Lessons Learned

Some of you may have read my blog posts about the debacle of trying to sell my artwork. It was a disaster from day one. Yesterday, I had to retrieve my art from the gallery as it was the last day before I’d have to pay for another three months.

Making Lemonade Out of Lemons

I became gratefully willing to sell the expensive printer I bought to make the art prints and greeting cards I was sure would fly off the shelves. It seemed like a lot of work to put it online for sale and I felt I would never sell it for enough to make it worthwhile. And there was this lingering, ridiculous thought that maybe I would use the printer one day. But my gut told me it had to go. So I just did the next right thing. And after two weeks, it finally sold on Ebay. With the rebate I received, I came out at only about $75 out of pocket for the printer. That was a miracle.

So, from over $2200, I am now out $1525. Ouch. But it’s time to stop beating myself up about it all. I didn’t debt. And I didn’t spend down my savings. THAT is a miracle.

A Final Blow

When we went to pick up the artwork from the gallery, imagine my surprise when I saw that the art had been moved from the prime location for which I paid an extra $150. Instead of resting on the tower of five shelves in the front of the store, the work had been relegated to a couple of shelves against the wall, close to the floor. According to the person tending the store, they had been moved weeks ago.

But the good news is that I discovered that the one greeting card I made on that albatross of a printer had sold. Unfortunately, they neglected to pay me that $3.20 they owed me.

Finally, I realized that the promise they had made to promote my work in a specific magazine or, in fact, in any way whatsoever, hadn’t come to pass either.

Anger is Not an Option … But I’m Angry Anyway

I was angry. Livid. Disappointed.

The fact is, it is not their fault that my artwork didn’t sell. That was not their responsibility. What was their responsibility was to live up to their end of the contract, which they didn’t.

I’ve written an email, but my husband said I should wait to receive my $3.20 first (which they insist they will mail tomorrow)! 🙂 That’s probably a good idea.

As a recovering compulsive debtor and spender, I cannot afford to simmer in resentment or anger. But I also don’t want to be ripped off. So to change the things I can, I asked for $75 back in this email, which seemed a fair repayment to make up for the move to a less valuable location plus all the rest.

My husband softened a bit of the language in this email that is just waiting to be sent. But I know people like this think they can just flick you off like a bug and you’ll just disappear when you’re nice. Still courtesy is always best when you want to live a sober life, right?

Lessons Learned

So what are the lessons learned.

* Well, I don’t pay to have my writing published, so I won’t ever pay to have my art displayed again. Not that it isn’t a good option for some people, but for someone who has sold nothing (except that one VERY expensive-to-make greeting card), it isn’t a sober use of my money. Overall, vanity publishing is anathema to me, which is not at all the same as self-publishing. Now, vanity art galleries sit in that same over-priced, over-promise, and under-deliver category for me. But that is a topic for another post altogether!

* I had a bad gut feeling about the situation and should have listened instead of forking over an additional $150.

* It’s definitely, absolutely 100% not their fault that no one bought my artwork. Maybe no one liked it or maybe it was just overpriced or too small. But to be angry at and blame them for the ephemeral nature of buying art is flat-out wrong.

* I did sell something. Greeting cards are easily created with artwork and I can sell them online.

* Whether they rip me off or not, the money is spent. And life is far too short to make a vocation of self-righteous indignation, which will lead me to debt and destruction in the end. It was a lot of money, but not enough to risk my abstinence over. And besides, we’re only talking about the possibility of getting back $75. I need to get my perspective right.

* Mostly, I don’t want them to rip off other artists. But I need to be very careful not to behave vengefully. In my email, I let them know that if they don’t make this right, I will let other artists know. “Justice is mine,” saith the Lord. But I’m sure not the Lord. I’m just a disappointed hobby artist who got conned. Just one among many.

24 Hours Later

I’ve had a chance to sleep on it, which recovery from compulsive debting and spending has taught me is ALWAYS a good thing to do! Today, I’m feeling far less likely to pursue the matter any further. Why? Well, for one thing, the adrenaline surge into my gut due to the anxiety the situation has generated is causing my already flared-up tummy to scream “uncle!”

But I’m also working on compassion and not causing harm. It’s very confusing to me to figure out if letting others know about their shady business practices will generate good or bad karma. I do know that getting myself worked up over the potential of getting back $75, while I could really use the money, is definitely not worth the effort.

Another thing I know is that my peace of mind cannot be bought. And there is no way that further pursuing this situation will create more equanimity. So for today, I do nothing.

What Would You Do?

I would love to hear experience, strength, and hope as to what you would do. Please feel free to leave your comments!


4 thoughts on “Lessons Learned

  1. I love your humility and honesty, lesson learned! Long ago I opened a bakery in an abandoned warehouse. The trainwreck lasted less than a year, I worked two jobs to support the bakery and ended up in 10,000 debt personal and bank loans. I knew nothing about the buissiness and although we had a deli shush and beautiful product, no street buissiness came in as we were in a very poor neighborhood!! Imagine our surprise!! Many lessons learned, do research get I to recovery. Don’t let instincts and ego rule, that was long ago and these things do pass

  2. Thanks so much, to me writing is an art, you are very good at that.
    My experience is that when I get “caught up”, I really am caught up, DA is my help for this, but also to know my needs and my worth. Once had an apartment for sale at a with a real estate agent, came by the place several times, to find there was no “for sale” sign up outside the Windows visible to potential buyers passing by. I called the agent, who promised he would mane sure it would come back up right away. It did not happen, so I called again with no luck. Then I read the signed agreement, and the law about real estate agents obligations, and told our lawyer who was also involved in this sale, that I did not find it reasonable that they get full commision due to their mistake. Lawyer called agent, informing them that we intended to complain to the courts about them not keeping the contract. And required then to drop the fee from appr 10000 USD to 3000 which was basically their marketing expenses. And they accepted -:)
    To me its Worth to find out first, where do I stand in relation to me, awareness, and acceptance.
    Then I act. Because then I dont (mostly) get into fight mode, but stay calm. I Think about the principles behind the 12 steps and speak with others in order to find out how to act best. In your case, I think the gallery made a Big mistake not keeping the agreement, yes they are also responsible for selling your art, or for giving the art the absolutely best space, that you payed 150 usd extra for. The gallery itself holds the opinion that art displayed well, sells better, otherwise they would not have this extra optional fee. They took your payment, you delivered the art, they placed it in the back. You did not get what you paid for.
    So they should not get the 150 dollars.
    What speaks their advantage here, is that the person was honest with you when you asked.
    However, they still did not live up to the agreement, and whether you are a new artist or Picasso, an art Gallery is an art gallery. Its easy to go agry word word word on them, to them, but does it work. Do it in an art gallery forum or on trust pilot, and you might get some even sympathise with the gallery, because of the tone of anger. Right clearly how it was, what happened, and you were dissapointed, because you had confidence in this gallery, makes it about their way of handling your art and not about your (understandable) reaction, respecting them and EXpecting them to ofcourse pay you back the full amount of 150 dollars –
    which is not about feelings or being fair, but about numbers and business. Expect the best and get it – God is in the numbers

    • Thank you so much for your loving response. At this point, I have released my anger (for now, anyway) and am just moving on. The principle is just not worth the distraction in my life. Everything you say is absolutely right. But I prefer to feel peaceful today and I am not able to pursue it with the calm that you describe. Grateful for your thoughts.

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