You are an Engraving Ambassador!
Hey Guys (& Gals),
This was my response to a thread on another forum and I thought it would make for good discussion here too. I was responding to a thread entitled "You don't use a machine to do that !" . The author of the thread was sharing the difficulty of having people he encountered beleive that his work was done by hand. (This is not a tool war discussion so please don't go there!) Lets assume that we are all (by whatever means) creating engraving art and proceed accordingly!
Here's the post:
I have been involved in this field as an engraver since 1979. Prior to that I accompanied my dad (who taught me to engrave) on many a weekend excursion into the gunshow circuit throughout the South Texas area.
Many time things went well but I too know how frustrating it can be to spend a weekend (and a lot of $$ and effort)at a slow show. At times you get a lot of tire kickers and rubber-neckers coming by. It is always amusing to listen to some guy with his buddy (in this case the buddy is usually the "expert" on everything) as they discuss your work while standing right in front of you. Big signs and business cards all over the table give little clue to the fact that you are the ONE WHO DID THE WORK! As "Bubba" & "Skeeter" recoil in shock over the price of your work, one of them always brings up old Mr. So & So over in Othertown who is a "Master" engraver (& doesn't charge nearly that much!!!). No matter what you have on display, it is absolutely nothing compared to what Mr. So & So does. Grab a fork and hep yoself to a big bite of humble pie, all you can eat! At times it would make me wonder who the idiot in that picture really was, (them or me!). It can be even more fun to pack up after one of those weekends having done exactly zip $$ worth of anything except spending money and wondering why you chose to do this. What's that Bible verse about "casting your pearls before swine" again?
Because we (engravers) spend a lot of time, blood, sweat & tears developing our skill and because our work is a reflection of that passion, it is difficult not to take something like this personally as a rejection of sorts (when that is not really what is intended by the person you are interacting with).
Over time I have come to view things from a little different perspective. (By the way, except for the once in a blue moon kind of thing, I no longer do typical gun shows as I found that few if any of my clientel will be there. That may not be true for you, that's just where I'm at, we're all different).
I have since realized that there are:
1. People who don't know and don't care how it happened (H&C, burin, machine, etching, etc, etc...), they never will care, and they may or may not like the work - now or ever.
2. People who are really interested in how it is done but may never be a client due to a number of reasons.
3. People who (think they) know how it's done and still won't be your client for a number of reasons.
4. People who are interested in learning about stuff other than what they already know. These folks may eventually become your (or someone else's) client. (This may be a much larger group than we realize!)
If we adopt the attitude that we are ambasadors for our art and approach our interaction with others based on that concept we will do better (in my opinion) in the eventual encounter with the uneducated. Yes, your work will definitely speak for itself but taking the time to visit and share with someone (who is genuinely interested) builds relationship which helps with understanding, credibility, confidence and finally, trust in you and what you do. Because of the ripple effect, as more folks take up the art of engraving, more folks become aware of and exposed to engraving and the market grows accordingly. You may be the one and only engraver a person (or for that matter, your own friends) has ever encountered and therefore, in their eyes, you are the expert and when they eventually learn of other engravers, you are still the reference point!
Recently I heard some interesting advice from a well known minister & it went something like this:
25% of the people you meet will not like you no matter what you do.
25% of the people you meet will like you but could be persuaded not to like you while
25% of the people you meet won't like you but could be persuaded to like you and finally,
25% of the people you meet will like you no matter what.
In a world of computerized/machine made everything, it is a little hard to believe that a person can take a little bitty tool in hand and actually do what we see here on this (and the other) forums.
Taking the time to share your passion will eventually pay off, maybe not for you right then and there (or perhaps it will) but definitely for the art and eventually I believe, it will come around for you too!
Please forgive the rambling thoughts!
My two cents worth,
Last edited by Weldon47; 07-24-2008 at 07:32 PM.
Well spoken from the heart and just darn good advice.
IMHO----You can "ramble on" as much as you like.
Yessir Weldon you have it right. The most important thing is to NOT take it personally. I know how passionate we are about our art, but if you take what people, especially ignorant people say, you are in for a world of hurt! I had a good friend, another goldsmith, excellant artist and craftsman, who could not turn loose of his work or hear anything derogatory. He was at a charity bazaar with some of his work and a woman cam by picked up one of his peices and said "That's just ugly". Fortunately two guys were standing next to him to keep him from killing her, but they had to take him out! Needless to say he was not invited back! We say in my studio "There is no accounting for taste or the lack of it!"..............Owen
Right on the mark Weldon !!,.................. and spoken by one who speaks from wide experience and is familiar with that butting wall; the wall of ignorance that we butt our heads against every live long day of our lives. The only way it will change is when people; particularly those who try it, will begin to spread the word and relate to others their own experiences with that ignorance. That is happening now. Understanding is begining to bloom because of those that want to become involved, the students of the art.
But you can never educate those who are completely seperated from those creative spirits that are within all human beings but have been lost to other interests. You will inspire them however, if they see how you do what you do. Respect is usually the result. Point being, you are in the wrong invironment early in your carreer, not to say that those at that level can furnish you with some volume of work. And that is all it is worth, and maybe necessary at that low point in your carreer. One of the mental adjustments is to know when to take a step. The lure of comfort finally gives way to that passion to rise higher and so it goes.
