Category Archives: Fine Art Views

OVERHEARD CONVERSATIONS: How to Be a Better Matchmaker

Overheard Conversations: How to Be a Better Matchmaker

by Luann Udell on 4/23/2015 7:54:01 AM

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….”

  Matchmaker, matchmaker, make me a match….but what’s the catch??

Today’s lesson didn’t come from the gym, although it was another conversation I overheard this week.

Person A told their friend, Person B, about an opportunity they might be interested in. (For simplicity’s sake, I’m going to call them Ann and Bob.)

Ann knew Bob was looking for an opportunity just like this. Ann listed the reasons why this might be just what he was looking for–the price, the time, the location, the trade-offs. Bob listened enthusiastically.

Ann also knows a lot about Bob–his strengths (and weaknesses), his habits, his way of doing things.

So, although Bob was saying “yes”, she asked him an unusual question before taking the matter any further.

“On a scale of one-to-ten,” she said, “How committed are you to this opportunity?”

Bob was taken aback. He said, “Wow, you sound like a nurse! ‘How bad is the pain, on a scale of one-to-ten?’ Heh heh!”

But Ann stood her ground. “Look,” she said. “Before I approach the guy about talking to you, I need to know how seriously you are considering this.”

Bob quickly replied, “Nine!” and that’s the last of the conversation I heard. I had to get back to my studio.

Ann’s question stayed with me. Obviously, she didn’t want to go out on a limb to introduce the opportunity-holder to Bob. If Bob is truly eager to act, it will benefit all three of them. But if Bob isn’t really interested, it will be lose-lose-lose, a waste of time and energy for everyone involved.

“On a scale of one-to-ten….”  What a wonderful, non-confrontational question to ask, to qualify the ‘buyer’.

How many times have we been in situations like this, acting as the agent of change for someone else? For the sake of clarity, let’s continue this as us trying to do something for someone else. But picture it the other way, too–someone trying to do something for us.

We recommend a gallery to a fellow artist. Or we think a friend might like another artist’s work, and urge the artist to contact that friend. Or we think we know the perfect space for someone who says they need a studio. A customer is waxing enthusiastic about our artwork, and we want to get it into their hands/home/heart.

In every case, we see ourselves as ‘helping’ someone out, doing them a favor out of the goodness of our heart. We’re simply giving them what they want, right?  We’re trying to match up their need with the right opportunity.

Sometimes, it is a simple thing. That space really is perfect for them, they really arelooking for that opportunity, they really do want that painting–and the matchmaking is complete.

Often, however, there are reasons why it just won’t work for that person. The cost might be out of their range. They’re actually not ready to take that step. They’re just not into doing anymore shows, right now, or not interested in doing the gallery thing.

In fact, more often that not, what people say is holding them back, isn’t. Either they’re not ready to say why, or they just don’t know.

Whatever the reason, without us knowing what they’re really think, this might result in us giving even stronger encouragement, to the point of arm-twisting. And when they don’t take us up on our offer/favor/opportunity, we might get frustrated and annoyed.

Now imagine the situation reversed. Usually, when someone offers me something like this, I appreciate their intentions. I try to stay open rather than squish their offer with a fast ‘no’.

 But eventually, I need to also be clear about how serious I am about following their suggestion(s).

 “On a scale of one-to-ten”…. What a nice way for all of us to get clear on what we really want! And on what we’re willing/not willing to do to get it.

 Now instead of yes-or-no, we can talk about where we are on that scale. “One, two, three” means “no way!”. “Three, four, five” could mean “probably not, but I’m still listening.” “Six, seven, eight” means “Mmmmm….I’m open to negotiation”. And “nine or ten” means, “let’s make it happen!”

 See? Sometimes crunching the numbers makes a great match!

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LESSONS FROM THE GYM: The Whale Watcher

My column today at Fine Art Views, a marketing blog for artists and craftspeople.

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….”

We make our own luck in the world.

There are lessons to be learned everywhere, if we’re open to them. Today’s lesson from the gym is courtesy of a therapist there with an unusual hobby.

This guy loves to go whale watching. When he found out I’m a recent transplant to the west coast, he suggested I check out the whale migration scene on the coast.

We aren’t that far from Bodega Bay, where Alfred Hitchcock’s movie “The Birds” is set. There ARE a lot of birds out there, but so far, none have shown signs of turning on the human race….! Still, I’m careful to be very nice to all of them.

