Debunking the Myth of Easy

Brown and Pink Ragged Quilt

by Britt on September 1, 2011

Last weekend, I got to try out my other skills when I participated in a local, handmade fair. When I’m not pounding away at the keyboard, I’m usually making things with fabric and yarn.  I’d tried selling my work on Etsy, but had allowed other things to get in the way of finishing more projects, so I looked at this fair as great way to get unstuck. For six weeks I worked like mad to finish old projects and wrap up new ones. It was a great feeling to see so many tangible things from my many hours of hard work. So it was a disappointment to hear my work and time readily dismissed throughout the day.

“I have that pattern at home.”

“I could sew that.”

“That’s too much money.”

It’s one thing if someone doesn’t like my work, but I was baffled to hear in one form or another the idea that what I did was so easy they could either replicate it themselves or didn’t see the value. The price I put on my items covers the cost of materials and maybe minimum wage for the number of hours worked. I do the work because I love it, but I refuse to let people dismiss my hard work, and by connection the hard work of others like me.

Not Only Handmade

The perception that something is easy to do seems to have taken hold in a way I haven’t seen previously. While I appreciate fully the power of technology to make certain tasks more accessible to a wider number of people, technology does not completely counter the need for skills or frankly, a lot of hard work.

Think about the people in the online world who’ve achieved great success. Without fail there’s always the dismissers, the people who are quick to say, “I could do that,” but never do. They’re quick to criticize, usually without offering a valid alternative.

I’m tired of seeing and hearing people who “don’t” attack the people who “do.”

You don’t have to like my work, but don’t you dare say that it’s easy or has no value. Maybe not to you, but unless you’re willing to ante up, I don’t want to hear it anymore.

If you want to have a best-selling book, write one. Quit slamming people who’ve already got one. If you want to host a widely popular webinar AND charge money for it, then figure out what the market wants and do it. If you want a custom quilt, then by hell, buy the 12 different fabrics, cut out 200+ pieces, and sew the damn thing together.

It’s not easy to sit down and come up with words that string together into powerful sentences and come together to make big ideas. And it’s not easy to take your version of the blank canvas and create something out of nothing. It make may look easy, but that’s just the result of time and a willingness to do the hard work.

So the next time you see me, please don’t say, “I could do that, too.” I highly doubt it, and you’ll just piss me off.

 

 

{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

jody rein September 2, 2011 at 10:48 pm

LIke this essay very, very much. Of course, I probably could have written it. IF I had spent a lifetime learning to work with fabric, weeks creating the products, an afternoon selling them, hours thinking about the experience,and more hours writing and editing this well-crafted blog. Simple as pie.

PS. We’d live in a much happier world if people stopped expecting success to be overnight.

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Britt September 6, 2011 at 8:33 am

@Jody: I’m not even sure if it’s so much success people expect as it’s the trappings of success.

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Erik Deckers September 5, 2011 at 9:34 am

Hey Britt,

Nice piece. I’ve been reading a lot of Hemingway lately, including a lot of his thoughts and sentiments toward critics, and this struck a chord with me.

I liked it so much, it inspired me to write a blog post about it.

http://problogservice.com/2011/09/05/people-who-cant-need-to-stop-dismissing-the-work-of-those-who-can/

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Annika September 5, 2011 at 9:52 am

Anytime someone says “Don’t you dare” in a way that makes me imagine them leaning forward and glaring at whoever they are speaking to, I’m an automatic fan.

Applause for you Britt. Tell em.

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Britt September 6, 2011 at 8:34 am

@Annika: Thank you very much for your kind comments. It’s something that’s bothered me for awhile now and it just needed to be said.

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zadabee February 8, 2012 at 7:55 am

Prolly the reason I quit doing Craft Shows. I even remember one audacious gal making sketches in an effort to copy items she saw others make! I am an alterations seamstress & hear this often: This is real easy, but I don’t have a machine. I don’t smile & agree like I did when I was 24…I am blunt and honest. I tell folks it is a big expense to keep a machine in good working order and needles alone can cost $6…as for the craftsmanship, if you don’t like my prices travel overseas where the labor is cheaper, here it will cost you XXX. I do good work at an art that MOST seamstresses won’t do…I too, don’t want to hear that they can do it or prices are too high! OH, and “this didn’t cost a lot so can you do it cheap”…sorry, it is just as much effort to alter a cheap piece as a full price one…duh! ;-D)

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Kathi February 27, 2012 at 11:07 pm

Certainly a dis-heartening experience. Believe me, I have been in your shoes on that one way too many times! I really never understood the impetus for such behavior, but I always hoped it stemmed from envy of my mad skills!

