Editor’s note: This is a sponsored post from OMHG advertiser Deanne Fitzpatrick of www.hookingrugs.com. I just wanted to preface this post with a big applause for Deanne’s honesty and heartfelt integrity. Instead of sharing an advertorial for her sponsored post she gifted us with her wise words on staying true to your art for our ethics theme-this is the most authentic kind of advertising there is. Thank you for honouring us with your story Deanne!
When I thought about the theme of this month here on Oh My! it really got me thinking about authenticity. I think our authenticity is what we as craftspeople really have going for us in a world that is filled with fast and flash. Each of us knows the value of stillness in creativity and that often shines through in our work. When people come to my studio they are inspired by the joy of colour and wool. We have created a warm beautiful environment and we fill it with the handmade and unique. I cannot count the number of times people have said, “it is so real.” Over the years this response has made me realize real is a hot commodity because of the laws of supply and demand. People want it but it is hard to find.
As an artist, writer, rug hooker, and business person my biggest dream for myself is to remain authentic and honest about what I do. I want to make rugs that express what I believe or feel at a given time. I want to make rugs that I feel like making. I really do not want to succumb to trends or ideas that I do not embrace inside myself. Though I do keep my eyes open and I am interested in trends I only incorporate them into my work if it feels right to me.
Over the past twenty years I have created kits, patterns, designs, and written four books about rug hooking. The real thing that has driven all of this is my desire to make my own one of a kind hooked rugs. It is in my original designs that I find inspiration for everything else that goes on in the studio. So trying to be true to myself as an artist has become the most important accomplishment for me. Every time I have strayed away from this and focused too much on making money, or having my work better known I have felt a bit compromised, almost as if I was not being myself. Making art is the back bone of my business, but it is also the back bone of me. The marketing and the business are also important but only to the point that I enjoy them, they reflect who I really I am, and what my approach to rug hooking is all about.
When I got representation from my first gallery I had no idea how to promote my work so the gallery owner wrote me a bio and artist’s statement. She did a great job but there was one line in it where she referred to “my people” when she spoke of the people of Newfoundland where I grew up. I was apprehensive about complaining because I was a young new artist and she was an established gallery owner. I told her, “You know the “my people”, I would never say that, nor would most Newfoundlanders.” She quickly said, “Then take it out, never say anything that doesn’t sound like you.” It was such good advice and I have carried it with me.
Making money doing what you love is what I do so marketing is important but it too has to be real and honest. I am an artist. I am not a brand. I am a hard working woman using her hands to turn nothing into something as beautifully as I can. My hooked rugs, and the values and beliefs that go into the art behind them might become a brand in a natural kind of way but I will always be Deanne Fitzpatrick, the person.
At the studio we have learned that people love the truth, and can easily accept seeing, or hearing it like it is. We are a working studio so if you drop in we might be in a mess, or have a kit half made, but we are glad to have you there. For years I ran it out of my house and after we moved the studio to town, one of the things I wanted to keep was that homey feeling in our space. We try to make it welcoming and comfortable. There is always a good chair to sit in, and if we are busy you can make yourself a cup of tea. Hospitality is important to me, not because I want my “customer” to be happy but because I want “people” to feel welcome when they come to my place.
Another place where I try to tell the truth the way I see it is on my blog www.hookingrugs.com). The blog is a place where I write what goes on in my life, my art, my studio and my community. I try to update it daily and that update could be about anything, from a recipe to a story, to information about a new product or a workshop. It is a place where I go to tell you about what is going on in the studio but also a place where I go to express myself. Being honest does not mean you have to tell everything. You have to curate yourself but I just try to make it about more than the price of our new online course. We have some of that but not only that. It is a place where I can get to know other rug hookers and they can get to know me.
I have grown my business from a trunk in my front room to a large studio in the downtown of my community. I did it a little bit at a time over twenty two years, investing what I made back into my business, as well as into my own life. It has been a blessing really to have had that opportunity. I love the women who work along side me-they make it possible for so much to get done around here. As I continue to grow this business I want to continue to write and create, but mostly I want to make rugs that are unmistakably art because I think in doing that I will remain authentic, and really that is the backbone of a good creative person and artist. We can run a business and make a living doing what we do but we have to remain true to ourselves and to our art. Doing this is good business because people are drawn to authenticity. They are drawn to a craft that slows them down, makes them reflect, and enjoy the world around them.
We all love the real thing, and we know it when we see it.