Saturday, March 19, 2011

Doing it wrong.

While shelving merchandise at work this afternoon in the Martha Stewart section (naturally), I met a woman who was examining the many glitters available.

When I commented on the glitters' excellent quality a conversation ensued.

Right there in the middle of the arts-and-crafts store, we gushed over microbead, tinsel, and powered glitters!

Her name was Monica and she told me she creates her own line of niche greeting cards. There was excitement and pride in her voice when she talked about her product.

One of Monica's cards!
Copyright © 2009 All rights reserved.

And as she was telling me of the fine papers she uses and the upscale stores she sells to, I became a bit envious. It must be nice, no, it must be AMAZING to make a living off of your creativity.

I told her I'm an artist and of my background in commercial art. When I explained I'm working here and at my city job, I received that all-too familiar pregnant pause as if to ask, "What are you doing here then?"

But I clumsily replied something about selling a painting every now and then.

She nodded and said to follow your passion.

As our chat wrapped up I told Monica it was nice meeting her and wished her continued success on her thriving business.

While walking home from work afterwards, I couldn't help but wonder if I'll ever earn a living off of my art or will I always be stuck at these dead-end jobs.

It was wonderful meeting someone who was living the dream, showing it could be done yet it wasn't ME doing it. Clearly she was doing something right and I was doing it wrong.


Konkbonckles said...

Dean... no, no and no, man.
It's not that you're `doing it wrong`. There's just something different going on with the Monica-woman.

I know from my experience, that it really helps to have a lot of contacts in this industry.. which, for me personally, is hard, because I don't like being around people.

It sounds like you've made a bit of a connection with this woman. Hopefully she comes back in.. and can help you connect with people who are helping her be successful.

stanw said...

Sounds like that wasn't a chance meeting with Monica. You just never know, Dean, it might inspire something in you for the future. May seem like you are "doing it wrong" now but I believe in you, you got it in you. IT COULD BE DONE, it really could.

Ken Riches said...

Keep the faith, you will get a chance.

naturgesetz said...

This afternoon, during a "Singers' Roundtable" in the second intermission of the Met Opera broadcast (Lucia di Lamermoor), when a question was asked about what one needs besides talent and dedication, for a successful career, one of the singers said, in effect, luck. Something has to happen to get people to notice a talented person, and it is largely out of their hands.

I think you're very talented, which is why I've bought your paintings, and bid on some that got away. All you can do is to keep plugging away at it. That's what gives you the chance of being noticed. At least that's all I can come up with. Maybe the artists who comment have some practical advice from their own experience.

BB said...

I love meeting people like her. It gives me hope! I still want to write my memoirs but life has not been letting me. Soon as I move in2 weeks, I hope to set aside at least 1-2 hours a day to that. You'll find a way! Like the Nike ad..."Just Do It".

Anonymous said...

YOU WILL MAKE IT! Your talent is just to amazing not to share with the world :) Keep your chin up and your dream alive:)

ps. Guess who will be in the city Tuesday? VERY busy all day with meetings:( prob no free time, but still in the same city as a very talented artist I know;)

jason said...

ah....she's's hard, but she's right.

Anonymous said...

I'm smarter than to say I'm the first to comment this time!
Dean, excuse the metaphor, but imagine a organism of the plankton group. You can't swim on your own, so you go with the flow. You allow the currents to carry you. You soon find that you are very far from where you wanted to go.
Now, it's up to you to evolve, grow fins and swim.
That sounded WAY better in my head.
Sorry, I'm a science nerd through and through.
Follow your passion, because I know you can do it.

Anonymous said...

With your talent - you can do it! Just one small step at a time, following the joy!

James Rowe said...

Sometimes fate works in mysterious ways Dean. Maybe Monica came into the store today, and ended up talking with you as a direct result of the challenges you've been facing as a result of the re-structuring. As you battle with what to do next, here's Monica showing you that there is an option you might not have considered.