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Bridgette Burbank April 20, 2012 at 9:13 am

Gorgeous blanket! The detail is incredible. I empathize with your article because I make handmade jewelry. I have carpal tunnel because I’ve spent hours twisting wire into unique designs and beautiful pieces of art. People expect me to sell my work for less than the materials it takes to make them.

The other day I stood in line at Costco and saw a package in another woman’s cart. It said, “100 handmade cards.” It made me wonder whose hands made those cards and why they were willing to sell them so cheaply.

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colleen August 25, 2012 at 5:42 am

Well said
I’m sorry to say I was one of those that said “I can do that at a cheaper price”. Until i decided to retake up sewing and take up quilting. Never again will I say those words again. I now am quick to compliment and admire the work of others.

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Arllys August 26, 2012 at 12:54 pm

I think that you are absolutely right. I thank you for expressing your opinion. What people say, even if they whisper sometimes hurts. Never say you can do it or it’s easy to do unless you have tried it and accomplished it yourself.

I have tried the market place. Never an online business but I do I to craft. I’m not too good to buy a product or a pattern if it’s something I would really like to do. I have resigned to make things for myself, my family and my friends. If someone asks, I will make for them and cover my cost. But no more retail.

Thanks again for your note. I love the Flower Quilt and no I can not make it without a pattern and I know it would not be like yours. Why, because, I never do anything the same. It’s always different because that’s why it’ called “Handmade”.
Arllys

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Sue Bishop September 6, 2012 at 11:02 pm

I remember seeing a sign at a craft fair with these words, “You probably could make this – but will you?

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Melinda October 18, 2012 at 9:54 am

I’m from the school of thought that says if you can’t say anything nice don’t say it. Personally the picture I am seeing here shows that there is a lot of work and time put in on your project. I think it is beautiful and I know it was a lot of trouble. I am working on a denim quilt myself of the same type and it is definitely work. Fun work maybe but work just the same. I love the flowers you added the quilt is charming. Thanks for sharing I hate that your work was belittled.

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Sylvia Anderson November 1, 2012 at 4:05 pm

Britt, I can sympathize with you will never understand why people feel the need to say hurtful things to someone who has put so much of themselves into creating, be it yard art, sewing, quilting, etc. etc….
Like you, I would prefer they say nothing at all, rather than be unkind. Most people have no idea how much time it takes to create and make handmade items.

I just love the flowered rag quilt on the top of the page, and hunted all over your blog trying to find a tutorial or pattern. Is this one you created or did you find it somewhere else? I’m in the process of making Christmas gifts for my great granddaughters and this caught my eye.

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Stacie Dalrymple November 4, 2012 at 7:13 pm

BRAVO! Good job Britt! I too have wanted to snap people in half for their callous comments. My craft/sewing room is overflowing with wreaths & quilts because everyone thinks they can make them cheaper than what I ask for them. Forget minimum wage, it’s usually just the cost of materials! I have baked for years & my decorated cookies are always requested UNTIL I tell them what they will cost. 4-6 inch homemade cookies, beautifully decorated, wrapped in pretty packaging – $2.00 each or I discount for any order over a dozen. It takes at the LEAST 2 days to make them, took years for me to perfect the cookie recipe and to buy my hundreds of cookie cutters, a couple of thousand bucks invested in tips, bags, flavorings & colors, bags & bottles, professional bakeware,etc & takes time away from my family, but what do I get?! “Wow, that’s expensive. Can I have your recipe?” Are you freaking kidding me?!! People kill me…

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Cheryl Locklear November 8, 2012 at 8:56 am

You go girl! Well said!!

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Jane November 9, 2012 at 11:43 am

You just said all the things that have burned me up for years and have now made me decide to create just for me and the friends who appreciate what I do. Thank goodness I don’t have to make a living from my art as I would starve!

You are braver than me for still continuing. I am just afraid of what I might do if I have to face it again!

Thank goodness there are still the ones who can appreciate what you do and tell you so.

Keep fighting the good fight.

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Debbie Mannon November 23, 2012 at 11:42 pm

Wow! What a beautiful quilt. I love it!

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elaine jackson November 25, 2012 at 6:30 am

This essay is absolutely the truth. Craft fairs and flea markets seem to bring out all sorts of ‘do it yourselfers’ who never do it themselves. Well said.

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Joanie November 25, 2012 at 5:28 pm

Well said! I also love this pink quilt and I know how much work goes into it. Great job!

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Barbara Korona December 18, 2012 at 1:00 pm

Oh, my…..I absolutely LOVED your article, Britt….so true…so true!!

