Showing posts with label communication. Show all posts
Showing posts with label communication. Show all posts

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

On a More Positive Note

I received a concerned note from one of the organizers of the Connecticut Guild retreat, after my most recent posts. It struck me over the last few days, how I had a slew of comments to each of these posts. They must have struck a chord with others out there as well. But there is a danger as soon as something is written down, that it is magnified. So little events, that in no way were under the control of the retreat organizers, take on greater significance and impact. The magnifying glass of examination, apparently also blows things up to larger than life impact.

I don't want to now say, "It was nothing." Things happened that made me pause, and made me think. And those are the things I am prone to write about. The process helps me understand life a bit better, and be better prepared the next time around. Most of what I described comes from a place better known, for lack of a better term, as "human nature". Our innate struggles as we bumble through our lives. I personally have found this type of examination and exploration helps me better navigate through them in the future.

I think the title of my last post was provocative, generating some of the response. Using the word "bully" is something of a red flag. But I am not sure how else to describe how simple requests can feel complicated on the other side. Pressured? Maybe. Neither quite describes the nuance of the sensation.

Overall the retreat was terrific, on many, many levels. First and foremost, seeing people I do not see frequently enough. That face-to-face time, whether across a table in the workroom, or wandering around the workroom, at lunch, or on Saturday night, in the lounge, all reinforces the sense of community that draws us to attend retreats in the first place. Inspiration. Laughter. Friendship.

I was making cranes for the Crane Project most of the weekend. It was a great opportunity for people to see first hand what I am working on. Saturday night I had a chance to talk to the whole group about the project, and how it all began. The response was fantastic. I gave a few lessons in paper crane folding. Several people volunteered to help with making the little washers that are just above and below each crane on the cables. There will be over 8000 of those little washers! That is a lot of washers! And I received $100 in donations, for the project. Donations that are sorely needed! But the encouragement was the most wonderful thing. That left me with a rich sense of what a wonderful, sharing, and supportive community this truly is. The connections, contacts and experiences that people in that room had were amazing.

I finally made a video I had been planning for about two weeks. As I told everyone at the retreat on Saturday night, I had folded a crane to represent Bobby a few days prior to the retreat. I never knew Bobby personally, but his story played an important role in shifting how I looked at my cranes, and what they could represent. Once again, the production is far from perfect, but I think it conveys his story, and why I feel compelled to take on this major project. I have titled the video Bobby's Crane. I struggled with my video editing software yesterday, so the title is not on the video itself. Things I could do the last time I made a video suddenly seemed impossible! But the message comes through. Hope you like it.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Creative Retreat

Each year, for the last few years, I have tried to attend a creative retreat. A chance to get away from the normal routine and immerse myself in a creative environment. I recently returned from the Connecticut Polymer Clay Guild Clay ConneCTions 2008 retreat. It was held over the past weekend, and I had a wonderful time, learning, meeting, re-connecting, and claying. The Connecticut Guild is strong, and does a wonderful job putting together this biennial retreat. The very first retreat I attended was put on by the Connecticut Guild in 2004.

One of the best parts of a retreat is the opportunity to meet, and begin to know, people who you might otherwise not get the opportunity to spend time with. Whether it is the person who is sitting across the table from you, or someone leading a demonstration of a technique, or your neighbor at the breakfast table. There are many opportunities to connect, and get to know more people in the broader community. This retreat was no exception for me. Some acquaintances were renewed or deepened, and others began. Either way, it was one of the most valuable gifts that I take away from any retreat experience.

I had a chance to learn a few new tricks and techniques. One of which I have already played around with, and may incorporate into some new crane patterns for next year. I now am a "licensed operator" of the Polymer Clay Express extruder, and will play around in the coming months with some of the new extrusion dies I purchased at the retreat. I love the openness of Polymer Clay Express to consider adding new dies based on requests from users. This makes for a richer tool base for everyone. I am awaiting the delivery of one of their new clay rollers....NOT a pasta machine!....but one built for the strains of conditioning a stiffer material. Wider, stronger, and better designed. I was told it is expected to be delivered in December. I also purchased a motor for my pasta machine. I have begun to experience tendinitis in my elbow....perhaps from all those cranes I have been making!

Over the last few years, I have begun to witness the downside of retreats. It is not something that is in the control of the organizers, and it is behavior that is not limited to creative retreats. Get enough people together, and you are bound to have a bit of toxic energy infecting the event. Fortunately, it is generally so far under the radar that most people do not see it, nor are they affected directly by it. But, it can have long term consequences that can affect all of us.

