...serenity in motion

Unsolicited advice is like pennies in the gutter

Unsolicited advice is like pennies in the gutter.

I was struck yesterday by something I saw in the parking lot, about 20 pennies lay strewn across the pavement.  I generally pick up one penny, for good luck; but 20?  I caught myself wondering why I would pick up one but not 20.  Was it embarrassment, was I afraid of being judged by those watching?  I decided to leave the money for some soul who really might need it and moved away but my thoughts lingered on those pennies.  Did you know that America looses 62 million pennies a year?  If you could have every lost penny magically given to you, you would make 620 thousand dollars! If you could get every penny lost in a day, that would be over $1,500.  The Lincoln image is over 110 years old and is the only image to face his direction.  The designer made it that way on purpose.  There have been 11 different designs and several different metals used to make up a penny.  It costs roughly 2.4 cents to make one penny.

What is the parallel we can draw from this?

People offer advice to artists all the time.  We don’t ask for this advice, it is just given to us.  “You know what you should do?” Oy!  I find myself apologizing for using this phrase, because I do it too.  I should apologize for giving unsolicited advice as well.  Ultimately, from collectors through co-workers to and including family members and friends; everyone has some advice to give.  Most of them don’t understand that you choose to paint landscapes instead of people because you don’t like to paint portraits.  It doesn’t matter that so and so’s best aunt made a killing off of doing kids portraits for the neighborhood.  All of this free advice can be worth less than nothing, especially when people don’t have a real understanding of what you are trying to do.

Here is the parallel: every once in a while, a real valuable coin comes through your life and you have to be able to recognize it.  That means you need to sift through a lot of coins to find the one that is worth $1,500.  That doesn’t mean it is there, but it could be.  What ever you do, be polite to everyone that gives you advice, even your relatives.  You don’t have to act on it; like those pennies I saw, you can leave the advice alone.  The opportunities are there, and sometimes it is worth it.  Just like rare pennies, advice you go looking for…..  You need to make sure you are looking in the best places.  The other thing to consider, you could be missing a lot of really good information by cutting the advise off before they can give it.  Consider the source; if you have the time and they seem knowledgeable, give them more than the time of day.  You could find yourself face to face with someone who might know a thing or two.

Bronze pennies look just like copper pennies, and are some of the rarest and most valuable of all.  The next time some guy wearing a Hawaiian shirt and socks with sandals offers you a suggestion, give him a chance.  He might look like another aggravating idiot but he could very well be a TV Shark instead. In the end, it is hard to recognize the real value of something free.  Take the time to listen, don’t argue if the advice is poor.  I can tell you from experience, they think it is an amazing idea.  If they are taking the time to give it to you, it means your art has touched them on some level.  Maybe, you can sell them some of your stuff for more than a few cents.