Friday, June 3, 2011

To Say Something, Or Not To Say Something.

I haven't posted one of these musing in a long time and I was cleaning out and combining old labels I realized I should post another.

As many of you probably know I belong to several circle journal groups and I also run an art group on Yahoo of the same name as my blog. This musing relates directly to the challenge of saying something to a fellow artist about their work. Namely is it "up to par" or is it "less then successful"? I have had several swaps held on my Yahoo group where a player has contacted me and said they were unhappy with the item they received and should they say anything or am I the bad guy that gets to deal with it? First of all I have to tell you that in these instances it was a swap where I just set up mailing partners for a one on one item swap. I usually do it this way for one item swaps because it's much easier to assign a partner and have them mail it directly. The drawback to this is that I don't see what the persons partner is going to be sending out.

So the question is how did I handle it, what did I say to the person? Well the answer is not a very simple one. First of all it depends on how well I know the person in question. If I have known them for a while and they have actually asked for my opinions in the past I would probably say something. If they are new to the group and I have never really dealt with them I probably will find another solution. In case you're wondering about all of the swaps I have hosted where I physically swap out the art I have never refused an item. Some have come in damaged and I have fixed them or I have contacted the person to see if they mind if I add something to the art to enhance it. In other instances, if I know the player is a "newbie" and the item they sent in reflects that then I try to match like art skills with like art skills when I send them back out. I know some people may not agree with this and feel it should be a random swap out but I think it is only fair to the advanced artists in the swaps that they receive art that they would be happy with. I'd also like to think that less advanced artists that receive art back from the same skill level of a player feel that they are not alone in being a "newbie" and they will be encouraged to continue signing up for swaps. Nothing like getting back a really intricate piece of art and felling dejected because suddenly you realize that what you sent in was not that stellar. (I'm not making any judgements... I am just trying to be fair and see both sides of the coin.)

So you are probably still wondering what the other solution would be to a complaint about a player that I am not very familiar with. I have had this happen to me once when the Yahoo group was only about 9 months old.   I knew the person from a previous group who had contacted me about the art she received and I knew that she was probably not exaggerating when she said the art piece was a tragedy. I had her send me the item and luckily I had one that I could send her that I made as a sample for everyone to see what they should be purchasing to decorate. I have to say that the item I received was a bit of a tragedy. Without giving too much away it looked like a 3 year had done it. Now the person that made this tragedy I don't believe is still a member of my group and I think she may have been older and had trouble with her hands... maybe arthritis or something...... the point is that I didn't have the heart to tell her that her art was not up to par. I was just thrilled that this person was brave enough to create something and put it out there in the general public. For many that is a stepping stone that they never cross.

In a nutshell, I believe that I am a teacher at heart and I want to encourage others to create art and learn new techniques to express themselves. I always say that art can be a learned skill (To a point.) There are obviously some individuals that have a natural talent and are just creative no matter what they do. Most people can learn to draw, paint or whatever they choose if they just practice. Art is like any other skill... you have to PRACTICE to get good at it. As one that is a naturally talented artist I can tell you that if I don't draw on a regular basis my skill level goes down. So I guess my message to all of you is this... KEEP PRACTICING!! You will never get to the level you want without practice. Even the great masters were unhappy with their art... that is why they kept making art. They wanted to create the ultimate masterpiece. As human beings we are creatures of always wanting to be better then we were previously.

Please feel free to comment on this musing and let me know if you want me to continue doing them.


Karenliz said...

I have joined quite a few swaps and learned that there are all different levels of artists. I'm not where I want to be yet but like you said it takes practice. There have been times I have received a swap item and it was not up to "par" but the artist was just starting out. I didn't complain because I was there once too.

I always joined swaps for fun. In my opinion if there are swaps that need to be "up to par" than there should be a level listed like intermediate artists only. But who is to say whats an intermediate artist? This is what happened to me a few years ago. I swapped with a partner and received her card, uploaded to the thread. The moderator contacted me and said that her card was not up to par and that she is going to contact her to do another one. She's the boss, not me. Well my partner was angry because she thought she was an excellent card artist. She posted a picture of my card and took some of the embellishments off and said my card wasn't either. Thank goodness I had a picture of it before I sent it.

Like you said you are a teacher and you hope everyone learns from you. Swaps should be fun and artists need to remember they were there once too.

I can go on and on but I think you get what I'm saying. I like these kinds of posts every one in a while. TFS

Electra said...

This is a wonderful Post, Valerie. I too have been on both sides of the coin. I once received something in a swap that was so magical, I was overwhelemed and seriously considered never participating again, but I took a deep breath and the next item I made was really good. (and the feedback from the whole group confirmed that) There was nothing wrong with my first item, but it definitely was not of the calibre of what I received. I have also received a "tragedy" or two and like you, have not wanted to say something that would discourage the person. Personally, I think it's considerate and wise of you when you host a swap to try to match the skill level.

donna!ee said...

yes, excellent post. i am a newbie and greatly appreciate these swaps as an opportunity to evolve, by being challenged to practice and encouraged to create. it only makes good sense to play with those with greater skills, i trust your guidelines! SO thank you much for these swaps, i appreciate you! :)

Frances said...

Yes and I understand perfectly... I want you to let me know If I'm doing something wrong , really I will not get mad on the contrary I will correct it and make something better. I'm a newbie and I'm so willing to learn more for you and the group. That's why I've been practicing LOL love practicing :)

RosieB said...

I love your thinking of matching items according to ability. I joined a big swap when I was even more of a newbie than I am now. I tried my best to do a good job and was feeling pretty pleased with my efforts and duly sent the item off; the swap I got back was just so beautiful it took my breath away but much as I loved it, I lost confidence to be able to be a useful swapper of that kind of quality so I dropped out of the group. :)

Darlene Samuel said...

Valerie, you are wonderful, kind and good. I agree with you.

1CardCreator said...

I think you handled this beautifully.

Ildiko said...

I used to run a bookmark swap, and there was a lady who's bookmark wasnt the best and not because she was a new bie but cos it was just thrown together,but never said anything to her but did give up the swap. I'm not perfect but I I make sure whatever leaves my hand it's not tatty if you know what I mean

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post. It's well written and diplomatic.

As a newbie, I greatly appreciate reading others' opinions of what to do and what not to do. And ITA regarding matching up items to ability level. I had good success participating in a newbie swap, so none of us felt pressure to create great masterpieces the first or even second time round :)

Juliet A said...

The thing about a blind swap is that it is blind. If you are are playing with an open group, you need to expect that there are people with different skill levels.

There are groups that are by invitation only - you know what I'm talking about - and if something like that happened in one of those groups, then I would see the problem, but in an open group, you have to take what you get.

MISS PEACH ~(^.^)~ said...

THANK YOU EVER SO MUCH FOR THIS DELICATE SUBJECT POST...I feel so much the same as you do and always worry about what comes into my mailbox when a swap returns.
I was in a tea things swap and made my partner the most wonderful box of a beautiful China tea cup and tea pot,tea books and table top runner and a silver get the drift. I haven't mailed my box out just yet when hers arrived in my was a tragedy! Melted chocolate bar all over a pretty little box filled with some tea bags...a bag of nuts...end of story! I am going to send her my box full of treasures because it would be what I would have wanted to recieve. I hope she is blessed by it.
Thank you again so much for your thoughts.
Blessings Karla