Friday, November 2, 2007

Things are More Good than Bad

After my post the other day about the poor showing I had at the Providence show I have had several conversations and emails friends who were a bit concerned my bad news.

It was a bad show. I am not going to take that back. But all in all, I am continuing a fantastic, and perhaps sometimes, too fast ride. I only started working with....perhaps I should say playing with....polymer clay four and a half years ago. I am still very new at my medium, as well as new at the business of craft. In that very short time, I have received more recognition than perhaps I deserve for my work. But I am loving what I am doing, and no matter how much success or recognition I receive, I have not doubt that I still have much to learn. I like to think I have managed to cram about ten years of experience into the last four years because of the time and energy I have put in the studio, and into growing my business. But in reality, I am still growing, and learning.

This morning I was listening to a Story Corp story on NPR. Story Corp travels around the country, and records the stories of everyday people, told by those people. This morning was a story by Tom Morgan. He shared his heartache at removing the life support equipment from his father. He also shared his life lesson from his father, and that experience......

Asked if he had any regrets, Morgan said he could list a dozen.

"But I always had the theory that if you don't try it, when you go to the grave, you'll say, 'I could have.' When I die, I'm going to go to the grave and say, 'I did. I might not have done it well, but I did it.'"

Hearing that sentiment hit home with me this morning. I have no regrets about the bad shows, the ideas that went no where. I can say I tried. My regrets about any of it are only momentary. Each time I learn. And I would rather try, and perhaps fail, than not even give it a try.

I guess it is a philosophy similar to that expressed by Voltaire. I do not want to let "the perfect be the enemy of the good." If every t has to be crossed, and every i dotted before I try something new, I would have missed so much already. The secret for me is to not hold on too tightly to either the successes or the failures. I accept them. I learn from them. And I get up each day trying to do the best job I can that day.

Each day at a show, good or bad is a new day. Each day in the studio is a new day. Living in the past, good or bad, will only cast a shadow on this moment. The good can create too much pressure to live up to, and the bad can feel overwhelming to overcome. Living right here, right now, in the present, can help me move forward, and make the best decisions for where I am right now.

As a friend pointed out, I am in transition right now, juggling several product lines. That, in and of itself can be a challenge. But I came across this bit of advice on The Big Red & Shiny blog recently, given to an artist who had questions about developing a new line of work;

It is very common for artists to have several “bodies” of work at once. These artists should spread the different styles to different galleries so that they can maximize exposure without having the galleries compete. In other words, if you are painting vertical stripes, sell that work at the “Vertical Stripe” gallery, and sell the figurative work out of the “Figurative” gallery. The dealers shouldn’t mind that you are working with another gallery as long as the
work is different. Just make sure you can make the distinction with each of your dealers. Are you sure you want to totally abandon your already successful pursuits? Maybe you should work on both bodies until you can develop enough of a following with the new work to leave the old one behind.

And that is where I am right now. Developing various markets for my various lines of work, and starting to pare away a few. It sometimes feels like juggling a lot of balls at once. But it beats staying somewhere that doesn't feel like it is working, just because it is familiar.

I don't want to paint a falsely optimistic picture after having a bad show. But it is not the end of the world either. Part of this artrepreneurship is having resiliency. Getting up. Getting back into the studio. Getting your work out there. And doing the best job you can, each and every day. That is all you can ask of yourself, and the most that anyone can ask of you.

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