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jenny Three O'clock Bears
warwickshire uk
Posts: 4,413

Just lately I have had itchy feet.

My bears are how I want them to be ..and I love making them. However, for various reasons...not least because of my need to keep evolving..I am thinking of taking time out to make some serious changes. I won't move away from sweet faced bears..because they are my trademark now and it would be foolish to turn my back on them completely.  However I feel I need more...more challenge..a higher bar to jump over.

So my question is this... when you get to a point where you are designing bears that people  would want to you keep on just doing you move on from there  and take a risk?

I know my thoughts...just interested in yours!!

matilda Matilda Huggington-beare
Posts: 5,551

When it comes to me.... I have to keep changing and must change. I have no real choice on the matter. I am unable to create if I am bored.  I constantly need to be challenge. Thats why I have enrolled in several more workshops. I have a NEED to keep LEARNING.
It's in all of us to be challenged creatively. If we are unhappy eventually it will show in our work. Not workmanship so much but lack of life in the expressions of our bears.

FenBeary Folk FenBeary Folk
Pointon Fen, Lincolnshire, UK
Posts: 2,234

I like Wendy love to learn, it floats my boat bear_grin

I am not one to give advice on this as I am not in your league but I sold my first bear to America recently and the reply I got kinda surprised me, I have been worried that I would not develope "my own style". The lady said "the thing I liked about your bears was they were all different styles" So I decided not to worry that no-one would recognise my bears as me and do what I want and feel like bear_grin Please do not think that I am suggesting yours are all the same (I WANT ONE bear_grin ) I am only trying to say that if its a different type of bear then I am sure you will make that style perfectly and gorgeous and I am also sure you will gain new collectors from this.

I suppose I am trying to say is, carry on making those sweet bears (I WANT ONE bear_grin ) but if you feel like doing something different, go for it, the world changes. I would just see it as an evolving process, better to do that than continue on the same line and then get so fed up that you stop, that would be a tradgedy bear_cry

Good Luck bear_wub

jenny Three O'clock Bears
warwickshire uk
Posts: 4,413

I think developing a style comes at some handwriting does..and you can't just stop doing it. A little of that personality will sneak in whatever you do. I tried to do some centre seam bears a long time ago..and they did end up looking like my bears again because the temptation to do this..then that.. was too strong.
Don't get me wrong..I have no intention of throwing all my toys out of the pram and leaving my identity behind.

I am interested to know if, when you reach a point where you feel that your signature bears/ rabbits/ dogs/ cats whatever sell without a you just keep on doing that...or to you decide that maybe there is more.
I know that there is more...but it's a scary route to take when you think it could be less precarious on the safe road. I am intending to find another road...but I bet it might lead back to where I started!! LOL

Marie_ Kiprie Bears
Yokohama, Japan
Posts: 2,735

Hi Jenny,
I may not be the best person to answer
your question since I'm still working on my
first signature bears  :doh: but I do understand your  desire.... :hug:

As for your fan,(me! bear_wub )
I would love to meet your new design
and I believe you can do it !!
Even if the new road is scary one,
you have a chance to find the
new brilliant road at the near corner...... :hug:

puca bears puca bears
Posts: 1,934

I second all the above opinions - I can't work without trying out something new .........otherwise I'd be bored to death - but that's just me! I try to take a couple of new - can't say designs - evolutions? along to shows to judge the public reaction................currently in the middle of a complete brain-storm - a "woolly BEAR caterpillar" scarf - as yet, I don't even know if it will work............
And yes - I firmly believe whatever you do, your "style" will show through

The Rabbit Maker The Rabbit Maker
Posts: 677

I think in your heart you know what you want to do.

You are obviously tempted by trying new things. I would follow that desire and if you like the results then maybe you could find a way of putting the 'new design' under a different umbrella. Keep 'your' name but maybe have the new designs  under a different 'collection' name . That way you can still continue to make the traditional Three O'clock bears.

I agree at the moment it would be madness to change something that is working so well for you , but in the fashion world designers have different collections, and ranges and it works for them.

