Saturday, October 16, 2010

An Artist's Work Ethic

In the Promotional Frenzy thread overnight there was some controversy over what some called "drama" (referring to a list/schedule of suggested things to do to create more links around the web to increase the odds of increased sales).  There need not be drama if people don't make it into that. It seemed to me it was more the reaction to the semantics than any real drama which then created drama.

If you remember one important point please remember this;

Words are only words. They have no more meaning than we ourselves give them.

This situation I'm writing about is a working example of how fear can become a self-fullfilling prophecy. Reading more into a given interaction than is there causes unecessary stress and wastes valuable time and energy that could be put to better use.

It is important to be able to tell the difference between a challenge and a threat. Some see a challenge and mistake it for a threat.

A challenge is merely a call to action, whereas a threat is some real danger. When you find yourself reacting (over-reacting) to something said in-person or online ask yourself;

1) What other possible meanings might this have besides the one that comes accompanied by this intense fear (or anger)?

2) Is this person really a danger to me?

In such a sudden visceral reaction the "enemy" so to speak is generated within; not coming from without.


In this instance there were some who said they weren't having enough fun and seemed to hyperfocus on the wording of the tasks, that they do them, or that they do them on certain days, and suddenly became myopic as to the  BNR treasuries we recently had, the other treasuries, prizes, other enjoyable activities, and all the late night chatting that had been going on.

This sort of black and white (all or nothing) thinking can keep you stuck and the fear that drives it skews your perception of real events.

It's great to have fun but I really believe we make our own fun and none of us would be artists if we didn't enjoy what we're doing. That same energy can be channeled into creating the lives we want despite external circumstances. That does not happen in one day nor does it happen without our share of headaches.

Realistically I know that unless I only want this art to be a hobby I have to do some things I don't want to do (at least sometimes) to make things blossom, and although as a sole proprietor I have a more flexible schedule than those who work for a company, sometimes I do have to do things at times I don't want to do them also. I discipline myself to do some aspects of my business that are not only "the fun part" so that I can get to the fun part.

There are aspects of my jewelry making I don't always feel like doing and sometimes a custom order might come at an inopportune time when I am least in the mood, but I do it anyway because I know that if I don't then I will not make the money I need due to my own stubbornness and inflexibility. I want to try everything I can to increase my sales so that I can have more and more fun and the freedom that more money provides! If that means biting a few bullets, I'm willing to do that.

When I was a teenager, just as most teens do I didn't want anyone to tell me anything and I wanted to do what I wanted only when I wanted to do it.

But age has made me wiser now. As I matured I began to see things in a different way. Rather than viewing these pieces of advice as just designed to control me I began to look at them from the perspective of "Will this help get me where I want to go?" Then it made sense to me why I was given this or that advice and even if I still didn't want to do certain things I realized at some point that I am responsible for my own actions and lack of actions. I can't reasonably blame somebody else if I decided one day "I don't feel like doing this particular thing" and as a result I didn't reach my goal.

If people get bent out of shape about a guideline then how will they manage when they have to do other things in life that are not negotiable or in which the natural consequences of their laxity will hurt them? ie exercise, lose weight, etc. If you have Diabetes for instance, your doctor might tell you you need to do the above. Or if you have Cancer, that you need to stop smoking. Sure; it is your choice, as there's no law making you do these things, but there's nothing to be gained in getting pissed at the doctor for giving you the advice because it is coming from a correct knowledge of the consequences; both positive and negative.

If an artist isn't open to feedback and for instance doesn't make art that people want to buy they might create pretty things in the abstract but it won't put food on the table. Taking suggestions and making adjustments in your business is not "selling out". It is possible to please your customers and be true to your artistic vision.

Many people start a business with the misconception that because they have no boss they are not accountable. Nothing could be further from the truth. One has to be extra conscientious and extra accountable when one has their own business. We are accountable to our customers, to what's marketable, to follow certain rules and regulations, and accountable to ourselves.

Here's an example; If one of us were to make two art objects and that's all and then said, "I don't feel like making more items because it's not fun" yet got upset because people weren't buying due to not enough choices, then it wouldn't be fair to be outraged that those two things are still sitting there, because we chose not to do what would get us to that next level.

I have met several business coaches and they've all told me that usually in the beginning their clients really hate and are resistant to their suggestions because they are being asked to do things outside their comfort zone. Sometimes they even get really surly. They are being asked to suspend judgment and give something a chance that they have not done that way before. However, in almost all cases when their clients hang in there and give it a chance they come out on the other side really grateful that they didn't say "F" it" when they felt like it when they'd initially felt that it was just too much work.

Any kind of work (if it is to be effective) is a cultivated habit whether you work for yourself or have a 9-5 job.

I realize artists are probably by nature less willing to tolerate following someone else's instructions/suggestions than the general population, but these things are not "laws" and of course we don't "have" to do them, but this isn't a dress rehearsal! We are out here for real; and I'm assuming most of us are here to make a living at our art.

