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Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Art, Method, Sales and a "J"

Maria writes: 
​So . . . at breakfast early this morning, (drinking a perfect cup of coffee that Rick had just made) . . .​ I was emailing a woman from Australia who sent us photos of some of her work. She thought they looked like Zentangle art. She created them about 35 years ago. ​

I replied to her that we know that pattern drawing has existed throughout history in many (all?) cultures​ and in different mediums. However, we developed the Zentangle Method as an easy-to-learn and fun way for almost anyone to enjoy this artform . . . people who may not have knowledge of it or know how to go about drawing in this manner.

In writing my letter to her, something occurred to me that I had not thought of before.

I have been creating art and selling it since I was very young. At about 5, I sold my painted rocks at the local church bazaar and I sold every last one. I have sold paintings, illustrations, typefaces, invitations, illuminated manuscripts, awards and presentations, designs for china, gifts and signs, to name a few. (I am sure there are others in the last almost 60 years of my art) The only two things that are on my (artistic) bucket list, is to create a wine label and movie credits. (So, if you know someone who has a winery or is a famous movie producer, please, if you can, casually drop my name, I would be ever so grateful!)

But I just realized this morning that (I believe) neither Rick nor I have ever sold any of our Zentangle tiles. (Of course, I have an occasionally selective memory, but for the most part. . . . )

We have given them away, donated them to non-profits (that may have sold them), traded a few, but in all the exhibits and gallery presentations, we just put them out there for people to get familiar with the art form. While we do market tools so others can create Zentangle art, and seminars so others can teach this art, it just struck me this morning as fascinating that neither of us have ever sold any of our original Zentangle tiles.

We feel that Zentangle is unique in terms of art. Rather like yoga, meditation, or contemplative stillness . . . there are no blue ribbons, no critiques or bad practitioners . . . a personal art . . . to have, to hold, to appreciate, to be grateful for . . . and a community of artists . . . to admire, to encourage, to share with and to learn from, and again, to be grateful for.

So, I wonder what made it different than all my other artistic endeavors. I had no problem selling those.

Anyone have any thoughts on this?

Rick adds:
When I began keeping bees about 7 or 8 years ago, I had the idea of selling honey. I still keep bees and I love it. But now I don't sell the honey. We enjoy it as a family and now we share the rest. Maybe there's a parallel since our tangling and my keeping bees are both labors of love and not what we depend on for income.

We love that other people sell honey. We love that other people enjoy selling their Zentangle art. It just seemed so bizarre that we had never thought about this until now, so many years later.

Maria continues:
We will send a tile to a randomly chosen responder, as we have in the past. (again with the giveaways. . .)

The winner of the 2 tiles from the last blog is:
ROSLYN HACK. 

Roslyn, please email your snail mail address to zentangle (at) gmail (dot) com.

Oh, yeah and just for a bit of eye candy . . . here's a piece I did for my grand-nephew who just graduated high school.


He was also the youngest CZT for a while. I used the classic (letter in a box) format for an illuminated letter, but thought a creative young guy like Joe would appreciate something unexpected, a bit quirky, not so heavy. I did this on a Renaissance Zendala and mounted it on a cream paper on which I tangled a border. I used Micron black and brown inks, graphite pencil, white charcoal pencil, a white Sakura Gelly Roll pen, 24k gold leaf and a watery blue gouache.

I held it out, turned it this way and that, and decided I liked it . . . enough to give it away.

Tangle away!

.

55 comments:

M TYNAN WEITSEN said...

Okay---I checked and there are a number of wineries in Massachusetts; they even have a wine and cheese trail. Seems that would be a good start to see if someone would like you to make a label. I can't imagine anyone turning you down!!
Hugs to you both! Mickey

Linda Fine said...

Beautiful tile, as always! The generosity of both of you, Maria and Rick, just shows what wonderful people you are! Between sharing your lovely tiles, honey, and time, you are a very giving couple! Thanks for your generosity to all!

Dale R said...

Maybe if you sell the work it becomes a job and not a spiritual or meditative process? Do you then begin to design what is sellable and become critical in the process, ruining the meditative aspect? I bought a long arm machine to make quilting easier. The first question I get is if I'd quilt for someone. No. I bought the machine not for business, but to expedite what I do, what I create. So, maybe you're in the same boat.

Roslyn Hack said...

Yah!! Thank you so very much Maria and Rick. I have sent an email with my details.
Just love your blog.

