Saturday, May 12, 2007

Ego Interference

So you are hooked on making beads, or jewelry, or pots or pictures. Whatever it is, you just love making it and your friends and family tell you to sell your work. Should you or shouldn't you?

There are many, many issues to think about before you take that step, but one important one is whether or not you can separate you from your work. Can you look at your product as a "widget" rather than an extension of your heart and soul? Because frankly, in the end, that is how the world is looking at it. Do they like it enough to buy it for the price you are selling it? Can they justify the purchase? Or if they are a buyer for a retail outlet, can they sell it? Will their customers buy it? Does it reflect their customer's taste and pocketbook?

So you have an appointment to go meet with a shop owner. You go in with your very best work. You need to be ready to answer the questions they will be sure to ask about price, what sells best, etc, etc. But, you also need to be ready to hear any feedback you receive from the buyer. You may not like what they have to say, or even agree with it. But, if you can't separate your ego from your product, and look at it as a "widget", you should not sell your work.

You may hear that your finishing needs improvement, or that your price is too high, or that your designs are not ones that will sell well for them. Heck, they might not like your color palette, or might try to redesign your line. You can NOT take any of this personally. It is their opinion. Some of it might be on target, and some of it might be just one person's opinion. With time you can sort that out. But if you can't hear what they have to say because your ego got in the way and shut down your hearing, you may miss a valuable lesson or two. And you may lose a valuable honest sounding board. Someone who will share their experience and opinions with you about your work.

It is a tricky dance we have to play when we sell our art. Part of us goes into the creation. We need to change hats when we step out of the studio and try to sell our work. If we feel like it is cutting off an arm if it doesn't go to a good home, or if we can't hear the truth about our pricing or finishing or color choices.....even if it comes over and over again.....then we will not be able to effectively sell our work.

We are selling "widgets". And like all widgets there needs to be demand in order to sell the work. And it has to be priced right. Some colors will sell better than others. If you hate purple and blue, and love orange, it might hurt your sales. If you can accept this limitation, fine. But recognize it for what it is. The market sets the rules. We need to decide if we are willing to play the game.

Not every suggestion you get is worthwhile. A high price for one store might be fine somewhere else. But if the same feedback is coming over and over again, perhaps there is something there that you need to pay attention to. Leave the ego in the studio. Sit down as a business person and evaluate your "product". Is it saleable? Can you make it saleable? Can you live with what that entails? The answer to any of these might be no. And that is fine. Just recognize what that means and be willing to accept it for what it is.

Being an artist and a business person is a mental juggling act sometimes. But any entrepreneur puts their heart and soul into their product. Until they are able to separate their heart and soul from the product when they bring it to market, success will probably be elusive. It is not necessarily about changing our product to meet the market demand. It is more about being able to accept any limitations and additional challenges that our current strategy may impose on us.

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