The source of most of it, is the source of most toxic stuff that floats around in our lives. Envy, deception, misunderstandings, etc. Most of it can be cut short, and often is. But sometimes, it becomes strong enough to do damage. To hurt the vulnerable. To discourage them from attending these sorts of events in the future.

There are definite "classes" within the creative world, just as any other community. We may talk about how wonderful it is that we all get along, and share, and respect.....but, when people are at different places on various spectrum; from experience, to ambition, to knowledge, "classes" form. I remember when I was at the Synergy conference in Baltimore in February. This was one of the best conferences I had ever attended. The concentration of talent and experience in one place was amazing. But it also could easily bring out the most deep-seated sense of inadequacy in nearly anyone.

I remember walking into the large main room at one point, and noticing a table full of "names"...people of significant profile and accomplishment. My first reaction, was one that I am not proud to admit. Why are they all sitting together, isolating themselves? I reacted from a place of inadequacy. That I was not feeling "good enough" to sit at that table. Then, thank goodness, I stopped right there and realized something deeper was going on. I was looking at this table by looking at the surface accomplishments of this group. In reality, this group of people had known each other for years. They had watched each others struggles and growth, and were there for each other through personal challenges, and triumphs. This is why they were together. They were friends relishing in the opportunity to see one another, and catch up with each other.

How often do we look at someone who has accomplished something in their artistic career by their resume? How often do we attempt to get to know that person as a person? Are we hoping to get something from being in proximity to them? And if they disappoint us how do we react? Do we translate those disappointments into an assessment of them as a person? And if we do, is it valid?

I have seen people hurt by the thoughtless spreading of nothing more than gossip. What happens when you are on the receiving end of some of this "hot stuff". Gossip that has it's primary value in the name attached to it? When we pick up the ball and spread the dirt, we are complicit in the damage done. We can say we were only passing on what was told to us. We did not start it. But it is feeding the beast.

What if instead, we turned to the source and said "No, thanks." Deflate the balloon a bit. As soon as we hear it, we feel the need to do something with it. Just don't pick it up. Put it down, and walk away.

And if it is about someone you like and respect, explicitly turn it down. What happens when we just pass the dirt along to the target of the gossip, "so that they know"? Hurt. Hurt with no outlet. No way for the issue to be resolved. The best thing is to just walk away. If someone feels more important by knocking down another artist, then you have elevated them by receiving the gossip. Don't do it.

As my profile in the polymer clay world has risen, the gossip value of my name has most likely increased. I try to stay away from the places where the gossip is most prolific. I have built a virtual cocoon of protection around myself. Not that I want to live in the illusion of my perfection, but rather, I don't need to hear idle speculation or gossip about who I am, and why I am doing things. I am deeply familiar with my own inadequacies. When the gossip does filter my way, I am often surprised as much by the content as by the source. Having that chatter in my head does nothing to nurture my creative self. If anything it chips away at it.

As an artist, we have duty to protect ourselves. How can we be creative if we don't? Your real friends will help you see the full you, but in the context of a relationship built on knowledge and understanding. They will help you be a better you. Gossip never does that. So the next time it comes your way, say, "No thanks, I'm on a gossip-free diet. It doesn't agree with me." You'll feel like you just lost ten pounds!

Don't let the possible negatives keep you away from a wonderful nourishing and enriching experience. Don't expect a lot of work to be done. But do plan on laughing, playing, and making a few new friends.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Rules, Schmules...

I have read one too many posts on what artists should or should not do in their blog, and/or website. Face it, as a rule, artists are not generally so in love with the technology side of the web. When we are told all the things we should be doing, or that we are doing it wrong, the first impulse might rightly be to throw up our hands and say, "Forget it. I can't do that, so why even bother?"

I do a lot of things wrong according to the rules. And somehow, this blog goes on....

Post at least three times a week, and predictably. I post sporadically. Sometimes nearly every day, and then I may go a week or more without posting. "Good blogs" post at least three times a week.

Images. Lots of images. Make sure that people coming to your blog can see your work. I have a teensy excuse on this blog, since it is not exclusively about my work. But on my crane blog, I have a scarcity of images there as well. I guess for me, the blog is the words behind the work. Both the studio work, and the other work that an artist engages in on a regular basis. My website, on the other hand, is image rich and text poor. Together they fill out the picture.

