Niche: Friend or Foe

Today’s Dialogue episode is all about the NICHE! However you pronounce it, do you have one? Want one? Need one? Our contributors weigh in on the topic at hand— comment below to join the dialogue!

Related episode(s): Blog, Blog, Blog.

  • I certainly don’t want to fall into a specific niche. The thing I love the most about being a designer/maker are the projects I work on are constantly changing. And, each project lends itself to a specific look and feel. Otherwise, I think I would get bored and feel trapped.

  • Sometimes I wish I could find my niche… something I loved making and something people loved buying. However I get very bored by doing the same thing over and over, so it’s unlikely that I will ever get to that place and maybe that is a good thing… I like exploring new ideas and wouldn’t want to get boxed into doing one thing, no matter how popular it was… I would soon resent it.

  • this is by far my favorite dialogue. i focused on finding my niche for far too long. i realized that the quest was depressing me. so not what i got into to art for.
    i used art to come out of the box, i realized that putting myself back in a box was counter productive.
    art comes from viewing the world around us. sometimes we need to express things in 12 different ways without being concerned that we are leaving behind our own style.

    great video guys!

  • This is so relevent to my life right now. For me, defining my niche has really helped in keeping my mind more focused. I think that (for me in particular) setting some form of boundaries for yourself can actually spark ideas that you wouldn’t have otherwise come up with. It’s sort of like trying to get around the rules I guess. Plus, I think it really helps you stand out if you’re pushing the boundaries within a certain niche rather than just being all over the place.

    And…I loved this episode simply because Lisa got so fired up for a second!

  • It’s really interesting to watch these from my science-y perspective (graduate student in bioengineering) and see the parallels…students often get caught up in their favorite problem or their favorite technique and become the “mass spec guy” or the “cancer girl” when really—the goal should be answering questions that come up in your research. It’s not to say that specialization is a terrible thing, but it can lead to fairly bad science if you’re so specialized that when you look at your data or your project and miss something terribly crucial because you cut yourself off from a new technology.

  • That is so true. You just have to follow your heart. Do what you are most passionate about and your inner self will shine through and become a niche. And now I have to go and check out your blog!
    xo Anita, Austria

  • what an inspiring dialogue erin! i think the balance between friend and foe for artists and “the Niche” is difficult to find at times. i know it is something that i have struggled with over the years. you don’t want to box yourself in to a category, but at the same time, you don’t want to feel like your work has less meaning because you bounce around. very thought provoking.

  • i’m really enjoying reading everyone’s comments on this topic! i found it difficult to answer, you may notice I repeat myself quite a bit (sorry!), so it’s very interesting to read your thoughts and experiences. Thanks for adding to the dialogue.
    PS Erin, I hope you are having a wonderful time away, and Lisa, I loved hearing your bub in the background! :-)

  • It is the neverending struggle-THE NICHE. As an artist/designer it can be your foe. As a business owner it can be your friend. Making the same thing over and over is good for business but bad for the designer/artist creative process. Finding a balance between the two is essential!

  • Oh, yes, it would be perfect to not even care what the world that is outside of the studio where art is made thinks..;-)
    I truly believe that the balance can be found.
    I dont believe though, that good art can be made with no heart.
    But so many times artist do some very personal art and on the other hand – art for selling and they both really represent him.

  • So interesting to watch this episode and read all the responding comments. I’m still in art and design school, and I already feel this struggle to find a style that represents me but at the same time I want to try different things out. I’m not even out in the “real world”, but the niche is a very thought provoking topic.

    I love these dialogues, I check for a new one every week!

  • I enjoy these videos so much. Thank you.

    I suspect that if we pursue what we love we can’t help but find our niche. Being ourselves, and producing work that is authentically “us” is a sure fire way to create our niche.

    It’s not about searching, it’s about becoming.

  • Michael is so right.
    It has to be something that evolves from within you.
    Business people search for the niche market- that’s the difference between them and artists.

  • i LOVE your thoughts on these [as always!]. thanks for keeping the communications going!!!!

  • Within the business world, the word “niche” simply means that spot in the market where you have the least competition. It can be defined by your product OR your way of doing business. It could simply be that you’ve found a way of making art for less money than anyone else, or the people in your locale can’t get enough of your stuff.

    An artist or even business can have more than one niche. That may be inefficient.

    If you’re not selling, do you need one?

    If you don’t have one, are you working too hard?

    I imagine that if you’ve got a particularly good niche, your work becomes efficient enough that you’ll have time to work outside your niche. Or, you can keep doing art primarily for yourself and not worry about it, accepting the fact that you may never be “discovered” by the market.

  • Er, sorry, one more thing: Ask yourself why you’re doing art.

    If it’s to sell it and make money, you need a niche.

    If it’s to grow as a person and enjoy what you’re doing, it’s not called a niche, it’s called a rut.

  • I was just thinking about this topic today while getting ready for work (ok I was in the shower, where I do all my deep thinking) I was thinking that we are almost pressured to have a niche, to have a “thing”. I get asked, “what is it that you do?” “what kind of art?” “what are you known for” “what’s your blog about?” and I’m such a moody personality that I have to say, “what ever I FEEL like (no not like Napoleon would say it but close)” which then seems like another way to say “I don’t know or I am without a style”.

    I have decided that so much of what I create has to do with how I feel and basically my art has always been therapy for me and maybe that’s my particular niche…I am my own niche (said the recluse from her office in the high tower— ok, it’s just the upstairs of my rented townhouse–but still)… whether that’s a salable commodity is another topic entirely.

  • From the vlog: “create your own niche” “a niche comes naturally, it can’t be forced”

    I think niche is friend but in the end it should serve me not me it. I think it is inevitable to some degree if I am doing what I love to do. Niche, and I don’t think I am in one yet, can help pay the bills, so I hope I find my way into one, but it should not rule me. A bit like Gordon MacKenzie’s “Orbiting the Giant Hairball: A Corporate Fool’s Guide to Surviving with Grace” a book in which the former Hallmark Cards guru found a way to serve the hairball while not being utterly absorbed and overtaken by it.

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