Tag Archives: design

When does marketable become cookie-cutter?

I’ve been busy making all sorts of earrings this summer. It is the first project for my summer metalsmith/jewelry making class. This first project was to create a series of seven pairs of earrings, each pair adding a different and more complex skill as we moved through the series.

A few examples from my first earring series. (In copper and brass.)

Today the final series was due and our class critiqued each other’s work and designs. Several times during the discuss, the class talked about marketable designs versus merely designing based on our (or the artists) own aesthetic. As our pieces were functional earrings, we talked about fashion and style and current trends. We talked about wearability and functionality. But the question that surfaced a few times was “What is more important: marketability or artist aesthetic?”

As a graphic design student, I can’t help but think there is not one easy answer to this question. I’m sure there are crops of artists, painters and sculptors who wouldn’t hesitate to say if the artist is true to his or her own aesthetic, then the buyers will come. That an artist shouldn’t be a slave to what sells. But if that were really true, the term starving artist wouldn’t exist, no? But does taking marketability and buying trends into account for design work automatically create cookie-cutter products? Does designing for a particular target audience negate true artistic aesthetic? Can these two concepts live together? Can an artist be profitable without selling his soul?

Close-up shot of a few of my favorite earring pairs. (In brass and copper)

This class provides a different perspective of design for me in a very functional sense. Throughout creating sketches and designs for each pair of earrings, I would ask myself if I would actually wear the earrings, would I give them as a gift, or can I imagine seeing them in a store. By using my own marketability as a gauge, am I still staying true to my aesthetic?

I think I’ve raised more questions in this post than answered. I would love to know your thoughts?

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Chattanooga has only one option?

“Chattanooga has only one option, and it is private.” This anonymous opinion was referring to good schools in the Tennessee, specifically the Chattanooga area. In doing a little research on public schools in Tennessee, I came across a message board with many opinions that echoed that line of thought…if you want your kids to get into college, the only place to send them in Chattanooga is a private school. I did not grow up or attend public school in TN and didn’t move to the Chattanooga area until about 2 years ago, so I really didn’t know any reputations of school districts or specific schools of the area. But with the recent visit from eduction reformer Geoffrey Canada to UTC and our upcoming class project relating to public education, I wanted to know more.

The more I read from this message board (about TN schools in general, not just Chattanooga), the more angry I became. There was another comment stating as a parent in TN, you should do all you can to send your children to private schools. Let me pose a hypothetical here: what if, instead of focusing energy and finances on sending children to private schools, the energy was focused on bettering public school education for all children in the area? Wouldn’t it be great if not just a handful, but all of the children in your community received a good education? What would the future of that community look like if all of today’s children received a better education than yesterday? Instead of fleeing from the failing public schools, shouldn’t we as a collective city be helping those schools? My hope is that even a few people will say yes.

Stay tuned to my blog for more posts relating to our upcoming CreatAthon and more on public school education in Tennessee.



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Faculty Concert Series

Thanksgiving weekend is used for a little catch up, so my blog will be getting a little more attention over the next few days. This project for typography called us to design a poster for the Faculty Concert Series at UTC. We had to show three different posters that were still a cohesive series…a convention to show they belonged together, yet different enough to notice it was a different show. I used sheet music as my inspiration and the bars are a loose representation of the music coming off the page. As a musician, there comes a point where the artist is no longer merely reading music but playing from memory and playing from the heart. It’s sort of a sublime moment for the musician and I wanted to show that point with my poster. The music is coming off the page and the musician is playing from heart.

Faculty Concert Series

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