Barbara Burgess said...

I really admire the fact that you do not sell your beautiful tiles. You are so generous to so many. Basically, the only work that I sell are my large pieces of ZIAs. Whenever someone comments about a tile that I am working on or one in my photo album, I like to give it to them. It really helps to make their day not to mention mine! It feels so good to hand over a piece of myself that someone really likes. I especially enjoy giving it to a student after a class.
Barbara Burgess, CZT

Christina Wilke said...

I too am a maker, I love to make, paint,china paint, quilt but have never sold. If I am happy with a piece of work I will display it in my home but then it is put away or given away to someone that I think will appreciate it, it is like giving a part of me and I think this is why I don't sell the items I don't want to put a price on it for me it is a piece of me, a piece of my time, blood, sweat and sometimes tears therefore it is worth more than money, money just cheapens the item. I enjoy every blog and contact from you so please keep them coming.

Anonymous said...

Years ago, creating needlepoint paintings with beautiful fibers eventually resulted in some recognition, which prompted me to think about business aspects. As it turned out, I decided not to create them for sale. Friends and family appreciated them so much as gifts.. Buyers didn't understand or appreciate in the same way. Also, deadlines felt as if I was losing ownership of the experience of creating the pieces. Maybe you're feeling similarly? Jane

Lynn Mathers said...

Oh, my, I so resonate with your tendency not to sell your tiles! In my paper crafting, when I first make a project and it turns out well, I end up hanging on to it just to admire it for a while; but then I move on to the stage of "I can't sell it because I need a sample to show if/when I teach a class in it." And then if I make more of them, I still just keep them to show a wider variety of samples for my future classes! I just can't seem to part with them (except the ones I make specifically as a gift for someone)...

I do hope you will let us know Joe's reaction to your fabulous gift for him!

dennie czt9 said...

Thanks for your thoughts on this topic. I have sold my woodwork for years. . . and always felt good about it. Earlier this year my Zentangle art was accepted into two juried art shows. One even won a third place ribbon. I sold one piece in each art show even tho I had put, what I thought was a high price on them, because I didn't really want to sell them. I never have a problem giving them away though. Unlike with my woodworking, I didn't even care if they were accepted into the art shows because it just didn't feel right that they should be judged against other kinds of art, that's not why I do and teach Zentangle. . . So it was nice to hear what you think. As always, your work is beautiful.

Jeannette Q said...

One of my favorite groups on Facebook related to Zentangle is Random Acts of Zentangle....Tanglers make lovely tiles, and then randomly leave them for someone else to discover....at a hospital, a doctor's office, a coffee shop, a waiting room. There is something about Zentangle that encourages generosity, open-heartedness, and just wanting to share the joy of it with others. Thank you for sharing it in so many wonderful ways....We are all blessed because of your sharing.....

Sandy Steen Bartholomew said...

The words - "Maybe you could sell it..." have always been the kiss of death in my family. ;-) And I just dropped out of a hula hooping certification program because I realized it took all the joy out of it to learn all those technicalities, and tests, for teaching.

And congrats to your grand-nephew!
Alex, who is still one of your younger CZTs (he's 17) is also graduating from HS this Saturday.
He'll be off to Vassar this fall, and I'll be off to Cartoon College.

Andrea said...

A very classy little gift for your nephew.

Henrike said...

Dear Maria,
I perfectly understand your thoughts and feel the same as "dale r" said. Often people, who see my tiles, say "Oh how beautiful. Maybe you could sell them.", but it seems unthinkable. I don't want to produce them for money. I once created a Zentangle-chrismas-card to be reproduced 100 times for a customer who new me for my strawstars. I sent to her my disign and then she asked for changes ... It was horrible. What I would like is to come to Providence next year to meet you, become a CZT an d spread the method in Northern Germany furthermore....

Sue Zanker said...

Oh yes! Selling work you have given part of your heart to, IS hard. I can't sell my tangling, I make gifts and cards and give them to people. Also I am a random Zentangle giver and leave the odd tile in all sorts of places. They are always gone, when I pass by again, so 'someone' has picked it up and hopefully received pleasure, enough to make them smile that day. Giving someone a smile, makes me smile too.......!

Zentangle said...

I love the RAZ, too! (random acts of Zentangle)

How cool is is to fall asleep at night wondering where it went and what effect it has had on a person (child?) or persons.. .

Next blog. . . .


maria

Chriss said...

