You're Fooling Yourself


That's how much I made at my first art fair. And I got some great commissioned work for the next month, which is even better. But here's the best part: I wasn't supposed to be there.

I was a last minute write in. My friend who runs the art fair had a last-minute cancellation and asked me if I would like to take the vacant space. I balked. I didn't want to commit for a number of reasons I had worked out in my head:

• I only had 5 months of experience in ceramics, and I felt my work wasn't good enough to sell.
• I didn't have enough work to fill the booth
• I didn't have any coordinating sets of dinnerware. Everything was a one-off.
• Many of the pieces were experiments and test pieces for glaze and decoration ideas I had
• I didn't have a tent
• I didn't have any furniture for my booth setup
• I didn't have any way of accepting payments
• I didn't have any new business cards
• I didn't have any bags or paper to wrap sold items in

And on and on. 

But instead of passing on the opportunity—despite all of the obvious reasons above—I took a chance. I went for it. I didn't know what I was doing, but people helped me out. I had a customer who brought back her purchases the next day, and asked me if she could commission me to do a complete dinner set for her because she loved them so much. Now I have some great work to look forward to thanks to the people who believe in my craft. 

I had a dozen reasons why it wouldn't work. I was so dumb I didn't know that you only need one! 

I wasn't supposed to be there, and I wasn't supposed to sell the experimental pieces I was working on. It wasn't supposed to happen this way.

But it did because I took a chance. The timing was all wrong, I wasn't ready, my work wasn't "ready," I didn't have enough pieces, I didn't have any back stock, etc., and it wasn't part of the plan.

But it worked anyway because there is no perfect time. There is no perfect plan. There is no casting call for you. No one is around to give you permission. 

We spend a lot of time planning and worrying and holding back. We hold back for supposed good reasons. We wait until we have more work, until we "get it right," until we tweak this and finesse that, until we feel like it's presentable. Until we "have it together." The problem is, you can hold off until you're too late, or you lose steam, or you decide it wasn't good enough to see the light of day and that it wasn't such a good plan after all.

You're fooling yourself. Let it see the light of day. Take a chance. Walk off the diving board.

Your job is to put it out there. Let the world see it, interact with it, and get to know it. Otherwise, it's lost forever. Let it see the light. That's how things grow.

Jeff Ganger