Keep entries short. Too much text turns off readers. Sorry readers, but when I get on a roll I am not going to say, "Oops, I am at the third paragraph, I better tie this up here". I write about what is on my mind. If I can do that in three paragraphs...uh, five?....great. But more often than not it takes me more than that to process the idea and communicate it coherently.

Feeds, etc. I think there is an RSS feed somewhere on the page. Is it easy to find? I don't know. I don't even really know what an RSS feed is to tell you the truth. Could I do better with this part of things? Absolutely. Is it worth my time and money? I frankly don't think so right now. It is low, low, low on the list, and the list is long. Somehow, in spite of my absolute ignorance, and neglect here, people still find my blog, and even subscribe! I love you subscribers out there!

Hire someone to do your website. Broke this rule too. But I pay a bit more to get template options with my website host. It means I can update my web page regularly without having to write code. I am not going to learn code. I am not interested. But I want to be able to update my web page fairly frequently and easily. Is the template exactly the way I want? Nope. But it does the job. I compromise on layout, fonts, colors, etc so that I can at least have images on the web.

In the end, I would rather suffer the wrath and criticism and "just do it", than not do it for fear of doing it wrong. I have made plenty of mistakes along the way. I am continuing to make mistakes. I will tweak, and play and continue to evolve as I continue to work my blogs and my website. I don't want to do it totally by the rules, because in the end, it is mine. Just like I want my art work to reflect how I see the world, I want my blog to reflect my thoughts and experiences. I use Blogger because they are easy, and Google takes care of so many things for me that I do not want to learn. I will risk the imperfection.

How much of the writing about the rules of how we engage with this technology is shutting down voices that we would all benefit from hearing? Isn't this the benefit of the Internet? The rules are still evolving and we can decide how we want it to work for us?

Are you on the sidelines? Do you have a point of view, something you want to say or share? But the idea of doing it the wrong way is just not worth the risk? Trust me, it is. Go ahead and do it wrong, if you have the inkling of a desire. Do it the best way you are able with the time, money, and savvy that you can muster. And if someone tells you that you are clueless, nod in agreement. Yup, you are. But in spite of that you are blogging, or have a website, or whatever. And each day you are learning a little bit more.

The democracy of the web depends on us being able to do this imperfectly. I would rather see some one's amazing work or words up on the web without all the right feeds and widgets, and so on, than have them stay away because we built the technology wall too high.

Being open to learn new things is great. But feeling like we have to do it perfectly in order to do it at all is destructive. The way I look at it, we are about in kindergarten when it comes to the Internet. There is more time for recess than for dissertations. And everyone gets a turn, not just those who are at the front of the line.

Monday, March 10, 2008


Can you ask for what you need or want? I don’t mean ask in the hypothetical sense, but really ask.
When I met my husband, it was love at first sight. We hit it off immediately. Within six weeks, he made a hypothetical proposal. Not the most romantic proposition, but he clearly wanted to know where he stood before he took the risk of asking for real. “Hypothetically” he asked, ”if I was to ask you to marry me, what do you think you would say?” Finding out what someone is likely to say before you ask the question makes it much easier to decide if you want to take the plunge for real. If the answer looks iffy, it is safer to avoid asking for real.
So what does this have to do with being an Artrepreneur? Well, let’s say you get people to your booth at a show. Or you get a gallery interested in your work. Can you close the sale? Can you ask for the order, or, do they walk away saying they have to think about it? And as they walk away, are you left saying, “What did I do wrong? Why didn’t they place the order?”
First, ask this. Did I ask for the sale?
Or, did I find out what the obstacles are to placing a sale? Did I ask, “What else do you need to know about my work to make a decision? Is there any questions I can clear up for you?”
At this moment, you are asking them to move from being on the fence, to making a choice. You are giving them a chance to voice their objections, if they have any. They may have a few issues that remain in their head. But, given the chance to verbalize these objections, they may, given a bit more space to talk, continue to talk themselves right out of their objections, and right into an order. If they had been able to leave the booth first, to think about it, the next thing they think about might be the work they are considering by another artist. You and your work are out of sight, out of mind.
The response might be, “I just want to be able to think about it a bit more. I think I have all the information I need”. At this point, you could thank them, and ask them to be sure to contact you if they have any questions.
Or, is it possible to create a sense of urgency? “This product line has been doing very well. I just introduced it, and already it is selling very well. As I receive more orders, my lead times will get longer. I know you are excited about this work, and I would hate to see you have to wait an excessive amount of time to get it for yourself.” Then wait. They may still move on. But, this new piece of information might just be the thing that helps them make a decision.
Asking for the sale is difficult. It is like asking for a date, or for another’s hand in marriage. We are risking rejection. So, we need to feel a degree of confidence to do that easily and comfortably. If we feel unsure about our work, our prices, our ability to satisfy the expectations of a potential customer, those words may not be able to comfortably fall out of our mouth. We rationalize our hesitancy by saying we don’t want to be pushy.
If you read through these scenarios, and say to yourself, “I couldn’t do that.” Maybe, you need to stop and ask why? Why not? Is there something about your work that feels uncertain? What is it? And, what can you do about it? How can you feel more confident about the work that you are putting out there so that you can comfortably have this dialogue with a potential customer? Answering this question may be what is needed to help eliminate the roadblock to asking for the order.
If you still feel like you can’t do it, ask yourself this, “Could I sell someone else’s work?” Think of another artist whose work you admire. Could you sell that work? Could you comfortably tell someone what is wonderful and unique about their work, and why they would want to own a piece for themselves, or place an order for their gallery? If you can, then your ability to sell is not where the problem lies. You need to fall in love with your own work. You need to believe that someone would want own your work, or carry it in a gallery. When you get to that point, these scenarios will naturally happen.
If you believe in your work. If you know your prices are fair and reasonable. If you know the customer loves the work. If all of these things are true, there is no reason in the world that you should not ask for the sale. You can deliver a value to the customer in return for the money they are spending. But, if you do not ask, do not assume that having good work is enough. Sometimes it is, but sometimes, people want you to ask!

