Today I'm just in one of those moods. Feeling the need to vent about some things I guess.
For starters, custom orders. I am happy to do custom orders. But I need to fit them in with everything else I have to do, and there is a downside to doing them. I am not a machine, and I say this, not to be snotty, or unappreciative of the orders I receive, but to try to explain. I am an artist. I don't pump out mass-produced items. I don't use molds. Everything I create is one at a time, and one of a kind and begins with a lump of clay. Some people value that, some people don't. I'm also human, so I have my ups and downs. There are times I am tired, don't feel well, have too much on my plate and I'm stressed, or depressed, etc. Sad to say, the mood I'm in, or being sick can adversely effect my ability to create my art, but it's a fact. Just like writers get writer's block, there are times an artist is blocked too - which makes it difficult to get all those custom orders done! I know many people don't understand this and feel that when they order something from a "professional artist" the piece should be pumped out immediately, and unfortunately, that's not always possible! I know I'm not the only artist who goes through this, as I have artist friends as well, and it's sometimes a struggle to complete work in the time frame given, etc. I have never missed a deadline, but man sometimes it's hard!
Also the maybe not so funny thing is, I've noticed when I have forced myself to make things when in a not so positive mood in the past, the work takes on my mood! So if I'm grumpy when I'm working, I can easily end up with a grumpy looking dog, etc. LOL If I'm depressed, at times the finished piece takes on a forlorn look. It always makes me laugh when those things sell because I have to wonder if the person buying them is feeling what I was feeling when I created them! But it's not a good thing when I'm working on a custom order. LOL
So I hope people who custom order things from artists will try to understand the process and realize that we can't always work as fast as they may like, etc. As a working artist I've gotten better at being creative on demand, but there are still times when that is a struggle.
Another thing that I have to admit frustrates me is people who write to me asking me to tell them how to sculpt my creations. I have no formal art training. I taught myself to sculpt through MANY hours of trial and error over the past 20 YEARS. There were a few books along the way that helped a little bit, but there was nothing available to teach me how to do exactly what I wanted to do, especially when it comes to the dog art. But I really wanted to learn, so I dove in, and started. The first things I made were a far sight from what I create these days, and there were many many times that I threw clay across the room in frustration, or worked on something for hours just to ball it up and throw it away because I just could not get it to turn out right.
So it is rather frustrating to me that people think I can teach them to do what I learned to do the hard way, over a long period of time, in a few paragraphs in an email! I can give a few guidelines to help someone get started, but no way can I sit and type out full instructions on how to sculpt something! I also have to say that it's rather unethical to ask an artist to teach you how to create THEIR designs, so that you can turn around and profit from their hard work! Not only that, but the inference that my time is of no value, and I should spend it giving away what I have learned is rather annoying if I'm being blunt. I used to do how-to projects for magazines and I did a book for Design Originals, and I was paid quite nicely for my designs and how-to instructions. So when people feel I should spend a few hours of my time giving them that info for nothing, well it gets a little old. If people feel that is arrogant on my part, well I'm not really sorry because I must say I feel it's rather rude on THEIR part. This is my occupation, how I earn my living. If an artist chooses to teach their art, or sell published instructions, that's one thing. They are being compensated for what they're giving away.
Now please don't get me wrong because I am happy to help with general advice when I can. If someone asks me a question about baking the clay, or how not to get fingerprints all over their work, or what can they use for eyes for their characters, etc., I am more than happy to help out. I think the polymer clay community is one of the most sharing and caring there is. I've also had the same experience with the needle felting community. That is not what I am talking about. I'm talking about when someone asks me to tell them, step by step, how to create one of my designs and feels that I OWE it to them to do so!
Where does one draw the line between trying to help a fellow clay aficionado get started, and having someone take up your valuable time expecting you to make everything easier for them because they don't want to put the time in to learning that you did?? Definitely becoming a bit of a pet peeve of mine. In the past, I have spent hours typing out all sorts of information in answer to someone's questions, only to never receive even a thank you or even acknowledgement of my efforts in return. That was time I could have put towards my own PAID work, and it's frustrating to me to say the least!
See what I mean? This little Yorkie looks a bit grumpy doesn't it? LOL Still cute though if I do say so myself! (and I DO!)