This week’s doll was a request from an old family friend after she saw my most recent crocheted “Little Me” on Facebook. When I asked her to send me a picture of herself that she would like to see in doll form, she said, “You pick one… I would SO cherish your artistic ‘interpretation’ of me.” She’s a very kind, creative, and eccentric woman. She has had several profile pictures on Facebook of her in a Viking-opera singer costume, complete with enormous metal boobs and a horned helmet. When I sent her a picture of the finished doll last night, she was ecstatic. Although this doll was a request from a dear friend and I did not ask to be paid for it, crocheting it made me think a lot about the idea of commission work.
One of my majors in college was fine art, and I used to be pretty good at drawing realistic portraits of people. When I was a college freshman, I had a few people offer to pay me to draw some portraits of their children or grandchildren. I had a very negative experience with one of these clients. I was only 18 years old and charging just $30 for a drawing, but this woman– who was my aunt’s boss– had the nerve to express to me that she would ordinarily never pay for something that (she thought) turned out so badly. After that, I gave up on doing any sort of commission, and after I graduated from college, I largely gave up drawing.
To me, commission work is like customer service on crack: people often have wildly high expectations, and when you don’t meet those expectations, they can get entirely too angry for the situation. Furthermore, it has to be difficult to just turn on one’s creativity as though it is a light switch. I’m not always in the mood to crochet or do anything creative; indeed, I seem to have ebbs and flows that can last several weeks at a time. I have the utmost admiration for anyone who runs their own business, particularly if they are selling their creative talents.
Whenever I envision(ed) my Etsy shop, I’ve only thought about selling things that I want to make. When I made my Creepy Cute Crochet-based wedding cake toppers and dolls of my bridesmaids (pictured below), I got a lot of comments on how I could sell things like them. At the time, I knew that doing anything wedding-related would be out of the question, as brides in particular can be very, very demanding and unrealistic. There has been a resurgence in similar comments with my newer doll designs. I don’t want to turn a hobby that I enjoy into a job, because I am having a lot of fun. I’m afraid that if I subject myself to commission work again, I will stop having fun and lose interest in crocheting– just like how I lost interest in drawing and creating art in general.