Congratulations to Rosalyn. I was lucky enough a whilemago to win a beautiful gift from you, and know how much she will appreciate it. I think to give is so much more than to sell. I am quilter and give my quilts away, I also make smaller articles and give them away too. It makes me feel good, and that is all I require, maybe this is how it is for you too.

Chriss said...
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Chriss said...
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Angela Werner said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this topic and any other topic you pick. I enjoy the way both of you think and of course, your art. What a wonderful keepsake for your grandnephew!

Tinkered Art said...

I hadn't really given much thought about the why of what I choose to sell and what I don't until reading your post this morning - really made me think and not sure I have it all sorted out just yet. How I choose what to sell doesn't seem to have come from any well thought out or conscious choice but intuitively I seem to have allowed the Zentangle principle of process not product be my guide. I don't recall ever giving any thought to selling a tile that I just sat down and created - given them away or Razzed them but it just never occurred to me to sell them. On the other hand the things I do sell, mostly wood burned pieces, while there is creativity there with plenty of zen & tangles they have more "producing" to them - made with the intent to sell. I have some pieces when completed that I really do not want to sell - if I look at how they were created it was more the process and not the production that brought it to life. Thanks for the early morning stimulation - will need to ponder this a bit more.


Quwatha Valentine said...

The Zentangled tiles are a labor of love, done in the quiet moments of my day. That is when the mind and heart come together to create something spontaneously, not planned, just whatever comes to mind and placed on paper. This isn’t to be judged or critiqued. It is myself. That is what I give to someone special … a part of myself that isn’t for sale.
Quwatha

Zentangle said...

Well said.

maria

Pat Floerke said...

A zentangle tile does feel different to me than other ZIA -- more personal, spiritual, intimate. Selling one would feel to me like selling a piece of my soul.

Karen said...

I've never even considered selling tiles. I don't like to part with them either! I pour so much of my heart and soul into the tile while tangling, it seems kind of like prostituting my soul thinking of selling! 😉

GerryART said...

Seems everyone is of the same mind regarding their Zentangle Tiles.
I am a new-comer to Zentangle. While at Barnes & Noble a couple of weeks ago My Hubby gave me a book
By CZT Kathleen Murray.
I'm enjoying your blog and seems I'm always putting pen to paper.
Thanks for spreading news about your ZenTangles and your method that makes drawing SO easy.

Love today's tile - lucky grand-nephew.
Now I must google 'gouache.
Hugs
Gerry

Heather Jackson said...

I think when we create Zentangle tiles, we are creating visual stories about ourselves and the unique "zen" experience we feel while creating them. With every deliberate stroke, we express ourselves into that pen mark. Each tile is a learning experience that we visually and emotionally connect to. When we share our tiles with others we are sharing our souls.

Debbie New, CZT 18 said...

Dear Rick and Maria

As most of your newsletters and blog articles, this post is very appropriate, timely and much appreciated.

I am someone who grew up being told I couldn't craft or draw, and I only managed to start shaking off those thoughts when I turned 24. I started out simply creating small accessories to give people I knew and cared about. I took great pride in making tailor-made stuff I knew their new owners would wear and love. At the time, material cost was never the issue. I was happy just to give them away and see how moved the recipients were with their presents.

Much later in 2013, I lost my job after an extended illness and suddenly, crafting (to sell) became a necessity. All of a sudden I had to watch closely the costs of materials and pay attention to margins and book myself for craft fairs.. A LOT of the stress came from trying to be profitable. This is tough, because there are so many other similar stalls selling handcrafted jewelry. In Singapore, there is less of a 'handmade' culture than in the USA - I'd meet many people at these artisanal fairs who do not appreciate the artistry or thought process involved in creating handmade items - they'd try to haggle and compare prices that were already reasonable (my prices start from S$4!).

To worsen the experience for me, some sellers there were selling things that they had not made themselves! They simply bought low-cost handmade items made by others, from around the Asian region, to resell at a high markup. Although I understand why this made them more efficient sellers, needless to say, I was (am) also very disillusioned. 'Selling' at these fairs, simply killed much of the joy I had originally found in crafting.

These days I find that the only satisfying work I do, where crafting accessories is concerned, is when I receive custom orders. This is because there is a very high level of interaction and personalisation with and for the client. Most of these clients move on to become firm friends, and they see first hand the amount of planning and brain work that crafting involves.

