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Ten Tips To Be A Better Artisan

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Bead Embroidery, 2010

As you already know, the main topic of this blog is art/artisan work, since it is my field of expertise. I have been a self-employed artisan since my early twenties, and along this journey I have learnt and grown beyond all my expectations – not only as an artisan, but also as a human being, as for me, work, life and spirituality entwine into one single experience. That journey has taught me many lessons; some were easy, some were harder, and some I'm still struggling with; for what my experience is worth, here are ten tips to inspire you.

1. Be Original. Honestly, we have enough copycats already, on every single field of the Craft. Let's say that you are a wood carver; then, don't look for inspiration in other wood carvers – look for it on paintings, films, nature, other crafts, etc. You won't get the sympathy of the community if you copy others, and believe me, customers can always tell true from fake. And don't forget – being yourself is way more fun than trying to be someone else.

2. Be Patient. No skill is achieved quickly, and it takes years of constant practise to master any technique, and/or to find your own style. Giving up after a few months of practise (or even after a few years) is not only a waste of time of energy, it is a form of self-sabotage. You will never know what you could have reached if you don't try long enough, or hard enough.

3. Be humble. Make as many questions as you need to other artisans, but don't think you have the right to every answer. Be thankful for any help you get from other artisans, but don't expect to have every secret of the trade revealed. You must earn your rights in every community you join.

4. The ONLY secret to success is work, more work, and then a little more work. There are no hidden reasons why an artisan lives off his/her own work except complete devotion to the work he/she does. If someone is working while you procrastinate, while you waste your time online, while you are avoiding work, don't complain that they get the sales (and pay the bills) and you don't. Those who have a prominent position and reputation in your field have earned it for a reason.

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Handpainted Stone Anulet, 2011

5. Understand the sacredness of your work, the value it has over mass-produced items, and don't undersell yourself. When you do, you are damaging the whole of the artisans in your field, and of course you are damaging your own career as an artisan.

6. Don't be self-indulgent with your own work. If it could be better, then you should learn to make it better. Perfection is unreachable (and non-desirable in my opinion), but improvement is always reachable. Sitting in a comfort zone doing the same work again and again will only lead you to end up hating what you do. Take risks – risks are the best part of being an artisan. Challenge yourself to improve with every new piece you create. “It's just fine” will not take you anywhere.

7. Ignore the eye-rolling, criticism and lack of belief in your work that those around you will have. Do not put expectations on your family/friends/spouse's approval of what you do, because it is very likely that you won't find much approval at all. Just so, ignore the praises from friends, fans and supporters – for good and bad, keeping your ego away from your work is the best thing you can do for yourself.

8. Money is not a goal, it is just energy – if you just create to sell, your work will get stale and boring very quickly, and putting your mind on money (or the lack of it) instead of on your work will block the flow of energy that you need to make money come your way. Sounds like a contradiction, but it's just the opposite: focus on your work, obsess yourself with it, fall completely in love with it, forget about money completely, and you will be allowing abundance your way.

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Repainted Porcelain Gnome Set, 2009

9. Change judging yourself (and others) for empowering yourself (and others). Judgement is always negative, destructive, and brings no improvement; empowering is always positive, constructive and points to improvement and growth. Evaluate your work firmly, without self-indulgence, but kindly. No-one grows with criticism and negativity – think of the best teacher you had as a child, and try to be that teacher to yourself.

10. Failure is the biggest teacher of all. Do not ignore it or blame anyone else for your mistakes, and focus on what that mistake has to teach you – you will find there are a lot of useful answers there. Actually, failure doesn't even exist – what you see as a failure, is just a lesson for growth, and a door to change. Honour every failure, and be thankful for such a wise teacher.

And now, listen to what your soul is telling you, and CREATE.

 

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Spiritist and Artisan, follower of Maria Lionza's path. Born and living in Tenerife, one of the beautiful Canary Islands, on the Northwest coast of Africa, her artwork is deeply tied to her African heritage and Latin American Spiritism.

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