spiritual practice and discipline. May you continue to find the space you need to create and an audience who appreciate the fruits of your labor enough to respect the process.


ahhh, how I've missed your eloquence, these words are nectar to my spirit -

creativity as a form of prayer, and recognize rush or straining for feeling as a form of falsifying or harming this holy activity, which is essential for my own well being

may we all find ways to honor what's within and also our need for livelihood! I don't yet have clients to work with me the way I describe here but hope to since I'm not sure how long I can sustain the status quo.


2 quotes for you/us, this fine morning:

What are we here for
if not
to bow
sway, sing
as ripening apples
the sun's reign?

--Carlos Ramirez
(My Heart in the Matter)

If only I may grow: firmer, simpler, -- quieter, warmer.

--Dag Hammarskjold

Warmly, 'bowing, swaying, singing,' Yahia


beautiful, thank you :-)))))