Monday, March 21, 2016

Become like none other.........because THAT leads to success




Hello All,

This is a post like no other I've ever written. After having been through innumerable workshops, a series of co-workers (some left, some stayed) and thousands of craft pieces, I feel partially equipped to be writing this post. It may sound presumptuous, but then, what is never said is never heard. This post is largely meant for people starting out in the crafting world and is an inspiration from Elizabeth Marek's post on baking. I am afraid a lot of things will sound very similar, but that is because some things don't change. They remain the same, no matter what creative field you are in........so, let's get cracking!

So, you've learnt (or, are about to learn) a new craft. The obvious question one always encounters is where to begin.............so, I'll begin from the beginning.........

1. Get your Basics: Once you've made your mind up about which craft you want to start with, start with the very basics. In the day and age of Google and Youtube, posting a question to professional crafters like, "Where can I get quilling supplies?" is almost criminal. Because the answer invariably is, Wherever you care to look. Quilling strips, basic tools, starter kits are available a dime a dozen in departmental stores, stationery stores and just about any store nowadays. Start there.........once you think you've exhausted the potential of the routine supplies, move over to Google. Only when you want to know something very specific a specific crafter has used, post the question (and keep it specific). It is very exhausting to reply to generic queries, because the number of tools and supplies we use is very large. By the time you're ready to reach that level, chances are that you'll have the knowledge of the material as well.....

2. Workshops vs. Queries vs. Free online tutorials: This is the point I'd deal with in parts. It's a GREAT idea to start with free tutorials. A lot of us crafters feel great sharing tutorials (in spite of crawling Internet connections and personal and professional commitments), because we love to share. It's a joy to see people blossoming through one's tutorials. But please, do not treat us like we OWE you any more. We do what we do voluntarily, but we also have bills to pay and kids to raise. We've mastered our Arts and we wish to make a living out of those. By all means, feel free to post queries. You've a right to. But we also have a right to point you to our (or others') workshops. There is a reason (or sometimes many) we take workshops. E.g. I can't even begin to count the number of times I've been asked how to waterproof quilling jewellery. In spite of writing a list of stuff you can use (a simple Google Search will find you the link to the tutorial), I end up providing people with links. Move your fingers and help yourself. I've done my bit. If you want to know more, feel free to join workshops held by people. Yes, you spend money. But remember, you gain knowledge, And for Heaven's sake, don't ask for a "discount". Show me one instant where you've asked a discount from a College or University, I'd happily give you a discount too!

3. Learn or teach: The good question. Should you learn the Art from someone or teach yourself. I'm a self-taught artist, in whatever way I can claim it. So, I'd be the last person to advise you to go to someone for workshops. But learning by yourself involves a lot of self-critique. If you're ready for the grind, go ahead :)

4. Carve your niche, develop your signature: All of us are good at one thing or the other, find out what is your strength. And as I've always reiterated, don't treat your knowledge like islands in an ocean. Treat them like dots you need to join for the larger picture to emerge. If you're good at embroidery, tie it up with the craft you wish to learn. If you paint well, develop a style where you're able to do justice to what you are good at. Trying to be someone else will only lead you to the no-man's-land where you're neither yourself, nor the other person......

5. Inspiration vs. imitation: Ah, the sore thumb! The only way I can deal with this is - you'll know in the heart of your hearts that what you did was wrong! If you need someone else to point it out, your morals have gone for a walk (and not returned). Most good artists don't honestly care if you copy their designs, but most get miffed if those designs start getting 'attributed' to the copier. It has happened to me that a copier came to me to tell me that I had copied the design she had copied from mine, to begin with. It made me less angry and more pitiful. Karma is a bitch and will bite the imitators in the butt, I'll just sit and watch!

When you are new, it's normal to want to emulate the work that inspires you. My advice is - after some time, stop watching others' work. It always influences you. Work on developing your own style and skill-set instead. And that brings me to my next point......

6. Be the best at what you choose to do: Once you're chosen your speciality, dive into it head-long. Research about all the material you use and all the material you can potentially use. You can not innovate in the material you don't know a thing about. Read! Read! Read some more. Once you know things in an out, you can come up with newer styles, ideas etc. It's about becoming SO good at your chosen field that no one can compare with you. Give your signature style to your creations, so much so that even an ordinary onlooker will know when they see it (or an imitation!). Yes, there are plenty of artists 'competing' in the same field, but there is only ONE you. No one and nothing can change that. Be the one person people aspire to be!

7. You don't know everything: This is the pivotal idea you need to keep in your mind. No one knows everything and keeping an open mind really helps. Most of my best ideas have sprung from questions my students (or even random people) have asked, over time. I'm proud to say, I barely know anything, but I am willing to be the sponge to soak in whatever comes my way.

8. Disagree quietly: There will come times you'll have disagreements with people. If you haven't had any, you haven't lived! Don't make a public spectacle out of everything! It is okay if you want to warn someone against someone who is out to cheat (and has cheated you), but if you're the proverbial 'boy who cried wolf', people will tire of the drama. You'll be alienated and ostracized. No one needs more drama in their lives than there already is (and if they do, they aren't your well wishers, take it from me)........if you have a disagreement, speak to the person concerned directly. If repeated attempts fail, do post (but without names please) about them, but present facts along with evidence. Public shaming isn't a good idea, EVER.

9. Be a good seller, be a good buyer, be professional: If you're selling crafts, chances are you'll be a buyer too, at some time. Be a damn good one. Pay your bills promptly. Avoid hassling sellers, with changing your quotes multiple times, walking out on your order, delayed payments, squabbling for discounts. In short, don't do to others what you don't want done to yourself. Thumb rule: RESPECT! This one word will earn your friends in the crafting world....the ones who will stand by your side, even though they've never met you.

