LumberJocks

My Journey As A Scroll Saw Pattern Designer #384: Rolling With the Changes

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by Sheila Landry (scrollgirl) posted 06-28-2011 01:51 PM 2759 reads 0 times favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 383: Decisions, Decisions Part 384 of My Journey As A Scroll Saw Pattern Designer series Part 385: Along Came a Spider . . . »

I suppose I kinda, sorta got “unstuck” yesterday. As usual, I find that being patient and staying on my own path proved to be the best solution. In the past, I have spent much time and energy trying to “fix things” that I had no control over. This left me with less of both to move ahead and continue on. It was a domino effect that greatly limited what I would accomplish.

As difficult as it is for me to do, I have learned to stop trying to fix everything. I am also learning that if I don’t get immediate answers about things, it is best to fill the time with moving ahead on unrelated tasks instead of laboring over what cannot be forced. How many times do we find ourselves in that state? We wait to hear about one answer or event in our lives and it completely stifles us from doing anything else.

We all want resolution to the conflicts around us – especially when they deal with us directly, but I am learning more and more that when some of these things happen in our lives and there is nothing that we can do about them, the most productive way to deal with them is to focus on something else that we are doing that is positive. If we can’t think of anything positive then why not create something that is? It is quite simple, yet very effective in dealing with the stress. At least we then feel that we are actively doing something to improve our lives and situation.

There is quite a bit of stress lately in the craft industry in general. We all know the state of the economy, no matter where you live in the world. Times are tough for everyone and let’s face it, arts and crafts such as woodworking and painting aren’t what one would consider as one of life’s necessities. People are concerned about paying for more important things like food and housing and health care and general living expenses and there is far less expendable income than there used to be.

I heard from my magazine not too long ago that they are bumping a couple of our projects from the holiday issue to the next. Initially, my partner and I were to have four projects and an article in the holiday issue between us. But I was told the issue was quite full and that they were moving one project from each of us to the following issue. I wasn’t that disappointed, but I think my partner was. The way I looked at it, it gives more people a chance to be in that special issue. It isn’t like they aren’t taking the things, only that they will be published a little later.

What it does affect most is the date that we will be able to include those items in the catalogs put out by the wholesalers. It kind of kills those projects for the entire holiday season, and severely limits the income they would bring for another year.

It used to be that we were able to sell our items as soon as the magazine was out, as per our “first rights” agreement. Now however, I am being told that we need to wait two full months from the newsstand publication date until those items included in that magazine can be included in the catalogs. Since much of the work that I submit is seasonal, this just about will take the project out of the market for the entire year.

From a marketing perspective I do understand their reasons for this. But from a designer’s point of view, I am quite disappointed. Even though this “two month” time frame was only brought up to me yesterday (unless I missed something – and I don’t think I would have missed something that important) it was presented to me as if it was the policy all along and it always was that way.

It makes me think I am going crazy.

I found myself questioning my own memory and going so far as to pull the old contracts to check and see if I missed something. As far as I could see, I did not. This apparently is one of those times when a deal was made between the magazine and the wholesaler and this was agreed upon between them and someone forgot to notify the designers of the changes.

In the past, I distinctly remember that the items that were in the holiday issue would also be included not only in the holiday catalogs of the wholesalers, but also the fall catalogs prior to that. The fall catalog ships at the beginning of September and the holiday issue is slated to be on the stand on August 16. It was a close call but it was acceptable.

The holiday wholesale catalog ships sometime in October, and the problem there is that all the photographs and materials are due to the wholesaler at the same time as the previous catalog (which is just about now, by the way) Also because of the dates, the projects that got bumped up will be completely out of the running.

I know it is just a couple of projects and yes, I can make more but it just brings to attention how far down on the totem pole that I, as the designer, sits. Little by little I see the tables turning and the demographics of the relationships between the magazines/wholesalers/designers changing. And since both the magazines and the wholesalers have far more resources, it frequently appears that they come out ahead. Instead of a “win/win/win” philosophy that used to make things work well together, it is more of a “win/win/still-in-the-game” philosophy that has caused many designers that I know of to get out of the business altogether.

(Et tu, Brutus?)