Working for yourself isn't a walk in the park, but maybe now is the right time to take the leap of faith. I strongly believe that strangers are sent into our lives to help bring clarity. It seems clear to me...:)

Your blog is an inspiration Dean, thanks for writing!

JuJu said...

I think looking at it that way is a black and white way of viewing it. And, you are not black and white. You are glitter.

It is never too late to follow your passion. The universe is pushing you toward it. Go for it Dean.

Monica sounds WONDERFUL!

sMacThoughts said...

HI Dean, one bit of advice my great aunt used to always say to me (or a comment, really) was "well, you never know what's right around the corner!" She truly meant it, and would state it in such an excited way as if she knew something. They are very true words; keep following your passion, keep your eyes open for opportunity, and go for things. Failure is another step towards discovering the door to success, don't see it as a bad thing all the time. And you are imagining how Monica's situation is, yet, she was purchasing supplies in a retail store. If she was a big business, that would not be, in other words: you may not be so far off from attaining the level where she is that you imagine. My gosh, you have the hard part down, and that's the talent. God gave it to you; and not for no reason.

PrimaFetishista said...

I realize that you don't know me AT all and I am not sure what the protocol is for sharing experiences with perfect strangers on here but I am to new this whole thing so please feel free to politely ignore me if I am at all being inappropriate :)

Basically what I wanted to say is that I can relate to your experience. I was in the business of slinging drinks in strip clubs for over a decade and every time I saw someone I knew I was filled with acute shame and excuses and still too afraid to venture out and do what I felt passionate about. What if I don't make any money? What if I fail? What if everyone is just blowing candy flavoured smoke up my ass and I don't actually have any talent at all...Ad anxietium (yes, that is a word).

You are probably wondering WTF I wanted to do so badly but I assure you it is nothing related to my freaky appearance on my blog. I keep my business and my kinks very separate ;)

Anyway, I will give you the short version...I started my own business, quit that job and haven't looked back since. Is it scary? Yep, sometimes but mostly just because I am a worrier by nature. Am I making enough money? Oh yes. Am I a failure? Hell no. Do I miss working as a strip club server and being judged by every person who walked through that door? Haha no. More importantly, I feel pretty good about the choices I have made and have stopped judging *myself* so harshly. YAY!

So yeah, as trite as it sounds you really can do anything you set your mind to. Seriously.

/sage nod

Alright, that is enough out of me! Best to you and fyi I don't expect to see this comment show up on your feed, I just wanted to share it with you :)

Carol Nelson said...

Dean! Your lament about trying to make a living from your art is shared by thousands!!!! Maybe tens or hundreds of thousands.

I think those that "make it" have found a niche (like the gal with the high end cards). After finding it, the secret of success is constant, focused, determined HARD WORK. Talent comes after hard work.

I'm still looking for my niche, but I'm narrowing down the field.

Writer Yogi said...

I Know the feeling. I found a blog called "Motivated Sista" and it's a woman who gives advice and tells all this motivating stuff. I also got this book from my fiancé's father called "The Power of Positive Thinking". I haven't started it yet but I will, especially since I want to move up to manager with my new job. :). It's got some religious quotes or something in it too, so I just tell you incase that turns you off. Anyway, I'm not the best at positive thinking for myself all the time, so now, NOW is the time to start doing it and being determined to succeed. I met Padgett Powell, a writer and he told us to go with the most preposterous ideas! He certainly did. So I hope you keep that in mind. It's a process I plan to get into so I can Succeed! I want you to succeed as well. xoxo

Mind Of Mine said...

Dean, you know what you are doing wrong! You are too busy worrying about life that you are not living it.

There are a million things you could be doing to reach your dreams.

You are so worried about getting it wrong, that you are to scared to fail.

Summersheartjourney said...