10. Steer clear of heresay: The one thing that can ruin your time in crafting community is heresay. People talk (and often, out of spite, misguided thoughts etc) bad of others sometimes. It's a small community, at the end of the day. Underhand gossiping is one of the clearest signs of malice. Don't fall for it. Check facts for yourself. Good crafters mind their own business. Terrible ones, poke their nose everywhere. And by this, I don't mean the ones good at their craft, or bad at it. I mean, the good 'people' and bad 'people'............be a good one. Everyone notices a gossiper at the end of the day!

11. Innovate: Craft is a crowded market, and there are plenty of people always around to replace you, if you ever slack off. So, don't! Don't slack off and sit on your laurels. Competition catches up, and pretty fast. The idea is to continuously innovate, before the rest of the community catches up. It sounds a bit aggressive but no, it is about pushing your own boundaries. No one ever got anywhere until they started walking. And to keep going to new places, bingo! Keep walking!

12. Collaborate: Often, we try to think of everything ourselves. Good news: You retain the ideas. Bad news: You retain only your own ideas. One stagnates if one doesn't look at different perspectives. Talk to people. Explain your ideas. OFten, people are able to spot loopholes you may have missed. Often, people are able to give you new ideas that you didn't think about. Everyone has ideas (even if they aren't crafters). Be a keen listener and be open to accepting that you can't think of everything! Collaborate with people........and watch your ideas strengthen.........

13. Invest in relationships: Business isn't made of new clients. It's made of old clients that keep coming back (and bring others, in the due course of time).It isn't important to be just professional, it's important to be a sensitive, accountable, responsible and compassionate one. So that one little chat someone wants to have with you, may mean the world to them. Don't always do business. Invest your time in knowing people and making friends.....some of my best friends are clients and vice versa. I even go ahead and coin the term :Alpha Clients, the ones who allow me a free hand at my new ideas. They are the ones I'd go an extra mile for and these are the ones that have brought Art'zire to where it is. The first client who trusted us, the first who allowed us to work on her jewellery without even as much as a sketch, the one who bought my stuff simply because someone walked out on their order, my world is FULL of these fantastic people...........so, don't just gain clients, invest in relationships....

14. Apologize, correct, move on: I club these three under one heading because these are stages one experiences when one has made a mistake.......if there has been a mistake, apologize. If possible, correct/replace the faulty piece. But sometimes, it has happened that there has been nothing that would satisfy the client. Don't let that make you bitter. Pick your lesson and move on. You've a living to earn. Don't waste that precious time on brooding (and worse, badmouthing!).....

15. Garbage in, garbage out: What you make, to a good extent, depends on what you make it with. Buy the best material you can afford. Don't let only price be your guiding criterion. Avoid "best price" offers, because there is always a catch somewhere. If something is too cheap, your antennae ought to fire up. As a rule of thumb, buy the best you can afford.

16. Don't shortsell yourself: I've more than once heard about Art'zire, you guys are too expensive. I just graciously smile and move on. Because I know what goes on in Art'zire workspace. I run a tight ship, everyone is expected to create the best they can (and improve the standard as experience accumulates). We leave nothing to chance! And all that takes effort and time. And who can value our time and skill better than we can. Just because someone is selling the same (there is no such word, we are unique if we are doing handmade) thing at half the cost, it is them who aren't valuing themselves. We work extremely hard on our pieces and I believe in dignity of work. All hard work ought to be paid for........hence, we are a happy and cheerful (and often, creative) team here. Know the worth of your work (and involved material) and charge according to that. Whoever is looking for "cheap" can head to China made goods markets.

17. Educate, don't just execute: Often, the clients don't know the details of pieces they want. Many a time, they want/send "reference" images. Educate them about copying, and how it is unethical. Most times (and I understand), the client need a visual input. And it is perfectly fine. Not everyone can visualize things in their heads. But politely decline (ideal situation) if an exact replica is requested. Or, acknowledge the original artist (even if you don't know them, just say the design isn't your own)..........

I think, I've written everything that came to my mind..........but feel free to add pointers. I know, it's a confusing world out there but then, self help is the best help. Be self-dependent and flourish.......

Happy Crafting

Pritesh

PS: If my posts inspire you to create something on similar lines, I feel highly flattered. But please, do respect the effort I take in conceptualizing and executing, please give a direct link to my work when you are inspired by mine. Thanks for understanding........:-)

Image link: https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0683/8833/products/Zip_Crafters_Front_1024x1024.jpg?v=1427213237

8 comments:

Shylaa Shree said...

even though a long post, it is well conceptualized pritesh. Well written. Great job Pritesh

Anju Ajayan said...

Very true. well written.thumps up. One more thing-ur works are too good pritesh mam.

Gouri Babshet said...

So well written pritesh can relate to every bit of it..

Neha J said...

Whatever you write Pritesh , its a lesson for me. Very well written blog, an inspiration for every crafter.

anitha said...

Well said Pritesh, every crafter, buyer and seller of handmade products should read this post. you are extraordinarily talented Pritesh :)

Rajya Lakshmi Kasineedi said...

Good writeup beautifully approached

Unknown said...

Very well written pritesh 😃 agreed with every bit of it....

Kavita Gaur said...

I have been inspired by your work and have learnt a lot from your creations. This blog definitely deals with everything related to crafting ethics. Every crafter should read it ..a lot to learn from it.