Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Different Title and Theme??

Business and art are seen by some to be the antithesis of one another. Not just by artists, either. It is hard sometimes for others to recognize us as business people as well as artists. We are passionate about what we do, and what we create. But we may also need, or want, to make a living, just like any other working person. Business and art must intersect if we are to do this for a living. Helping other artists wrap their head around the business side of this equation is something I try to do here.

But my real world also includes kids, a husband and a dog. The kids are a little older now, so it is a bit more manageable,....but sometimes it feels like a three car pile up rather than a your more ordinary collision. The collision of art and business....and life!

Yesterday I was rushing around trying to get three or four orders out the door. I can't make the cranes fast enough right now. One of the orders was sent in by email, so it was easy enough for me to track down and double check quantities, styles, address, etc. No problem. Two others were phoned in. This is where I run into problems. And I know some of you will come up with some helpful solutions like a notebook and pen by the phone, or a white board, or immediately filing the paperwork, and updating my contact and order info when I get these calls. You are absolutely right. I should do those things. I sometimes even try to do those things. But then reality intervenes.

The call comes just after the kids get home from school. They are trying to signal to me, wanting to know if they can have ice cream and potato chips, and I am trying to signal they should go away, I am trying to talk. The signal is of course interpreted to have free rein on anything that is not tied down, or otherwise claimed. Or, Nickelodeon is on the TV in the background and I am trying to signal to them to turn down (or better yet, off!) the TV. I walk away, ...thank goodness for cordless phones....., kids left looking at me like I am losing my mind. Meanwhile, I am trying to take in every word they are telling me, but actually my brain is freaking out trying to remember the name they gave me in those first few seconds of shifting from mom to artrepreneur.

Inevitably there will be a need to write down address, product, dates, etc. But in order to get all this down I would need a piece of paper and something to write with. If anyone goes through my files they will find way too many notes scribbled on the back of my kids homework, a bill, or the comics....whatever I can find in those panicked crayon, or dry erase marker...or again,....whatever I can find! Pens, pencils, normal writing utensils, enter our house on a regular basis. But somewhere, there is a black hole or vacuum. It may be the same one that absorbs socks. I don't know, but normal writing tools vaporize. Yet I manage, or at least I like to pretend I manage, to sound somewhat coherent, and copy down the information, do a bit of a plug for another product they might want to try, or a style that might work for them, and hang up the phone.

This is when I should do that filing, organizing, etc. But first, I have to pull my kid's head out of the potato chip bag, or turn off the television, and get them focused on doing some homework. If I am lucky, I will at least enter the quantities, and business name for the order onto the computer so I don't lose track of it. Then it is off to take the kids somewhere, or pick them up. No time to file that piece of paper away for easy retrieval. Goes into the "Later" pile.

The piece of paper with all that valuable information now may make a journey throughout the house. How else can I play scavenger hunt when it comes time to ship the order? I will remember seeing it on the dining room table. Nope. Maybe it was in my studio. Nope. Maybe it is still on the ottoman in the living room. Nope. Okay. Panic is beginning to set in. The order needs to go out, and it is now approaching noon. I have two hours to finish packing the order, print the invoice, and get it to the post office. Should be easy. Doesn't feel very easy right now. One more time around the cycle. Dining room. Studio. Living room. Looking paper by paper. Finally cleaning up the area as I go. Must be upstairs in the office. Four piles of paper sit on the desk waiting for filing, sorting, or entry. I am vowing to get organized.

Find it! No time to celebrate. Call in credit card. Print out invoice. Finish packing the box. Oh wait. They wanted a bio. Back upstairs to print it out. Ooops. Laptop now downstairs. Go get the laptop, and bring it upstairs to the printer, and print out a bio. Daughter number one will be home in half an hour. Write a note. Should be home before daughter number two. Rush to the post office, zip over to Staples for ink cartridges, and to send a fax, and it is back home to juggle.

It is crazy. But it is also wonderful. I have never worked under such challenging circumstances, but I am also lucky to be able to work at home. My older daughter has agreed to work a few hours a week for me, on a trial basis. My other daughter wants a piece of the action as well. They get to make a few dollars, I get some help, all the while getting to be there with my kids. They get to see what is involved in running a business. They are as excited as I am when good news comes. They have been living the business with me, my (not so) silent partners.

When I am racing around the house looking for that pink piece of paper that I swear I used to write down that order, I am questioning my sanity. But once the order is shipped, and I go home, and bounce between working and parenting, I know it is working as best as it can, for now. They will grow up, move out and move on. But they will carry with them a little bit of what they learned. I may be able to find pencil and paper more easily then. But, I may miss flipping over the order I just wrote down to see that it was the rough draft of someone's essay. Just because it is hard, doesn't mean it isn't worth it.

1 comment:

Kathi said...

yoiks! is sounds insane! Have you tried a *pen on a rope* to keep a writing utensil handy? When I was working as a paramedic I always hung one around my neck with the stethoscope. It will become a habit, I promise. Maybe a mini spiral notebook that the pen can attach too? that way they are with you always.

ooo, there are those passport/ticket holders that would work perfectly. carries a pen, small pad and other needed things. Here's a link for one