Instead of a big long thing today I’m going to share a collection of small things…things I’ve learned, thought about, stumbled over, avoided and always had a kernal of an article in them. And trust me they all fit together….
No! I won’t do it…
One of my children was particularly stubborn about what she would or would not eat and frequently would pick something to call “nasty” and promptly refuse to eat it. After trying everything one particularly cranky day I hit on an idea…. I simply said “you don’t have to eat this and I don’t want to hear anymore “nasty”. She soon realized the reverse logic I was applying and decided she would rather eat the “nasty stuff” and continue to call it nasty than not eat it and not be able to call it “nasty”.
Over the last several decades I have worked with many many small businesses around the country and almost universally heard ” I don’t have time to market” and yet would continue to complain about having no buyers…my answer to them was the same as to my children “Fine don’t take the time to put yourself out there and don’t come complaining to me about no buyers”. See their real issue was fear about something or other around actually promoting themselves, a fear I might add that is pretty universal and one that drives small business owners into hiding out doing “real work”.
At one point, I had a couple of clients who were “really ready” to “jump in and do what it takes” to get their businesses to the “next level”. Something I might ad I was pretty excited about, however, as soon as we got to the nitty gritty of things they suddenly started becoming “to busy”. Turns out being busy was a detraction because it gave them the feeling of “doing something productive” which means that they didn’t see doing things that would actually bring in more customers as being “productive”. Don’t worry I’m not going to get all Psyche 101 here…the point is they preferred to stay where they were and just complain.
So the next time you find yourself saying I don’t have time to waste on Facebook, or twitter, or blogging step back and take a long look at what you ARE spending time on and just how much it is contributing to your biz. You see, we have a strange definition of what productive actually means, for most it means “nose to the grind stone” sufferingly “hard” work, especially if that “hard work” is something we “know” how to do.
So….go ahead and keep up the “hard work” but don’t complain when those who do the
“easy stuff” start leaving you behind. The real “hard work” is stepping up and letting yourself learn and succeed.
Dude! Don’t make my eyes hurt…
One of the things I used to do as an Urban Designer was work with communities, neighborhoods and cities on issues around aesthetics, visual decision making, and human scale. A key point of focus was always a perceptive clash between businesses “need” to advertise their presence, their need to be found and the greater need for visual continuity within the community. If you have ever driven down a strip in anywhere USA you know what I’m talking about…that is called “visual clutter” which in turn virtually eliminates the very thing it is trying to accomplish…give you a chance to see what you are looking for.
What you were experiencing was the result of the business community feeling that they had to display everything at one time in the hopes that a few moving at 40mph could discover where they were headed. In essence they were ignoring one of the cardinal rules of visual decision making…”Don’t make my eyes hurt” so because they wanted to make sure you saw everything they ended up not letting you see what you indeed wanted to see.
This same principle applies especially to folks one would least expect….artists. I visit lots of artist web sites and go to lots of art fairs and I am continually shocked, yes shocked by all the noise. If you are in the art business and have lots of blinking lights and buttons and badges running up and down your blog/website over a bright pink background, with big yellow swirlies and flowers you might want to step back and re-think about the business you are in.
If you are in the business of art as in making my eyes feel good about what you have and giving my eyes the chance to find what it is I may be looking for then please, please, please don’t make my eyes hurt. Instead, get down to the basics of what you are about and soothingly invite my eyes in to explore the beauty of your creation. This applies to all those places you have your stuff whether on the web or at an art fair be kind to my eyes so they can see what you have.
Are you for real…
Really?….are you an accidental artist, or one who has a passion for creating and wants to do everything possible to sell your work? So what are you doing to be taken seriously? And by seriously, I mean not being seen as a “flea market ” vendor but rather someone who has something of great value to offer to us. Because, in my travels on and off-line, I see very few, who actually give the impression that they will be around for the duration… as in not just dabbling.
This is not a criticism, but rather an observation, if you are going to be an artist… then be one! Think of it this way…would you let a surgeon who was not passionately dedicated to your welfare cut you open? I thought so…now answer this: Why are you cheating your buyers out your value? And…it really doesn’t matter if you do it part time as long as you do it with heart and passion and show me the value. I could give a rip how much or hard you work, all I want is that good stuff that comes out of you.
So, how does this passion show up? Well, to start with especially you art fair artists, in the way you present your work to a jury. This goes back a little, to the not making my eyes hurt thing above, I have sat on many juries for many different creative things and I have to say no one got my votes if they made my eyes hurt or my lips curl. Jurors want to, not only see your work, they also want to see if you care about your work so much that they as jurors should to.
So please, please, don’t use that dirty old blanket as a backdrop, clean you camera lens and especially make sure those slides don’t have an goobers on them. Also, don’t show me a 1970’s Kodachrome slide that has aged well.
Showing me you care about your stuff shows me as a buyer you care about me, it shows me you will be around for a while. If you’re going to be around for a while, I might be more inclined to buy something now and next time bring my friends. But if your booth looks like it belongs in Afghanistan or upper Kurzacstan I doubt I’ll
- buy now and/or
- come back to buy more since I don’t get the message that you’ll be around.
Oh and one more thing don’t give me one of those inkjet printed cards ’cause they are just so cheezy, and cheezy is not what I’m looking for in an artist.
Pull your head out of your art…
Ok…I get it your work is special and you want me to really know how special it is. In fact you want me to think it is so special that you don’t let me touch it or at least you make it hard for me to feel its realness. And when I ask about it you stand there all stiff and start talking about your glaze ingredients, or your mark making, or all the various things you do to or on your work to make it art. But ya know what? I don’t care! I don’t care that you stuck that little pot in the far lower corner of your reverse gas combined wood fire kiln and reductio fired it till the flame was pink then threw in some magic dust. I just don’t care.
What I do care about is what drove you to do all that… where did it come from, why did you make it. Because that is the core of its origin, that thing came from you not your kiln, your paint mixture or whatever magic formula you mixed up. It came from some place deep inside you, a voice that told you to mix up that magic dust the way only you can. That my friend, is what I want to know because that makes your stuff the real deal, and that is something I can collect, because no one else can mix up that magic dust like you do. Kinda like Michalangelo or DaVinci despite a lack of trying nobody has been bee able to really copy them.
Finally, like I’ve said before many times don’t make your stuff hard for me to access, tell me or better let me discover how it will give value to me and everyday life. Will it make me laugh? Make me remember? Make me cry? Help me heal or any combination there of? How will it fit in my life and make some part better than it is now? That’s it that’s all I want to know… more than anything else.
Can you guess what the common thread was? Let me know in a comment…
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