Bodega Head is a beautiful stretch of land reaching out into the ocean to form one side of the Bay. Bodega Head, with its open vistas from towering cliffs, is a popular whale watching spot. Volunteer ‘docents’ are present on the weekends to offer advice and help with identification.Whales migrate south to feeding grounds off the coast Baja Mexico, then return north after the mating season. Mother whales travel more slowly, and closer to the coast, with their new offspring.

This guy regularly reports back every Monday with exciting ‘spots’. And so my husband and I began making a trip every week or so to watch, too.

We haven’t seen any whales yet–just seals, sea lions and pelicans. And of course, after our fourth attempt to spot a whale, my husband concluded that guy is “lucky” to have seen so many whales.

Is he? Let’s dig a little deeper….

The whale watcher goes out every week he can, and sometimes multiple times in one week.

He and his family stay for hours at a time–not an hour, or two at most, like we do.

He knows a lot about whales, from talking with the docents and his own reading. He knows when they go, where they go, and why they go along our coast. He knows the best weather for watching, and the worst weather; and he knows how to get in-time local updates about that area’s weather. He knows what to look for–blowholes, pods, fins, breaches.

He’s invested in a good camera and a great lens to capture good photos.

So….Patience. Consistent effort. A practiced eye. And a passion for whales.

Is this luck?

Yes, there’s still a wee bit of luck involved. One first-time watcher spotted an amazing pod within a few minutes of arriving. A docent jokingly told her, “Don’t even bother coming back, you will NEVER see anything like this again!”

Mostly, though, this guy makes his own luck. And he deserves every whale spot he gets.

How many times have we heard about another artist’s success, envied their ‘luck’ and lamented our lack of same?

Now think how often we trouble ourselves to find out what they did to achieve that.

I’m guessing that ‘lucky’ artist is someone who’s practiced their craft with patience and persistence. I’d bet they have great images of their work, and a powerful personal story to go with it. I’d imagine they’re serious about getting their work out there, in a consistent fashion–through websites, shows, exhibitions, social media, getting published, personal invitations to collectors, and good selling skills.

Above all, I know they’re truly focused and passionate about the work they create–enough to not only make time for it, but to make it a priority, as much as possible.

Me? I would love to see a whale pod, or a mother and baby, or an orca, someday. But I’m just as happy to spend a few hours enjoying the beautiful California coast. I’m just as delighted to find a wonderful pebble or a twisty piece of driftwood on the beach.

But when it comes to my artwork, I know the same qualities that make that guy a great whale watcher, makes me a competent artist.

And when my next ‘lucky break’ comes, I’ll be ready!

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Filed under Fine Art Views, perseverence

LESSONS FROM THE GYM: Trust Me (my Fine Art Views column for today)

Lessons From the Gym: Trust Me
by Luann Udell on 3/26/2015 7:37:41 AM

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….”

I continue to eavesdrop at the physical therapy practice where I recuperated from surgery. I use their gym facilities several times a week, to get stronger in a safe, low-stress environment. And I continue to learn from my fellow patients every day.

Most of us who need physical therapy are at a scary point in our life. We’ve been injured, often during a favorite sport or physical activity. Or we’ve just had surgery. Or we’re recovering from a stroke, or a fall.

In every case, we are in pain. And we are afraid.

Afraid we’ll never be able to run/ride/bike/play soccer again. Afraid the pain will never go away. Afraid this is the beginning of the long decline that foreshadows a life ending in frailty, isolation and confinement.

The first few visits can actually be difficult not only for the client, but for the therapist! I hadn’t realized this before, nor had I recognized it in myself—until I saw many other clients acting the same way—crabby, resentful, defensive.

There is resentment when we are asked to do things that are too hard. (“I can’t do that yet!”) Conversely, there’s also resentment when we’re asked to do things that appear too easy. (“I know how to do this already! Why do I have to do it here?!”)

There is defensiveness when we realize our exercise routines are not serving our needs any longer. (“But I walk every day when I golf!”) There’s defensiveness when we have to admit we didn’t do our ‘homework’, the exercises we were supposed to do at home. One gentleman (who looked to be in his 90’s) swore he was just ‘too busy’ to spend 20 minutes a day to do his balance work. I winced when he used almost exactly the same excuse I’d used months earlier!

The conversations are terse and awkward. I feel sorry for the therapists, especially the one who had three back-to-back crabby clients one morning, all ‘dug in’ with their protests and barely cooperative.

But today, a few weeks later, I realize something has changed.