I went out yesterday to take pictures for the suggested blog exercise which was one part of the thread activities. I could have moaned and groaned to myself and said, Oh God do I have to? But I told myself something else instead. It was more like "What can I do with this that's fun and creative? Something I'll enjoy and that others will enjoy." When I got out there and did it...it was fun.

So I guess in a nutshell; the way we perceive what we hear people say or our own perception of a task/activity determines whether we have fun or not. We are all creative people, and creativity is really about thinking outside the box.

Some may see the suggestions that were posted in the forum as words to put them inside a box, but if they are suggestions you aren't used to doing, (or ones you aren't used to doing in that particular way), then to do them actually is outside the box for you.

4 comments:

bagsofblessing said...

Well said! You do your best with what you have. You're right that artists are probably more resistant to rules and tasks than many. But I think deep down everyone knows that the whole forum is for the good of the whole group.

Keep up the good work!

d3b...* said...

i guess me "not wanting" was taken the wrong way.. lol..

i know that etsy is not always fun and games i'm aware of that.. i need etsy and i work hard for it.. i just needed to say what i thought.. i feel like all this tasks can be made but when each of us can because moost of us don't have sure schedules.. i'm having lots of hard times here at home and i don't bring it to the thread.. i come here to chat and promote in every way i can.. and i will blog and list and do all the stuff suggested but i'm not sure i will be able to stay with the schedule for the reasons before mentioned.

i'm not a teenager i know we all have to do things we don't want to i go through that everyday.. i love my shops i love what i do and i want it to keep it that way.. i have my own pace and i know if i had to do stuff i don't actually want i will.. that was not what i was talking about.. i was trying to take both sides and talk about it in a general way cause i know i was not the only one feeling like that..

and i'm not taking this personal lol.. i'm just speaking my mind again :D.

Giftbearer said...

This so clearly illustrates my points, d3! If this did not apply to you and you were not taking it personally you wouldn't feel the need to further defend what you'd said or make reference to your "not wanting". I'd written this post earlier than when you'd posted on the forum and saved it to fine tune it. No it was not singling you out. Just as you stated, there were others who said they didn't want to do things.

I'd say there are probably a number of "emotional teenagers" on Etsy, and elsewhere for that matter, as well as people who are hypersensitive, misinterpreting a threat in instances where one doesn't exist.

Reading into things and jumping to conclusions based on emotion is what kills your joy. Nobody can do that for you. Reactions such as "heart racing", etc. are emotional, not rational reactions. MY heart wasn't racing when I read those pages of discussion on the forum. I just viewed it as people discussing how to handle various operations of the thread.

You see that bagsofblessing didn't take it as a personal attack but as good advice.

It is clear you are having a hard time in your life and whatever you're carrying around with you is being displaced onto other topics in the thread. If you go back and read several of Galla's posts carefully you'll see she said that this is optional and you can do them when you can. If you're getting them done at other times then there's no problem.

I'm sorry those things are going on in your life but instead of reacting as if somebody's trying to hurt your feelings why not talk about what at home is really bothering you?

d3b...* said...

whoa i think i don't have a problem here.. i needed to speak my mind and i said my heart was racing cause i got nervous about it thinking it could get worse but i was wrong.. not because i was mad about it.. i just didn't know what to expect of the outcome and was afraid everyone will go their separate ways.. english is not my first language so i may use things not exactly as what they mean.. so i don't know if it means what i tried to say... i think u need to apply to yourself what you are saying here.. i didn't mean to offend anyone and i said i didn't take it personal cause i actually didn't but with your comment it's a different story..

i think we all have the free will to speak our minds and that's what i did.. i know when things are being said because of something i said and this clearly was.. (and i'm not saying that only because of the things i said .. because of the things we all said.. so i'm included)..

i think it got way too far and we need to be careful with what we say from now on..

my personal problems have nothing to do with my etsy stuff and i'm really aware of that and i've never included them here or have ever mentioned anything so i guess i shouldn't have mentioned them and neither did u..

u illustrated your points and i illustrated mine..

i wanted to apply what u said into the things i said.. i know everyone said something too.. i'm not attacking anyone here.. i'm just trying to defend my point of view..

and sorry if i wasn't being "rational" about it.. u need to understand we all react different to different things.. i reacted that way.. not the "rational" way according to u

i understand your advice and i appreciate it.. but my comment was regarding what i said.. just in case it was taken the wrong way..

and i never acted like someone was attacking until now.. i guess what i say can be taken the wrong way but i'm actually not upset by any of this at all!!

if u ask galla i was very clear with her and i mentioned in my post i was aware all of it was just suggestions.. and i always mentioned i will anyways do them.. so i think we're just taking the negative here and making it worse..

i was the one that mentioned drama and u mentioned that in your post so i guess that's when it went wrong..

i'm honestly not getting your blog post personal cause i don't even know u guys for real and i can't even see the tones u are actually using.. i guess u should think that too.. i'm not trying to discuss or anything with u i just tried to say what i thought.. hence the lol's and the happy faces.. just to make sure it wasn't taken the wrong way..

but your comment i really did feel that as an attack.. (not personal problems involved) cause i still don't know what they have to do with my reaction. i react like that and i'm very outspoken.. and i've always been and i've always be.