First off that card is wicked cool. Second of all you are not doing it wrong. Perhaps she too had a journey that took her through dead end jobs to get where she is. Have faith dear glitter loving friend. You are an artist and a dam good one. Keep walking that creative journey of yours. I know you can do this. Do you have craft fairs where you live? Have you ever thought of doing those? Keep on truckin on and let that glitter fly!!

sweet pea. said...

i gave award for you

Unknown said...

Do not beat yourself up! What you didn't ask her is....

how long before she started making a profit?

what she did before hew own work paid the bills?

is she single or does she have parents, hubby, etc... helping support her...

you only got the "goods" from her, not the "reality"

it will happen for you! hang in there.

Anonymous said...

there is much to be said for folks who have their feet on the ground and their head in the clouds.

just keep moving, everything will fall into place in the end i think. ;-)

AC said...

At least you are not alone on that one Dean. Right with you on that one, but you have true talent, things will look up.

Dean Grey said...


I'm sure her success is a combination of knowing people but also just going out and making it happen!



Thanks for believing in me, sir!



I hope so!



Thank you for supporting my art!


Bouncin' Barb!

It gives me hope too!


David Allen Waters!

I will keep my chin up and the dream alive!



When is life not hard?




I need to adapt and make it work for me!



I'll try!



I agree. Me meeting Monica was just another reminder that I have to make my art career a reality!



I need to look at life through my glittered glasses!



Wise words from you, girl!



Believe me, I'd love to quit both my jobs and pursue my creative endeavors.

It's just, I'm not sure I can make money off of my art. I've never been able to do it in the past.



You ARE an example of making a career out of your artwork!



Thanks for the info on the book/blog! I like the notion of doing something with preposterous ideas too!


Mind Of Mine!

"You are too busy worrying about life that you are not living it. "

I agree with this, Ian!

"There are a million things you could be doing to reach your dreams. "

This I'm not so sure of. To me, it seems like I have so few options that I'm holding on to whatever is in front of me.

I guess I just don't know how to live.



Good point!

Monica may have been in the same position I was in at some point.

I have thought about art/craft fairs but my anxiety with crowds kind of gets in the way of that. Besides, I make more of a profit selling my art directly through online sites like eBay.


sweet pea!

Thank you!


Another Piece Of The Puzzle!

Yeah, I didn't think to ask her all of those things. I sort of focused on her success and not necessarily how she got there.


i'm a superhero i can like fly and shit!

You don't sound too sure about that! LOL



Then let's hope things look up for the both of us!


Everyone's supportive comments mean A LOT!


martha miller said...

Compare and Despair. Try to see her as inspiration rather than an arrow pointing to What You've Done Wrong. (your words, not mine!!) When I was working the front desk at Cole Haan back in 2000 - 2001, I had the same experience. A young woman came in to do some free lance work. She told me that she taught painting at Maine College of Art, and that she was building a new studio. I thought, "What the _ _ _ _ am I doing? I'm suffocating here!" Just meeting her helped nudge me into going back to school and getting my degree in Printmaking! Picture what you want, Dean! Never underestimate the power of visualization! xo

The New Me said...

Dean- First, thanks for your comment on my blog, and second let me tell you from personal experience that you have to make a paradigm shift in your life. It ain't easy trust me, you have to sacrifice and make all the changes necessary to achieve your goals. i.e. stop working for other people and learn that you will work a LOT for a long time before you really start to feel like you can do it. But lay foundations first and then at some point you just gotta step off the diving board and take a deep breath. Succeed or fail you'll never regret that you tried.

Anonymous said...

Nah, you're not doing it wrong! There really is no wrong way...Maybe she just got a head start, I'm sure someday someone will come along- no...let me rephrase Someone of importance in the world of art will come along and say, "You know what?This Dean Grey is really something else!" As you can see, many of us have already figured that out, but I'm sure the right person will come along and say just that. I mean, you obviously have a load of talent and creativity someone just has to discover it. The only way you can do wrong is if you're truly unhappy.

