Stuck in the Barnyard
“OLD McDONALD HAD A COMMISSION…Oh no, Oh no, Oh no……”
So, I had a “Patron”, and I am envisioning a relationship similar to Michaelangelo had with The Pope.. Endless coffers, freedom of expression in my own magnificent style, expensive dining and and more and more projects to work on. What a dream come true! I even mentioned to this kind person and lover of my art that I would give her privledged pricing on all future projects! Why not, right? I was on the gravy train from here on out, the best brushes, high quality paints…maybe marble or a bronze sculpture…or a glorious garden full of exquisite welded work! Ah, I basked in the glow of this fantasy, every artist’s dream!
THE BIRDHOUSE RACKET
Don’t get me wrong, I like money…I don’t yearn for riches like some do, which is a good thing because I would spend my life disappointed, but I do like to earn money. It validates the work I do, and it also buys good hot cocoa. So, every now and then, when I want to market my work directly, and it’s not stuff I want “too much” for; I resort to online marketplaces. To make a quick buck I’ve been known to paint palm fronds with funny animal faces for people to stick out in their gardens, and I’ve turned a quick buck…or twenty. In the recent past I painted and sold four or five birdhouses that I knocked out pretty quick, and sold them on Facebook marketplace…I was pleasantly surprised at how they were snapped up. “woohoo” ten bucks here, fifteen there…
I know what you think…you think I am ungrateful. That anyone with a talent like this that can make a dollar should not scoff at that ability. Believe me I am SO grateful. That’s not the issue. I made the choice to undersell, just to get that dough in my hand fast, I know that. Let me finish…
So, off I go (one day last month) to meet a customer for a sale. For good measure I loaded up a bunch of do-dads I had accumulated, thinking I might do some “suggestion selling” (Thank You Business Certificate). To my delighted surprise the person did buy more than one item! Not only that, they asked for more! I was tickled, really. So tickled, in fact, that I wrote a post about my new found angle on artistic marketing success! I rushed home to make more, but decided on a nap instead…
I made sure I understood what she wanted in her initial commissioned piece; knowing she had already purchased samples of my eclectic style, I knew she would be pleased with the result. She had also shared images of work by another artist whose work she collected, so my hackles were up, I was ready to prove my mastery! (THE BATTLE OF MICHAELANGEO VS DaVINCI !!!) So off I went, eager to get started (I had been in a sort of a mental block, angry that I had resorted to selling myself short in the previous weeks).
She had texted me images of what she had in mind, down to the color of the wildflowers, rooster, abandoned truck and barn. But I knew best-I was the pro here….I forged ahead with my own palette, my own layout, my own elements. I was very pleased with the results of my draft, and eagerly shared the early progress with her on social media and privately. I just knew I had nailed it, way better than she expected (and, of course way better than my rival!).
THE AWAKENING I waited by the phone, anticipating her return message! Well, it came. It sure did… I had missed the mark. She was not unkind, but reminded me by again sending images of what she had in mind. She included now pictures by other artists of mailboxes, fences, various types and colors of flowers, specific images of the rooster, the barn, the truck. Needless to say, my warm, fuzzy fantasy balloon was *pfffffffft*…up, up and away!!! What replaced it now was indignance, effrontery, and a severe wounding of my pride-and to complicate my response I had been very ill physically that week which had caused my Bipolar Disorder to kick into high gear! So now I was rapidly fluctuating between feelings of total worthlessness versus a manic and spontaneous anger. (I must admit here that I knocked over a few small things…) These mood swings often result in poor decision making, and, you guessed it, I replied to her text. I was self righteously indignant! I reminded her of our original discussion rather firmly. I listed the elements she initially requested, rather firmly. I explained that this would cost more, rather firmly. And to top it off I threw in the facts that I was sick. All rather firmly. And I pushed send.
Hey, I was a fine artist, an extraordinary artist, I had work in galleries, I had won awards!! I WAS JUSTIFIED IN MY INDIGNATION! right? I mean right, right? I did not get a reply. For days. I started to question myself, was I too harsh, was I too prideful…was I shooting myself in the foot? Um…..well…..ah….yes. Absolutely yes. Sure I was a good artist, a fine artist. But who was I to question or disregard the instruction on a specific job I had accepted in good faith? Who was I, indeed, to question a nice person who had agreed to pay me for my talent, who had not undersold me insulted me. I had set the price, I had not insisted on doing things my own way, I had not demanded that she not send me pictures of more items to add to the piece. No, I was out of line, and, I am not Michaelangelo. I really needed this money, and the customer is always right. I also had another thought…I had always believed that every artist was equal in the sense that we all work hard to practice our style, we don’t know other peoples circumstances or level of expertise , and that the effort an artist puts into their chosen proffesion is worthy of respect! Who was I to enter into some resentful attitude of scorn, when my ability was a gift, and I did not have a ‘formal’ art education. Oh my, soooo many lessons for me to learn!!
The end result is that I went back to the commission, added all the revisions my patron had requested. I have worked extra hours to get it just right and I am hoping that my customer can forgive my insolence, which she seems to have done. Although she does seem more reserved when we talk now, so I am not sure she will ever deal with me again! (big sigh…)
That’s the whole story for now…let me get back to work, I have some blue Daisy’s and a red truck to paint!!