Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Design It Just the Way I Want, Please

The urge for originality and customization seems to be as inherent in people as is the conflicting urge to follow a crowd. And yet, this desire for customized product, whether in a work of art or in a culinary creation is often in conflict with the desire of the originator. The changed Web 2.0 world of today puts so much in the hands of consumers, giving them/us the ability to choose what we want. Ultimately this request for customization is one which we in the art world are hearing more and more of from customers. While it is clearly an artist's decision whether or not to alter his/her original conceit to the desires of a customer, I wonder how many artists are actually far more interested in creating customized work than might be obvious?

Time and again I have witnessed Julie Powell, a friend and very talented artist who works in beads, accomplish that magical combination of retaining her vision while creating a custom work for a customer. The bracelet shown is one example of that - a bracelet inspired by one of Julie's original pieces and customized to the colors and desires of the customer. Julie is not a pink person, and probably never would have been inspired by the particular blouse belonging to this customer. But Julie's eye, her talent, and her vision enabled her to think beyond her comfort zone and create a piece which is pure Julie, and absolutely delights the customer!

Separately but related, a few months ago I was amused that the website CoolHunting.com had cited Keds sneakers as something "cool", as I've never really understood the mass appeal of these iconic sneakers. Clearly I was in the minority, as the protests and responses to my remarks on Facebook about Keds were numerous. Now I have learned that Keds has sponsored a summer of art, "Creativity on Canvas" at the Whitney Museum, and one of the outcomes is customized Keds that customers design themselves and can have produced. Cool, indeed, customized, and artistic. Bravo for this corporate commitment to art and customization!

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