Friday, May 6, 2011

Decisions To Be Made

I belong to the Etsy Beadweavers Team, and once a month, we hold a challenge, where members can bead something on a specific theme, and enter a contest to choose the best entry. The winner of the contest gets to choose the theme of the next challenge, and is featured on the team blog and facebook page.

In the past, the winners have been determined by popular vote on our team blog. There will still be a popular vote and a Fan Favorite. But this month, we are trying out a new voting system whereby the team will choose a Team Favorite.

I personally feel that extra consideration is due to my selection this month. It is my hope that this new team vote will be a reflection of what our team values as a group. And I want to establish a list of criteria for myself to help me make my selection.

I cannot take credit for this idea. It came from the Bead Mavens. They have hosted two competitions and found that it was hard for the group to select a winning entry, with each person having their own criteria, likes and dislikes.  Their solution was to develop a list of valuable characteristics.  Then each member ranked each entry by each criteria, using a point system. Finally, they compiled this information to determine their winner.

As a big fan of spread sheets, I think my selection system will take that form. So now to establish my criteria.

I think I'll start with FIRST IMPRESSION. When I first look at it, is it fantastic, or do I like it, or do I not find it appealing? And since this competition has a theme, I think that had best be my second criteria. How well does the design encorporate the THEME? Perhaps I can eliminate some of the work from consideration at this level.

When I am ready to delve deeper into my favorites, as an artist with an MA in costume design, I think the basic elements of design deserve consideration, so onto my spread sheet will go, LINE, COLOR, TEXTURE, SHAPE & FORM, (which for me is about the use of both positive and negative space) and my personal favorite MOVEMENT. You could argue for the inclusion of other ideas here, but those are the big six for me as a designer. I use a lengthy cadre of other concepts, repetition, sequence, gradation, transition, rhythm, proportion, scale, contrast, balance, on and on, but they are lesser tools, like supporting characters and I don't consider them all each time I design, so I'll stick with my major players. And while I am considering, I'll keep the theme in mind here.

Next, there are some technical considertions. What is the construction of the work like? How is it finished? Is it beautifully made? I think I will call this TECHNIQUE.

Then, since this is a contest between Etsy sellers, I want to consider SELL-ABILITY. Would someone want to purchase this item? Would they want to wear it or display it in their home, or maybe in their gallery?

I think there are some things that I don't want to consider. I don't really care how long the work took to make, or how complex it is, or how much it costs. Price, especially, is so specific to the seller that it would reqire comparing apples to oranges. Some of our members sell only on Etsy. Others sell in galleries and at art fairs as well. There is a huge range of experinece among our members and their pricing reflects their own needs and costs. I don't think for me it's a consideration.

Then there is one final something a little more intangible to consider. I'll call it ARTISTRY. Does everything come together to create a cohesive whole that speaks from the artist's soul to mine? Do I feel something when I look at this piece? Does it change me, make me see in a new way, make me ache or smile or cry? This is a very deeply personal thing, and I would expect that my reaction is probably not the same as yours, but still important.

I think I like my list, and it's probably more than complete for my purposes. I'm ready to make my spreadsheet, in preparation for casting my one, important-to-me, vote. I don't know what criteria will matter to other members, and I surely do not mean to suggest that my system is the only, or the best way to choose a winner. It's just mine. And writing it down and sharing it seemed an important thing to me this morning. So, now, before my laptop battery dies completely, off to work!

22 comments:

  1. Marsha, I couldn't have said it better myself! Since I have not been schooled in the ways of design and technique and I just bead and design from my own feel and mood, it is great to have an actual system that point by point looks at an entire piece for a completely honest, overall judgement of it's merits, and then come up fairly, with a winner. I wish I had taken some classes as you have, I am sure I would have been a better designer.

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  2. Sandy, your design work is beautiful. Perhaps some of us (me) just needed more help!

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  3. Words of wisdom. When I was judged in my musical performance for state competitions ans well as for the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, a similar type of score sheet was utilized; points granted in the sub-categories and a total score emerged.

    SharayahSheldon

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  4. This is a great "Step by Step on How to Vote".
    I like it because even though the criteria listed are very reasoned and placed on spreadsheets it leaves a great deal to interpretation. I am sure that if each of the voters and members of the team used these identical criteria, we would all come up with different votes!

