Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Creative Musings: HierARTchy

I've been thinking a lot about how we become better at what we do. I've been studying images and techniques from some of the heavy hitters like Sherri Serafini, Laura McCabe, Heidi Kummli and Marcia DeCoster, and I've been thinking about how they became so good at what they do.
As a result, I wrote down a list of creative levels I'm calling the HierARTchy. I started by writing Master down and then seeing what steps lay just below that.
This is what I came up with:
Each one of these I chose for a specific reason. I believe that they form the steps to becoming your best at what you do, notice I did not say "the" best. I think the goal should be to be the best you can be. I will never be Sherry Serafini, what she creates is her, but I do want to be the best me.  

Wild Strawberry Bangle by CDL Jewelry

The climb up the ladder from will be slower or faster for some. Also, I believe that if you choose to stop along the climb, you can, whether it's a personal choice, a time constraint, or just simply a loss of interest. For the next few weeks, I want to explore these levels and kind of see what each level really means, and what level of craftmanship can be seen at each level. I think we'll focus on jewelry since I think that's kinda what we're all into.
Leaf Fall Season by Guzelle

But first, the Webster's Dictionary definition of what each word really means.
1. Master - a person eminently skilled in something, as an occupation, art, or science and a worker qualified to teach apprentices and to carry on a trade independently.
2. Professional - following as a business an occupation ordinarily engaged in as a pastime (I chose this one because I think it relates to jewelry making. Also, it was interesting that the definition of professional had a lot more to do with money and less to do with skill)
3. Apprentice - a person who works for another in order to learn a trade (Now, I know that this is relatively uncommon, but I chose the word apprentice to describe those who are seeking out interaction with the masters, in a class, or on the web and are paying for their services)
4. Amateur/Hobbyist - a person who engages in a study, sport, or other activity for pleasure rather than for financial benefit or professional reasons
5. Novice - a person who is new to the circumstances, work, etc., in which he or she is placed

Next week, we'll talk more about what it means to be a novice, but what do you think...
Where do you think you are in the levels and why? Where do you want to be?

Also, think about a novice...what kind of work can you expect to see from someone at the novice level? What kind of work were you doing when you were a novice or beginner?

Enjoy your Wednesday and the gorgeous pieces of jewelry I've linked to above!


  1. Interesting post! I think I'm an amateur/hobbyist and always will be. I never wanted to live by my jewelry making and love it as a creative outlet. I can say the same about archery. When I was a jewelry novice I made mostly simple strung designs. Then I decided to try Native American Beadwork and was hooked with seedbeads COMPLETELY.

  2. Great post Marcie... As a novice/beginner, I created very simple strung pieces, concentrating on mastering the art of crimping and simple loops. I really did follow instructions to the tee, as I felt any stepping off the straight and narrow path would mean it would all be wrong. Being overwhelmed by all the bead choices pushed me in the direction of seeking advice from the store owners to what matched with what. I think it was only when I found the courage to start exploring with my own ideas and having the confidence to believe in my designs, did I really start trying different techniques and step up a level.

  3. I consider myself an amateur/hobbyist as I have never sold my pieces (apart from my glass fused cabochons) and haven't really considered selling them.

    I was like Emma when I was a novice - following instructions pedantically. A few years on my style of beading has changed from stringing designs to bead weaving and embroidery.

    I feel a little more confident about my skill level however didn't consider myself an ''artist'' until recently. I am still very unsure about my work, which I think is one of the reasons I haven't considered selling my pieces. I am constantly receiving comments on my work and people telling me I should start selling my work so perhaps I should start listening to them and not the little voice in my head telling me they are just being polite. I think we all have this self doubt though don't we?

    I find myself always comparing myself to other artists and I think this is a line of thinking I need to change!

    I don't expect to ever be famous as far as my beading is concerned but I am chuffed when people now say that they recognise my work as ''mine" as I am able to do with the beadwork of those I admire.


  4. Intriguing!

    I am not sure where I fit. I often feel like a novice because I "just string". But I make a living at it. And I strive to make each turn of the tool as perfect as I can. So I don't know HOW to classify myself at all.

  5. Wonderful definitions Marcie! I think there is room in there for everyone and there is no judgment as to which level is the right one for you. As Kokopelli states, she is very happy being the amateur/hobbyist. I am focusing on Professional. I am certainly not a Master and I am not sure that I would like that. But I also am an apprentice since I love to learn new things and challenge myself. Thanks for this insightful post, Marcie!
    Enjoy the day!
    P.S. Go over to Christine Damm's blog. I think you will be interested in this post, particularly a comment made that sounds like you have experienced.