Cynthia said...

Crap - I don't have time to read all these other wonderful bits of advice so ignore my comment if it is too derivative.

I don't mean to sound trite - but just do it. I am making all sorts of changes in my life right now - and it took getting cancer to shake me out of my fears of "what if I can't do it." I wish I had listened to people with this kind of advice earlier - I'd be much closer to my dreams - dare I say, I may be living my dreams.

You are clearly talented. Trust yourself. Now, don't chuck your job in. But start spending more of every day doing what you want to be getting paid for.

Cat said...

Competitive fields are all the same, I think. It's easy to get down on yourself when you see someone who's "made it".

But it's NOT about you doing something wrong, and the other person doing something right. Sometimes it's a matter of right-place-right-time. Sometimes people become so self-deprecating that they enter the devilish spiral of self-fulfilling prophecy.

Keep your passion alive. Explore all options, no matter how unlikely or strange they seem. Look at your fan base on your blog!! You've got a following in that; explore the limits of your blogging world, because you're inspiring others. There are so many things you can do and can happen. :)

Melancholy State said...

The way I see all of this, it made you feel inadequate that this woman is ahead of you in the "game". Honestly, I don't see it that way. Her cards are amazing, I agree. But I look at it this way. Greeting cards sell for something like $5 each. She has to "mass produce" and undersell her art. You're basically just holding out for something better and not selling out on what your heart really needs.

Mark Clemens said...

My art is web design and I have been fortunate enough to make a living at it but I am trying to lift my girlfriend into believing enough in her art, writing, to go for it on a full time basis. it is a scary but exciting decision, I am going to show her this post to inspire her, thanks!

Dean Grey said...


You're an inspiration and I hope to be like you one day!


The New Me!

I think you're right about me having to lay the foundations for what I want.


She Who Shall Not Be Named!

Your comment made me smile!



I think fear and resistance are holding me back.



I'll keep my passion alive!


C. Alvarez!

Perhaps you are right.



How nice that you're there to encourage your girlfriend.

The best of luck to her!


Thanks to all of you for the encouraging words!


Kelley Carey MacDonald said...

Write down what you really want. How you really, really want to make your life. Then every day when you awake, give thanks for the life and strength you have and think about where you want to be. Decide how to come one INCH closer to doing that... every day. You absolutely will be there. And will have a great story of how you struggled to get there!

Dean Grey said...


I've written down my life goals MANY times in the past but that just doesn't seem to work for me.

Repeating mantras and affirmations on a daily basis eventually loses their meaning. They become more of a chore and a reminder of where I'm NOT rather than where I want to be.

*shrugs shoulders*


pathetic prophet said...

I just watched the movie Peaceful Warrior, and it's changing my perspective on things. Two things were said that really rang real with me. One was to stop paying attention to all the reasons one can't make it. Two, live in the now and experience the exhilarating brilliance of the activity you're engaged in. In the movie, he is a gymnast who has to over come a leg injury, a bunch of "I'm doing this because..." and a lack of support from others. He qualified for the Olympic tryouts.
Enjoy the hell out of your art. Look for alternatve venues for selling it (like but do it for the joy of creating. I dabble in art; I wish I had your talent. I also wish I could be the 'someone important' who could push your career forward.

Dean Grey said...

pathetic prophet!

I used to sell my artwork on eBay before I landed the arts-and-crafts job.

Unfortunately it never brought in much income so I sort of stopped.

Perhaps I will try it again!


London Nelson said...

i have thoughts much like yours every single day. but i'm certain we will get there if we remember to embrace the journey. tho i have trouble following my own advice! i can get really bogged down comparing myself to others and somehow discounting any nice compliment that comes my way, thinking perhaps people are just saying it to be nice. these comments are all really helpful and inspiring. thanks for the courage to post your feelings. good luck!

Dean Grey said...


The very best of luck to you!


P.S.: Cool first name too!