When the customer doesn’t want your commission

This is not the first time a customer has not liked a commission I have done for them and I would be naive to think it will be the last.  It must be a hang up of having orders over the internet where you don’t really get a true sense of what the customer wants.  This particular time I was completely taken aback.  Artists as a rule are generally highly self critical so we tend to know if a drawing has not turned out as we wanted.  I am usually quite good at pitting things for the client and meeting them roughly half way but much more often than not the finished piece far excels everyone’s desires as original art does tend to do in the end.

For me it has come on the back of the usual slump in sales that January and February tend to bring and I was relieved to have this particular commission.  Has it upset me? Yes, which is why I wrote this blog post as I was actually quite chuffed with the drawing and was only thinking how much my art had progressed from last year, when I probably thought I had reached my pinnacle.  All the self doubts that artists also have now start creeping in.  I remembered that I had not sold my last two cricket drawings which normally fly off the shelf.  Despite my attempts to self promote my pet art it has remained stubbornly quiet.  My first drawing on Daily Paintworks flew out but nothing has sold since.  All the money I have spent on equipment and my studio now seems a huge mountain that I will never match in sales, and the art fair that I had planned to attend in March now seems a waste of time because nothing will sell – I feel sure of that!

However, there is a niggle that remains.  A little pin prick of an alarm that keeps pulsing in my negative brain – I’ve been here before and I got better afterwards. Much better! Failure leaves scars, I drew a portrait for a neighbour across the road of his wife about 5 years ago when I had only just begun to take on clients.  He didn’t like it, I didn’t take any money for it, destroyed it and moved on. I was embarrassed and avoided him (I probably still do actually) and even though I certainly did move on, getting better and better I have never accepted a portrait commission for a human again.

So possibly when faced with failure perhaps I haven’t really used it as a strength but simply skirted round it and gone off down another path and perhaps that’s what creative people do.  Thoughts?

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