( I was looking through the library yesterday and saw a post from you saying you wanted to do an open mouth bear. I don't know if you ever did but that post was Oct 2005......maybe that's a sign) LOL

jenny Three O'clock Bears
warwickshire uk
Posts: 4,413

Shelly..I did do an open mouth bear..complete with teeth that I made by hand..In fact I made two (bears..not teeth!)! I was not fussed on them..well on doing any more. I am not fussed on teeth in teddies to be fair...but that's just me. It still looked like a Thee O'clock Bear.
I have no intention of drawing a line through everything and going off at a tangent..without linking it back to my designs.

I am just thinking out loud, wondering if others think that it's bad for business to move on significantly when you have established a 'look'.
Not necessarily me either....just interested in opinions that's all!

Laurie Laurie Lou Bears
Posts: 3,246

As my bears hardly ever look the same I don't have to worry too much about customers looking for this in my bears but it is hard to know what to do for the best.I used to make bigger bears when I first started out but then all I heard was that people go more for the smaller bears including the shop I supply to so in the end I make more bears 4 to 12 inches whereas before they were more 12 - 15 inches.In the end it worked out ok for me though as I do really enjoy making smaller bears although I made a 15 inch bear the other day for a change.
It would be easier to carry on making your usual style but at the same time try out your new ideas and see how well they are perceived.If you never tried out anything new you would end up getting fed up with bear making.You might get to the point where you feel you are making what other people want rather than what you want to do and that is the hardest part as if it brings in the customers and money what do you do? 
I didn't see any point in making these larger bears if they were harder to sell as I didn't want to see them sitting on a shelf for months on end as it is no good for profit or morale but you have to do what is best for you.If you carry on with your usual bears and try out all these new things too then everyone is happy bear_original
Laurie :hug:

All Bear All Bear by Paula
Posts: 5,162

Well, you know me, business has to work first and foremost, but if the creative urge takes me, I do tend to follow it.  I think we can all afford to build a little time into our schedules to try out new things and push ourselves forwards .. it doesn't mean we have to abandon what our collectors love though, it's more a case of affording ourselves an opportunity to evolve so that we keep things interesting for both ourselves and collectors.  Having said that, there is no point in turning away from the hand the feeds us either ... I'm not sure that comment will be received well by those with a constant need to challenge boundaries artistically speaking, but I'll stand by it, a girl's still gotta eat after all! bear_tongue

jenny Three O'clock Bears
warwickshire uk
Posts: 4,413

Yep ..Paula..I hear what you are saying. It is a pain this having to make a living lark , really. Maybe if I win the lottery tonight I can throw caution to the wind!!
In my mind though, while I want to raise my own pain threshhold so to speak, it doesn't offer a safe route to bringing home the bacon. While the simplest route for an artist is to keep on doing what they know they CAN do...maybe more satisfaction lies in stretching themselves into what they can't necessarily do..and then finding a way of doing it.
If time was no obstacle..and money no object I'd spend every day just playing...
I am up for a slight detour though!!

All Bear All Bear by Paula
Posts: 5,162

In my experience, a slight detour rather than a complete 'about turn', is always good!  We all need to have some fun finding out where our craft can take us, rather than settling for what we've already discovered, but as with everything, a balanced approach means we may be able to have our cake and eat it!

wazzabears Wazza Bears Australia
Posts: 623

Jenny, Your a hairdresser!. Its in your blood. To challenge yourself. I am a hairdresser too, and I gave it up due to the fact it was not creative enough and I got bored. I am at the moment myself bored with my bears and the design. I am experimenting. I will still make my signature bear but will produce different things too. I love to learn and challenge myself and this is why I have now started to go to Uni and study Visual Arts. And its a HUGE challenge, but loving it at the same time.

Jack&Lilia Jack & Lilia
Posts: 3,488

Jenny go on your diversion it will be such will always have your gorgeous bears alongside anything else that you create....and who knows the new design may take over the others!
I really admire the bear artists that have a specific look....and sometimes wish I could do one thing and stick to those at Stratford know - looking at my table, that's impossible!....with traditional, animes, quirky critters and even a piglet!  :crackup: so here's to happy days experimenting  bear_thumb
Hugs Lynne  :hug:

Daphne Back Road Bears
Laconia, NH USA
Posts: 6,568

Don't have time to read responses Jenny but wanted to share my observations:

First I completely understand the need to keep evolving. It comes in part from, shall we say "boredom", part from an artist's need to keep creating and challenging themselves, and a desire to offer collectors something new.
And I understand, from a business perspective, the need to make what you know will sell and pay the bills.