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Laura January 28, 2013 at 2:10 pm

Oh how I wish that I had penned your words! You work SO HARD to prepare for an event only to sell nothing because, as you well stated, people find your prices “too high.” My artwork is a fine example. Just because something LOOKS easy does not in any way mean that it IS easy. Let them sit in front of a large, white canvas and THEN tell me how easy it is!
Thank you for telling it like it is…
RESPECTfully Yours,
Laura (MrsArtLady)

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Jan February 17, 2013 at 3:20 pm

Having been in the “Art” field off and on for years doing one form of show or another this has been one of my biggest pet peeves.Not only do we hear them say how easy it would be, but they follow that by asking how you did it.For this I love your rant.
The other side of the story is I have been guilty of the same thinking myself (I try to keep my big mouth shut though). I think we all feed off of the ideas of others and in that way further our own creativity.
I love your rag quilt with the flowers. On that thought, thank you for the wonderful rant, and the spark of creativity.

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Carol February 24, 2013 at 9:24 pm

What a beautiful quilt!! I am a crafter at heart and I know how you feel when someone says” that looks easy, I could make that”. I’ve been in a few craft shows and when making a craft, it takes alot of work from beginning to end and people that don’t craft think they could make it for less,, I say,then go ahead.! I agree that people should not think out loud if it’s a rude comment.

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Betty March 1, 2013 at 4:07 pm

Well said!!!!

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Connie March 5, 2013 at 3:40 pm

AMEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Pam March 13, 2013 at 1:50 pm

Oh, how I feel your pain. Many times someone can make the things that I make, but they lack the time or patience; I also do not even get minimum wage for the time I have in my projects. I have stopped doing arts/crafts fairs for this very reason. I now only do my projects for my pleasure or for gifts to someone who will appreciate the time and effort put forth to complete their gift.

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Marti Reed March 22, 2013 at 10:12 am

Wow, does that touch home! As a jewelry maker, I agree with you wholeheartedly. To have spent a gazillion dollars on tools, equipment and materials, not to mention the endless classes to update and refine skills, it is so off-putting to hear those words. For topping on the cake, as I listen, I notice that the jewelry they’re wearing is poorly designed, imitation stones, and fake metals. I note these things and wonder if they even know that what they have is obviously (to me at least) the poorest of quality. We, who take time, effort, and lots of pride in our work, find it downright demoralizing to have to listen to that. Give it a rest people! If you’re gonna do it, do it! If not, at least have the courtesy to keep your unkind opinions to yourself. I’ve shown / sold my jewelry in art galleries, keep my prices competitive, and don’t need the nonsense. Thanks Britt, for letting me vent.

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rhinnon August 9, 2013 at 6:41 pm

From one crafter to another….WELL SAID!! I will admit to going to craft fairs and looking at other peoples wares and thinking to myself that I could do some of it..HOWEVER… Never would I dismiss someone’s efforts and artistry and those that do have never put the effort, time, creativity, if the care and love of creating that those who do on a regular basis.. this world is so used to the throw away economies we live in that I feel no one appreciates what we do and I fear one day our arts will be lost. Thank you for standing up for yourself and all the rest of us out here.

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S C August 27, 2013 at 6:59 pm

Sure I could do that, but I just won’t. Even though, I have all the skills necessary to make beautiful hand crafted or quilted items…. I just simply would never have enough time or patience to shop for fabric, cut out the quilt pieces and sew them together. My day job gets the best of me leaves so little time for my hobbies and crafting.

I am the guy who wouldn’t bat an eye when he sees your price and would purchase a beautiful hand made item or two for gifts or even for myself. Keep making your crafts, don’t sell yourself short. People who appreciate fine craftsmanship are more than willing to pay for it. Simply beautiful.

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Melba Hayes September 1, 2013 at 6:03 pm

I absolutely love this adorable quilt! Please, PLEASE tell me it’s easy and I can do it too, and sell me the pattern. It doesn’t look easy but it’s so lovely I want to make one. Love, love, love!

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Roxana Yoss October 4, 2013 at 7:17 pm

I love sewing. I enjoy making baby rag quilts and giving them as gifts. I also like to make seat covers among other things. I have been asked before how much I would charge to make these and sell them. I don’t appreciate when some one under mines your work. So not cool. Yeah, you may do it for the extra cash, but the most important thing is that you make these things because you LOVE to. The time and effort, not to mention the love and devotion that you put into it… If they can do it, then by all means, DO IT your damn self!!!

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Jenni October 27, 2013 at 3:04 pm

Is the quilt in the picture one that you were trying to sell on Etsy? That is adorable and I would have bought that. I try crafting, crocheting, and quilting myself. I don’t think people realize just how much time, energy, at times heartache when things go wrong, and money goes into those projects. I’d rather give handmade items as gifts. If I can’t make it myself, I go to these fairs and find the perfect items to buy. Crafters don’t get enough credit.

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