Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Don't take it Personally...

This is one of the BIGGEST lessons I have learned since I started selling my work. Art itself is such an emotional endeavor, that forcing yourself to separate feelings from the pieces you make and sell can prove to be difficult. But, it's mandatory.

We have probably all shared in some or all of these scenarios:

~ You receive criticism or disappointment regarding a sale.

~ You look around that vast sea of wares on Etsy or Google search your general category, only to find that someone has ripped off your idea, emulated it very closely, or used the same language you did in title/description. And you get irked. Big time.

~ Your friends/family think you are wasting your college education and/or are neglecting your motherly duties and/or have lost sight of your priorities. (double irk)

BUT take heart: if you are going to succeed in your creative endeavor, you must grow a thicker skin.

CRITICISM ~ If/when you receive less than glowing feedback from a customer (so nice of Etsy to track that for you!) ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALLLLWWWAAAYYS make sure that you look at the situation from his/her perspective before replying in a terse, stiff-lipped manner. Thank the techie-geek gods that you are (more than likely) able to reply via email and not by phone because that buys you the time to take a step back and evaluate: rationally.

EMULATON ~ I create personalized jewelry and considering jewelry has been adorning mankind for centuries, I am more than likely not creating anything so out-of-this-world, brand-spanking new in every detail, that I am allowed to get all bent out of shape when I see something very, very similar in cyberland, because after all, it is the artists 'touch' that is recognizable and the aspect that should be blatantly obvious/different. BUT - when I have created a piece that I designed, has my feel to it, and I scoured the internet to make sure there was nothing else like it and I see someone try to replicate it (or even go as far as copying my product photo), then a 'cease and assist' letter - but I do not (read: try despeartely hard) dwell.

That kind of anger can eat you up, monopolize your time, and paralyze you from moving forward. And who needs that? It stifles creativity and just puts general bad juju in the air. Don't do it. Move on.

FAMILY/FRIENDS ~ I have a really awesome family. Despite the shock and initial disappointment from my parents that the girl who did nothing but babble on about law school since she was 14 has tossed that idea out the window after her undergrad, LSATs and spending thousands on law school applications...they have been nothing but supportive. Yes, I think it is safe to say that most people believe that pursuing your creative dream is not 'practical'. But it is possible. And that is what matters.

However, if you are combating disapproval from those that matter to you, it makes believing in that dream incredibly difficult. Your family needs to support you. I need my husband to believe in my work, in my ability to run my business, and to be that soft place when things get overwhelming - I do not need him to criticize, judge, or ridicule my efforts (and he would not, or he would NOT be my husband!!). It has nothing to do with needing approval, it's about needing the positive energy to move forward. You will judge your work and your ability to 'do this' more harshly than anyone else possibly could. And with your negativity exponentially increased by judgments made upon you by loved ones, how could you possibly make it?

If your family/friends are not providing you with the support you need, then get involved with a group of like-minded, fellow creative entrepreneurs. Etsy (I'm focusing on Etsy here, but several other online sellilng venues do the same thing) provides an excellent resource that hooks you up with teams either locally, or in the same material/method of art that you work with. Or, if you need to chat, check out their forums, it's instant gratification.

It is almost impossible to have a thick skin against those who are closest to you. Just realize that it's probably coming from one of two places: Concern or Jealousy
Think about it.

I thought being a creative entrepreneur would eliminate the need of playing politics, dealing with idiots and lazy co-workers, and just doing what I wanted. Hmmmmm, no. The games all remain the same, but this time, you are the ONLY one in charge.
Feed Shark

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