I've seen artists move away from their "signature look"... the design that sells... to "evolve". For some this has proven to be very successful for their business. For others that evolution has brought them to a look much less desirable to many and then some of those artists being wondering why they aren't selling.

I love change.... and challenge.... so personally, I'd move on. This next bit of advice isn't directed at you so much as its just something I think every artist should keep in mind when "evolving":

If making bears is a business for you, the money from your sales pays the bills, etc. then evolve away but do it with both eyes wide open. If your sales are steady or improve then you are going in the right direction! If your sales decrease take a good look at WHY.... is it the direction you are going with your work - your new "look? Or completely unrelated?

Yes, as an artist you need to have passion for what you are doing in order to be content and its natural to evolve and challenge yourself. As a business you need to sell what you make. Sometimes it can be a juggling act.

Those who do this for fun... I guess they'd be hobbyists?.... are the lucky ones, IMO... so much freedom to experiment... go in any direction... with no worries about HAVING to sell what ever they make. I think we should all find a way to indulge in such fun. You just never know where it could lead!

Jenny, continuing to make the bears you currently make from time to time is wise, IMO. At least until you see where your new adventures take you.
I can't wait to see!! :dance:

The Rabbit Maker The Rabbit Maker
Posts: 677

I think I will have to come back in a couple of years by then hopefully I will have an answer


Teddy Tales My Teddy Tales
Posts: 523

I get very upset with myself because I dont have a "look" or" style " in my bears,  when they look at my bears there all different. . I get bored if I make the same pattern twice, if I get a request then I will ,I had a customer who wanted the bear that she lost the bid on and asked if I can make her one and I could change a few things because she knew I didn't make the same bear twice.

But I do want people to know my bears. I love a challenge and I guess I'm trying to find my style.  But I do like creating different looks, and I'm learning each time. 
I don't think theres anything wrong in trying a new look or just changing a few things here and there. Thats how we all learn.
Jenny I love your bears!!!   Your customers will buy your bears even if there different than your normal style of bears because they know your work. It's beautiful!!!And well made!!  All you can do is give it a go!!

           Bear hugs ,
                         Louise                                                (Did I make any sense?) I know what I wanted to say, but I hope it came out right!

thumperantiques Newcastle, Ontario
Posts: 5,643

      Absolutely go with your heart.  It will drive you crazy if you don't  :lol:!  Once I get an idea in my head, I go bonkers if I don't try it and you obviously have something in mind.  If sales are a must then try alternating - do one of your current style and then allow yourself to time to create something new.  I do agree that your style will show through, whatever the bear is.  Doesn't matter how hard I try to change mine, they all have the same look  You've peaked my curiousity - can't wait to see what you've come up with. 



kellydean k e l l y d e a n & c o m p a n y
Narrowsburg, New York
Posts: 718

well, a businessman who depends on his work as his sole means of support, and as an artist who pretty much abandoned his clientle to follow his muse, I can tell you that there is almost as much satisfaction to be found in eating as there is in creating a beautiful object - meaning if money is an issue, don't shift styles to quickly.  my birds, for instance, are ooohd and aaah-d over all the time, but not by bear collectors.  creatively, it was a wonderful journey and I learned a lot.  I have no idea where I'm going with the stuff I'm doing lately, but I'm loving the heck out of it,  and who really needs a car, anyway?  :crackup:

Judi Luxembears
Luxemburg, Wisconsin
Posts: 7,379

oooooh... Evolution is fantastic as you never know what wonderful surprises you'll come up with...just keep the bread and butter bears going at the same time.  We can all multi-task...right?

bearsbybeesley bears by beesley TM
Tofield Alberta Canada
Posts: 6,818

Hi Jenny. I totally understand where you are coming from. I think we all get in a bit of a rut and a slump from time to time. A new and different piece of mohair can sometimes inspire our creative juices again but like you we also need a challenge.

