Saturday, April 25, 2009

One Month Later...

So, it's been a busy month, all things considered. Many smaller details are finally being tended to, like doors to the machine room, random carts, and the like. We found an affordable drum sander for (narrow) table tops and similar things, and work is being done, which is a step in the right direction.

This week I have been working on a built-in project for my first official client since the new shop came into being, and that's good news. It's been a busy week, all things considered, and the work has done my head some good. Tonight I sat down in a quiet space, and let my mind run for a while, and I figured out a few things. And all things considered, I'm in a pretty good space right now... which is progress.

Another recent development is that I've started to build things for fun again. I had some spare time a couple of weeks ago, and I built a stool, just as an experiment. I didn't spend a lot of time drawing, I spent some time planning, and basically just went through the shop working, and accomplishing a fair amount. In the end, I realized I should have planned more of it than I did, because the stool didn't go together very well, and it had a few design flaws, resulting in legs breaking during assembly. So, as a stool, it was actually a failure. But as an experiment, it was a success. I learned a few things, had some fun, and realized that the process felt more like sketching than building, and it felt more like a creative process than it did like work. It was a small moment, but it really woke something up in me.

At the same time, I was doing a lot of drafting for potential projects, including the current one, and it was work... but it wasn't unpleasant. The drawings we had to do at school were work: 'Here, make a copy of this... then a copy of this... then this, this, this... And when you're done with all that, we'll give you some more.' No creativity, just grunt work. Important work, but boring. This time around I was figuring out what I was trying to make, and drawing to help it manifest... which is a much different experience. And I had fun drawing, for the first time in years.


Apart from all of this, I've been trying, for a while, to figure out the whole "small business" thing. And finally, through one of those rare twists of fate, I ran across a guy who does business consulting work for artists and other creative types. Our first meeting lasted an hour and a half, felt like half an hour, and was really eye opening. He said a lot that I'll bring up later as it becomes relevant. But in the context of this post, the thing that comes to mind was what he said when I mentioned a business plan. He said I don't need one, because I don't have a business yet. Until I figure out who I want to sell to, and what I want to sell to them, I don't have a business. Once I figure that part out, I can work up a business plan, and that will help me find my way forward from there, but in the meantime, I have a shop, and some work to do. That's a good start, and it works for me, and it's reassuring, in an odd way, to know all that.

One of the things I heard from a few people about this blog (and I probably mentioned this earlier) is that it was very detailed, and not always very accessible. (Or not usually.) One of the reasons for that, I think, is that I was still not entirely on board. I've been through school, crashed and burned one shop to the ground, and I'm still not entirely convinced that I know where this is going. But having work puts a new spin on it, and it's put some wind in my sails. And I've realized that until recently, I was working away, blindly hoping that somehow, it would start to come together. I had plenty to write about, but no real theme or direction or motive. I can imagine that reading a transcript of that would be pretty challenging, so hopefully things will start to get better. I can't promise that I won't gush once in a while over something that I thought was cool... let me rephrase. I can't promise that I won't gush over something obscure, but relevant to me, that I thought was cool. But I'll try not to do it too often.

Anyway, it's late, and I still have to go to bed, so I'll wrap this up.

Tnight, and in recent days, I've found myself in a functional shop, doing paying work. And as I've been working, I noticed just how much I've learned over these past 6 years. I still have a long way to go, but there's a budding optimism that's been sorely lacking for a while now. It needs care and feeding, to be sure, but it's there.

And that's enough progress to keep me happy for now.