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Author Topic: Making Money with Steampunk?  (Read 5745 times)
Maets
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« on: January 16, 2012, 08:45:09 pm »

Probably stepping into a big pile of horse dodo, but I am curious as the view of fellow Brass Gogglers. 
Is steampunk to be purely enjoyed as a personal venture or is it OK to pursue it for monetary gains?
Does making something to sell make it less desirable than making something to have and cherish?
Does promoting ones work reduce your standing or increase it in the Steampunk community?

Thanks for your considered responses.
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« Reply #1 on: January 16, 2012, 08:54:46 pm »

Personally, I dislike the band-wagon aspects of any trend. I've seen writers promoting their books as steampunk and describing the same thing as chick-lit in another location - whatever they think will sell.

That aside, there are always those professionals who identify a market and manufacture products to sell there. In which case, it's just like anything else. Some of the products sold by such people are far better made than many of us could do for ourselves.

If you're asking about people who make a few extra pieces to support their own Steampunk habit - then good luck to them. Someone making in these quantities will produce something far nearer to the Steampunk ethos than a faceless corporation turning out thousands of injection-moulded plastic gears to stick on "Steampunk versions" of their existing lines.
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« Reply #2 on: January 16, 2012, 08:56:09 pm »

When you build something to sell you don't have to find places to put your creations, you don't have to consider "Do I really need this?" and the money you acquire can fund more projects that you can make. Plus if you really think highly of your own work, you can bask in the knowlege that someone out there is enjoying something you made.

That's my view, anyway.
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« Reply #3 on: January 16, 2012, 08:59:32 pm »

I make things because I like to if they sell wonderful than I can make more stuff.  I see nothing wrong with an artist making a living doing what they love.  Those just jumping on the band wagon will jump off again when more money shows up elsewhere.  As far as promoting goes once you have been around for a while you get the feeling of when to promote and when not to. It is a surprising social thing and a small link is more powerful than spamming your store name everywhere.  
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« Reply #4 on: January 16, 2012, 09:07:29 pm »


As an essentially creative 'movement' SP needs examples of excellence to keep it moving forwards and to achieve that you really need to have at least a few people who can at least make it pay for itself to justify putting in the required time effort and financial investment.

In the end it comes down to individuals making judgements about quality and whether or not something is worth buying based on its intrinsic merits rather than whether or not it happens to be fashionable at the moment.
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« Reply #5 on: January 16, 2012, 09:39:13 pm »

I think it's great. Not everyone will like what you're selling, not everyone will need it. Some won't be able to afford it and some may not like it. But for others it will be a godsend. Personally, I don't think I have ever bought anything specifically produced, branded or labelled 'steampunk', but that could change soon enough if I came across something I really liked.
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« Reply #6 on: January 16, 2012, 09:47:39 pm »

I am an unreformed but socially aware capitalist, and therefore believe that we have the obligation to make money where we can whist spreading the aesthtic to as many people who want it. Money is good, and the more of it I have the more opportunities there will be for others to enjoy my presence at Steampunk events.
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« Reply #7 on: January 16, 2012, 09:50:59 pm »

The ire comes from those who are solely pursuing "the brass pound". People or companies who have no interest in steampunk beyond a way to make money. Merchants who enjoy the community or have merchandise that appeals anyway (historical costumers, corset makers, etc.) are less of a problem.
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« Reply #8 on: January 16, 2012, 09:52:58 pm »

Not all of us can sent up a brass etching shop in our garage... or have garages for such a setup. If you have the materials, tools, experience, and artistic spirit to make something that people would be willing to pay money for, go ahead.

I'll make my own steampunk gear when I can, and I feel that the act of being a creator is half of steampunk in and of itself, but I can't make everything, and I'd much rather buy the things I can't make than not have them at all.
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« Reply #9 on: January 16, 2012, 10:00:17 pm »

Personally, I'm right Royally brassed-off that every Steampunk related group on that certain 'Social Network' has become plastered in people trying to sell me something and almost every time I go to see what 'new message' has been posted it's a self promoting advertisement.

I know times are tough and people want to earn a living but it's getting as bad as the commercials on TV.

At least here there's a specific Trading Area and if I want something I can CHOOSE to go see for myself.
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« Reply #10 on: January 16, 2012, 10:05:49 pm »

Making money from an interest (yours or someone elses) isnt dirty or wrong; however like many things in life its not what you do but how you do it. People trying to sell over priced tat by claiming its steampunk obviously fall in the wrong way of doing things category. However the many makers and retailers who sell value for money items contribute a lot to steampunk, especially for the likes of me who cant sew/make well made items out of random scraps.

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« Reply #11 on: January 16, 2012, 10:30:39 pm »

My feelings on this are really quite simple:

If one is 'jumping in on the newest trend' and simply selling / making things with cogs (etc) to cash in on this 'new Steampunk genre', then you are a farce, and should be ignored.

If one is selling their art, etc. that happens to fall into the category of Steampunk, then they are an original and are due the respect and patronage of all present ...  even if they have evolved their art after exposure to this genre.

