April 23, 2013

Can You Do Better?

As artists we've been there, that awkward moment when you hear, "How much will you knock off" on your one-of-a-kind creation. I have several (said with a smile) one-liners at the ready for these moments, such as, "Are you inquiring about a wholesale account" or when pressed, the snarkier "Hmmm, you'd like me to discount my already less than minimum wage salary?"

I'm not against the art of the deal. We haggle on real estate. Cars. At a flea market. In many cultures it's expected. But there's something about the juried art show that's a benefit for underprivileged children, where participants pay a fee to enter and vendors donate a percentage of their sales to the cause that knocks off kilter even my expectant disenchantment. In this case, it's two matching but unique hand-molded glass lampshades (count the production hours) priced as a duo that are not greated with inquisition, a complement or even the courtesy of a response to "hello" but with a blunt, "Can you do better on the pair?" Pat responses don't do this justice.

It started off the regular way, a group checking out my space, no eye contact, repeated visits, your business card scooped up like a secret file in "Mission Impossible." But here's the blue sky: I recognize the Negotiator as my paperboy from days gone by. The one who would stand on my porch, laser beam eye contact, a wonderul smile, chatting away. He was great at his job. Finally that winning grin, as I remind him of how fondly I remember him, sharing my thoughts with his family and confirming, "I did tip you well for your service?"..."Yes you did."

Negotiations ended without a sale as my patrons quietly left the booth promising to stay in touch, which is ok as I truly did not want to sell those lamps. In my opinion, they're some of my best work and look great on my mantel where they'll stay with a story to tell. My paperboy is now a successful internet mogul. I am an artist that will continue to do better.