Has this ever happened to you? You start a new hobby or project, and before you know it you have piles of supplies! Not just base material for things you are creating, but also obscure tools that you can only ever use for one thing and nothing else! I’ve come to call this phenomena serial supply purchasing.
As I am a multi-disciplinary artist, this used to happen a lot to me. I see some new technique that you need alcohol ink for and I wipe my eyes, and bam! There are tens of alcohol ink bottles on my shelves. I see some new quilting block and bam! I have several fat quarters of quilting cotton. (They did come in super handy with this pandemic though!)
The value of discipline in the moment of inspiration
When I just started out serial supply purchasing was very hard to control because I thought you needed to build up a stash. You needed every conceivable tool and base material at the ready for when the inspiration strikes for a particular idea. I thought that inspiration was fleeting and should be seized. There is no time to run to the shops! If you do, it will just fall right out of your head.
But over time I have learned that the moment of inspiration is fleeting – discipline is eternal. You need to have the discipline to sketch out plans right in the moment of inspiration. This allows you to plan which materials would suit the idea best. You also need the discipline to swing back around to the idea. Even if the idea doesn’t feel appealing right now, commit to yourself to review it at a later time.
Taking this approach also weeds out the ideas that are great in the moment but really not great in the end. If you spend some time with your ideas to refine them and shape them into things that really suit your soul, it’s one of the better ways to find your artistic voice.
Carfully curating your stash for your style
That said, there is also some modicum of value in carefully curating a stash. There are some elements and tools in every craft that is indispensable. For knitting you can never go wrong with a good quality set of circular needles, just as for clay work it’s always handy to have craft knife refills and clay in the primary colours available.
You know your personal style and artistic voice best. You know what colours and motifs you like to use. If you were to purchase base materials that suit your typical work chances are you will use them quicker than you’d think. Be careful to purchase things outside of what you know however. I find that if I purchase things to “one day try out” I never get around to it even if it suits my typical style.
Something I find infinite value in is silicon moulds of various shapes and sizes of staple shapes. Stuff like buttons and bunnies and cats – motifs that I tend to use again and again in my work. This weekend these moulds came in very handy because I had to make tiny little glasses for tiny little cat faces and I happened to have one hiding out on a bunny mould! If I didn’t have it I would have had to cut it out by hand and it would’ve been such a pain.
This careful curation can combat both serial supplies purchasing and aid in supporting your creative work long term. What are your thoughts on the matter?