I posted this on Craft Hackers yesterday, but felt I'd like to have it here too. Ya'll can deal.
No, it isn’t a dirty word, although knowing me it very well could be.
This week’s post was inspired by my grandfather who passed away last
week. In going through his belongings, his artistic works were some of
the most treasured items.
My grandfather was a woodworker and silversmith. Not that you’d know
it if you asked him. He spent his life working a paper job, coming home
and creating beauty at night. A “frustrated artist” as one person at the
funeral said. I can empathize with having to do a job to put food on
the table, while working on your art in your free time, as I’m sure many
of us can. But even with that, he always took the time to grow his own
talents as well as encourage me with my own artistic pursuits.
One of the lessons I learned from him a long time ago was “always
sign your work.” Grandaddy was always encouraging of my artistic
pursuits, but he was insistent that I ensure every piece had my own mark
so it would be known who made it. It is one of the reasons I have
struggled with so long in finding the “right” name to work under.
He must have taken his own advice to heart, though, and in his later
pieces, you can see a new signature appear. He had always put his
initials, TSD, on his work before, and occasionally he added a graphic
to the designs. Grandaddy was a scholar as well, and his new signature
incorporated both his name, a unique mark, and his love of Latin. TSD Me
Fecit. “TSD I made it”
As an artist, we like to think that our work will stand on and our
link to it will be known. But it isn’t always that easy. Who gave me
that quilt when I was a child? Who embroidered that sampler on the wall?
We grow up and forget names and places and times. Our work is passed to
others who never knew the stories behind them. Without a signature, a
mark, something to stamp that work as your own, you become a nameless,
faceless creator. Items have stories, value, worth when we know where
they come from.
I’m so glad my grandfather marked his works. I will always know that
my cutting board was given to me by my grandfather at age 90. I will
know that the chalice and candlestick he carved came from him, and my
heirs will too.
Do you have an artistic signature? Does your business? If not, take
my grandfather’s advice and develop a unique indicator of your creation.
Be proud of your work, and tell the world “I made it.”