Did I ever mention three very important factors in being a designer? They are patience, patience and patience. I don’t think it would hurt if you throw a little patience in there either.
It is amazing how you find yourself thinking thoughts like “it only six months” or “I’ll see it in print by this Christmas!” (said in April). The funny part is that you are thinking these thoughts with no sarcasm or frustration whatsoever. You are really and truly excited.
I have said many times over how life as a designer is a time warp. Christmas in April. Fall and Halloween in June and Spring butterflies and robins done in September are pretty much the norm. Ask any designer. I have been doing design work for magazines for just over fifteen years now and I can honestly say that after the first few years pass, you don’t even seem to notice anymore. I have many fond memories of painting Santas and Reindeer pool side in the sweltering heat, trying not to let the drops of sweat dripping from my head fall on the pieces I was working on. It sounds ridiculous, but it is the honest truth. If my Christmas items were not completed by July, then I had better start thinking of setting my sights on next year.
Now I can toss my website into the mix. I like the site because it brings me a little closer to reality. Christmas stuff can be added up until November and the “last minute” stuff can even be pushed into the first week or so of December. You only need to be slightly out of sync with the real seasons and by setting your own rules, it allows a little bit more flexibility.
Life is a perpetual holiday for a designer. Although there are some classic designs that are not holiday-related that sell well, if you are in the business of designing, holiday items are a sure bet. I can’t say that I don’t like it that way. After all, you get to live your life with plenty of good cheer in one form or another, whether it is by sending hugs and kisses on Valentine’s day or welcoming in the autumn harvest in September. It is all fun to me.
Many of you may remember the little skating pond figure set that I was working on. I even did a separate little blog on it, highlighting the characters (which I didn’t finish, mind you and plan complete introducing the characters to you all this year!). I designed the set almost a year an a half ago. The main purpose was to make a keepsake gift for my son and his wife and I also decided to make a set for my dear friends Bernie and Ellen. I submitted it to the Christmas Magazine and it was to be presented as a series in the magazine. Long story short, after nearly a year of waiting and things happening, it was finally presented in not quite the manner I wanted it to be last November.
Not to be beaten, I researched and found one of the most prominent tole painting pattern companies and submitted it to them to possibly represent the patterns for me. This would be a huge boost to me, as they are probably the largest company and best reach the targeted audience – tole painters – that I want to sell the instructions to making the set to. I was coming to them “cold” as you will, for even though I have been published for many years in the woodworking industry, it has been several years (about 8) since I have been published in a painting magazine. They didn’t know me or my name at all. But they said they liked the pond – a lot – and they wanted to make the set work for them in some way. Their plans were to market it when the new Christmas and holiday stuff came out in late summer, but they were still deciding how to present it.
Now it is quite an extensive set as I have originally designed it. It has approximately 25 pieces, including trees, snowman, other characters walking near the pond and even a foot bridge. Marking the entire thing at once would be a huge undertaking, and somewhat daunting for me to prepare the pattern and pieces and be able to supply them. I was told last February that I would be contacted sometime in May as to what they were thinking. I still had hopes, over a year after creating the scene, that it would be seen by the proper audience and be a success for me.
Well, May came and went and I still hadn’t heard final word on it. I spoke yesterday of my final attempt to contact them and how I had almost given up hope of seeing it marketed properly. Here May had passed and I was certain that I once again missed the deadlines for getting it in their catalog. Perhaps they were just too busy with their other stuff and had enough material from other designers who were more well-known than me. I had nearly thrown in the towel when I thought I would give it one last try. What did I have to lose, anyway?
I wrote one final letter, thanking them for their interest and I was told that I would hear back from them yesterday.
And I did. :)
What they have decided to do is to take five of the skaters and market them as a set, along with a smaller, more manageable version of the pond and the instructions. I would provide them with the entire package at a wholesale price to me and they would market it and feature it in their early September catalog to see how it goes, with the option of adding on to the set later if it is well-received.
I found this solution to be absolutely perfect! I couldn’t have asked for a better plan. You may think that I would have been disappointed because they didn’t accept the entire set, but I realize that because of the size and detail of the full set, it would not only be cost-prohibitive in these difficult economic times, but also quite overwhelming for many painters to tackle (as well as myself in getting it ready). I actually like the idea of marketing it in smaller increments, and I believe that I will also do this on my own site and see how it goes. People are very cautious about spending these days and I find that it is more likely that they will try something that is on a smaller scale than plunge into a project that will take a great deal of time and resources for them to make. Actually, I am almost embarrassed that I hadn’t thought to market it this way myself. It is a simple notion and was right in front of me. I said yesterday that I am still learning and here is a clear example of it.
Another positive factor is that as those of you who read regularly know, I have a LOT on my plate right now. Many deadlines are approaching as well as the scroll saw class here on Lumberjocks (which I believe will be pushed into the beginning of July, as the turning class seems to be going on a bit longer than I expected and I don’t want them to overlap)
It is said that things happen for a reason. I am learning as I go along that stepping back and allowing things to take their course is a much less stressful way to be, and frees me up to do so much more. Spending time worrying about what you can’t change is a waste of energy and will suck the life out of you. “Forget about it!” (in your best Tony Soprano voice) and things will fall into place.
This means so much more for me than just selling this little set. Although the initial order is great (they will be wanting 72 sets to start out) the long-term relationship with this company is what will be most important. This is an entirely new clientele for me to be exposed to. It will help develop another leg of my business that is totally apart from scroll sawing and although there may be the occasional customer who overlaps to both aspects, most people will be either painters or scroll sawyers and the potential to grow is definitely there.
When I chose the name “Sheila Landry Designs” for my company, I had this vision in mind. I didn’t want to be only a scroll saw pattern designer or only a painting pattern designer. I wanted to be a designer. There are so many wonderful media that we can be creative in, I didn’t want my company name to restrict me to one aspect or another. And with the economy the way it is and so many of the creative industries struggling, I think the best best I have in being successful is to diversify and not put all my marbles in one bag. This will be a great opportunity for me to infiltrate an entirely different aspect of the industry.
So it is up to me now to show them who I am. I need to make some minor changes on the characters and repaint the five that they are requesting and create a new pattern packet to match the kit. The other day I was talking about how looking back at some things I felt I could do them better. We had some discussions about redoing pattern packets and such and how if I rewrote some of them I felt that I would do a better job. Well, here is opportunity knocking right at my door as far as this is concerned. After having them on the market from my site and hearing the questions or concerns that my customers had regarding them, it allows me to see how I could better fine tune the patterns to really be top notch.
And who said you don’t get second chances?
This is a major victory for me and also a huge opportunity for potentially expanding my company. I am not only grateful, but I am very highly motivated to step up to the plate and show them what I am all about. I haven’t been this excited about something in a long, long time.
And to think I almost gave up!
And so the quote of the day is about “patience”
“The keys to patience are acceptance and faith. Accept things as they are, and look realistically at the world around you. Have faith in yourself and in the direction you have chosen.” Ralph Marston
Have a great day!
-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"