October? October! Man, time really travels quickly when you are behind.
Last week was a hard one for me. I was plagued with a migraine that lasted waaaay too long and I wasted almost three whole days trying to recover. For all of you migraine sufferers, wearing sunglasses while working on the computer does not help all that much, just so you know. My migraine frequency has lessened as I've gotten older. So much so that I've let my prescription medication expire. Which is good, except when one strikes without much warning. I do believe I brought it on myself with a couple of poor decisions -- eating badly and over-committing to some custom work.
While I LOVE doing custom work, it often is not financially smart. Meaning, people will ask for a single print of something they want but also expect to pay the same price as my other works. I totally understand this, and often I can make the custom piece work for other things and justify the "loss." Let me explain. I told you about my "process" in last week's post. Thinking like a business person, I need to factor in my time and materials into the cost of each item. By producing multiple prints, I can bring the cost per piece down significantly. That is how I figure my pricing. By only printing one item, but using the same amount of time and materials as I would printing multiple items, I SHOULD charge nearly three to four times the cost of my other pieces in order to break even. Like I said, sometimes this loss is excusable as I can use the work for something else. Often times though, the custom piece is so specific that it just not possible, which is exactly where I'm at.
I am a pleaser by nature. I do not enjoy saying no and my first reaction is always to say "of course! I'd be happy to!" Then I get back to the shop and cuss myself for not thinking through what I've committed to do. So how do I fix it? Do I bite the bullet and tell the requester, "you are going to have to pay three times what you expected to pay," or "upon further reflection, I am going to have to say no, I can't do this thing I've committed to...?" OR, do I do what I usually do and honor my committment and take the loss as my penance? The last one puts me even farther behind in my holiday production schedule and stresses me out way more than it should. It will mean not only will I lose money on this item, but potentially lose future revenue because I will not be able to produce the amount of items I need for upcoming shows. While this sounds like I'm over-reacting (I probably am), it does have a significant ripple effect on everything else. The main issue is that I've done this "of course, I'd be happy to" thing my WHOLE LIFE and never seem to learn. I'm so frustrating.
The whole point of my choosing to screen print was to produce my work in quantities. I chose this rather than painting because of the opportunity to share one piece with several people. Now I am rethinking. May be I should go back to painting and sell a single item for a lot of $$ making it more precious and available to only one person. Goodness knows, my painting skills are a lot more sophisticated than my printing skills. Or maybe I should just generate everything through my computer and printer and sell a whole lot more for a whole lot cheaper, like a number of other artists do. Or maybe I should just stop feeling sorry for myself and learn my lesson for once. Yep, that last one works for me.
Walking the line between precious and mass-production,