So knowing what I know, that the world is what it is and I can do little to change others, I realize that the only way to come out of this well is to change my own behavior. This is a matter of survival for everyone, myself included, and there are several things I can do to improve my own odds of succeeding. Diversification is one. I am already working on that with the painting aspect of my business. Another is focusing on my own website and customers. You all know that I have been working on that and I will continue to focus efforts there. Since I have direct contact with my customers in that forum, it is probably my favorite one to work on anyway.

I apologize for the length of this post, but these are some valid points for the many who read and ask me about what it entails to do this as a full time business. There is no magic formula, it seems. I just have to be resilient and able to diversify enough so that if one aspect changes, the business doesn’t come falling down like a house of cards. It sometimes is a tricky game to play, but in the words of Monty Python “I ain’t dead yet!”

I don’t look at either the wholesalers or the magazines in a negative sense for any of these things. After all, they are also just trying to hang in there too. I probably wouldn’t have much respect for either of them if they didn’t try their best to make things work for them. However, it is a delicate balance between the three parties where each one needs the other two in order to survive. I only hope that they realize that too.

With all that said, I will leave you with this thought for the day:

It is not the strongest
of the species that survive,
nore the most intelligent,
but the one most responsive to change.
-Darwin

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



13 comments so far

View KnotCurser's profile

KnotCurser

1852 posts in 1792 days


#1 posted 06-28-2011 02:08 PM

Sheila,

Would it be possible to have two “versions” of your work? One just a tiny bit different than the other that you could use for the magazine and the other would be for sale on your website?

That way, with very minimal effort, you could have your proverbial cake and eat it as well. :-)

Very nice quote by Darwin! Here’s another one by Darwin:

“To kill an error is as good a service as, and sometimes even better than, the establishing of a new truth or fact”

Take care and good luck!

-bob

-- Robert Rhoades WoodWorks / Email: rrww@rhoadesclan.com / www.rhoadesclan.com

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

7835 posts in 1643 days


#2 posted 06-28-2011 02:29 PM

Thanks for the quote Bob. I like quotes as you probably can tell. :)

I could probably do variations of patterns, but I am kind of careful with that. I have seen other designers do it (as a matter of fact, one was brought to my attention by a friend just last week) where he had purchased a pattern from her a couple years ago and he saw and almost identical pattern in the last issue of my magazine. We both had to look closely and find the differences.

I looked at this practice as “cheating”. I lost a bit of respect for the designer too. I told my friend he should bring this to the attention of my editor, but I am not sure if he did or not.

If the editors see this, I am sure they will not be happy. They have contracts and agreements with us as designers because they want to offer something that gives them and “edge” over the rest of the industry. When I do a new design, I can have it up on the site as soon as it is finished. With printing and all, the magazines are at a disadvantage because they need to wait months. The practice of “first rights” helps ensure them that they are giving their readers new material that is not available anywhere else and helps keep them in business.

By slightly only changing a design, I would be doing the magazine and their readers a disservice. In the big picture, those are my customers too and I owe them (and the magazine) fresh and new ideas. I want people to buy the magazine, as well as my patterns. As I said – we all need each other to survive.

I do appreciate your suggestion, and technically or in court, I could probably change the ideas enough to be ‘right’ but in the long run, I would only be shooting myself in the foot. Besides – I have lots of ideas and can pull from them for my own personal sales. Again, it is a matter of shifting my thinking so that when I submit to the magazine, I don’t expect to sell the design myself for a long, long time.

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

View huntter2022's profile

huntter2022

275 posts in 1339 days


#3 posted 06-28-2011 02:37 PM

The agreement most likely was changed, the 2 months waiting period . I believe they figure people get the magazine and then a few will make the item . When asked about were they got the pattern. Oh it is a Sheila Landry Designs they will do a search and find it not on your web page so now they need to go to the magazine and order a back issue or subscribe to the magazine . In the end they make the money and you lose Good though Have a constructive day will make you feel good

David

-- David ; "BE SAFE BE HAPPY" Brockport , NY

View KnotCurser's profile

KnotCurser

1852 posts in 1792 days


#4 posted 06-28-2011 02:54 PM

Sheila,

I fully understand and agree with your views on stealing designs from others – most certainly bad business and not fair to the original artist.