Since becoming a CZT (18), I am rethinking all of this 'artisanal market stuff'. I am definitely recognising that my approach needs changing. I have since pulled back my ZIA postcards (which I used to put out for sale before attending seminar) and am now holding onto them to give away as tokens of appreciation at my Zentangle classes. I have already given away many of my Zentangle tiles to friends I'd made at seminar, and have never put any up for sale at the artisanal market, only official Zentangle products.

I am now more 'mindful' that my enjoyment of Zentangle is quite like a precious gem that needs protecting. I am more guarded with my Zentangle art pieces now that I have had the experience of selling my handmade accessories. I can now see why I had to go through all of that to get to this frame of mind, unpleasant as it was. It will definitely prevent me from going down the same route with my Zentangle art.

Cheers,
Debbie

Dilip Patel said...

Hi Maria (and Rick),
I enjoy the erudition that comes out in both your writings.
I like your thought suddenly dawning about never ever having thought about selling your zentangle art!( and Rick giving away the honey with added love of his generosity!). Yes, generosity is at the core. A commodity fast vanishing from across the World. It is this attribute that make both of you a beautiful couple.

Dilip Patel CZT09

MartyG said...

Maria and Rick, it is very interesting that you haven't sold any of your Zentangle. I do a lot of needlework and beading and people tell me all the time I should sell it. I never have. Only given as gifts. For me the needlework takes a long time to create and no one would ever pay what it is worth. I would rather give it to people I know appreciate my labor of love.

Zentangle said...



So, maybe it is the investment of passion and joy that we cannot put a appropriate price tag to. . . . we can only share this.

maria

Anonymous said...

For me, as a newborn CZT, Zentangle is about sharing the experience of the mindful process of drawing in that specific way, as well as the joy of creating something yourself, that adds to selfconfidence and (self)compassion. Fortunately I don't depend on it for a living, I feel privileged about that and am grateful for it. Thank you for letting me join your journey! Warme groeten from the Netherlands, Margreet

Ellen said...

Thank you for sharing your story. I don't sell my Zentangles, but I do sell my ZIAs. For me there is a huge difference. The ZIAs I create and enjoy the process, Zentangle I do to feel the process. Happy tangling from Holland

sue said...

Always inspiring, always informative, always a joy!

Lady Dragoness said...

Love the J. And, it happens that's my first initial, too.

adelah said...

How do you sell something priceless?

Eden said...

I don't know about anyone else, but I can't imagine what I would sell art for since I tend to want to price things I am selling by how much I would pay for it... And why would I pay for something like that when I can make it myself?! Why would anyone pay for something they could make themselves? I did used to have a hard time giving my sculptures away and I asked my art professor about why that was so hard. He felt that the difficulty in parting with one's artistic product had roots in one's lack of belief in one's self as an artist. If you don't really believe that you can make more you want to hold onto the art because you really aren't sure you can accomplish something like that again. I still struggle with this a bit, but I am getting better.

Unknown said...

My most precious possessions are handmade - Christmas ornaments, beautiful needlework, little drawings. To me, these are priceless in part because they were given to me by loving people. Perhaps it is this same open spirit of generosity that has caused you to have given rather than selling your tangle art. Thank you both for all the inspiration - artistic and otherwise - that you offer.

Sherry Wilson said...

Maybe you haven't sold any Zentangle tiles because you are somehow paying it forward to share your healing art with those who may need it. From what I've read on the blogs and the newsletters is that being able to create these beautiful tiles is a therapy unto itself and your generosity has helped hundreds if not more learn a way of channeling what they're feeling into a piece of art. As I create a tile I let my mind wander and feel as though all the stress of the day is flowing out through my hands as I draw. It's a great feeling.
Thank you for sharing.
Sherry

Anonymous said...

I am an artist rarely sell anything. I trade alot. I believe there are some art practices that are to be kept shared and eventually a home to be found. The art truly has a voice and within our own being will show the path of how when and where the art goes.
Ang altermyworld.angw at gmail dot com

Sue Zanker said...

It is very hard for those of us who have been "absorbed" and soooo helped by the study of Zentangle, to read comments from some people who just don't "get it".
It is, I think, a real case of leading a horse to water but not being able to get it to drink!!!! I find it personally difficult to 'let go' at times like this. I have received sooo much help both spiritually and emotionally with Zentangle that it is hard for me not to "preach" the virtues and so get as many other people to enjoy what I have received........a case of live and let live, perhaps. I so want to share, but unfortunately, there are some who are not yet open to the joys of Zentangle! Maybe one day!!!I live in hope.....

lincron said...

