Thursday, May 03, 2007

Thankful Thursday #3

The Mentor: Todd Reed, jewelry artist.

The Lesson Learned: Meet your deadlines.

Fresh from college and recently relocated to Boulder, Colorado, I boldly emailed an introduction of myself to art jeweler Todd Reed to ask if he would mind reviewing my portfolio (also hoping he would want to hire me as a production assistant in his studio) He said yes to a review, and I spent an afternoon at his house with my jewelry portfolio (aka: a shoe box full of pieces wrapped in paper towels) listening gratefully to all he had to say. He encouraged and appreciated my Barbie work, and offered some interesting tidbits of advice leaving me with many things to ponder. When I left that day he said he would call if any freelance production jobs came up that he might need assistance on. I kept my fingers crossed.

Let me also just say that Todd is one of the nicest jewelers out there. SO approachable, friendly and willing to share information. Many artists are guarded about what they do, living in constant fear that their ideas will be "stolen!" Not Todd, which I find admirable. Knowledge should be shared! So when he finally did call with a freelance jewelry job for me I was thrilled. Honored, really. I met with him for instructions and then he sent me on my way to produce the bits and pieces for a sterling and ruby custom neckpiece at my own studio. But before leaving his house he asked me, "so when do you think you'll be able to have the work finished?"…

"mmm, I could probably have it finished by Friday."

Famous last words! Well, I didn't finish them by Friday. And when Todd called to see if they were ready I had to fess up that they were not. even. close. He was not happy. His rationale went something like this: if he had taken me on my word that the work would be finished by Friday, then what if he had told his client the piece would be in their hands by Saturday? Everyone loses. It's not professional. And just like being late to meet someone when you say you will, it's rude and really when it comes down to it, selfish. He was diplomatic about it all: hard on the problem, soft on the person (as a wise friend of mine likes to say ;-) I think ultimately he realized I was a straight-outta-school-youngster at the time who wasn't quite ready to take her life too seriously yet and still needed to learn a thing or two about what works in the real world.

It's a lesson that stuck with me. He was right. I never got over feeling like I blew it with him, BIG TIME. (Although somehow later on I still mustered the nerve to ask him for a recommendation on a grant application?!) Todd Reed is extremely successful, there's no doubt about that. He obviously keeps his word, and meets his deadlines.

(sterling silver, 18k gold and raw uncut diamonds: the work for which he's known)

PS. This is my 100th blog post! wow, weird. I really had no idea it would last this long.

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