My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond #3: To submit or not to submit

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Blog entry by Sheila Landry (scrollgirl) posted 06-05-2010 01:15 PM 4942 reads 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: The maple dresser tray Part 3 of My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond series Part 4: The best laid plans . . . »

It certainly is a beautiful morning here in Nova Scotia. The sun is shining and everything is quiet except the sound of the birds in the distance. The past several days have started out foggy and overcast, as many do being so close to the ocean. Usually by mid-morning things clear up and the sun burns off the fog.

The ocean stays pretty cold in these parts. I have only actually went for a swim in the ocean once in my six years of being here (if you could call it that – I got as far as my tummy and had to get out). We were in a place called Sandy Cove which is on the string of two long islands on the western side of Nova Scotia called Digby Neck and it was August and the water was still freezing cold. Besides the extremely cold temperature of the water, which never gets near a comfortable swimming level, almost all of the coast and beaches here are quite rocky. You have to be careful because the raising and lowering of the tides leaves the rocks with a slippery coating that is quite dangerous to walk on. So in most places wading is out of the question. If you were to safely make it to the water, it is only a matter of seconds before your ankles and feet go numb with cold. No kidding. When I was growing up in Chicago I used to swim until my mother said my lips were blue, but the water here is downright COLD. I guess that is why you never see any tourist commercials that want people to come to Nova Scotia to surf and swim. I never noticed that before.

There are, however a few strips of sandy beaches here and there. Sandy Cove is one of them. I love it because there are never more than a couple of families or groups on the beach at any given time and you can fantasize that it is your own private little paradise. I love the peace I find here in Nova Scotia. It is truly inspiring. When I lived in Digby (a town about 45 minutes up the coast from where I am now) I used to go to a little lighthouse five minutes away called Point Prim. I spent many days up there in the peace and quiet drawing. I would bring a lunch and a blanket and I found a perfect flat rock among the trees and sat in the sun for hours overlooking the ocean and reading or drawing. Occasionally I would see the ferry coming from St. John, New Brunswick and I would know it was time to pack it in for the day. Once in a while I would see seals on the rocks below. No kidding. It wasn’t too often, but they were there occasionally and it was quite a thrill when they showed up. Now THERE’S an office!

Yesterday turned out to be a day of doing a lot and seemingly accomplishing little. I guess it depends on what you define ‘accomplish’ as. Physically, I don’t really have anything new to show for the day (oh, but I did make a quick cheese coffee cake if that counts!) I did wind up doing a lot of desk work and correspondence. I tried to look around the forum here and get a good feeling for everything. I loaded up my pictures of the little tray, as many of you have commented on, but I was having trouble figuring out why I don’t have a ‘gallery’. I think I have it figured out that you need more than one project and then your gallery will be active. Someone pointed that out to me so I am going to try loading another project and see if that does it. I love the graphic effects of the Gallery here. Isn’t it incredible? It really presents our projects in a cool way. I also love how you can flip the little pictures and read the information on the back. Way cool! We have a great thing going here!

I sent a picture of my little tray to my Editor for consideration as a project for the magazine. There is always mixed feelings when I do this. There is the part of me that wants to put the best things that I do in the magazine because it is work that I am proud of. Then there is the part of me that wants to offer it on my site right away and show my customers that I am ‘on the ball’ and still producing good work. If the magazine takes it, I have to forget about it for approximately six to eight months and pretend I didn’t do it. When they take an item, they have what is called ‘first rights’ to it. That means that I can’t sell it or anything until the magazine has presented it to the public. After that the rights return to me and the project is mine to do what I want with.

It is difficult to make a decision on something like this sometimes. It is as if you get a brand-new car and you have to keep it in the garage and not drive it for six months. You get to look at it. You know it is there. But you can’t take that car out and drive it for six months. (Poopie!) As you all know, when you finish a project that you feel is pretty good, you want to share it with others. I think that is why we are all here. We like to share and learn from each other and it gives us a great sense of pride to be accepted by our peers. It helps to fuel and inspire us to work even harder or do even better the next time. That’s human nature. Sometimes by the time something comes out in the magazine, I actually had forgotten about it.

Occasionally my editor will buy the rights outright from me and after publication. The magazine will then be the one to sell the pattern and I will forfeit all rights to it. I get paid a bit up front for this type of deal, but I find that I am not really liking doing business that way. In the recent past, when things were very difficult financially for me, I sold a lot of my designs this way because I couldn’t afford to wait the six months or so to be paid for them (we get paid on publication). Now when I see my own stuff in the catalogs under the magazine’s name, a little pain goes through my heart. Not only am I not able to claim my own designs as my own, but I am also competing against myself.