Friday, February 29, 2008

Artist, Hobbyist, Professional, Amateur....or?

One of the best things about the Synergy conference is that it is generating discussions. Discussions that occurred at the conference, and discussions that are spilling over into the blogosphere. There is one going on right now that began with Susan Lumoto, at Polymer Clay Notes, and was picked up by Libby Mills, at her blog. I feel compelled to jump in.

I have used the words hobbyist and artist in the past to refer to people who create. But who is the hobbyist, and who is the artist? And who gets to decide? Likewise, what makes a person a professional?

Libby's post has caused me to consider when and how I use these terms. I could mean one thing, but someone else might receive it differently than I intended. What do I mean when I say artist? Who is a hobbyist? Are they mutually exclusive? Who is an amateur, and who decides who is a professional?

hob·by 1 /ˈhɒbi/
–noun, plural -bies.
1. an activity or interest pursued for pleasure or
relaxation and not as a main occupation: Her hobbies include stamp-collecting and woodcarving.

art·ist /ˈɑrtɪst/
1. a person who produces works in any of the arts that are primarily
subject to aesthetic criteria.

2. a person who practices one of the fine arts,
esp. a painter or sculptor.
3. a person whose trade or profession requires a
knowledge of design, drawing, painting, etc.: a commercial artist.
4. a person who works in one of the performing arts, as an actor, musician, or singer; a public performer: a mime artist; an artist of the dance.
5. a person whose work exhibits exceptional skill.
6. a person who is expert at trickery or deceit: He's an artist with cards.
7. Obsolete. an artisan.

according to

According to the dictionary definition, a hobbyist is someone who pursues something for fun or leisure. Yet, we can all think of someone whose hobby consumes their life. The job helps them make a living, but the hobby gives them a reason to get out of bed, or keeps them up late at night.

When I look at the definitions for artist, the verbs used to describe an artist is someone who is producing, practicing, working. There is a certain level of skill or knowledge implied in some of the definitions.

If I think about some of the presentations last week at the Synergy conference, being an artist is about achieving a certain level of workmanship, having a distinctive voice, and perhaps even wanting to tell a story with your work, or make some kind of a statement.

The problem I have with all of this, is I was calling myself an artist well before I reached any of those milestones. Was I wrong to call myself an artist? I certainly did not have the degree. I was not selling my work. My workmanship was not at a level I aspire to today.

Taking on the title of artist for myself, was an act of healing. An act of owning my passion and embracing it fully. It was the realization that someone does not confer the title "Artist" onto you like the Queen confers knighthood. No one taps you on the shoulder with a paintbrush. The title comes from inside. For me, owning the title was the renewal of a journey.

From the time I was a little girl, sitting on the front steps with my pad of paper and pencil drawing a picture, I have been an artist, whether I called myself that or not. Working and working to learn how to do a better job drawing a face, or a tree. I did it because I had to do it.

