This post is by Luann Udell, regular contributing author for FineArtViews. Luann also writes a column ("Craft Matters") for The Crafts Report magazine (a monthly business resource for the crafts professional) where she explores the funnier side of her life in craft. She's a double-juried member of the prestigious League of New Hampshire Craftsmen (fiber & art jewelry). Her work has appeared in books, magazines and newspapers across the country and she is a published writer. She's blogged since 2002 about the business side--and the spiritual inside--of art. She says, "I share my experiences so you won't have to make ALL the same mistakes I did...." You should submit an article and share your views as a guest author by clicking here.
If you do get advice that makes your heart leap, then make a REAL EFFORT. And give it a chance to work!
I watched a great movie on Buck Brannaman, The Horse Whisperer. In one memorable segment, he admonishes a woman who owns a horse that, as a colt, incurred brain damage during a difficult birth.
She kept him unneutered, left him to socialize with other stallions and in general paid scant attention to his training. She thought she was doing the right thing. She thought love alone would cure him.
Instead, she created a “monster” horse who was vicious and violent. He actually chased people to attack them. Brannaman gave her his honest opinion on the situation: Someday the horse would kill someone. She needed to take responsibility for the situation and have him put down.
She walks away, leading the horse, crying.
Curious, I went to an online discussion forum about that segment. Many people felt sorry for the woman and the horse. Some thought maybe Buck had been too hard on her.
But many felt her inaction, irresponsibility and neglect had put other people in harm’s way.
Some wondered why, having spent so much money on workshops and training over the years, the horse was still so vicious.
One reader said something that really grabbed my attention. He knew the type, he said.
“She’s the kind of person who goes from workshop to workshop, hires one trainer after another, constantly paying piles of money for 'expert advice'.
But she never actually does the work. She never puts the principles into practice!”
Why would she do this? Why would she spend so much time and money and energy hauling her horse across the region, looking for solutions she never acted on?
So she can say, “I tried everything and nothing worked”…
Do you know someone like this?
I mentioned someone like this in my Lucky You series—the craftsperson who “tried Etsy”, but “it didn’t work.” (“Some people are just lucky!” she exclaimed.)
I know lots of people like this.
They know they need to get their work online and create a 'brand' for their work. But they’re waiting until they could afford a web designer to build them a beautiful, perfect website. “I can’t get clothing labels made til I have a website!” they exclaim.
I know people who have beautiful, beautiful work. But they refuse to do the marketing and promotion necessary to get their work out into the world. “You don’t understand, Luann!” they exclaim. “I absolutely HATE marketing!” Their business is collapsing around them as the economy falters, they are not making a cent, they are going to lose their studio. They know they have to do SOMETHING.
But guess what? They’re not going to do anything. They hate marketing so much, they’re going to lose everything they’ve built over the years.
And when they do, they will look back, heave a sigh, and say wistfully, “It was just bad luck…”
“It’s the economy…”
“People around here just don’t appreciate fine art/fine woodworking/handmade furniture/insert your art/craft business here…”
Yes, it’s gotten harder to get ahead, or even keep up. Yes, times are hard. Yes, money is tight.
But trust me: There are still an awful lot of well-to-do people out there. There is still a lot of art being bought and sold. There are still a lot of homes begging to be filled with beautiful artisan-made furniture, rugs, paintings, pottery, and jewelry.
Yes, it was easier a few years ago.
But nobody said it would be easy, did they? And if they did, we all know “easy” can’t last.
So in your search for good advice, remember this:
No matter how much you paid for it, or how little you paid for it…
No matter how hard you have to work to implement it…
No matter how much you hate it…
When you find it — USE IT!!!
Don’t make a half-hearted effort and quit halfway through. Don’t slink away with your crazy horse and sigh, “Well, I tried…”
Give it your full attention, your highest intention, and your best shot.
Give your art the opportunity it—and you—truly deserve.
And if it STILL doesn’t work, well, you know what I’m going to say…
Figure out what worked (and why) and what didn’t (and why.) And then try, try again. In the words of Grabthor and his mighty hammer, “Never give up! Never surrender!”
(Sorry, couldn’t resist the quote from the movie Galaxy Quest!)