We discuss ideas, I get get very enthusiastic, deposits are taken, the customer leaves and I feel very positive about the whole design. By the time I'm back in the workshop the "Doubting Artist" part of my brain has taken over....(is this seeming familiar to any of you?)
What size should I make it? I've written down red but what shade should I use? She wanted it on "solid"chain but should I use a curb or a belcher? I wonder which she'd prefer.....or did we mean a snake chain....
At this point (losing motivation) I start on a non-custom piece and the inspiration flows once again. So WHY was this happening to me?? It's always bugged me that I often make my best commission pieces when the pressure's on and the deadlines were looming.
Recently I read a blog post by a fabulous artist Luann Udell she said of custom work: "I've moved the center of my creative energy from pleasing myself, to pleasing someone else."
This really resonated with me ~ it explained how I feel when someone collects their custom piece. I like to be there, to make sure they like it, but always feel a little nervous...
The anticipation is all about whether you've got close to their vision (which explains why my breath is held as the box is opening). Is it a 10 on the "nail-on-the head-ometer? Are they pleased? Did I get the colour right.... there are so many things that run through my head.....
Do these feelings ever go away? Apparently they probably don't, every artist I've spoken to has them! Is it to do with striving to do your best? If it is, maybe that's why I find custom pieces more challenging, it's not just my best, it's theirs too. How well was the idea communicated? Is your design style suited to them? Is it what they were expecting?
With all these questions going on in custom work it's no wonder some Artisans don't take commissions at all. The "roller coaster ride" of making for others interferes with their own workflow and artistic vision. I've gone somewhere in between ~ if when talking with a client I can't draw what they want, don't feel connected to their idea, or feel it's not my skill set, or style of making, then I apologise and excuse myself from the process. I'll even suggest another maker (if I know of one).
Sometimes I feel bad about turning away work, but the sane person in me says a "Jack of All Trades is often master of none" (It threw Grandmas voice for that one!). Thankfully it seems to work, my clients come back to order repeat commissions and each time they do, we get a little closer in our shared visions. Their inner artists feel loved, my inner artist feels loved and not only is it Artistically enriching, it pays the bills too!
So if you see my nails are bitten, it's because I do custom work and am working on relishing the challenge (it just may take some time!)