Where I still have to do some thinking about is the ideas you raise about an artist “stealing” from oneself by presenting a magazine version as well as a website version of their own pattern. I don’t know if I share the same thoughts as you on this.

I have been a subscriber to the Magazine you submit to and really enjoy your articles – BTW, your Beehive pattern on this month’s issue is fantastic!

I ALSO have purchased patterns from your website.

As a customer, I wouldn’t see any problem with being able to access the magazine for one version of a pattern, and then seeing a different version of it on your website – after all, YOU are the designer of both of them.

I KNOW the magazine is a great advert for your website, but having the rules changed like this leaves a bitter aftertaste to me. This doesn’t justify you stooping as low as them though….....

As stated, this is something to ponder. I don’t think there is a right or wrong to this subject – very gray…....

Either way, you will succeed – I can’t see how you couldn’t. :-)

-bob

-- Robert Rhoades WoodWorks / Email: rrww@rhoadesclan.com / www.rhoadesclan.com

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

7835 posts in 1643 days


#5 posted 06-28-2011 03:06 PM

Well, I do appreciate that, Bob. Very much so. I am thinking it is an agreement between the wholesaler and the mag and I have no say in it whatsoever. It hit me a bit yesterday, as I get that ‘out of my control’ feeling, but the only answer that I came up with is to let it go and look out for things on my end. My best bet I believe is to work to be independently successful and that will unhook me from the anxiety I feel regarding the others.

My polar bear and grizzly bear pull toys were an example of what you are talking about I think. The polar bear was accepted by the magazine, and was different enough from the grizzly where it was OK. Part of me was concerned that both of them being bears would make them too similar, but apparently that wasn’t the case. As long as I keep things diverse enough, hopefully it won’t be a problem.

I just want to be sure.
Sheila

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

View BarbS's profile

BarbS

2434 posts in 2809 days


#6 posted 06-28-2011 03:48 PM

Sheila- What a disappointment, for both of you. Seasonal materials are dependent on timing, and I understand how upset you must have been. Technically, you realize, if you did not Sign an addendum or notification to a contract change, the original contract still holds. Two things here: magazines struggling to survive in a harsh market, and them needing You as much as you need them.

I’d suggest approaching them on a Formal Contract Change (actually type one up as close to the original as possible, but with your idea of added change, and submit it) to say that Seasonal materials are Exempt from the 2-mo. first rights clause because of their time-sensitive nature, and all other designs will adhere to it. Make it clear your seasonal designs will be available on your own website One Month after the publishing date, because that puts you close to the holiday involved, and the designs are worthless the rest of the year. Then, if they refuse to cooperate, agree to their terms and adjust what your Seasonal designs are that you send them in future. One other suggestion: at the same time of suggesting a contract change, you could verbally describe upcoming new ideas for non-seasonal designs (no pictures, because they could steal the idea and have another designer do it for them; unlikely, but possible) to take the sting out of your request. Give them something to counter balance what you want to take away.

One other thing, don’t forget that your editors are also aware you’ve revamped your website and they are probably feeling that by itself, it is tough competition. I’d say, if the magazine gets too strict with changing rules you don’t like, it’s time to hit your ‘customer list,’ independently. With desktop publishing today, it wouldn’t be too hard to come up with your own slim catalog of illustrated ideas, leading people to the website. Just one option.

I’d give the magazine a chance, though, to rewrite the contract to your satisfaction. There comes a time in any successful business when you leap into the unknown of independence and forge ahead on your own. At that point, you become to Artist that magazines come begging for, asking if they can include you in their work to make them look good. Maybe you’re there, and don’t realize it yet?

Last thought (I promise): consider also, using one of your projects, your best, or most proud of, to submit to a different wood working magazine, such as Woodcraft or Wood magazine. They are always seeking seasonal materials, and all you can get is a ‘no’ for the attempt, or a big Yes and a new way to lead readers to your very-well-done website! Good luck, whatever you decide.

-- http://barbsid.blogspot.com/

View KnotCurser's profile

KnotCurser

1852 posts in 1792 days


#7 posted 06-28-2011 03:50 PM

Here’s another quote I learned a long time ago….