I would judge this difference by taking into account the overall body of work of the person or company in question.
i.e.: Did they make Avatar stuff last year and are now are making Steampunk stuff because it is currently popular ... or have they consistently made copper covered retro styled items and later discovered this community who also make similar things?

Trend following in my opinion is like trying to copy the stylings of Led Zepplin ... pretty obvious and cheesy.  I'm sure that there are plenty shades of grey in this discussion, but I need to define the polar opposites to judge the grey.
« Last Edit: January 16, 2012, 11:39:45 pm by Birdnest » Logged

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« Reply #12 on: January 17, 2012, 02:35:14 am »

I was born a capitalist and will die one.....that being said I did not come here in hopes of selling
I came here because it is a good fit.... some of us even at 51 have never completely grown up...
So I see no problem with selling.... people know who the really gifted people are and who the hacks
that slap a gear on something so now it's Steampunk....... the market will weed out the hacks..... if and when I have the time I may offer an item or two but the perfectionist in me won't allow hackery...

Maets can an artist be a perfectionist and survive? Or at some point one has to say I like it as it is?
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Maets
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« Reply #13 on: January 17, 2012, 02:52:53 am »

Maets can an artist be a perfectionist and survive? Or at some point one has to say I like it as it is?

Great question.  I am NOT a perfectionist.  I find it is very important to put your all into a piece and then stop and move on to the next piece.  Use what you learned from the last piece you made to help make the next piece even better.  I am asked all the time at art shows "What is your favorite piece?"  For me its simple, the next one I am going to make is my favorite.   I like to create.  Selling pieces allows me to afford to continue to create and forces me to make more.
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« Reply #14 on: January 17, 2012, 03:05:14 pm »

Anyone else have any input?
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« Reply #15 on: January 17, 2012, 07:40:20 pm »

Well its Trade isn't it, not the type of endeavour a gentleman should engage in, you might be confused with the grocer as a consequence. I make all such steampunks use the back door thank you. Roll Eyes

Actually there is nothing wrong with making a living out of steampunk, but the number of people who do are limited. A handful of the high end prop makers, the Foglio's and that's about it, in most cases its an adjunct to existing remunerative work. In my case I make thing's which amuse me. If they amuse other people bonus!

I have had offers for my work, but I would rather keep and enjoy it, or donate to charity or give it as a gift. That doesnt' stop me from buying art and props and clothes, if I like it. Its nice to have the choice, capitalism provides.
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« Reply #16 on: January 17, 2012, 07:55:24 pm »

Perfectionism is a tricky one. In many ways it depends on your definition of perfect and indeed the medium you're working in, some things like printing and performance are a one shot deal and you're stuck with whatever results you come up with, others, like writing tend to invite a more iterative process of refinement and polishing.

My own philosophy is that the quest for perfection is best applied to preparation and refinement of the process and the actual creating process benefits from a healthy dose of spontenatiy and flexibility of approach.

I think that the big potential downside of perfectionism is that it tends to imply a mindset of having a preconceived idea of how something should turn out and judging the results in comparison to that. I much prefer to  think in terms of a constant process of improvement and not worry too much about a final goal, I think its much more positive and productive to focus on how you can improve something rather fixating on how it falls short of some arbitrary and probably unachievable goal.

For me one of the most exciting things about art is not knowing what perfection is and the constant possibility of discovering new and interesting things rather than gradually creeping up on a pre-defined and specific objective.

Perhaps the most inportant skill in making anything is knowing when to stop, being able to sense that point where something is right or at least as right as it's going to get and then being able to leave it alone, often not an easy thing to do. 

« Last Edit: January 17, 2012, 08:00:16 pm by Narsil » Logged
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« Reply #17 on: January 17, 2012, 09:06:55 pm »

Is steampunk to be purely enjoyed as a personal venture or is it OK to pursue it for monetary gains?
Personally I have no beef with money being made from Steampunk/s. However, like many others here, I get rather pissed off by the increasing number of talentless bandwagon-jumpers. When I buy, I like to buy from Steampunks or from someone who is at least a craftsman and shows a good understanding of the æsthetic.

Quote
Does making something to sell make it less desirable than making something to have and cherish?
Not to the person who's buying it. I've made a few things for sale that have caused a real wrench when they sold, but the delight of the new owner (and the cash) helps take the sting away. There's a fairly intricate piece on my workbench at the moment which is growing on me more and more as it progresses; not sure yet whether I'll keep it just for me.

Quote
Does promoting ones work reduce your standing or increase it in the Steampunk community?
What standing?  Smiley I'd like to think that standing depends more on the quality of ones work than on whether one promotes it or not - after all, we all have to make a living somehow and folk can't buy what they don't know exists.

The means of promotion also has a great bearing. Someone who shouts -

LOOK AT MY ORIGINAL / GORGEOUS / AMAZING STEAMPUNK JEWELRY ON ETSY!!!

had better be good, and not just selling miscellaneous craft parts with watch wheels glued on.


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« Reply #18 on: January 17, 2012, 09:18:39 pm »

I'm thinking about trying to do exactly this in a bit. Essentially, not many people can do all of steampunk. Certainly I would struggle to make little brass things, and would quite like sometimes to buy things of that nature while perhaps selling other things.

