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Monday, July 7, 2014

Avoiding Tight Places to Save Face

"Moody Blues" 18 x 14 oil on canvas
My son, Sidney, had a curious and active mind. Most of his teachers appreciated this, but some of them didn’t. He was a wiggly and energetic child who could get into mischief unless his exuberance was channeled.

As a mother, I answered his endless questions, provided him with library books and special activities that gave him plenty of exercise. He also needed enough freedom to explore, but definite parameters so he didn’t endanger himself or others.

One day I heard sirens blasting through our quiet neighborhood. Not seeing a fire truck, I whispered a "Thank  you, Lord" that it wasn’t on my street. It was some time later before I discovered just how close that emergency vehicle had come.

No sooner had I wiped the relief sweat from my forehead than the telephone rang. It was the mother of Sid’s friend saying my son had used their laundry chute as a slide and gotten his leg bent under him. He was stuck solid in the middle where they couldn’t reach him so she'd called 911 and a fire engine had come to the rescue

Not only did the firemen disassemble the laundry chute, but they hung around long enough to calm the panicked boys and give them a lesson on safety.

"Beach Buddies" 16 x 20 mixed media on canvas
We’re all guilty of putting ourselves in a tight spot when we’re in a time crunch. Sometimes, like my son, we take too many risks or we’re simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. There’s only one way out of messes like that. Change the terms or the conditions. If that’s not possible, make the best of working with what we have.

If you’re stuck with an impossible deadline, explain to your buyer why it is impossible to meet it. If you wait until the deadline passes and then break the news, you’re likely to come across as someone who can’t keep their word, or worse undependable. If you break it to them early on, you may save face and regain their confidence.

Know your client. If this is a person you’ve never worked with before, do your homework. Ask as many questions as possible to determine their preferences and what they expect. If you’re commissioned to do a watercolor portrait, explain to them that there is very little room for alterations. Oil is malleable and, therefore, much easier to change or manipulate. Giving the customer periodic “sneak-previews” is also a way to nip dissatisfaction in the bud.

"Day Dreams" 11 x 14 oil on canvas
If you’re afraid to give the client too much say (or control), especially in the beginning; you may have to pay later. Remember how difficult it is to put on your clothes after taking a hot shower, especially in the summer when you’re as wet after your bath as you were before?

If you’re a woman, it’s almost impossible to squeeze your damp body into a girdle or that pair of skinny jeans. How many times have you flopped back on the bed to flatten your tummy and zip up the flap? That’s how a client may feel if pushed into a corner (or up a tree) and they have no say over what happens to their money which is essentially how they view “your baby.”

"Hey, Coconut, Mon!" mixed media on canvas
You see the project as your livelihood, your inspiration, your creation. But unless you bring your buyer along with you and help them see your vision, you may end up in a tight place trying to get a frustrated customer to pay for your work. 

No doubt, there are unreasonable people who make too many demands. There are times when you have to sacrifice quality to please someone else’s vanity or ego. Just make sure you don’t sacrifice a future client because of yours.