One thing that I like so much about my job is that there is such a great variety of steps that need to be done in order to keep everything running smoothly. The saying that “necessity breeds invention” comes to mind when I am in the midst of doing so many of these other tasks.
For someone such as myself, who is trying to make a living on my designing abilities, learning all the different aspects of what it takes to not only design patterns, but to produce and market them is a necessity. Even if I did have the resources to hire people to do these other parts of my job I don’t think that I would, as I like being able to do things for myself and enjoy learning about each different step.
There are several reasons that I am like this. First of all, I am somewhat impatient. Many of you probably have seen that I move at a certain pace and I am not really fond of waiting for or depending on others. I believe this comes from many years of waiting for things to get done by others, only to be disappointed with the results. I learned a long time ago that people in general don’t put the proper care and time into jobs that they should. In the end, I feel that I am better off doing things myself, even if there is a slight learning curve there and it takes a couple of tries for me to get things right. In the long run, it is better for me to know these things than sit here frustrated and upset because someone else is either taking too long or doesn’t do the job properly.
I realize that this may sound a bit controlling, but I find it to be necessary to keep things running smoothly. It would probably be a bit different if I could afford top of the line services, but at this point in my life I simply can’t. In all probability if I were to hire out for any of these things, I would have to go with the budget level of help and the skill level of the person who comes with that. In the long run I probably do better learning on my own than going that route.
A good case in point was last week when I received the new painting book from one of my favorite tole painting designers. I know her through some common channels and she was fortunate to have a new book come out. Even though I don’t do much painting from others’ designs, I have been a long time fan of hers and I have a sizable collection of books from my favorites. When I heard she had written a new book, I was one of the first in line to order it. I received it last week, and found it was very nice. However, along with it came a friendly note which in part stated that she wished the photography was a little better and clearer.
This thought struck me as being somewhat odd. Here I thought she would be excited and thrilled about the book and in the short note she seemed almost apologetic about the photography. Now this woman is not the timid type of person that so many artists are. She strikes me as very confident and enterprising and kind of an all over “take the bull by the horns” type of girl. Yet she must have felt somewhat disappointed with the photography of her book for her to even mention it to me. I felt it was a shame that it would put a damper on such an exciting event for her. (By the way, I thought the pictures looked really nice!) I suppose it just goes to show that we all have our own standards of what we feel is acceptable. I think it is rare to find someone to work with that meets, or better yet exceeds them.
So with that said, I continue to learn all the different parts of my job and what it entails in order to make it successful. I have been fortunate to find a partner in Keith, who is very talented in his own right and who has standards that rival my own. It has been a valuable lesson of growing for me these last couple of years and letting go of some of the responsibilities, but he has proven himself to do excellent work and having two of us filling in the gaps for each other has been a big part of the success of the business.
Yesterday I spent most of the day photographing the new projects. Besides my own new items, Keith also had several new things that needed to be shot. I am finally learning which lighting and settings do best with certain types of projects to make them look their best.
As I stated yesterday, the darker woods seem to be the most troublesome. I find that getting a good balance between the project itself and the background can be the biggest challenge. I have a nice, but inexpensive camera which I feel does a fine job. It is a Sony Cyber Shot 7.2 megapixil. It also has a video option which I feel does well for my purposes.
I have been working with Adobe Photoshop for over ten years now too, and although I know that I have barely scratched the surface of its capabilities, I know many of the basic functions that can make a dull, crummy picture into one that is quite acceptable. I find that there are many great free resources on the web with Photoshop tutorials and I love just playing around with the pictures and making them look nice. Contrary to what some may believe, there is a great deal of creativity involved in taking and presenting a good picture. I find myself wondering how I ever had decent pictures before digital cameras came along (Oh – I forgot – they kind of sucked!)
Here is one example of what I can do in Photoshop to make my pictures look a little better. This is the original raw image that I took:
And here is the image after I finished working on it and adjusting it:
It may not be as good as a professional photographer, but it is far better than if I had left it as is. The wenge was particularly difficult to shoot because of its dark color and also because the spray shellac gave it a bit of a shine. In the initial photograph, all the character was lost and the grain was not even visible. However, I have learned that the camera “sees” more than our eye does and if you use the right adjustments, you can do wonders with the picture. It is quite satisfying to see it come to ife.
There are so many cool and easy adjustments that you could make on the computer to make your projects look nicer. I think if any of you are trying to sell your work, it is well worth your time to look into what photo-editing software you use so you can make the best presentation possible. I really doesn’t take much to make some major improvements.
So now that the photography is done, I am on to making packets for the four projects that I finished up last week. Hopefully I will be able to get them done today so I can get them up on the site within the next couple of days. I have already started drawing my next designs and I feel that I am on a good roll. I don’t want to stop the momentum that I have going for me right now.
I wish you all a happy and creative Sunday! Enjoy the rest of your weekend.
-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"