I dabbled in an entirely different medium with reborn dolls. I loved every minute of it but found they were so time consuming and one can never retrieve what was put into them. Painting could take upwards of 26 hours and hair rooting 20 - 25 hours. So I guess the moral of the story is to do it because you love it and not to bring in big profits.

I am playing around with a new medium now as well as our bears. I am just having fun and NOT looking at it as a profit making project. I think we all need to be creative and are looking for an outlet to express that.

Maybe trying something totaly new with your creativity would fill that creative need and give you a new challenge.

Hugs Louise

danceswithteddybears Dances With Teddy Bears
Pacific Northwest
Posts: 697

As the Girl Scouts say:
Make new friends
but keep the old
One is silver
the other gold.

Go for it and try new designs, but also keep making some of your wonderful wonderful trademark bears.
No, I'm not selling my bears (who would buy them!).  I'm an antique store owner who just loves bears, and hopefully will make some nice ones, someday.  So my input is more on the general side.  But it's the same no matter what we do and want to sell.  I made a niche for myself in one field of antiques, but got really bored with it and kinda changed paths.  I still sell my trademark, if you will, items but I've incorporated other, very far afield antiques.  It seems to be working and it's keeping me (somewhat) sane. 
I think it's basically the same as what you're going through, and many others.  We love new adventures and we love to grow and evolve.   
   Laura   bear_flower

jenny Three O'clock Bears
warwickshire uk
Posts: 4,413

As the Girl Scouts say:
Make new friends
but keep the old
One is silver
the other gold.

Laura...that's a great saying and I will remember that one!!

I think that making a living is important...well I HAVE to do that for my sanity sake. I lived by my own efforts for many years before my husband came along to share the bills and old habits die hard.

I need a bit of both I guess...but I wish I had more time to stretch myself. Working in the salon as well as bear making leaves little time to go off road. But  I am taking some time out in the summer to do my own thing..trouble is I am no good at splitting my attention..I bet I can't play around with new ideas AND do my regular bears..
We'll see...

minkbears Vintage Mink Bears by Kathy Myers
Lakewood CA
Posts: 1,387

Deja vu .... I know exactly what you are feeling. Been there, done that.

I totally "hit the wall" a few years ago. I even stopped making bears to try new things. It's good to try new things! It's invigorating and it feeds your creative soul. Why do you think that your collectors would not appreciate any new creation that you might offer them? They may surprise you. And what's wrong with finding a whole new audience? Of course, I came full circle and went back to designing bears with a great new enthusiasm. I needed a break and I took it. During my "break time" I also needed to bring in money each week to pay the bills and somehow I always made ends meet.

I will tell you the same thing that I tell my 20 year old daughter (who has an incurable illness that puts her in the hospital for weeks at a time) ... follow your heart  but follow your heart with no regrets... when you decide to do something put 110 percent of your energy into it. After all, what's the worst that could happen if you go down a new path for awhile? You'll find satisfaction either way. You'll be satisfied if your new venture is a success or you'll be satisfied that you gave it your best shot. I say "Go for it whole-heartedly!"

:dance:  :dance:  :dance:
Best wishes

Chico, California
Posts: 9,939

Shelli Retired Help Advisor, Banner Sponsor

I just spent the last half year "on sabbatical" kinda reimagineering my bears a little bit while I took some much-needed time off and by fall I hope to be back with a new-and-improved Potbelly look myself.  But I am keeping in mind what people say they like most about my teddies, and will be making only a few across-the-board changes to that aspect of my work.  Some of the chnages are purely materials related, but I felt were necessary to keep things moving toward "better and better" as I march forward in this path.

I think if you're not happy doing what you're doing, Jenny, no matter what it pays or what people like, it just doesn't work.  Follow your muse.  It's been good to you so far!  Personally I'm taking little steps and I'll see where each one lands me, because that seems prudent.  But I AM taking them, because I was feeling really stuck for a while, and I almost left the field entirely for a while there feeling like I "had to" do this, or "should" do that.  It really worked a number on my head and it's only in the last month or so that I feel truly re-energized.  And that's because I decided to make those changes.

I can't wait to see what you come up with next, Jenny; your work is outstanding and whatever 'new' 3 o'clock influences you put to it, I'm sure that won't change one bit.


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