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Social Status?

I’m having discussions with my fianc� about my social status as a
full-time, work at home, self-employed artist/hand engraver/custom
jeweler. (Maybe I’ll show her the responses.) She has a very
corporate driven view of the world and doesn’t perceive my social
status the same as I do; sometimes that hurts coming from her, I can
laugh at anyone else!

Every day, business owners large and small, lawyers, doctors, the
retired rich, etc., fawn over my skill and work with respect and awe
in their eyes --and pull out their wallets.

How do you perceive your status and why? Maybe we’ll all feel a
little better about ourselves.

Thanks, Brooks


Might I suggest a book titled, “Relationship Rescue” and its
companion workbook, written Dr. Phil Mcgraw, who is a respected
weekly guest on Oprah.

Perhaps the book will help you both to understand and support each

However it may also open both your eyes to see that, you both deserve
more compatible fiancees, than you currently are engaging with. The
you both may decide to shake hands and amicably go your separate

Good Luck


Brooks - I have just moved my studio from a truly rural setting (7
miles from the closest village) to Main Street of a small village.
Although I haven’t completed my transition, and opened for regular
retail selling, I literally have folks tracking me down to buy! My
new space is living upstairs and back, creating and selling
downstairs and front. Other Main Street business owners are ecstatic
that I’m here, and are giving me their business already in addition
to making many referrals. It is wonderful, and a great ego boost! I
have experienced the circumstances you are in with your fiance; I
hope that you two are able to work this out to your mutual satisfaction.

Do you enjoy what you are doing? Can you support a family on your
earnings?Are you and your customers pleased with your work? Are you
satisfied with your lifestyle? if your answer to all of these is
yes, what are you worried about? You own your own businessand call
your own tune. You don’t have to worry about being fired. Seems to
me that your fiancee has the problem if she wants you to do
something you don’t want to do so that you can fit into her image of
what HER husband should be . I don’t see where being a cog in some
big outfit is any less prestigious than owning your own business.
Entrepreneurship is still trendy these days. Risky, maybe…but
what isn’t? I hope you two can work it out. Dee

Dear Brooks, Try to imagine a world without art and design! Everyday
in every place we look there are products of artists and designers
(many of whom work at home) staring us in the face, from auto
designers to Madison Avenue graphics artists, people who design all
the products we use on a daily basis from tableware to linens, etc.
The “corporate types” that consume these goods may not stop to think
about all the work and creativity that goes into the products, but as
you say, they purchase them and in the long run maybe that is the
last laugh on status as an artist! Stop worrying about whether you
will fit into a cocktail party scenerio and enjoy the gift of
creativity that you have been given and laugh all the way to the
bank! Keep the juices flowing, Suzanne in Florida (where we are still

Without tearing the corporate army (and your fiance) apart totally,
the simple fact is that what you do is unique. What corporate
"workers" do; can be done by any multitude of people. I find it
distressing that she negates what you do. Relationships are hard
enough and if this perception is there now, I am not particularly
optimistic about how it will be in the future. There is a very old
(trite) expression “men marry women hoping they will never change;
women marry men hoping they will.”

Having said all that, I doubt any of us do this for the accolades.
And while it is easier to judge one’s “success” via the mile-markers
corporations throw out during their annual reviews; I doubt many
things can compare to the soul-level satisfaction from seeing a
piece of “art” exceed one’s expectations.

On a personal note, this exact scenario; the difficulty in measuring
one’s success by easily recognizable methods (i.e., raises,
milestones, promotions, etc) is exactly what mothers face while
raising children. I could add many more personal observations about
relationships in general and how a life-partner should be
proud/supportive… but, this probably isn’t the correct forum.

Hi Brooks, My perspect on your relationship is alittle different.
Your fiance should realize the significant advantages a self-employed
husband has. For 15 years I struggled with the corporate life (I was
a manager & then consultant in biotechnology/ pharmaceuticals), a
young family, & a very busy corporate husband. When I watched other
couples whose husbands had more flexibility because they were
teachers, professors, pharmacists, doctors, or owned their own
business I was green with envy. These were the spouses who could
help out at home much more with the children (attend soccer games, be
there for the kids while the wife traveled). They could be an
intregal part of their children’s lives AND give a corporate working
wife alttle room to breathe. They were able to really “support” their
family & spouses!

I gave the corporate life up to become & potter & jeweler (my studios
are in my home). I have teenagers who definitely need as much or more
supervision as when they were toddlers. My husband (of almost 25
yrs.) still runs the corporate rat race & can’t wait to retire & enjoy
his life. He envy’s me!

Good Luck

Brooks, In regards to social status, does it really matter? You sound
like you are happy and successful doing what you do and your work is
admired (and purchased) by a whole range of people.

I think the idea of success and status varies from person to person
and sometimes people have a hard time seeing a creative job as “real
work”. I mean its not like saving the world, is it?(:)) But it does
have a value and a social worth. The items we make are not what people
need, but rather want. They add beauty and are often momentos of very
special things in their lives and are important to them. We add that
little splash of colour against a grey concrete world! And lets face
it, many corporate types see artists as outrageous, bohemian, wild,
passionate and crazy, and given half the chance, would rip off their
ties, toss their briefcases and come and join them!

