Saturday, January 20, 2007

Not Ready Yet

One of the most frequent reasons people give for not selling their work, or applying to juried shows, or submitting to magazines, or you name it… that they are "not ready yet.” This may be true. They may have more work to do to get to the point that some of these moves make sense.

But really, how do you know when you are ready? What will be the signal that now is the time? Or is it really just another way of avoiding the anxiety of putting your work out into the public venue? More importantly, can you ever be fully ready before you get yourself out there?

I don’t think I have ever really been ready for any major change in my life. From going off to college, moving to a new city on my own, getting married, having kids, starting a business, etc. Each of these moves created anxiety. But each one was an opportunity to grow. To learn more about myself. More about what I had already learned in my life, and more about what I did not know.

I have worked in a lot of different “industries”. I sold industrial gases. I was a product manager for hydrogen, for industrial tapes, and for ophthamological instruments. I had my own business creating custom window treatments. I sold rugs. I spent a few years learning about the world of children’s book publishing. I even spent about 2 weeks doing telemarketing for affinity credit cards. Obviously I was not cut out for that last job. What I learned in all these different jobs is that each industry has its own vocabulary, and its own standards.

This is no different in the world of craft. Just like any other industry, there are ways to learn. Part of it is learned on the job. Immersing your self into the actual work. Part of it is learned from others who have more experience. And part of it can be learned in classes, seminars, from books or magazines.

One of the advantages of the internet is the world of forums and mail list groups. You can have access to a wide range of knowledge and information. You can get the opinion of two or twenty-two different voices. Discussion groups can be a place with occasional emotional outbursts or catfights. But if you can tolerate some of that, you may also find a wealth of information from people who have already traveled the path you are looking to go down. I have learned many important lessons, or found valuable resources through these groups.

It helps to be able to ask questions. It is okay to not know everything right away. It is okay to give yourself time to respond if you don’t have an answer right away. Not knowing everything is the worst excuse to sit on the sidelines. You will never know everything. Ever. The world is forever changing. What was true five or ten years ago may no longer be true. This is especially true in the world of craft. Those with experience may be having an even harder time trying to figure out the shifting terrain of the world of craft, than those who are new and open to exploring options.

The internet has changed the game. 9/11 changed the terrain. Imports, Target, Pier One, and more are changing the market. DIY, HGTV are changing our customers. Esty, EBay, The Guild, and more are changing the way people buy. What used to be true, may no longer be so.

Who knows where the craft world will be in ten years. I know I will be there in some way. Will you? Or will you be ten years older, and still getting “ready”? How will you know when you are ready?

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