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KJ Lyons KJ Lyons Design
Seattle, WA
Posts: 1,413
Website

Finally, Today
I faced my long list of custom orders and have to send back photos and tell customers I can't create their cat  bear_sad  Ok, I have to admit, I cried. I receive such wonderful letters and heartbreakingly beautiful photos of cats. I love cats and I know what these cats meant to each person. I have photos from 2004 and I have to face the fact that there's only one of me and I tend to take 3 times as much time with custom cats as with my own creations. I just don't have enough time. I don't want to give up custom orders. I get great inspiration from the cat photos I receive, but saying no is so hard for me. It feels like I'm rejecting someone's child. How do you handle custom orders? Especially, when it's someone's pet. How do you decide which orders to accept? As upset as I am today I'm beginning to think I'm not cutout to handle such personal requests bear_noexpression
Karen

thumperantiques Newcastle, Ontario
Posts: 5,641

Karen,
     I absolutely understand!  For some reason I always take too long with orders and they really stress me out.  When I create for myself, I only have to please myself, and if a customer falls in love with my work, it's such a blessing.  When I create for someone specifically, I always second guess myself, and wonder if it's good enough.  I will not take orders anymore. Don't be hard on yourself - orders sort of squash our creative spirit. 
     What about telling customers that you aren't taking orders at the moment, so you don't have any pressure.  Then, if you still have some of the pictures,  use them for guidelines for cats, as if were making them for an auction, with only yourself to please.  If they turn really looking like one of the customers cats, then you can email them before putting it on Ebay, to see if they are interested.  That way you are in control and work at your own pace.  I've discovered that I have to be in control of what I make or I fall apart.    Good luck and keep us posted.

                                      hugs,

                                      Brenda

jenny Three O'clock Bears
warwickshire uk
Posts: 4,413
Website

I just don't do any custom orders nowadays...is that mean? I hope not.
I  would take forever with custom orders because in my heart I want to do them but my head won't let me..and the mortgage needs to get paid. I am fired with enthusiasm with each new bear but if somebody asks for one like a bear I did before my eyes glaze over and it just doesn't happen. I faced facts about 3 years ago and decided that while would give people a first option on the next bear that might fit their request, I won't make to order. My creativity takes a nose dive each time I think of custom pieces and it makes me depressed.
Does that sound like an over reaction? It probably is, but I was looking down the barrel of about 2 years worth of custom orders at one point and I nearly gave up bear making because of it. So I drew a line through the list and from that day on I have made it crystal clear that while I am happy to build certain types of bears into my schedule...if you can call it that...I won't take commissions. I need to have sanity and enthusiasm to work hard every day..and if I am doing orders I can't have that..and goodness knows it's hard enough to get motivated already without the feeling of being hemmed in creatively.

nimbleknot Cupcake Bears
Austin, Texas
Posts: 711
Website

It's hard. I had to turn down a job for a scene that included furniture and 3 animals. Since I work full time, have a family and race bikes on a team, there was no way I could meet her deadline with my commitments. I told her I would have loved to do the project, but reality was that there was no way I could do it.  bear_wacko

matilda Matilda Huggington-beare
WA
Posts: 5,551

OH Karen I totally empathize with you.  If it is causing you stress, which it is doing, then you have no other choice but to put a stop to the custom orders.
Just give yourself time to write a nice letter to send to them all and post on your website. After that is done I know you will feel so much better.
Our creative sensitivity can get quite weighty.
all the best to you.
Wendy

DebbieD Posts: 3,540

Yep, I gave up doing custom portrait rock paintings of kitty cats for the exact same reason.  I had a list a mile long of people who wanted their kitty portrait done.  And I felt so overwhelmed each and every painting I did!   bear_wacko   The stress levels for doing anything custom, be it a bear or a painting or otherwise, it just goes through the roof for me.   :hug:  :hug:   You'll feel much better for it once you've drawn your line in the sand and say 'no more'  :hug:

Daphne Back Road Bears
Laconia, NH USA
Posts: 6,568

I did two mohair dogs for people who had lost theirs and wanted me to make one 'just like Buddy'. It was so stressful and emotionally exhausting what with feeling bad for the owners left behind, for the cute furball who is no longer and then trying to capture all that dog meant to those people into a 'stuffed animal'..... it was too much. And I only did TWO! Though the people I made them for said they loved them, I hated how they came out. I put TOOOO much importance and therefore criticism into those pieces - yes, that is possible to do.

I don't do custom orders anymore - unless I really want to and have some creative freedom. No more "I want it to look just like....". Sucks everything positive right out of what I do. Like Jenny said and has said before (and she hits the nail right on the head) "It makes me depressed!"

russellbears Russell Bears
Perth
Posts: 493
Website

I must agree that custom orders are very stressful and draining at the same time, and you do tend to be over critical with them. I have just started making customer's dogs, and even though I love it, the thought of having to do it as well as by a certain time can be a bit overwhelming sometimes bear_wacko  I have decided only to take one order a month (as I work part time too), that means, if thats all I have time for, at least, I should be able to get it done for them in that month. The only thing is that it cuts into your creative time for experimenting with new things, and we all know  that is the most rewarding and enjoyable part about bear making!!!
I would think that your customers would be happy enough just to be on your order list and know that they would have to wait their turn, no matter how long it would take. I try to work on the principle of one order a month and one creation for me, that way, i get through my orders eventually and also have something to post on my website that may be snapped up by someone already waiting for their custom order!!! Please don't stress yourself out, you are only one (very clever) person and I'm sure that your customers will be willing to wait no matter how long, I know I would!!! :hug:
Beary kind regards
Kim

KJ Lyons KJ Lyons Design
Seattle, WA
Posts: 1,413
Website

:hug:  Thank you all!
It's amazing how many really intelligent artists are on this forum bear_flower  I think I've got a plan. I am going to write a nice letter to the collectors from 2004 and 2005. It's embarassing and I really thought I could create these cats, but I have to own up to what's happened and apologize. I'm going to try to narrow the field down and get control of my schedule. If I can't handle even that, then I'll consider not taking any custom orders. I felt so much better hearing from all of you! At least I know I'm not alone with this problem.
Karen

rkr4cds Creative Design Studio (RKR4CDS)
suburban Chicago
Posts: 2,044

"The grass always looks greener..."  I must definitely have been giving off bad vibes as I have rarely been asked for custom work. It's less than a handful anyway, in 18 years.

Curiously enough, I was asked twice in just this past month to re-create a Panda I'd done and a penguin, but "No pressure" from both - "...whenever you can get to them." I think I can get these done by mid-year.

I guess work never flows smoothly, to fill the time allotted,  does it??!!

KJ Lyons KJ Lyons Design
Seattle, WA
Posts: 1,413
Website

Bobbie!
I do cats, probably the most numerous house pet  bear_rolleyes . Your work is amazing! I just love it! Can I send you some custom orders bear_tongue
Karen

rkr4cds Creative Design Studio (RKR4CDS)
suburban Chicago
Posts: 2,044

Sure!! But not cats! Their legs are too skinny and I'd lose my shirt working on those!!!!

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