I have been mulling over Randy Darwall’s advice to study design, and have been looking around for study options. Unfortunately, while the Bay Area is (relatively) rich in academic textile programs, the options seem to be limited to either very expensive single classes ($4800 per class!) or full-time master’s degree programs (which I also can’t afford).
I am therefore seriously considering the Open College of the Arts program in textiles, starting with their Level I class. It’s a substantial time commitment, but I think it will be worthwhile to have an opportunity for structured study of textile techniques and design, with feedback on my work from a tutor. I need to decide in the next two weeks, though, as tuition goes up 62% (!) on September 1 due to UK budget cuts. I’ve sent a few inquiries off to their office, and will likely sign up sometime next week.
I’m also considering the borderline between fine art and artwear, not from the eternal “art vs. craft?” perspective but from the very practical question of where I want to show (and possibly sell) my work. The disadvantage to making artwear/wearable art is, simply, that it has to fit someone. Clothing is not “one size fits all” unless you are making bathrobes. (And even bathrobes can have length/girth issues!) The kind of highly tailored, personally fitted work I like doing is simply not compatible with ready-to-wear clothes. So unless I want to switch to the kimono or boxy jackets used by many artwear creators, my processes are not suitable to commercial artwear – even at the high end. (My skills aren’t up to individually created couture garments for other people.) And I do want to display my work in galleries and (hopefully) more museums – which means creating things that people can sell, or want to collect/display.
(I’m definitely not in this for the money – Melissa Leventon warned me that a major work by an unknown artist isn’t likely to sell for more than a few thousand dollars – which sounds like a lot, but for something that might take six months’ work, is barely a pittance. But I would like to see my work get more exposure than it is currently getting.)
Melissa suggested that I investigate three-dimensional textile art that is not artwear, and provided a long list of galleries and websites that sell textile art. I’m in the process of going through them, looking for inspiration and information.
I’m also, oddly, considering the possibilities of doing two-dimensional textile art. I say “oddly” because I always thought of myself as a three-dimensional artist, finding flat pieces boring. But this quilting design class is making me see more possibilities in two dimensional work, and the possibilities of surface design (katazome, stenciling, cross-dyeing) on warps and woven fabric seem really exciting. So I may consider doing two dimensional design as well.
In short, I feel like I am at a crossroads, off my usual path, with the possibilities standing wide-open. It’s a really exciting place to be. I am as-yet uncommitted to any path, but looking forward to the future.