Apparently before you succeed at anything, you have to fail. This concept has never sat well with me. I've always worked hard and done well as a result. I've always been motivated and driven when I have a goal I want to reach. But FAILING, and failing on purpose? That is totally out of my box.
Best Self Promotion Experience
My most successful exhibition ever, where I reached my biggest audience was at a local mall. I was there for a month with a 'might as well try it' attitude and I didn't fail even though I expected to. I had the best time! I set up my easel, painted all day, met art enthusiast, artists, people from all different walks of life and I even made some pretty decent sales and scored a commission.
Whoa! This is the way to go! Galleries are amazing and essential, but I feel like they attract people who already know they are interested in art in all it's forms. What I was most surprised about at the mall was how many people I talked with that hadn't really had much connection with art and the positive responses I received.
After that show, I formed grand plans to travel across the country with a pop up show but due to time, commitments and my day job, it hasn't happened yet. It's still on my list though.
So, I figure, if I can't physically take my art to the world and fail, I'll start to fail from home instead, except at this point, I still hadn't experienced a true fail. It's painful you guys, so painful.
I decided to approach companies and corporations and see if they would be interested in purchasing some of my work as gifts for retirement or service awards, because, they've got money right, tax loopholes and all that?
My initial thought process was 'maybe I'll send an e-booklet'. I know, email spam. Eventually I realize "who, in their right mind, will open an email link or attachment from someone they don't know?" Duh! From there I decided on a good old fashioned physical booklet. Snail mail spam. You see a booklet on the coffee table at work, most people can't help flipping through it. You never know who might pick it up and be interested.
Eventually, my logical conclusion was to make an actual real life phone call to some bigwigs in these corporations and companies first, to see if I could establish a connection and test the waters.
I diligently set about compiling a list of potential companies and names of HR/CEO/other higher ups in those companies that might be a good first contact. The next day, I pump myself up and was ready to do some cold ass calling. Truth be told, I was sh*tting bricks about it. But thought, you know, I've got to do this, I've got to try, this might be the path for me, this could be the way forward to get my art 'out there'.
The Cold Call
So, first phone call "I'd like to talk to someone who looks after retirement gifts or service award gifts please", silence on the other end of the line, followed by "We don't do retirement gifts" and then I'm hung up on.
First fail complete, with my retort into the silent phone "well I know that's bullsh*t as there's over 2000 employees in this company, you're telling me they don't give a damn about any of you?".
Despite my snarky remark to myself, I still feel myself crumple a little.
Second call I'm actually patched through to a person! Horah! Oh man, what do I say now? I explain what I'm doing, that I don't usually do this and the kind lady on the other end patiently listens to me before saying 'It sounds interesting but now is not a good time, can I call you back?' She even takes down my phone number, name and other info, and repeats it back to me. I actually believed at that moment that she might even call me back. A month later and it still hasn't happened. I have failed and now I feel stupid and naive on top of that. Touché lady, touché.
At the time though, I didn't know she wasn't going to return my call, so feeling a little better I make my next series of calls, all of which result in dead ends. Sometimes I'm patched through to a real life human listening with various degrees of warmth and sincerity, other times I leave messages that never get returned and sometimes people will kindly tell me they already have gifts in place. It's surprisingly exhausting! Hats off to all those cold callers in foreign countries trying to scam us all day! They have a resilient quality I haven't yet found. In fact, the next time one of them phones, I'm going to ask them about it!
I've spent the whole day failing. My ego has been beaten and I'm actually shaking slightly with defeat.
I set out to fail that day, and I did it properly. It feels like sh*t, I wouldn't recommend it. It could also lead to alcoholism.
I decide I can't take any more and to send my physical booklets out anyway, with a cover letter and a freebie greeting card in the hopes that it will attract someone's attention. Everyone likes a freebie. So far, I've heard nothing, but this whole process has definitely been enlightening and I know I'll have to try again some day. Until then, I'll look for a "Resilience for Dummies" book.
We're all in this together, please share your most memorable fail so I don't feel like such a loser!