Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Notes from the Other Side of the Counter: Part 1: Letting Go Of Ego...


I recently saw a post from a friend who had called a shop up with hopes that they would carry her work.  She was understandably nervous and it got me thinking about my own experiences working with artists and what tips (from the other side of the counter) I could give to help improve others' chances of being picked up and making a successful impression.

When I first started writing this post, I thought that I could just make a quick list, but it soon became mammoth in proportions and I decided to break it down into daily segments.  This is the first of many.

1.  Letting go of Ego.

It sounds like the title of a self-help book (and probably is), but it is probably the biggest hurdle in putting yourself out there.  As an artist, you put so much of yourself into your work... but when it comes to selling your work, you've got to let go of the sentimental attachments and think about it as a sellable commodity.  But what does that mean?

Firstly, if a business does not pick up your work, it's not a personal attack.  There are a lot of other factors into making the decision to carry one's work.  Some will say "yes" and some will say "no".  Don't take it personally.  If they say no, be polite, courteous and don't burn any bridges.  Ask them that if they have a moment or two, to give you any constructive feedback on what you could do better.  They may or may not respond back.  Again, don't take it personal.

Secondly, you may have just learned a new technique and spent a lot of time, heartache, and money into mastering it.  You've invested in your creative business on many levels!  Sometimes those first pieces seem like hard won milestones that mark your evolution as an artist and a craftsperson.  The best advice is to save those for yourself.  Make another and sell that one.  My experience has been that artists who put these pieces into the shop tend to be overly protective of them, inflate their prices, and don't look at comparables.  Basically, they don't want to sell it.  Never submit anything to be sold that you don't want to sell.

Thirdly, it's not a competition.  At the end of your life, there's no one who will give you a gold star for scoring fifty stores and producing a thousand necklaces in an afternoon.  This isn't to say that you shouldn't work hard and strive for being successful in an endeavor, but the old cliche of "quality over quantity" rings true.  I get a sour feeling in my stomach when someone says, "You should carry my work because I show in 500 galleries."  While this may be a positive for some shop owners, for me, it says that they won't have time for me and I feel a little bit like another notch on the proverbial nightstand.

There's plenty of time and opportunity to express yourself and your particular point of view.  At this juncture, it's important to separate your passion from the selling process.  It's easy to get caught up in the validation game and seeking approval by these external factors.  Find joy in your personal process, there's nothing more appealing than that.

Check back tomorrow for the next installment.

12 comments:

Pine Ridge Treasures said...

Good stuff, Andrew! I really like the suggestion about asking for constructive feedback It may be something entirely different than you are expecting.

Marsha Hedrick said...

I liked the bit about the 500 other galleries. That would gain the response from me 'You've just convinced me, for sure I don't want your stuff.' I don't know from the gallery perspective but I would think that Unusual and unique things would be a much better choice to include in a gallery than something that could be found 'everywhere'

Good post I look forward to the rest of them.

Shel said...

Great post with very useful information! My friend used to own a gallery in Texas several years ago and she coached me w/almost the exact words you have written above when I was getting into boutiques/galleries here in AZ - you're so spot on and it's hard to not take things personal, but you just gotta put it all aside!! Thanks for sharing. Looking forward to tomorrow! :-)

Jennifer said...

Truth.

The first of anything should be deemed a prototype, and be your jumping off point. Things will only get better as you delve deep and begin to achieve a better level of understanding and mastery of a process.

Debi Bartley said...

Thank you so much Andrew for taking time to help and encourage us all to create, ask and listen as we see our creations.

Debi Bartley said...

Thank you so much Andrew for taking time to help and encourage us all to create, ask and listen as we see our creations.

Angi said...

Thank you for this post. From someone who has been working up the courage to approach shops/galleries, I can use all of the advice I can get! What you said makes so much sense. I have been working on my pitch, and I love the "asking for constructive critisism" part. We can always learn from our mistakes. Thank you for helping to boost my nerve!

Angi Mullis dj2isme@aol.com

taralinda said...

Good words Andrew- applies to many creative pursuits, and for all of us who work to get our art in the public eye. Thank you-

Naomi Rose Designs said...

Thank you!

Lorelei Eurto said...

Looking forward to reading them all! Catching up after a long weekend with my Mom. I like this first one very much! I know your advice will be SO helpful while I continue to shop my jewelry around to local shops!! Thanks for doing this!

Kathy Lindemer said...

Words of wisdom! It is really important to not take it personally but very hard.

Shaiha said...

Great info! Thank you for taking the time to put it all down for us.