Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Almost Over

I think it's supposed to be all about THIS....
The last weekend of Fest approacheth. With much work to do, art to print, product to package, the works.

And it comes with no less than three whole days to give this moneymaking thang a final shot. But instead of knocking myself out preparing for it, what am I doing? Spending today walking outside in the glorious September sunshine.

This is a clue. A clue as to Why I Suck At Business.

If I was serious at all about Fest and this final 3-day weekend, I'd be pulling some long, exhausting, all-nighters preparing to sell art to every person walking through the Front Gate this coming weekend. Right?

But instead I'm out for a leisurely stroll.


Fest is supposed to be about making money. That's kind of the point. Selling my work is what I do now, and my goal is to make a living at it. (Notice I didn't say my goal is to get rich at it; it hasn't happened yet and it never will. But what it does for me in other ways makes me rich enough.)

I've been going along for the last six weeks convinced that this year has been over-the-top for me, saleswise. It has to be! I'm on my feet from morning cannon to evening cannon, talking my face off and wearing out my smile muscles. I've been laughing heartily, hugging gently, listening intently, caring greatly, and trying not to think about money changing hands. Surely all that activity has made my cash drawer as full as it's made my heart!

But the numbers don't lie. In reality, I'm remembering a shop full of people, but not necessarily people buying art.

For every poopyhead who walks into Mayfaire and says, "My dog could draw better than that," or "Oops, I thought this was the shop of the GOOD pen-and-ink artist," there've been boatloads of folks (like yourself, maybe) who've come in just for a hug, or to tell me you miss the days when I was your receptionist, or to show me pictures of your new grandchild because you know I understand what it's like to be a grandparent, or to say things like, "My mom went to grade school with you and she wasn't able to come with me today but she wanted me to look you up and tell you that she always knew you'd grow up to be a famous artist!" (Working at the Renaissance Festival equals famous! I love it.)

My minion, Sir Douglas, tells me every weekend after totaling receipts that I'd make more bucks if I'd do things differently. I give my work away, for one thing. It's gotten so that my friends will sneak in when my back is turned and buy art from him when I'm not looking so they can do so and pay full price. Because they know how I roll.

And I admit that I often catch myself forgetting to close a sale. Or I talk a customer out of a sale (can you believe it??) because I don't want them to buy if they're not 100% happy with the purchase. Or I send them to another artist whose work I know is more in the style of what they're looking for so that they can compare and make a more informed choice. Or I pull them away from looking at art so that I can otherwise engage them in conversation. (I'm such a bad businessperson! But you can't help it if you're so interesting.)

Others remind me that I'd be rollin' in the bucks if I'd just take my business seriously. (I do take it seriously. It's just that more important stuff gets in the way....)

And still others insist I'd be a rockstar if I'd just license my designs or display my work at Cons or sell tattoo flash or fill-in-the-blank. And I listen, I really do. But the suggestions never go anywhere. None of it makes sense to me. I wouldn't know where to start, for one thing. And to me, the seven weekends of Fest are about as Big Business as I can imagine. I get more attention there than I can stand. And I even sell some art, too.

So it's my own fault that I'm not as successful as maybe I could be. I have a great imagination, but it can't begin to fathom my work in Hot Topic stores or in the pages of Faerie Magazine or as the foundation of a Mary Engelbreit-like empire. It's impossible for me to even wrap my head around the concepts. (And really? It's all a little frightening to me. It smacks of 'rich and famous' which, in my brain, is one of the Seven Levels of Hell.)

Bottom line? Maybe I'm just an artist who fears success. Or maybe I feel like I'm already rich enough. And maybe this post -- about how I'm determined to be in business for myself and yet I SO suck at business -- is one of the most hard-to-admit ones I've yet to write.

But that delayne up there in those paragraphs? I kind of like her.

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