Christmas Shopping

Holidays shopping, support small businesses and artists

11:12 AM

It's November and I am working on several artworks and project in preparation for the Holiday Season, aka Christmas. Which you all know is a month long affair for me and many who celebrate this festival (the Christian, secular or pagan way...).

If you live in India chances are you got exposed to the very commercial version of this festival, it's one more occasion to party, eat, and gift expensive stuff to family and friends (if Diwali didn't leave you broke in the gifting budget).
And, if you think Christmas is all about expensive gifts, gadgets and toys, I can't blame you, because sadly, it is what is has become like the world over.

There are predictions made over what toy will be the "Must Have" of the season, last year it was a kind of ugly electronic stuffed toy that you could not see while buying it because it was in an egg that would hatch at random once activate. I heard that silly toy sold out everywhere and was fetching ridiculous prices on Ebay, god knows that the fad will be this year, my Facebook friends haven't yet starting sharing wish lists and facts about what their kids dream of having.

But the craze is not just for toys, gifts for adults can go in the expensive and insane as well, the only surviving tradition is " It must be thoughtful".

When I was a kid, we would usually get one toy we wanted, and one gift we needed (sweater, socks, bag, clothes...) Adults kept it a bit more low key with their gifts. My parents would gift each other a nice bottle of perfume, or a book they would enjoy reading.
And then, there were the extended family gifts, these were ALWAYS home made in my family. My parents would start thinking about what the "homemade gift of the year" would be in October, and as soon as they figured it out, we would work on these every weekends of November and December.

I remember the time we hand painted wooden hangers, painted coasters, or made soaps and candles or even the time we learned how to weave cane bread baskets. Then of course there were the homemade cookies and jams we would make for more distant family or friends, or office colleagues. It was a BIG affair for us, and was still more or less the norms for a lot of families until the late 80's.
The consumerism of the 90's killed a bit of that spirit as suddenly the more store bought stuff the better became the new Holiday mantra.

Fortunately, we are seeing a return to the original spirit now.

A lot of people are starting to question the whole mass consumerism thing, and whether the latest iPhone really has to be bought as a Christmas present instead of buying something more artisanal either in a Christmas Market or on websites like Etsy which enables small artists and artisans to sell their handmade products.

For the last few years I have kept seeing various version of this quote popping around the Internet as the Holiday season nears :

Image credit : 905business.com
This sums up what the Christmas spirit should be all about if you ask me, it's a time for sharing and coming close together during the darkest time of the year. The time to love and support one another.

Don't flame me just yet, we all buy stuff from big corporates, year round. It's unavoidable for a lot of thing. But should the festive season be ALL about inflating the numbers of those big guys, or knowing that your thoughtful gift buying is helping one person or one family getting closer to their own dream? Isn't it what the magic of the season is all about?

This year, as an artist selling her art online, this strikes even closer to home. For month or so now, I have seen many artists like me start a "link roll" on their page or in groups. And even one lady in Redbubble group asking us artist to submit links to our t-shirts, prints, mugs, cushions and accessories as she was planning to buy ALL her gifts on the site in order to support artists. She asked us all to drop her links in August, as she wanted to plan her monthly expenses and gift budget.
That is how early some people start thinking about Christmas gifts.

As you all know, I sell my art on 3 platforms at the moment, namely Society6, Redbubble and Cupick (which is Indian based and only ships in India).
Those sites sell my artwork, and I get around 20% of the retail price as a royalty on every single purchase, this means everybody wins, the manufacturer, the platform/brand, and the independent artist.
Plus this type of print on demand site sells the kind of item that makes for great gifts for all budgets and for every tastes, because again, not all gifts have to be big, costly or from a mega brand.

Those Christmas trees you saw on top of that blog post is the first Christmas themed artwork I am sell ing in all three of my shops on various products. Featured above is the cushion cover at Redbubble.

Believe it or not, within a day of me launching it, I already sold it as a shower curtain on Society6. I never thought this design would sell on such a product, but it did, because buyers come in all shape sizes and tastes. This is what the shower curtain looks like if you were curious:



This design is also available as a greeting card (again in all my shops), this is especially important to me and to many people I know in India, Where Christmas cards usually hit the market quite late in the season, often too late to send to family and friends abroad on time for the festival. Thanks to Cupick, you can now buy your greeting cards early and send them right on time to people you know the world over. Fear not, I am working on more Holiday themed designs that will go live soon.

To not miss anything, I suggest you follow me on Instagram where I post my work in progress very regularly.

So to sum it all up, this season, make the effort to try to support a few independent artists, artisan or small business owner. You don't have to buy ALL your gifts from those businesses, but at least aim at a few thoughtful purchases. Even if you buy Christmas cards from an artist instead of Archies  you already are going to make a difference in someone's life. Or along with the iPhone you bought to gift, order a mobile case that will pay an artist instead of a cheap knock off in a market. It's those little things that end up adding to something big. 

2 comments

  1. Anonymous8:05 PM

    It is true we need to support our local artists. I still have vivid memories of the locally made rakhis, nothing like the bracelets of today. U felt u were wearing something on your wrist. Then there were the hand made clay idols for janamastami and toys made of sugar. Gradually these arts are fading away since the chinese are producing them cheaply. There is an entire town in china that produces idols and all sorts of stuff for indian festivals. Even the famed benarasi sari is facing competion from chinese silk.

    There have been few attempts in recent years to promote indegeneous talent. Gradually people are warming up to this idea these days.

    If not for anything we can take a leaf out of our history books. India was the leading exporter in cloth when the british came and turned it into the biggest importer of british made cloth which was incidently made using indian raw materials. Sorry i brought in history into it but the threat is all too familiar to us.

    Apple

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    1. I think it is globally that we have all been fooled into thinking that owning more is better, and to own more, we need to either have a lot of money, or buy cheap mass produced crap.
      It's considered better to own 10 pairs of shoes that cost about 1000 rupees each rather than buy one really good one pair that is master piece for would let's say 6000 (which ironically is cheaper than buying 10 cheaper pair).

      Or buy a cheap leather bag from a big store brand, instead of buying from a local artisan that may cost more but will last longer AND help a person make a living.

      As my mom often says : "The price tag is not what makes a good expensive or cheap" or also "Cheap prices aren't necessarily a bargain" Things that need constant replacing because it was poorly made will end up costing you more in the long run.

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