If necessary, just call yourself the “CEO of a specialty
manufacturing firm with many global clients” , its all in the

And lets face it, many corporate types see artists as outrageous, bohemian,
wild, passionate and crazy, and given half the chance, would rip off their
ties, toss their briefcases and come and join them!

Exactly what I did, except it was a scarf instead of a tie and my
expensive leather briefcase now holds special jewelry pieces instead
of meeting notes . I’m not as affluent, but, oh sooooo much
happier and fulfilled!! Wish I hadn’t waited most of a lifetime to
have the courage. When I was still doing shows I would run into those
corporate types who practically salivated at my freedom and heaped
praise and admiration at the risk I took.

In the long run of “life” you need to do what makes you happy and
fulfilled, otherwise the one you do it “for” will eventually reap the
loss you experience in the form of a less rewarding relationship.

Good luck! Nancy

A successful jeweler has to master the application and at least grasp
part of the theory of a lot of different things: metallurgy,
chemistry, physics, even engineering.

He or she also has to be accomplished in both the theory and practice
of multi-dimensional design, including colors, textures, lines, and
shapes. Often he or she is also well-versed in design history.

The personal qualities involved have to include patience and
discipline, a willingness to learn and improve continually. And be
confident enough with a blowtorch and some pretty serious chemicals
not to come out of the shop each day a little more singed! :wink:

Somebody who is self-employed as you are also has to be a successful
book-keeper and marketer, as well as a manager.

Who would your fiancee rather be with: somebody who has all those
qualities and is doing what he loves, or somebody who has those
qualities and is doing some “prestige” occupation for the sake of
what other people think?

Or on another trail of thought:

Famous Artists who were jewelers or jewelry designers: Salvador Dali,
Erte (fashion design, which at the very least can count as decorative
art), Holbein, Cellini.

Ann Feeney

HI Brooks:

Perhaps you need to build a relationship with other proffessional
artists. As an independant artist I belonged to a group of Wisconsin
Women Entrepreneurs. You are a very talented and successful artist.
Perhaps you can take some time to lay out a business plan, which is
what I did and it helped me focus on both the financial and artistic
needs of an extrepreneur. My Father was an independant entrepreneur
and all his life his family was after him as to when was he going to
get a REAL job. Well, he never did and was so successful in his
tinkering he retired from his tinkering with TV business at 58 and is
a millionaire now at 92!

You can get help with a long term business plan by contacting the
State Small Business Administration. They are ready to help you
develop a business plan and get going, which you already have started
your business. But, it is imperative to put a plan onto paper and then
to actually implement it. Most artists just flow along and make
money, but, with no plan it is easy to flounder. It is important to
your own self esteem to set forth some realistic goals and plans to
achieve them. If your finance is into business of some sort she can
also help you. She should be assisting you rather than clouding the
issue with self doubt.

Since I know you personally and we live in the same town, call me and
I will give you the Small Business Division for our State.
You other artists out there should call your state representative and
they can give you directions on how to proceed with this matter at no
cost. Putting your best foot forward and proceeding in a business like
manner will help free you to become the artist that you now sit around
a think about doing SOME DAY. Time is now.

Just Do IT! Pat DIACCA Topp

Hi Brooks, For centuries Artists have been the about only people who
can transcend and fit into ALL social classes. Never judge yourself by
the comments/thoughts of others. It is only your own opinion of
yourself that counts. Susan Sarantos
"Listen to the Universe and Dance to the Rhythm of it." SES

Dear Brooks,

Please excuse my frank response to your dilemma but perhaps the
relationship should be examined a bit further. This is a difficult
field to excel in, one in which your work is constantly under the
microscope, scrutinized, judged and evaluated by client, gallery, peer
and – most harshly-- by the maker himself. Even more marginalized
is the edge of the field represented in the pages of Metalsmith,
American Craft, Lapidary Journal and Ornament magazines: “wearable
art” that is often considered “artsy fartsy”, pointless or even
ridiculous by the mainstream jewelry community.

Given this lack of support and the blank stares and questioning
smiles oft times offered by family and friends in response to your
choice of profession, I cannot imagine how a person could continue in
the field w/ a partner who is not only unenthusiastic but views your
career through a lens tinted by social status and class structure.

I don’t know you or your fiance’, but from first impression, she
sounds like a person who’s world view might need a little adjusting.
My wife (girlfriend when I started out 20 years ago) was always
supportive, enthusiastic and understanding of the time and commitment
involved in my work and never, to my knowledge, felt embarrassed or
at a loss explaining what I do to others.

As far as my perceptions about what I do go: I can’t imagine how
anybody couldn’t be interested in metalsmithing. Manifesting
something concrete from the thin air of concept, idea and amorphous
bits of sheet, wire and shot is nothing short of amazing. The
corporate world seems somehow pointless in contrast.

Good luck, Andy Cooperman