A few months ago, I posted this photo online with the blurb "Super productive! Some makes for the month!". Seemed innocuous enough, a straight forward little pat on my back. I was productive, I kept creative, and I wanted to share that success with others.
To my surprise, a conversation erupted as a result of this photo, regarding the concept of quality vs. quantity. Let me stress I didn't take the comments personally, nor do I believe they were meant to be taken so, but it sparked an interesting conversation that I wanted to discuss here, which touched on the idea that the production of multiple pieces (and how many is too many was never defined) somehow suggests, on the face of it, a lack of quality... that somehow over production is perceived as an actual thing!
Design and aesthetics of finished work, however, are a different beast all together. And I cannot say, with any certainty, to which the above conversation was directed. And, let's be real honest here.... quality is still more a matter of preference than irrefutable, universal fact. I have purchased handcrafted pieces that have kinks in the wire, the curves are a little wonky, or the weaves are not compressed. Why? Because those pieces tell me a story, which is more important than their perfection, or my perception of perfection.
So let's talk about the implied idea above that there's such a thing as over-production, that producing too many things in some predetermined time frame can somehow be damaging to, not only the quality, but the artistry or creativity.
While we can (and should) consider ourselves designers, artists or creatives, we are also, in many instances, business owners striving to support ourselves with our craft. And here's the thing: we shouldn't judge productivity as haste. As business owners, we have responsibilities to our families, our customers and our audience and, as such, we make certain demands on our time, including a consistent production of work. One of the most important things I've learned as a business owner is this: productivity is the key to any successful venture. Producing 50 pieces a month no more suggests a "rush" in our work than producing 5 pieces a month suggests care in the work.
I know, I know. Talking about money feels icky to many artists. There's this idea that artists should somehow sacrifice their livelihood for their craft... the whole "starving artist" ideology that serves (seriously) no one at all. So, words like "productivity" rub folks the wrong way. I get it.
And you don't have to sacrifice quality or artistry to meet those productivity goals you've set for yourself. You simply have to know how to save time (your most important resource) where you can, how to batch processes and streamline work flow. That someone can complete a piece two hours faster than someone else should never imply the work is somehow less. Of course we should never sacrifice quality, or cut corners to meet deadlines. But neither should we assume quality is lacking due to the speed of production.
So, quality vs quantity? The two are neither mutually exclusive nor inclusive of one another. It's for the artist and their customer to decide.