What about professional versus amateur? In general, whether it is in the arts, or any other area, professionals are paid, amateurs are not. Yet, look at the endorsements recieved by Olympic athletes, who are probably at the peak of their athletic performance. By the rules, they are amateurs, in spite of these endorsements and the paychecks that come along with that. No wonder we get confused by these terms.

For me, when I began to sell my work, I began to look at my work through another set of eyes. I began to ask, "Is this at a quality level that someone would pay for?" Eventually, I saw that having a voice or distinctive style, was something that benefited me in the marketplace. It created a signature to my work. In the production work, a deeper understanding of the material was gained. Time spent working with the clay led to more ideas for me, than sitting down to stare at the empty table, pondering what to make today.

I guess it is not so much about whether or not you are selling your work that makes one a professional. Maybe it is more about embracing the idea of trying to do the best work that you can. Looking with a critical eye at your own work, not to judge your adequacy or inadequacy as an artist, but instead, to see if you can do better. Perhaps it is aspiring to a level of excellence, versus accepting "good enough" as your standard.

My kids are very tall. There was no avoiding this given their genetic make-up. They are at an age where this fact gets pointed out to them regularly by their peers. It occurred to me the other day, as my younger daughter talked about people reacting to her height at a visit to a new school, that the observation is not about the how tall she is. It is about what height seems to represent. Taller equals older, more powerful, in control. Adults can be all those things when you are a kid, and adults are nearly always taller than kids.

When people point out to my daughter that she is taller, they are reacting perhaps to what that represents for them. Is this person older? Is she more powerful? No. Not by virtue of her height at least. But sometimes people have to process a subconscious reaction to her height by pointing it out. She knows she is tall. But the other person has to figure out what that means for them. This is where the need to comment comes from.

Perhaps the need to categorize someone as an artist or hobbyist is more about where we place ourself. It may be a way of saying we have crossed a line that we have established, and by categorizing others, we are trying to say where we fall on the spectrum between hobbyist and artist. Who do we consider to be our peers? But for some, artist may imply someone who takes themselves too seriously. For someone else, hobbyist maybe someone who doesn't take their art seriously enough. But, maybe they are both wrong. Maybe we are the only ones who can decide where we lie on the spectrum. And maybe, we can be both at various times.

I am not sure there is a clear cut way to use these words without potentially stepping on someone's toes. But perhaps thinking about our intent, and why we are using a word is a starting point. And on the receiving end, if it strikes you that someone has implied something with the use of these words that seems misplaced, ask them what they meant. They may not have an answer right off the bat. But at least the question might make them think about it a bit more deeply. Just like Libby made me think. BTW, Libby, I think you are an artist who just happens to not want to have a business selling your work.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

A New Focus

I have made a decision to focus on selling wholesale this year. My decision has come from several vantage points. First, I have seen terrific growth in this area of my business, and I want to be able to continue that growth. Second, retail shows have been more problematic for me.

Retail shows are a terrific way to get a first hand reaction to your work. This can be misleading and confusing though. I have had shows where the work flew out of my booth, and another show with the same work was dismal. Which information was correct? Both, most likely. Demographics, flucuations in the economy, weather, and many other factors can effect the outcome of a show. My energy level, or my display can also have an effect.

And retail shows are time consuming. Before the show I typically will do a mailing. This means updating my mailing list, printing out labels, and stamping postcards. A day to pack things up and organize. A day to travel and set up. Three days at a show, tearing down and traveling home on that last day. Crash and burn for at least a day. A week out of the studio. If the show was great, this was a week well spent. If not, it was a week away from family, and out of the studio. Then there are sales taxes to be paid, credit card sales to be entered, unloading the van, and putting everything away again. And more names to add to the mailing list.

In the past, I have felt unable to really think through, and follow through on developing a consistent and cohesive marketing plan for my work. It has been catch as catch can. Part of why I want to try focusing just on wholesale this year is because I want to be able to give enough attention to marketing that it can be more effective, and opportunities are not dropped or lost for lack of follow through.

Here is part of what I want to do;

1. Mailings. I still will do postcard mailings, but now they will be to galleries, and planned to promote some sort of special offer. A call to action, if you will. I also plan to mail out my new catalog to anyone who as ordered from me in the past or has asked for information. It will build on the past interest, and perhaps generate some sales. Too often in the past, I would send out a catalog after an inquiry, but leave it at that. I will make use of the mailing list of galleries I have built up over the last three years.

