The Good Oops
She may as well have told me I had a third head. “You have a serious case of pneumonia” is what she said. Really? Pneumonia? Who gets pneumonia? That’s what mothers use to scare their children, as in “you’ll catch pneumonia if you go out without a jacket”. It’s the scourge of elderly people and nursing homes. I had just spent the last 4 days alternately shaking with chills or burning up with fever (8000 feet up the mountain in a walk-out ski condo…sigh…so much for my Spring skiing) and it continued when I got back home. We thought it was the flu. Oops, big Mistake.
“Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new” -Albert Einstein
That was NOT the type of new I would recommend, however things are on the mend now, thank you. It got me thinking about mistakes, however. There’s an old proverb that states if you don’t make mistakes you don’t make anything, and believe me I’ve made some doosies in my time (I think I hear my accountant hooting with laughter…). Studies have long shown that “active learning”, more commonly called trial and error, is a far more powerful tool than learning by rote, and information learned that way is retained much longer as well. Changing your mindset about making mistakes can be of great benefit – try to look forward to what you will learn from them, and recognize that the fear of making one may be paralyzing you into inaction. Waiting until you have your collection, portfolio or story absolutely perfect before sharing it may hold you back more than you can imagine.
One of the few guarantees in art licensing is this: very often the person you send or show your portfolio to will not be interested/won’t like/has no use for/ your absolutely perfect designs. This is why in many ways it’s a numbers game. We send out hundreds of designs to targeted clients and the “hit” percentage is in single digits. We have put together large presentations of art (by request), uploaded them into our YouSendIt account and later see that they never downloaded them. It’s the nature of the biz. I am NOT suggesting you forgo doing quality work in order to shovel more onto the market, but you need to find that balance between “striving for perfect” and “good enough to send”. Clean up your work, dump the deadwood and get it in front of someone. Think you made a mistake? Good – now convert that information to your advantage, learn from it, build on it and get it out there again.
What did you goof up today?
Great advice Jim, and timely too, considering the trade shows are upon us. I’ll have this running through my head as I put together the collection I’m currently creating.
I read somewhere recently (and wish I could recall exactly where) about an experiment where a ceramics teacher split the class in two and told one group they’d be graded on quantity only and the other group, that they’d be graded on quality only. Interestingly, the group being graded on quantity also produced the most quality work because they were learning as the churned out the work while the other group was busy worrying about producing perfection.