“Honesty is the best policy” – Ben Franklin :-)

One idea is to present the magazine with the two designs and see if they have any issues with it. You COULD put a spin on the presentation by saying that “their” version would never go up on your website for sale – that way they would sell more mags if people wanted that particular version. ;-)

I don’t know – still thinking about this…... very interesting mental puzzle…....... ouch.

-bob

-- Robert Rhoades WoodWorks / Email: rrww@rhoadesclan.com / www.rhoadesclan.com

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

7835 posts in 1643 days


#8 posted 06-28-2011 04:25 PM

All good points from both of you. I truly don’t want to appear that I am devastated by this or whining, but I would be lying to you to say it didn’t affect me at all. When I began this blog, I decided then that I was going to try my best to give all sides of the equation. I really do try to be fair with everyone. If I didn’t bring stuff like this up of if I glossed things over, I don’t feel I would be giving a true picture of my job and what it entails.

Bob is right that the magazine is good advertising for me. By submitting a project, I in essence get a nice advertisement for what I have to offer. The magazine is also very generous about putting all my contact and web site information in my articles and tag lines for my projects. That is worth a lot.

The wholesalers are kind of in the middle of things. They need our designs, but also need to keep the magazines happy too for their own well being. I imagine that it is like keeping triplets happy.

I am weighing much of this information. I also realize that while these businesses are all reliant on each other, we are also competing with each other. In good times when there is plenty to go around, it works very well. It is in the lean times such as these where everyone is feeling the economic hunger pains that belts are tightened and rules are perhaps a bit more stringent and we notice these things more. I know that they are well aware of my site and its recent revamping.

So for now, I am choosing to digest the information and work with what is given to me. But as I mentioned, I am learning new things every day and will use this knowledge in the future to my advantage to further develop my business. I have grown up quite a bit these past few years business wise, but I still have a way to go. :)

Sheila

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

View Rick13403's profile

Rick13403

215 posts in 2228 days


#9 posted 06-28-2011 07:30 PM

Hi Sheila, This comment is meant for the other posting about seasonal patterns. We have notice a real shortage of Thanksgiving/Fall items, both painted and scrolled. It might be another venue for you. Rick & Kathie
The Scroller and Toler

-- Rick - DeWalt 788 - www.thescrollerandtoler.com

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

7835 posts in 1643 days


#10 posted 06-28-2011 08:26 PM

That is good to know, Rick. I find that in my own little arsenal of patterns, I seem to be somewhat lacking in that area. Oh, and I am planning on doing at least one or two sets of painting patterns for the Halloween/Autumn season too.

I was sitting on my deck today thinking how it is funny that I feel like I am late getting Christmas stuff done (in June!) LOL I suppose it is just the life I chose. Christmas in July. Easter in November, and Independance Day in January. All part of the silly life I live. :)

Thanks again for the input. It is good to hear from someone who is “out there” more than me. (That is just about anyone!)

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

View Steven Davis's profile

Steven Davis

112 posts in 1638 days


#11 posted 06-28-2011 11:37 PM

Sheila -

I’m not sure if this is possible or makes sense for you, but Amazon has the ability to publish “e-books” (PDFs) through their site, so you could get your materials out to a pretty wide audience.

Steve

-- Steven Davis - see me at http://www.playnoevil.com/ and http://www.stelgames.com/

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

7835 posts in 1643 days


#12 posted 06-29-2011 12:52 PM

That is a very interesting idea, Steven. I will certainly look into it. Thanks for the suggestion!

Sheila

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

View Rick13403's profile

Rick13403

215 posts in 2228 days


#13 posted 06-29-2011 02:29 PM

We find that we are also ahead of everybody else because of doing the seasonal items. Kathie has Christmas music playing in the studio as she is doing Christmas themed items!! And then she finds herself in the middle of summer in December when she is doing 4th of July and summer items. Rick & Kathie The Scroller and Toler

-- Rick - DeWalt 788 - www.thescrollerandtoler.com

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics

HomeRefurbers.com

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics

GardenTenders.com :: gardening showcase