2. Newsletters. This is a step I have already begun. I sent out my first e-newsletter this week using Mail Chimp. They have a 30 day free trial, and flexible pricing plan that works for my volume and frequency. And it works! I had an order within 12 hours of my first mailing. I plan to send one out every other month, alternating with the postcard mailing. Not all galleries even use e-mail. But for those that do, it is a great way to stay in touch and let them know what is new with your work. These newsletter services would work well for retail as well. The nice thing about services such as Mail Chimp, or Constant Contact, is that they tell you how many people opened your email. How many times, and which links people clicked on. They clean up the list automatically, removing bounced e-mails. You could do this your self with a standard e-mail, but the background information is helpful to gauge the success of your newsletter.

3. Advertising. One of the tenets of effective advertising is repetition. Some people will contact you with the first advertisement. But others will have to see your ad repeated times before they take action. In the last year, I focused my advertising dollars on the Buyer's Guide put out by It is open to anyone who is on their site, and it goes out four times a year. I had planned to only do two ads last year, but ended up going with four. I also increased the size of my ad. The results were well worth the expense.

This year I plan to run ads in at least one, maybe two periodicals on an on-going basis. I am starting with Niche magazine, put out by the Rosen Group, and sent to galleries. I can run a co-op ad, again through, and gain broader exposure for my work.

What I have learned in the last year of running the ads in the Buyer's Guide is that I get a different clientele contacting me as a result of these ads. I get phone calls from galleries who do not visit the website, and do not want to place an order on-line. They prefer to talk to me on the phone. Perhaps have a catalog to peruse at their leisure. Some customers love the flexibility of ordering on-line, but others prefer a different approach. Being able to respond to all the various styles of your clientele is important.

4. Wholesale show(s). I will be doing the ACRE show in Las Vegas again this year. This show gave me exposure to buyers who like to come and see and touch the work in person before placing an order. Doing the show last year took me out of my comfort zone, but was well worth every minute of anxiety.

My approach to this is pretty much like it has been all along with my business. It is a trial. An experiment. I will allow myself this year of focus and see what happens. I may even do a retail show or two this year. But maybe not. I like the idea of traveling only once this year to do the wholesale show. I like the idea of taking the money I would have spent on retail shows this year, and using it to boost my advertising, and exposure.

I will let you know how this experiment works out. I am sure I will have more adjustments to make next year, but I feel like I have a map for the coming year. Each time we try something new, we learn new things. We may learn that it doesn't work for us, but we know it with certainty rather than fear.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Failure to Communicate

We have so many ways to "reach out and touch someone" these days. Phones, cell phones, internet, e-mail, snail mail, name it, we can do it. But does this easy access to communication actually make it happen? No, not at all. They are just tools of communication, and they still rely on our initiative and action.

I have been surprisingly busy right through this month. Not swamped, but not idle, either. I delivered the fifth order in the last two months to a local shop. I love working with this shop owner. If she needs something or has a question, she picks up the phone, or shoots off and e-mail. And the easy flow of communication has paid off nicely with all the sales she has generated with my work. It never takes more than two contacts by either of us to make something happen.

On the other hand, I am awaiting to hear from another customer about a pending order. I know they want early January delivery, but still no order giving more details about quantities. Will I spend Christmas in my studio,....... or will I have some time to spend with my family while they are off from school and work? I want it to be the later, but the delay in getting information creates anxiety. I have called. I have left messages. I have spoken with people. Still, no order. Just the promise of an order. I am making product for them, but will it be enough?

I am not the best person at communicating, so I am willing to cut some slack to those who also struggle to make that phone call, or get the letter out. But, when I have to call again and again, and I get no response, I end up frustrated by the experience. Good communication means much more than finding the right words. It has to involve action.

I am seeing first hand how valuable clear and open communication is between our accounts and ourselves. There is a delicate balance between regular communication and person's regular check-in could be considered pestering by another. Understanding expectations, and working to keep open communication can make the difference between a good relationship and a disaster.

Do you find you struggle to find a balance in communication with your customers or galleries? Or have you managed to find the balance? And how do you manage the unresponsive?

If I was to pick one area to work on in the coming year, this might just be it. Do you have one thing that needs a little extra attention? Perhaps a goal for the new year. Now is a good time to start thinking about where you want to go and what you want to accomplish in the coming year. Accomplishments do not always have to be about getting a certain number of new accounts, or doing such-and-such a show. Sometimes setting goals to work on things that present an on-going challenge can do more to help our business get stronger than focusing all our energy on the externals. Something to think about in the next few weeks.....