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  5. Interesting analogy Sharayah, thanks! Reminds me a little of the Olympics as well, but that would be a reverse system, points removed for imperfections and faults, rather than added for gains. I'm sure there are as many ways to do this as we have members. :o)

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  6. Yes Rosita, I agree, the "applier" would strongly affect the application. :o) "Best" is very subjective, but I also think quality is universally recognizable. I'm a big fan of "The Zen of Motorcycle Maintenence."

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  7. Your post has some very valid points! I have never thought of movement as a design element...but of course...it is! I'm glad you pointed that out to me. I too, will be listing my criteria (not in a spread sheet..but definately in a rubric) to use in voting this month! Good luck to all the participates! They are all wonderful works of art!!!

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  8. Marvelous post, Marsha! It's harder than most would realize objectively to judge a work of art. While subjective impressions are certainly part of the process, it's criteria like those you've developed that leave one with a feeling of confidence about her choice. Thanks for sharing your process!

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  9. Thank you so much for this valuable criteria. A lot of food for thoughts!

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  10. I like that you included points regarding the nuance of design and finishing elements. All of your points are as well thought out as your pieces are! :)

    Hopefully this new voting system will work out for us...

    Kate

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  11. Thanks so much ladies. I appreciate your support and words. You know, as I have been working on checking all the entries this morning I realize I need to add ORIGINALITY to my list. Sometimes, when something is unique and unlike anything I have seen before, that means something wonderful to me.

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  12. And Norma Jean, you comment really hits me where I live. Since I design dancewear by day, it's super critical to my work. I think whether the components themselves move, or just the lines, shapes and relationships create a sense of action or stability, it's (like I said) my favorite concept to work with. Maybe that's why I like fringe so much!

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  13. This is brilliant, so professional - leaves no doubt. Thank you for sharing.

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  14. My voting procedure is rather more intuitive, though it does include some of the same elements. It isn't enough to say "wow, I love that piece." The work really should somehow relate to the theme even if it's all in the mind of the artist.

    Now for a question: Given the importance of technique (to those of us who care) do you think we should discuss our use of technique more fully in our etsy descriptions? I don't always because I'm not sure viewers care. But given that this is a competition piece, maybe I should go back and delve into this aspect of the work.

    Patricia C Vener
    http://vener-art.com/beadblog/
    (Just finished Life's 7 Important Questions series)

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  15. Patricia, I guess it's up to you. I used to, but I don't so much anymore mention my technique. Submissions for entry to shows or galleries usually do require a listing of techniques, but I don't think my buyers care very much. I would think that would be more for other beadweavers. My guess is they can probably tell what I have done. When I see something I can't figure out, I sometimes ask "What stitch is that?" People seem mostly kind about sharing. What do you think?

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  16. Great post, Marsha! Wonderful insight.

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  17. Marsha, this is a well thought out systmatic approach to what can be such a subjective vote. As usual all the entries are beautiful and deserving of winning and chosing one is most difficult. Thank you for providing us with food for thought on how to choose what to you (or us) personally is a winning entry

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  18. Thanks Jacquie. I imagine for some of our members it will just be a gut level decision, but I personally have three strong favorites this month, and as I tried to rank them, I found I needed HELP! :o) Usually, I can get to a few I really love with relative ease, but then the decision making gets harder for me. I used my spread sheet last night, with help from the new clickable mosaic, and think I am ready to go and vote!

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  19. Excellent post Marsha. I feel like I am very intuitive when choosing favorites, but it's nice to see it all laid out, what makes or breaks a design. Sell-ability is something I personally need to work on, I feel like to me that's a big challenge.
    I would still vote for something absolutely fabulous but totally unsellable I think.
    I also agree about the time input- one cane make some disastrous stuff that takes forever, and sometimes the nicest pieces don't take too long at all.
    Well said, really very helpful post.

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  20. Very well thought out. I use more or less the same criteria for voting too, only difference is if I (not someone else) would wear or buy the piece for myself. I find that my personal style makes it is a lot easier to narrow down on what to vote for since I find quite a few of the items check all of the above.

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  21. Thank you all for reading and commenting! Much appreciated!

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