I am a ceramic artist, and am learning zentangling to use as a decorative addition in the process of creating my art. I understand that you have not sold your zentangle tiles...maybe it's for a similar reason that some of my art will never be sold. There are some things that just have my heart and soul attached to them: the mug with the perfectly comfortable handle, a jar whose glaze colors make me smile; a bowl with a roundness that is just right...these precious pots will only ever end up as gifts, in the hands of my family and friends or on my own shelf, never to be sold. To me, these things are priceless. Maybe you have a similar attachment to your Zentangle tiles!

Zentangle said...



I think you are spot on. Heart and Soul. Makes me want to hum an old tune. . . . .


Maria

Janice said...

I have been making SOMETHING for the past 40 years. I have never sold any of it, but have given away things that I made especially for someone. I teach classes, as I love enabling others to make their own art, but I do not make art for any reason other than to satisfy my need to do so. I guess it is because I treasure what I make and enjoy keeping it so I can look back on my progress as an artist.

Anonymous said...

I can understand the desire to give away tangles rather than selling them, but I have a story from a different perspective. A few years ago, I taught a friend how to do glass engraving. The two of us taught a 3rd friend. As it turned out, friend #3 owns a resale shop, so she started engraving on glass items and mirrors that came through her door before she sold them. She had a hit with those items and ended up placing pieces in several local galleries. Since she owned and ran the shop, there was no pressure over deadlines, sales quotas,etc. You could consider placing pieces in a friend's shop, a booth at an antiques mall, or even an etsy shop. The other thing to consider selling is prints of larger zentangle or zia pieces.

Charlene said...

I enjoy seeing how my Zentangling has evolved, and is still evolving. I guess because it's a tiny square piece of something that brought me peace and tranquility as I created it, I am loath to sell it, and would rather gift that tiny piece of inner self to someone.

Zentangle said...

Thanks, everyone, for your wonderful thoughts and comments. I love to hear all that you have to say.


Maria

bwright35 said...

Hmmm. Our son is a recording engineer and works both in TV and movies. He is presently working with Martin Short on a Christmas special. I will ask him about credits and possibly see what he could do...Wouldn't that be grand...no promises of any kind but I will at least check in with him...you never know.
Zentangle is a daily and joyful routine in my life. I love the time I spend doing it, sharing it and teaching it...thanks for this incredible gift.

Ellen Prewett said...

My thoughts on giving this particular type of art rather than selling it has to do with the fact that this art, possibly even more than other forms, is so much a piece of you, a part of the spirit, and as such I feel would be totally out of place to sell! I write poems and songs, all from the the spirit and that are gifts from somewhere, and as such could never sell. But that is me. I am also 66, not 26, and I think the perspective of age makes a difference in how I view the world.

JAMIE HERRON said...

Wonderful! Your post was almost like being in the room chatting with you and Rick! And how interesting that you had never sold a tile, and I loved Rick's analogy with the bees and honey production! While I was at CZT Seminar 20 I was blessed with the opportunity to visit with a childhood friend and her husband who also have bee hives, and they gifted me a large jar of their honey. (I am a voracious consumer of raw, local honey and no longer experience allergies).

`Jamie Herron, CZT 20

Dropstitchknitter said...

Thank you for sharing this. I will treasure the tile that I was given at CZT 20 - it will always remind me of the magical time I spent with all my classmates and the wonderful family you have at Zentangle. I cannot express - as I said to you both on the last day of class, there is not a word BIG enough to encompass all that I feel about the experience of Seminar. No word does it justice :)

Deborah Lee said...

My niece has a winery in Missouri called Peaceful Bend. I'll pass along your name to her. I already have a picture in my head with that name!!

Jane Armstrong said...

This kind of goes back to another comment I hear a lot - "but what do you do with them when you're done?". I love to look at them! They are like a scrapbook/journal of the places I have been and the emotions and feelings I was having at the time I created them. I give some as gifts, but most of them I can't part with...it's like giving away a piece of my soul! On another note, I remember seeing a photo of Maria's workspace (May have been in a newsletter ). I think it would make another loveless print/postcard. Just a thought! Love you both for your generous hearts.

Jane Armstrong said...

My favorite wine is Apothic (red) and I already love their label because it reminds me of your illuminated letters. How cool if you could design a label for them?

Jane Armstrong said...

NOT loveless...lovely!!!!! Geez

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