October 31, 2011

learn one's lesson

My life has been a bit of a roller coaster for the last few months. Well, life as an artist is pretty much that. But, the last few months I seemed to take a front row seat on one of those crazy rides where I braced myself, closed my eyes and held on real tight hoping it would end soon. 

It all began when I was in the middle of creating my winter collection and trying to meet it's deadline. I ran into a few unexpected roadblocks. Lesson #1 - don't assume anything - check on suppliers well ahead of a deadline. Just because they have worked in the past - don't assume. One of my suppliers had stopped carrying the product I needed and my back up supplier did not have enough in stock with no exact date on it's arrival. I did take what little they had at a crazy price. I was desperate and freaking out! To solve my problem I contacted the manufacturer and they were kind enough to direct me to a wonderful supplier that shipped right to my door. The best part was that even though I had to buy in bulk, I ended up paying less for the product than before, even with the shipping cost. Out of a negative, came a positive.

Lesson #2 -  Even the best laid out plans sometimes have to change. I always, always do many detailed sketches for both my sculptures and my illustrations. My original sketches for my darling penguin sculptures show them with with winter hats. I spent hours developing a pattern and making the hats fit their irregular shaped heads. The hats were wonderful until I painted the penguins and found that they no longer suited them. I knew in my heart that the hats were just not right and I had to discard them. My plans had to change and although I worried about it all, I know that I made the right choice to change my designs on the fly.

Lesson # 3 - It is good to have a reminder of how strong and creative your soul is. While I was busy working on the final stages of my winter collection I took a job. ( I prefer to leave the company nameless to protect both my privacy and theirs.) My reasons were simple, a bit of extra income for when the studio is slow, the flexibility to still be at home with my family when I needed to be, to still be able to continue working in the studio and to meet other creative people both fellow coworkers and customers. At least that was my plan. What I didn't plan on was that I would become just another body or number, where the bottom line was really only about selling. (Their approach did not sit well with me, as it showed how large stores are truly impersonal.) But, even though it was an emotional roller coaster for me, there were definitely some positives that I took from the experience. I did meet some fellow coworkers that were kind and very creative. I do hope we are able to stay in touch. If not, they certainly helped me get through a tough time and I am grateful for their presence during this time. I was also reminded how determined, strong and creative a person I am.

It highlighted to me how much creative people can be undervalued in this world of ours. You just have to take a look around the room you are sitting in ... creativity in one way or another surrounds us. It also highlighted how many of us undersell our work. It is sad that as artists we spend many, many hours on a piece and if we haven't it certainly shows. We will often give our wares away as gifts hopefully to people who truly appreciate them. We give our pieces away not because it is cheaper to make it ourselves, but because we enjoy the process, and in that process we pour our heart and soul into it. So, next time you are at a craft show, gallery or at a friends house who just bought a piece of art - appreciate the piece for what it is, instead of the dollar value. We artists are not sitting in a factory pumping out trinkets, our work takes time - but most of all it is a personal expression and when someone adores our work and lets us know it, it means they have connected with our creative soul and we have evoked a feeling within them. Now that is worth something. Imagine being surrounded by work that makes you feel good and brings you joy.

So, please if you love an artists' work let them know it ( even if that means you can't afford to buy it). It is those kind and thoughtful comments that feed our creative souls and keeps us creating. Oh, and if you're an artist who sees other artists that are well known, who seem to have "made it" or are further along in their creative journey than you are - don't be jealous or wonder why your not good enough. Cheer them on! It is like looking through a magazine that shows this beautifully renovated house - everything picture perfect. Our blogs, websites and online stores are just the covers of our creative lives. We don't see behind the scenes - the long hours, the time it took to get to where they are, the highs and the lows and the tears.  Cheer them on, be happy for them because they are the hope for the rest of us that we can have the creative life we desire. For most of us all we want is to be able to create because it truly brings us the greatest joy.

I have been blessed with many, many positive comments over the years about my work. I am extremely grateful to those of you who have taken the time to let me know how much my work means to you. I can't thank you enough.

Is there an artists' work that brings you joy?

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