Production Mode


My husband is working on a new linocut. He has been carving and tweaking it until he got it just the way he wanted it. Today he went into production mode. He printed card after card getting them ready for sale. The challenge with production mode is that he will make more cards than you think. If he wants to sell thirty cards he probably needs to print at least forty, setting aside the ones he does not think are good enough. And if he plans to add color, the number of prints that never make it to the selling floor goes up.

Every artist knows the mistakes or blemishes in their work, because let’s face it no one is perfect. Being able to overlook those problem areas and still release the work for sale can be a challenge. The more an artist works a piece it can tend to look overworked. There are some who sell their ‘seconds’ and there are those who destroy them. My husband has a group of international friends who send each other their ‘seconds’ to share the ingenuity, preserve the ideas, and encourage each other to keep creating. We are always amazed when one arrives because we usually can’t see the flaws and think the work is pretty near perfect.

The beauty of production mode is that you get very good, very quickly. Doing the same thing over and over and over and over builds muscle memory which only enhances the next new idea. The hurdles you overcame in making forty or fifty of something get built into the next great idea. Experience is the best teacher, and production mode is one of the teacher’s best tools. Many artists hate production mode. It feels mindless and dull, yet it is what pays the bills. Being able to make the same thing over and over and over and over with a consistency in excellence takes the final product to a higher level.

Whether it is cookies or cards, stories or birthday presents, production mode reminds you that what you do is important enough to share it with many other people. As the dust settles and the work is drying, you realize you did that. You made all those things, and your idea now has life. Like this lovely, delicate bird your unique offering will fly away and make it’s own way in the world.

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