I’m having one of those days.
I was going to goof off and enjoy this fiercely windy and sunny day.
But no. My good friend Bonnie Blandford posted a link to a great list of things to do to be the best artist you can be. Drat.
So I started clearing a surface so I could get busy with my next project. That lasted two minutes.
Got lost in sorting and reorganizing. Oops! I’m out of this widget. Order it now while I’m thinking about it.
An hour later. Surface still not cleared. Great art put on hold. Again.
I try again.
This time I found a metal box full of special orders and repairs from my really big show last August. Uh oh.
Now, there are a few things you need to know about how I do business, and how I treat my collectors.
When something breaks, I fix it.
When someone wants something different, I make it.
When something gets lost, I replace it. Free. Well. I’ll replace an earring, but I’m not going to replace, say, a lost wall hanging.
So I always have a stack of these ‘special projects’ after the show. This year, I had almost two dozen on my plate. Er…in my box.
It’s not my nature, really. After three days of set-up, nine days of selling and standing–in August, in the heat, which I H*A*T*E–the last thing I want to do is all the things that seem to point out my failure.
The repairs say, “You didn’t make it strong enough!” Fail.
The replacements say, “I shouldn’t have fallen out!” Fail.
The custom work says, “I don’t see anything I like!” Fail.
Now add: Two customers who cancelled their layaways right after the show. And the one special order I didn’t do, which angered one customer.
On top of that, add the six-months-from-hell I wrote about recently, and my upcoming knee surgery (which will make me put my life and art on hold, yet again, for months and months) and I get a little weepy.
I am very very good at feeling guilty and useless. I excel at feeling sorry for myself.
So I looked at that box and knew I had to deal with it.
To my surprise, I had actually completed…everything.
I don’t know why I’m so hard on myself. Probably that perfectionist thing that still raises its ugly head from time to time.
But it doesn’t serve me. It doesn’t serve my art. It takes away all the joy. It makes me forget why I do this.
Time to be kind and rewind.
I thought about the two dozen projects and repairs I DID complete, and all the happy responses I’d gotten back.
The repairs say, “I wore this until it fell apart. It’s my favorite necklace.” Success.
The replacements say, “I can’t believe you can make another one, and you’re not charging me!” Success.
The custom work says, “I love what you do, and I want one, I just need it in a different size/style/color.” Success.
I thought back to the angry customer. When I apologized, she calmed down. When I told her what had been going on, she sympathized. She said no worries, she’ll be back next year to look again.
And now that I think on it…last year, a customer commented in passing that she had lost everything she owned, in a major house fire. And I gave her a new piece–a big one–on the spot.
Am I a saint? Nope. Am I perfect? HA!
What I am is 100% human, through and through.
And I’m feeling better already.
N.B., if you have similar issues with repairs and special orders, one way to eliminate a lot of hassle is this: DO NOT TAKE ANY $$$ UPFRONT. I may take a check or write out a charge slip. But I don’t cash the check, or run the charge, til the order is ready to ship. That way, if something comes up and everything falls apart (like it did for me), your customer isn’t trying to get their money back–a far more complicated, and serious proposition.
And a little something extra that says “Thank you for your patience” goes a loooong way to smoothing over your (hopefully rare) goofs, too.