Friday, April 04, 2008

Owning the Means of Production

There is a lot of talk around the web about NOT owning the means of production - in fact, it is a veritable tabu to own the place where things are made. I find this a perplexing idea. I own my studio. As an artist, owning my studio became more and more important as neighborhoods I contributed to the gentrification of became financially unavailable for the creatives who established them in the first (well, maybe 2nd or 3rd) place. Artists tend to live and work in edgy neighborhoods mostly because they are affordable. Then, well, those neighborhoods improve and the artists are forced out. Anyway, I bought my studio 8 years ago. Let's not even talk about real estate values in an insane economy.

Anyway, conceptual art, mid-60/70's made making; painting, actually sculpting etc. unnecessary. Thank you Sol Lewitt! But, life goes on and economics affects us all whether we follow the muse or the crowd. SO, making art is experiencing a resurgence; note the booming DIY movement and craft/art/design are all starting to bump elbows in the dark room of pre-new world discovery. High/low, democratic connectivity, the onslaught of being in touch- Takes my breath away.

I am a potter. I make things. I sell them (hopefully). I use the web to help show pictures of new work, to talk about new campaigns, be it here, or on my website, via email, etc. Not to mention Facebook, Twitter and now FriendFeed. I am trying to keep it simple. There are piles of other options for the tech obsessed.

Owning the means of production involves being on site of the place where stuff is produced. Not outsourcing. This thought may piss off the remote and inexpensive labor in our planet's fast growing economies, but there is a reverse kind of colonialism at hand. If I have my stuff produced cheaply in a developing country and I focus on designing new and novel products, well, I will end up with Phillipe Stark's karma. Ouch! Making stuff and selling it, this works for me. Simple, clean, efficient. Hard. Lots of work. But, I sleep well at night and I try my best.


klineola said...

Well said. I think further down the line we will see a more localised production as gas prices go up and transportation becomes a bigger issue than it already is. I have seen over the last few years a change in my sales. Recently most of my sales are out of my studio, and I wholesale/ship less work. It could be because of a growing tourist market her in the NC mountains, but I also think that the pottery consumer benefits from visiting the place where the objects are made. It may add to their enjoymentr of the objects. Also consumer realization of how their buying habits and their local economy is linked is beginning to click, as in the slow food movement. Thanks for the thoughtful writing.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree. I would think that would be the goal of every potter. But I guess you never know a persons situation. I just started potting and already I'm plotting my course to get where you are.

I take classes (seven students per night) from a man that owns his own studio, has his own equipment (kilns, wheels, slab roller, etc.) He also has a place in the country where he built a wood burning kiln and does raku. He did all of this for himself within a span of 15 years. That's where I want to be.