Now I was a big girl and I was the one who made the decision to sign off the rights, so I am not blaming anyone but myself. Everything was done fairly and I agreed to what I agreed to. I would just be lying if I didn’t say to you that it hurt just a little, teeny, tiny bit. :) But I look at the glass as ‘half full’ and I am very, very grateful to the company for purchasing those rights when I needed the money. We gotta do what we gotta do to survive sometimes. I was very fortunate that they wanted the rights at all or who knows what would have happened to me. Things are slowly getting better now though and I am in a better position and hopefully, I won’t NEED to sell off rights. I was worried because I kind of set a precedent and for a while there they wanted to buy the rights to most of the new stuff I had. I am the type of girl that has a hard time refusing someone – especially someone who has helped me in the past, but I had to take a stand for myself and the future of my business or I would be forced to quit doing this. I (hopefully) told them -very diplomatically mind you – that at this time I need to reestablish my business and replenish the new patterns for my customers so for the next year or so I really didn’t want to sell the rights to anything. It seems simple, yet it was SO HARD for me to actually SAY it! But much to my relief, my editor took it as a good man would and respected my decision and didn’t try to make me feel bad or guilty and left the door open for the future. That’s why I love the magazine I work for. They class all the way.

All American Crafts (who owns Creative Woodworks and Crafts, as well as about 14 other magazines) has been like a family to me since I met them in 1996. They took a chance on me when I was new and just starting out have been there for me every step of the way. I have been asked why I don’t have articles and projects in the other scroll saw magazines and I tell people one thing – Loyalty. Sure, I can make more money if I went to the other magazine too (assuming they would want my projects), but that is AAC’s direct competition and it would be like playing both sides of the field for me. Jerry (Cohen – the Publisher and owner of AAC) is a family man and has been like a father to me. Going to help his competition would be like stabbing him in the back, as far as I am concerned. I just can’t do it. I would honestly rather give it up than do that. Money isn’t everything you know. It is temporary and although I realize it is a necessity to live, I really hate that part of the job. (Spoken like a true starving artist! LOL) Integrity is something you can’t put a price on. If everyone guarded their integrity as much as they did their bank account, think about what the world would be like.

Just a thought . . . .

So today I am planning to finish up some instructions and work on my web site. I want to get the new patterns up there this weekend. I also need to finish writing another article for my site and also one I am doing for the magazine. I have a couple of projects to go to them that I want sent out by the beginning of the week, but I need to get my photographs in order and do a final on the instructions. I also want to get drawing again as my head is about to explode with the many ideas I have. That’s a great place to be for a designer, so I am not complaining. I have a list of things ‘to draw’ and every time I knock one thing off, I add on another three. I guess I am not going anywhere for a while.

I think I need to get a piece of that coffee cake! :)

-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

5 comments so far

View SteveMI's profile


1105 posts in 3323 days

#1 posted 06-05-2010 03:49 PM


Thanks for the information on how the magazine publication world works. It makes sense the way you laid it out. I can only imagine the powerless feeling waiting while the magazine finds a publicatin window and then set you free to continue it on your website.


View a1Jim's profile


117127 posts in 3606 days

#2 posted 06-05-2010 04:38 PM

Interesting blog

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View doordude's profile


1085 posts in 3011 days

#3 posted 06-05-2010 10:57 PM

Hey scrollgirl,nice and interesting blog.i’ll have to check out your web site to see just how talented you are.
it is fun to design and create something of wood,and of use.i can put a finish on my projects,but it would be an added asset to be able to paint to give color and depth on a project.
Oh thanks for the bio of your history.I will some day,will do the same when i get some free time,as well as edit my profile for starters. Thanks for sharing.

View doordude's profile


1085 posts in 3011 days

#4 posted 06-05-2010 11:51 PM

scrollgirl, I would love to put some of my work on but i’ve got to get back to my yard work.
but i will get to it soon; your site is very cool ,lots of delicate work,i like it .

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9231 posts in 2948 days

#5 posted 06-06-2010 04:49 PM

You do get used to the waiting, Steve. I think the worst waiting used to be waiting to see whether they wanted your project or not. I am always on pins and needles as far as that is concerned. I have had projects that I absolutely loved be rejected and ones that I only thought were so-so taken. I guess it just is the way it is. It has taught me to respect that everyone has a different taste and preference. And I have actually learned not to take rejection personally. A couple of years ago, I did a project that my editor didn’t take. I thought it was really good and felt kind of personally hurt by his rejection, but I didn’t say anything. The project went right to my wholesalers and on my site. It turned out to be a really good seller. About a year later, my editor asked me how it did for me, as he saw it in one of the woodworking catalogs. I told him it did well and he said something like “I really goofed on that one”. I am not an ‘I told you so’ type of person and it really meant a lot to me that he said that. I just made me see that if it doesn’t fit one place, there is another one waiting for it to. Since then, I deal with ‘not this one’ a lot better.

And Autumn, I would love to read your novel when it comes out! This is a fantastic place to live and it is rich in history and I want to learn more about it. I came the year of the 400th anniversary of when the Acadians settled here and enjoyed hearing of their journey and settlement here. I now live in Clare and they call this the French Shore as it is rich in its Acadian roots. Many of my friends, including my boyfriend are from Acadian decent. Most of his family on his mom’s side speak French and have been here for several generations, although his father immigrated from the Untied States. I would like to keep in touch with you and perhaps add you on as a friend if you don’t mind.

Thank you again everyone. :) Sheila

-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

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