· By Kelly Hogaboom
you are much more efficient than you realize
My studio has taken over almost all our relatively-large basement area - including one small back room with a few shelving units that houses two large bins of my faux furs, the sewing machines I don't regularly use, my pattern filing cabinet - and all my OPPs.
I coined the phrase OPP - "oppressive pending projects" back in 2007. If you are an artist or craftsperson of any stripe you know what I mean: those things we start and we get stuck - or annoyed or we can't afford to buy supplies or whatever - so we put them aside.
Well this back room of mine is where I put those projects.
It's a pretty helpful system to have them there - out of the way but still visible - because every time I go back for something else, I see that stuff I didn't finish.
So I don't forget about those things.
And it took me years to get here, but I've struck a balance:
I don't feel GUILTY I haven't finished these projects;
but I also re-commit to getting to them.
And - I always do!
Sometimes it takes me months or years to get to something.
But I've learned I always do.
Case in point - this king-size quilt, that I started in 2018 and finished last month.
Then this corset, which I started in 2019 and finished a few weeks ago -
and this jacket, which I started in 2020 and finished a few days ago.
I am proud of myself for finishing these projects!
As you can see, they are fantastic!
Now my backroom space is a little clearer. That feels good too.
I want to make it perfectly clear that I don't believe it's important than an artist ALWAYS finishes what they start.
I also want to point out the BIGGEST benefit to finishing-what-I-start, is that over the years I've become increasingly mindful, and more respectful, of where I commit my time and energy.
If I'd just hoarded these OPPs - or threw them out or "donated" them -
I'd have skipped this kind of character-building.
A few more words before you feel guilty about your own unfinished stuff.
Because that's not the point of this post.
REMEMBER: if you were going to college or trying to get a degree or certificate there'd be a lot of hoops to jump through, a lot of wasted class materials and BUSYWORK and shit like that. This is NORMAL for these kinds of degrees and certifications.
We usually think nothing of this kind of material, financial, and person-hours waste because obtaining those accolades is sanctioned by society or by our family or whatever - and busywork and red tape and waste-of-time exercises are seen as part of the process.
Since we get a nice little prize at the end of it all - a little certificate or a big promotion or whatever -
that external validation makes us ignore all that waste - or at least think that waste wasn't waste.
WHEN YOU ARE AN ARTIST, YOU RELY ON YOUR OWN VALIDATION.
Since you (likely) don't get constant societal pats on the head, it's tempting to feel guilty about the things you stop and start, or the things you mess up, the things you cram into the Shame Closet - or whatever.
But my very wise (and sweet) partner said to me a while back that I do my own R&D.
No one does it for me!
And I realized - when seen in THAT light - that damn I am more efficient than any other company I know!
I almost always finish to completion and I almost always improve upon the source material I was given.
I am very, very mindful about my waste rate and waste stream, too.
THAT makes me feel better.
And THAT makes me a badass!
All of this is not to justify your hoarding or messes or half-assedness. It's not for me to justify that for you.
But I do want you to give yourself credit, for doing YOUR OWN R&D.
No stakeholders requiring reports, or memos.
Just you, in your studio, figuring this shit out on your own!
I think if you really step back and look at your progress, you'll see you're a lot more efficient than you think.
Give yourself a break -
And give yourself a pat on the back!