Comfort = Compassion - AN ARTSY JOURNEY #32
My Chicago lead, Business Images, had a friend in Long Beach, California – Studio 84 West. From there, Cindy Fringe hooked me up with a national distributor for Holiday Inn Express Hotels to supply focal-point art in their lobbies around the country.
I designed the woods of the northeast, the bluffs of the southwest, and the mountains of west-central. The challenge of capturing new environments was fulfilling, but the oversize pieces were only needed once every three months, and by the time I framed it, shipped it, and paid a commission to the designer, there wasn’t much profit.
So I needed more than the small successes to survive and be able to earn an income outside of the community of Bismarck.
IAC, the big distributor for the cottage industry mini collage, was my biggest success, but I discovered reorders were unpredictable. One month we would ship out thousands and then suddenly we would be at a standstill.
I thought if I could secure another big distributor it would provide more stability. I had a Chicago lead for a company called Decoral. The buyer had never distributed massed produced collages and the price point was higher than her average sale, but she was open to exploring options.
We had been tossing ideas back and forth over the telephone. It was time for a face to face meeting to see if I could anchor this account. I booked my Michigan airline ticket to see my sons and added a day at the end of our visit to drive in and out of Chicago for a business meeting. I knew I would be confident after refueling with a week of hugs and laughter from the boys.
On the scheduled day with Decoral, I was up early, driving three hours before the sun showed a slice of daylight. By the time I hit my destination in a northern suburb of Chicago, it was late morning.Decoral was located on a sprawling campus of one-story brick buildings covered in years of crawling ivy and surrounded by dense trees. The scent of pine hung heavy in the air and I felt my heart hanging out there along with it.
Mary was right. My concept was a bit out-of-the-box for Decoral. I laid out samples of art that offered a combination of printing one of my watercolor images and enhancing it with found objects.
The water scene I had chosen was graced with seashells, but the chunky shells required a deep frame making it cost prohibited.
Next we tried a landscape and leaves. Finally, after hammering out a half dozen or more ideas, we discovered that nothing took hold. The monetary figures I needed didn’t fit with her price points.
I left without a contract. The ride home was not only burdened with traffic jams and financial disappointments, but also self-doubts.
At times like this, I wondered if my artistic talent was a gift or a curse? If I could be content with nine to five, or actually the night shift as a nurse, it meant I would have steady income. And after the rejection today, it confirmed hospital work would provide me with moving-to-Michigan-money faster.
Darkness was draping around me as I motored my way into Michigan. For me, the world always seemed more overwhelming at night, especially right now. As the miles rolled by, I was certain my artistic talent was a curse, not a gift I could enjoy.
Luckily, I was staying the night with a friend from my earlier days of living in Michigan before my move to Bismarck. Denise Hoffman was the kind of friend who sought me out when I was too embarrassed to be the first one to make contact when distance and time slipped between us.
Now living alone, I was learning I needed a bigger circle of friends for emotional support. Driving from Chicago, I was thankful and blessed that Denise had reached out to me.
It was late when I pulled into Denise’s drive, but as usual, she had the guest room ready with fresh linens, a glass of wine, and a listening ear. It was exactly what I needed.
I was learning what a wonderful word it was: kindness, tolerance, sensitivity, leniency, concern, tenderness, warmth, love.
Denise was a master at compassion and I hoped I was learning how to be more like her.
In the meantime, Denise let me ramble about the Decoral rejection, the uncertainty of my financial security, and the loneliness of being a long distant parent. As she listened to my woes, I could feel my confidence to pursue my “gift” in the art world take a baby step forward.
It also helped the next morning I had a pre-paid, non-refundable, plane ticket for Bismarck. I was forced to move forward. Sometimes it is the act of just putting one foot in front of the other that becomes your destiny.