Sunday, January 06, 2019

aiming an arrow at a hard to find mark

A former student from my box making classes at the Marc Adams School of Woodworking contacted me in the hopes that I could guide him in the promotion of his work. He had remembered from a conversation at school that Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton had used my boxes during his international travels as gifts from our state.

My student wanted to create a similar opportunity for himself and wondered if there was some way to construct a similar opportunity for his own work. I explained that my opportunity was pure happenstance. I was selling my boxes in a Little Rock store that was frequented by the governor and his wife.

In response, my student mentioned he had been hoping for more more direct formula. A more direct formula would be some form of self-promotion which I'd been loathe to do. I went for the first 8 years of professional woodworking without business cards of any kind. My thought was that the work should speak for itself. We do not think of ourselves as living any longer in those times.

In November, I was reminiscing with a friend who hired me to design and build the Arkansas Governor's Quality Awards almost 25 years ago. We talked about the first conversation we had leading to my opportunity to design and make those awards. She hd been put in charge of finding the award designer and after presenting some ideas was challenged by the president of a large utility company, "Can't you find someone in state? It should represent Arkansas," she was told. So she went looking again. She called the Arkansas Industrial Development Commission and they dropped my name as a possible lead and gave her my number.

She called and asked about my work. I told her that I was probably best known for my boxes, at which point, she turned over a small box on her desk and found my signature underneath. The box on her desk had been a gift from her husband, director of the Little Rock Area Chamber of Commerce. Her seeing my work at hand led to an invitation to design the award, and I've made them ever since. I could not have aimed an arrow at that mark.

But there is a simple formula. Put yourself into your work. Let it speak for itself of your sincerity and serious intentions, of your caring and concern about things larger than yourself. It may take time to arrive at the right desk, but in the meantime, the rewards, those of craftsmanship are great.

Make, fix and create. Assist others in learning likewise.

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