So could use some advice....
I'm a glass artist...and I sell my work to a lot of different people from all over the world.(mostly chicka stuffs, hearts, jewelry, roses ect)
I figure its best not to get into religion politics ect with my customers, right?...course not chickfila here.
BUT I keep getting custom work requests for crosses, angels.....religions symbols. Which while I could make them...I really dont want to make them.
About every other week I'll get an email requesting this.
Hubby thinks I am being silly...money is money and this is a biz.
Plus turning them down is always a flopper... not that I go "no, your insane im atheist and dont make silly crosses"...but have yet to find the words. That turn it down and keeps them reasonably happy with me. :(
You might like to consider whether you are creating glass-work as a personal fulfillment or as a financial business.
If you don't feel inspired to make religious art, you can simply say that you only make art that you find personally inspiring, and that without your personal inspiration, you feel the product would not do your art justice. And perhaps that without the fire of imagination motivating you, you would simply feel the commission was labour, for which you would charge triple rates to compensate yourself.
However, what does it matter to you if you make a cross or an angel or a fish or a flying spaghetti monster? Do you feel you are encouraging theists? I have stared at the beauty of Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel depiction of a god, and am perfectly able to appreciate it without feeling the urge to worship. Perhaps in years to come, when theism becomes a bit of an obscure hobby, your art would stand out as an inspirational artifact in its own right.
Someone who puts principle above profit. Imagine that!
You could tell them that such things could be considered idols, and by refusing to make them, you are helping to keep them from committing the sin of idolatry. :)
That is an interesting dilemma. I do agree with Strega that there is no reason to not enjoy art related to religion. But to add to that art is a personal question. I think something for you to consider is your personal economic situation weighed against how strong your position is on religion. Do you need the work, or would it not hurt you to pass on it.
By doing the work you get the income and you will create more of what I am sure of is beautiful art, but you may also be helping to propagate belief in what ever religious item you make. I don't think there is a wrong or right answer here. The choice is yours and yours alone.
I'd also like to add that I thank you for considering the question in the first place.
The pragmatist in me says "Meh, what the hell, money is money. Go for it." But I can understand how making religious symbols would make you uncomfortable. I would suggest simply being honest with them: That you don't feel comfortable crafting religious icons. If you're part of a larger glassblowing community, you might look into finding folks who are a little more comfortable with this sort of work, and point your customers in their direction. Reasonable customers will appreciate your honesty and your willingness to help them find someone who CAN give them what they're looking for, and unreasonable customers will spit meaningless words at you and take their money elsewhere.
In the end, you shouldn't compromise your values for money. If it makes you uncomfortable, don't do it. If you can't provide them with what they want, go out of your way to help them find someone who can. I've worked with customers a lot, and I find most of them remember people who go the extra mile, even if they didn't get exactly the service they wanted. Who knows? They might change their request entirely, or come back with a new request later.
TAKE THEIR MONEY!
As a contractor, I had the same problem.
If you are the artist then you obviously have the right to choose what you create or do not create. If the extra money you receive and the pleasure of creating art that another finds meaningful and beautiful to them does not outweigh your desire to keep your art religious-free then by all means turn them down.
Personally for me, I would not volunteer my time to a church to be their pianist. But if they paid me my going rate and I had the time in my schedule than I would play for them. That's just me though. But if I was a millionaire I probably would not play for the church even if they paid me. It all depends on my financial situation.
I mean it's not like they are asking you to create a magnificent work that will displayed publicly and give the impression that you might be or that you support a particular religion. Such as a nativity scene or what not.
You could always hire an assistant whose job would be to take those religious projects. That way you can work on the pieces you want, separate the theists from their cash and grow your business at the same time. Just a thought.
Don't you get lots of requests for fictional things anyway? I mean, glass figurines of fairies and unicorns are wildly popular, so I'm sure you've made them. Do you object to that? If not, why not? Those are fictional beings that people enjoy seeing. Likewise, an angel is a fictional being, no different than a fairy. A cross is a representation of a fictional being. These aren't real things. If your customer asked you to make a fairy and that person actually believed fairies are real, would you feel a moral objection to creating it? I had a sister-in-law who thought fairies were real and collected those things by the dozens, so such people are out there.
My point is, you're creating a glass figure of something you know to be fictional, so what's there to object to? It isn't real. I enjoy religious artwork, personally, and I might even be one who would ask for an angel or a full-blown crucifix, just because I like the artistic aspect of it.
It's not like you're a web designer who's been asked to build a Pro-Life website for a local Catholic Church. I did that and I didn't care in the slightest. It's not my job to tell the customer what their content should be, it was my job to make it look good and to make it work. Your moral delimna is nowhere near what mine was, lol.
One suggestion I'd like to make for the angels... Do you watch Doctor Who? If not, look up "Weeping Angels" on YouTube. You could always create some Weeping Angels for your customer, and when they're all "Oh, the angel is crying, it's beautiful" you can privately giggle to yourself as you send them home with a homicidal sci-fi monster. I'd actually look forward to requests for angels if I could do that! Hahahaha! With the crosses, you could always tell yourself that you're making upside-down crosses and giving them something they'd consider blasphemous if they knew. No reason they ever have to know that you intended it to be turned the other way.
So much opportunity to secretly screw with the religious here :)
Good point, Galen!
Your husband is right. BTW, would you feel so bad doing a glass window Buddha?
Unless it's something really objectionable (kiddie porn comes to mind), it's just business. Keep YOUR religion (or, more accurately, lack thereof) out of it.
I would ignore Galen's Weeping Angels suggestion. Take the job and do it honestly or don't do it at all.