Those same crabby clients are now more relaxed, more open. They’re cooperative and good-humored, joking and laughing.

I wondered–What changed?

Their level of trust.

Over the weeks, the therapists responded calmly to each defensive, snippy remark. Each question was answered fully and appropriately. (More on this one next time!)

Information was given out freely to each client—but only as much as they could ‘handle’ at each visit. And as they made progress, as the pain began to abate, and as their balance/strength/flexibility improved, their milestones were acknowledged and celebrated.

The clients all recognized they were in good hands, with competent people, who had their well-being at heart. They could trust these people.

By consistently responding with respect, with compassion, but also with the confidence of competency and experience, each therapist won over every single crabby client in their care.

How does this apply to marketing and selling our art?

As artists, we show competency to our audience by the quality of our work and our reputation.

We gain their trust by treating them as more than just a bag o’ money.

We recognize them as individuals with unique tastes, preferences and desires.

We respond to ALL their questions—even the snippy ones, the rude ones, the ‘stupid’ ones—with patience and respect. Never taking someone else’s doubts or fears or ignorance, personally.

If they are worried your work won’t ‘go’ in their living room, we reassure them they can exchange the piece in 10 days for a different piece. If they worry about it breaking or tarnishing, we back up our product with a guarantee.

If they don’t understand what makes it unique or desirable, we share that information, too.

Once we can look into the eyes of another person and see another human being who’s every bit as complex, lovable, contradictory, and confusing as we are, even those who are as yet undecided about our work, then we can make better decisions on how to handle their complaints, their doubts, their questions.

We learn how to stay open and balanced, competent and confident.

By showing our trust in them, they learn to trust us.

I see this firsthand in my booth and studio. When I tell people they can pick something up and hold it, or open a drawer and look inside, or even simply give them a postcard, their astonishment is palpable. I’m treating them like I would a guest in my home. It’s sad how many folks just aren’t used to that!

Think about how you establish trust with first-time customers in your studio, at art shows, in your booth, at receptions. See it for the gift others will see it as.

Turn those former strangers into passionate collectors!

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Filed under art marketing, Fine Art Views, Lessons from the Gym

LESSONS FROM THE MOVE: Blessed Clarity

Here’s a link to today’s article at Fine Art Views, LESSONS FROM THE MOVE: Blessed Clarity”.

Looks like I accidentally wrote “Blessed CHARITY” instead of ‘CLARITY’. But both work.

Enjoy!

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LESSONS FROM THE MOVE: Transition is a Hard Place to Live

I keep forgetting to let you know about my Fine Art Views articles! Today’s post is available here.

Takeaway: Change is hard, being in the middle of change sucks. Unless you embrace it and find the blessings. My favorite quote so far: “Serenity is not freedom from the storm, but peace within the storm.”

Enjoy!

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LESSONS FROM THE MOVE: Assumptions Hold Us Back

I was so wrapped up with my indoor moving sale, I forgot to tell you about my latest Fine Art Views column!

You can read LESSONS FROM THE MOVE: Assumptions Hold Us Back.

You can see another view of the moving sale as an event on Facebook.

Love how the sunshine makes this glow so richly!

Love how the sunshine makes this glow so richly!

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Hugely collectible California Pottery "Poppy Trails", with its fabulous rooster motif.

Hugely collectible California Pottery “Poppy Trails”, with its fabulous rooster motif.

Looks like someone's ready for a trip to the north woods! But not us. We're off to California, and some other lucky person can own vintage (working!) snowshoes.

Looks like someone’s ready for a trip to the north woods! But not us. We’re off to California, and some other lucky person can own vintage (working!) snowshoes.

A rainbow of vintage glass pitchers for your table!

A rainbow of vintage glass pitchers for your table!

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Filed under art, Fine Art Views

GOOD ENOUGH: More Lessons from “The Move”

Here’s my column for today at at Fine Art Views column, on being “good enough.”

Too, too often, waiting for doing it “the right way”, “the best way”, “the perfect way”, “the professional way”, results in just “not doing it at all.” Don’t let your desire for perfection hold you back. Do what you can. When you can do better, then do better. Yes, some things deserve your best. But you’d be surprised how many things simply need “pretty good” or even just “okay”. […]

And here’s the subject of the column, the 1930’s faux cheetah-skin sofa that resides in my art studio.

Can you spot the patches? (How about the dog?) (How about the second dog?)

Can you spot the patches? (How about the dog?) (How about the second dog?)

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