Giving Your Art

Yeah, I know it’s a little late in the game to be scratching your head and thinking about what you’re going to give those on your winter holiday gift list. You probably took care of all that months ago, shopping the mid-summer sales and finding The Perfect Gift for everyone on your list. We bow to you, gift-giving guru, and our hearts are filled with awe. Plus maybe a tiny bit of envy and some minor snarky thoughts about how some people have actual lives and jobs and not so much time for shopping in July.


Whatever. Maybe, for whatever reason, you have someone for whom you want to do something really nice but for whom you have not heretofore found a suitable gift, and maybe now you’re thinking about giving them a piece of your artwork. Maybe you’ve just completed something you think they’d really like, or maybe you have some stuff in your Etsy shop that’s been there for a year and a half and you really just want to get it out of the house.


While it seems like a good solution—you have art! you need a gift!—you might want to stop for a minute and think about it before you proceed. Now, maybe you’re an old hand at giving your work as gifts, and you, like many of us, have experienced the whole gamut of reactions. I have given things to people that sparked tears of (at least I hoped) joy, things that they loved and kept on display (at least when I visited) in their homes. I have given other things that were met with, “Oh. Thank you. How, umm, thoughtful of you,” and were never, ever seen again. What I learned is that there are times you should give a gift of your artwork and times you shouldn’t. We’ll start with the times you shouldn’t, not unless you have steeled yourself to disappointment.

Don’t do it if:

~~the recipient is someone who doesn’t really like you or feels maybe the tiniest bit hostile or competitive, like a former sister-in-law who thinks you married the best brother and she got cheated

~~you made the piece for an upcoming show and know it’s perfect for that but feel bad about not having a reciprocal gift for your partner’s boss

~~you don’t really know the recipient and have no idea what he or she likes so figure you can’t go wrong, even though you can think of half a dozen other people who would love that particular piece.

~~it’s anyone who’s ever said to you, “Oh, I could do that if I had time,” or “It must be nice to get to stay home and make stuff all day,” or any one of those things we’ve all heard once too often. Give them a gift certificate to Wal-Mart.


You get the idea. Then there are the times when it’s right:

~~you know the person really well and know they’d love this (a friend who loves everything you make, your mother/sister/aunt/grandmother)

~~it’s someone who already collects your work, so you know they value what you do

~~you made it just for them

~~it’s something they’ve admired when they saw it

~~they’ve long been dropping subtle hints that they’d love a piece of your work

~~you know they’d be collectors if they could afford it

~~you have no idea why, but it just feels right.


Yeah, so that last one has no logic, but sometimes it’s the best reason, the only reason, to give a piece of your work. You have something you’ve created, and one day you look at it and just know where it’s supposed to go. You know you might be wrong, but you don’t care because the act of giving that piece to that particular person suddenly seems to be the whole reason you created it in the first place. Then you can’t go wrong.


cover_SRN_V9531_incite.inddLooking for more gift ideas? Check out the North Light Mixed Media Gift List which includes books like Incite, Dreams Realized!






Ricë is the author of Living the Creative Life, Creative Time and Space, and Destination Creativity. She also blogs at The Voodoo Cafe.


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