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Sunday, October 25

art/business

You would think those 2 words don't relate, but they do. I have some friends who are really good at the business of art. They are able to do both without neglecting either. I have trouble with both.

Now, here's the thing. If you wander off into the art/craft world with stars in your eyes and visions of sunny festivals and gallery openings with champagne and nights spent counting pots of money you will be sorely disappointed. It rains at festivals. Galleries probably don't want you and if they do, there will be beer. Some days you may make pots of money but often you will make little.

I will admit to often hoping for the best while preparing for less. I'm working on that. But, in the interim, I need to be a business person. I get tired thinking about it. But I made a step that way recently. I'm so proud.

I sell my miniature book pins at the Historical Society Gift Shop. The lovely woman who manages the shop saw one and asked where it came from and she found me and placed an order. It has been a small, steady revenue stream for a couple of years. They were even mentioned last year in an article about Christmas shopping in unexpected places. I was tickled when the reporter quoted the cutesy narrative on the packaging (..perfect for short stories, haiku...)

So, anyway, just before we left on vacation, the manager called me and asked for more pins. I had some made but I whipped up a few more so she would have a selection and went to see her a few days later. On a whim. I grabbed the new miniature book earrings and brought them with me. She selected the pins she wanted and I took a deep breath and asked if she wanted to see the earrings. She did. (this is not easy for me for all sorts of reasons that only my imaginary therapist knows). She looked at them and looked at them and turned them this way and that and said that she wasn't sure they were right for the shop. Ouch. But, OK.

On the way out I was chatting with the woman at the reception area who adores the little books. I showed her the earrings. (Hey, why not, the blow had landed, the damage done. ) She adored them. Hmmm.

Now, in my past life, the one I was living moments before, I would have gathered my little pile of earrings and left, but something shifted and I turned back and told the woman to give 2 pairs of the earrings to Mary. "Tell her to put them out, see if they sell. No charge unless they do. If they don't, I'll pick them up next time."

This is not like me.

She took 2 pair and I started to leave, turned around and gave her one more. Then I went on vacation.

A week ago, an email from the shop. Was I home yet? They needed a dozen book pins.

And 6 pairs of earrings.

Heh.

Now, granted, anyone with a modicum of business sense is wondering what the big deal is. I'll tell you. Some of us are not blessed with the confidence and guts it takes to be a business person. Some of us like to hide in the attic with piles of paper scraps and pots of glue and glittery bits of ephemera and make stuff. Then we climb down and meekly wait for someone to like what we created. Like it enough to buy it. That was me. Deep inside, I knew what I was supposed to do.I knew I had to climb out of the pajama pants and flannel shirt and into pressed pants and a sweater or something and go out into the world. Marketing. The palms sweat.

Somehow, in the dim, ornate lobby of a museum, that business part of me woke and shifted, yawned and stretched, looked around and said "What the hell are you doing?!?". Then she settled into my psyche and started to infiltrate.

Work smarter, not harder. Sell smarter. Expand horizons. Market.

I could be on to something here.

2 comments:

Louise's Son-in-law said...

Many years ago, at the New York Toy Fair, in my wood toy making days, a man walked by the booth with a badge that told me he was with Brio! Something similar to your "impulse" took over my body, and I practically jumped over my counter to blow my wooden train whistle at him.... so unlike my usual "if they like it they will buy it attitude".

It turned out that he was the owner of Brio, and we talked a while with him accepting a sample train whistle. Nothing for about a year until I got a phone call from his assistant saying they had lost the sample - could I send another? About a month later --- an order for a couple thousand train whistles, with a final tally of about 10 thousand whistles sold to Brio.

I saw a quote today - "sometimes a leap of faith is the only available mode of transportation!"

Terry said...

Pat,

I love your writing and so does my imaginary therapist.. Terry