It all depends on whether someone understands what they are doing it and doing it because they like that sort of thing, or whether they want to use the "steampunk" tag as they think it will sell their tat-with-glued-on-gears and couldn't give a damn about whether or not it fits.
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« Reply #19 on: January 17, 2012, 11:19:28 pm »

Directed not at individuals but as a curse of impotent rage: "Capitalist swine!"  Just saying.
Addendum:  If Capitalism were Meritocratic, I'd be a Capitalist.  But it ain't.
Addendum II:  In the Steampunk Community, Capitalism often actually does approach Meritocracy, as the opinions of this thread illustrates.

But it's the world we live in, we all have to eat.

'To sell or not to sell' might not be the question...as has been intimated by previous posters, the question revolves more around WHAT is being sold (quality, etc.) HOW it is being sold (BUY MY PRODUCT!!! vs. This is My Art, etc.) WHY it is being sold ('cashing in' and 'selling out' vs. making a living through a personal passion, etc.) and I would had To Whom it is being sold, though this is sticky and perhaps a personal preference.

I feel that those who purchase your art are to some degree representing you through your work.  To some degree, they reflect upon you.  So I choose to be selective about clientelle.
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« Reply #20 on: January 18, 2012, 12:31:28 am »

Some of these posts have got me to thinking and I think we can break this into a few categories
but first what is art? and what poses as art but really is a collectible..... I would say
any artist who produces "one of's" is in the first category and artists who mass produce
for the commercial market are in the collectible category examples.....

Also An Artist is someone (starving or otherwise) who makes a living selling their creations and have no other means of support ... these are few and far between......

Sean Orlando: Artist (Engineered Artworks) works in large scale and builds working craft like the Nautilus car or static displays like  The Raygun Gothic Rocketship or  The Steampunk Tree House, all one of a kind monumental projects that most could not afford to own.


Maets: Artist who works in metals, wood & brass to produce one of a kind Steampunk objects for home and garden decor in a price range that many but not all can afford....

Dr. Grordbort's: Artist or artists who work mainly on producing a model that can be mass produced through the use of rubber molds & resin uses website of epic proportions to sell the many models or rayguns.... some limited editions also...... a collectible - art for the masses....

This is not to say that a limited edition cannot be art...... art prints would be one example......

craftsman artists: small web stores selling both one of a kind handmade and mass produced merchandise this category may include the making of acid etched boxes Steampunk USB drives
to rings and jewelry some of good quality some of mediocre quality..... lets call these the craftsman artist as I would say most work for a living and this is more of a hobby than a living...

Hacks : those who see a trend and sell bits and pieces and or mass produced stuff to the Steampunk world...... among these .... most ebay sellers.....

companies that sell Steampunk..... Some companies have seen that the SP movement has grown in popularity and have set up sections designed for us.... in no way or shape is this art.........

Atlanta Cutlery comes to mind their division of Museum Replicas sells fine examples of historic swords from the middle ages into the 18th & 19th centuries they now sell Steampunk clothes and other items.....

A Victorian clothing shop on line that now has a section of Steampunk attire.........

I would Say Steampunk has made a mark when commercial enterprise is trying to grab a market share.....
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« Reply #21 on: January 18, 2012, 01:49:07 am »

If you can make money doing something you love without compromising your standards (moral or craft) more power to you! It's when one falls to the "glue gears on it" field of, ah, 'craftsmanship' in order to make a quick buck that I start to disapprove.
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« Reply #22 on: January 18, 2012, 02:20:18 am »

I do not sell anything. I can barely hobble bits together at a time and certainly wouldn't think of selling any of it for fear of being laughed to death. On the other hand, I do buy other pieces, bits of things that I consider needful in what I'm trying to achieve and don't mind if someone else is making a profit. If I think the price is too much, I don't buy. I am a saleman's nightmare. If someone is hard selling _____, I let them spin their tale. In the end it still comes down to 1)do I need it, 2)can I afford it, 3)can I recreate it with my own devices. If you sell to make money using SP motifs, ideas, etc., then good for you. If you're selling junk, good luck.

Back to the original question about "Making Money with Steampunk?" My answer is qualified but 'great.'
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« Reply #23 on: January 18, 2012, 02:54:36 am »

Steampunk for profit: Good or Evil?

I think it really comes down to this question: Are you making money off your own passion, or off someone else's passion?
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« Reply #24 on: January 18, 2012, 03:03:52 am »

To be honest I'd love to make money off of anything Steampunk that I built.  I have no problems with those that make something with care and dedication and creativity and sell it.  The add some gears to it and call it steampunk crowd on the other hand...

It's the building part for me that's enticing.  There are a few things I'll probably keep, the original lower arm that I built a few years ago that spawned my Mark II from this year and the Mark III that will be coming around during the summer once I've got the part and the garage is warm enough to work in again.  Besides if I can sell them I'll have room and perhaps enough of a bankroll to get started on the next.

And like it was said earlier, if someone is willing to pay for it at least to one person what you created is good enough to be purchased.
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