I am often amused when someone asks our opinion on the “licensability” of their work, and then insists on arguing about the answer because it wasn’t what they wanted to hear. Not that we are the infallible oracles by any stretch, but I do think we have learned a couple of things over the years, and hey – you asked… It turns unfortunate, however, when the same person comes back again a year later, with the exact same art, asking “how about now?” Or seeing the posts, month after month, from someone hoping to break into licensing by offering the same (apparently rejected) style of designs. Sorry, but the answer from the market is still the same. Time does not force the square peg into the round hole.
I get it that people feel they are following their dream, pursuing their passion or just looking for another path, but that doesn’t mean they are always on the right one. The path will always have zigs and zags, forks and dead ends. That is just how it works. Of course that is not news to anyone, but even people who acknowledge that fact get caught up in thinking that art is exempt, that somehow the investment of time, personality and passion means the world will just need to accept it as they created it.
That’s fine for work hanging in the galleries, but in our biz… not so much.
One of the most difficult aspects of product development is learning that, when something is not going to work, it’s time to put it aside and move on. It’s a skill that all successful creatives have mastered. Every journalist has reams of rejected articles, musicians have books of bad songs, Broadway shows close quickly, movies tank, painters have stacks of half finished canvases – it happens everywhere someone creates. Economics has a concept called “sunk costs”, meaning that the investment – time, money, passion, take your pick – has been made and cannot be recovered. It’s not human nature to just walk away from those, but sometimes that’s the best way forward. Learning to accept that not everything works is a big step toward making things that do.
“Every failure brings with it the seed of an equivalent success.”
– Napoleon Hill