The fact is however, this is where we all start, and part of our journey is the mental processes and skill changes we must go through to advance into another realm. This is the thing that the new comers are not aware of. It looks glorious and it is. It looks beautiful and it is. But it is... h a r d.... getting to somewhere that you gain some respect, but then again, isn't that irrelevant? A force arising and burning,that seems to come out of nowhere compels and drives you onward. This is something that you must learn to live with, and that comes from knowing that you have what it takes to overcome all odds against you, and that you have greatness in you. If you do, you don't wash out along the way or give up.
The greatest ones have payed the greatest price and those with this experience can relate to these words. And the most profound detriment to success is having to make a living while supporting your passion. But in my generation, and yours and your dad's Weldon, things were very different as you know. It is easy to be a champion when you are getting rewarded with million dollar pay checks. It is not so easy when you must trade or sacrifice your welfare to pursue this art. And that is why Monk was right. We all must be a little "off center"............ I know I am............ I also know that you cannot push a train with a volkswagon. Therefore you must make such an impact on the world that they cannot deny you. You can do that by showing them what you can do with your bare hands. They usually go away flabergasted and with a greater respect, even though they will never understand it. Sometimes things don't move without radical forces behind them.
Thank God for the students of the art!!!! They will be the ones that know the truth about this art and they are the only ones that really matter anyway. But they are also "the firstborn of many brothers" and our family is growing because of them. Standards will come up in this world because of them, and one day maybe the engraver will have earned the respect that is so rightfully due him. He put aside his own economic success for something greater than himself, and that is grace. What a worthy pursuit. And that is also the power of passion. Not many around us will ever understand it. That is just the way it is.
And that is my two cents on the subject....................Okay, maybe two dollars.
Hi Weldon, I was just reading your post "over there". Sums things up very well ... very well indeed I might add. Aside from being in complete agreement and re-posting my posts, I would "adjust" the well known reverend's percentages but that's simply because of the differences between what's taught at divinity school and at the school of hard knocks. It's different for every individual.
I gotta take "My Ol' Lady" to a ride in bike show this evening. It's at a beer joint and I'll get plenty of exposure to "tire kickers". I'll only stay as long as my smile and sales hat stay on my head. Then it's time to fire up "My Ol' Lady" and ride off back into the hills. Gotta "keep the faith" (as Kent said over "there") and keep smilin'.
Quite a few folks posted in that thread on the "other forum". The entire thread is well worth the read. A lotta interesting and ORIGINAL views. I think ya all know what that "other forum" is. Happy hunting (and reading) folks.
Ron ... Your advice is worth a heckava lot more than 2 bucks!! Keep raisin' ... cause you'll win every hand.
Well, what more could one possibly say when posting right after the "Godfather"?
Catch ya all later,
Last edited by Christopher Malouf; 07-25-2008 at 12:10 PM.
Learning to recognize the difference between "Ignorance" & "Stupidity" is one of the basic things we need to learn in life..........
Ignorance can be cured with education, and a little patience..........
Stupidity is terminal..........and best ot recognize it, ignore it, and move on.knowing it's not worth the time to bother with........
Or at least that's the way I see things.......
I like "simple"...
What is this "other forum" I keep seeing referenced to..........??
Just curious........or is it unacceptable to say the name here. ??
I haven't read the comments on the other forum but I agree totally with what is written here. A lot of the same goes in the knife world. You just have to do the best you can do and grow as much as possible with what the gracious are willing to share with you and stay out in the shop at it as much as life allows. I'm blessed to have a decent paying job with great benefits so I don't have to suffer with most beginners like you & Weldon have had to do Ron. But the Passion Is there for me. I love the Art of Engraving and all sorts of Arts & Craftsmanship, and I so admire all of the Masters work, Let me change that, Most of the Masters work, I admire all the beautiful work until I have a chance to meet or speak with the one that did it, then it depends on what type of Man or Woman he or she is to weather stay focused on their work. That's probably wrong of me but, Like that old saying, :D We healed in your name & we cast out demons in your name, but the response was "Depart from me you workers of iniquity for I never knew you" I love awesome work from people that strive to be awesome people, knowing few of us obtain it here on this planet but the striving is the inspiring part for me. Thank you guys for all your posts always, for us green horns you guys are a gift from above. I think it's in Exodus 32 where God told Moses to use certain men because he had given them the ability to do all forms for crafts and engraving and everything else of beauty. "I'm paraphrasing of course , Thanks for yalls time, Dwayne
Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
Hi CJ, you crack me up buddy.
The thing about ignorance is that it is bliss. They have no idea that they have come by your table at the show and insulted you. We, on the other hand, will stew about it the entire way home.
Regarding the "other site" ... it's the other tool guy's site you're on also. (I just can't say it ... no more tool controversies for me)
How's that S&S engine engraving coming along? Can't wait to see it. I only wish I could afford one.
Last edited by Christopher Malouf; 07-24-2008 at 09:50 PM.
OK, I’ll chime in here as a moderator.
First of all……………..Weldon, an excellent topic of discussion thank you.
Second……………..”The other forum”. Yes indeed it is the Steve Lindsay forum and yes, you can call it by its proper name. There is no competition between the two forums as a lot of the members participate on both.
Steve has set his site up to as a marketing strategy to promote his tools etc and allows discussion about all topics related to engraving and related subjects.
This forum is bi-partisan in its approach to tools and allows discussion about anything to do with engraving or related subjects. In fact we quite often drift into some really interesting areas and discussions.
So lets get back to the main topic of discussion