As an artist, you may worry about the pressure to lead a minimalist lifestyle. Things weigh you down. Stuff is clutter. Stop being so materialistic.
These are just a few of the admonishments you're exposed to.
How does marketing your art jive with such trends? If we're encouraged to shed the objects in our lives, who will buy your art? Are you contributing to landfills? (The answer to that last question is a resounding No!)
Designer and metalsmith Megan Auman has some insight that will make you feel better about making more art. What you do is critically important—it's the antidote to mass consumerism.
In this episode of the Art Biz Podcast, you’ll hear Megan and I talk about a manifesto she wrote back in 2012 titled Stuff Does Matter. When I read it, I thought it was brilliant and wished I had written it. Now, finally, I get the chance to revisit it with Megan herself. (I'm a little slow)
Before we get to my interview, here’s the manifesto for a little background.
Stuff Does Matter Manifesto
Stuff has a place in our world and in your life.
Objects matter beyond their utility.
Caring about things is not wrong.
Your stuff helps you make sense of the world.
Stuff connects you to people — to your past, present, and future.
Stuff provides beauty, meaning, and experience.
Stuff helps you remember and share.
There’s a difference between mindless consumption and the way you feel.
Value what you have.
Buy only what you love.
Savor what you own.
Allow your things to enrich your life.
Choose gratitude over guilt.
Know that the things you love do matter.
Music by Wildermiss.
- Megan's background, including her BFA and MFA studies (2:46)
- Her current focus on production and one-of-a-kind jewelry with gems from India (4:50)
- Her MFA thesis show of furniture made of wire in surface patterns and how it influences her current work (6:10)
- Stuff Does Matter manifesto (7:50)
- Why the word “stuff” is the best word to use (8:10)
- How she researched “stuff” and material culture (9:58)
- Why Minimalism isn't the answer for everyone (11:40)
- Why your art doesn't contribute to mass consumerism (13:45)
- Millenials do want stuff, not only experiences, but they buy less (14:42)
- Learn to talk about your art in the language of experience instead of the language of stuff (15:40)
- How the death of her artist-mother prompted Megan to think more deeply about her attachment to stuff (18:00)
- Swedish Death Cleaning (18:20)
- Keeping things for sentimental reasons isn't wrong and why this is also a feminist issue 17:55 (21:10)
- Our relationship to things changes over time (22:53)
- Reach out to other people in your family when you no longer treasure an object (24:25)
- Consciousness and connection vs. consumerism (28:55)
- Artists don't want to be part of noisy mass marketing – to their detriment (32:20)
- There is no shame in selling and being part of the solution to mass consumerism (33:15)
- You have a responsibility to price your art appropriately and most artists need to raise their prices (34:30)
- When Megan first received pricing advice and how she continues to follow it (36:10)
- “My job is to help other artists and makers understand how important their work is so that they can go out and tell their customers and the world.” (38:58)
Download the Stuff Does Matter manifesto
Megan's post about Millennials and creating an experience
Megan's thesis exhibition
The mug she loves so much from MODHome Ceramics
Swedish Death Cleaning
Quote from Aesthetic Intelligence by Pauline Brown about the need for beauty
About My GuestMegan Auman is a designer and metalsmith who creates bold, wearable jewelry made from steel and recycled sterling silver sold in stores across the U.S.
She is also a focused businesswoman who has helped many artists grow their businesses through her blog, courses, e-books, and consulting at Designing an MBA. That makes her a writer/author, instructor, and entrepreneur as well.
Megan received her BFA in metalsmithing from Syracuse University, where she also studied entrepreneurship. She went on to receive an MFA in metals and jewelry from Kent State University.
Music by Wildermiss.
This episode is sponsored my signature business-building program, the Art Career Success System, a program I have perfected for more than 17 years working with artists.
All of the lessons you learn in the Art Career Success System are tasks you will do over and over again throughout your art business and career. That’s why it’s a SYSTEM.
In the ACSS you will build a strong foundation using my video and audio lessons, worksheets, and transcripts. And you will be part of a community of artists who are forward-thinking and forward-moving.