Nerve Endings Mutiny

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December already? Good grief, it’s been a long time since I last blogged. There are many reasons for this, so what better way to explain than with a new blog entry. Sort of a ‘two birds with one stone’ thing…

Before I started writing I read back over some of my old blog entries and as long ago as 2014 I was saying ‘I really must find a different way to work because taking commissions is great but very time consuming” … and so on. I started with good intentions in 2015 but by the end of that year I needed surgery on my back and things haven’t really calmed down much since then.

For those who are just curious to know what’s up with me and want to skip the next few paragraphs, the tl;dr version is ‘I am poorly but there will still be tiny dogs for sale. Keep an eye on my social media for updates’.

Still here? You rock. Welcome to the ‘weasel’s tale of woe, which I will keep as brief as possible. 2016 and 2017 have been very… trying for me, as they have been for many people I think. The surgery I had to fix my back wasn’t entirely successful. It stabilised the bit that was causing me the most severe pain and stopped it deteriorating further but I was left with nerve damage in my right leg. Since then the nerve pain has got worse and my back, not wanting to be left out, has joined in the fun. The situation now is that I can’t walk far, can’t stay in one position for long and can’t drive, which makes working (amongst other things) difficult. I’m staying positive; I’ve just been put on morphine patches and I’m waiting for anaesthetic injections to provide a temporary reprieve and allow me to exercise and get back to doing the things have always done to manage the chronic arthritis in my neck/back. Fingers crossed 2018 will see some improvement.

On top of all this, Luce is having a terrible time at work, we’ve both had other health concerns, I lost my stepfather earlier this year and various other ‘life’ stuff has meant we are STILL trying to get our house on the market and move from Shropshire to Hebden Bridge. Seriously, if you want a beautiful, big old house to ‘do up’ in North Shropshire, talk to me. Buy my house. It’s a really nice house. Make an estate agent cry by doing it before we advertise it.

Also, well… without getting into politics, let’s just say the world has gone a bit mad. I think we can all agree on that.

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Right, enough whinging, what am I going to do about it? Well, the big problem I have work-wise right now is that it is very difficult to give accurate lead times for commissions. I try to be realistic but because I am not used to being a lot slower than usual, I often get it wrong and end up pushing myself and working silly hours to get things done just in the nick of time. I hate working that way and it means it inevitably takes time to recover, which puts me under even more pressure and leaves me prone to making mistakes or being forgetful, which is far from ideal.

It also means that I have no time to make ‘ready-to-buy’ stock for my website so I’m reliant on labour intensive commissions to make me a living wage, which is never going to happen. Commissions take at least a day each. I strongly believe that art should be available to everyone, so I refuse to price them out of most people’s reach. I currently charge £35 each… you can do the maths.

Obviously, I need to get to a point where my ‘basic wage’ is provided by something other than commissions. I’m not sure about the best way to go about this but it may well involve some form of crowdfunding. For those of you who are not familiar with crowdfunding, the idea is basically about a lot of people each paying a small amount to access exclusive content or physical ‘rewards’.

Some platforms, like Kickstarter are set up for one-off projects so, for example, if I wanted to spend a while making a stop frame animation I might offer access to ‘behind the scenes’ updates and first look at the finished short film for maybe a £1 donation but also physical rewards like stills from it printed on a mug or t shirt or exclusive models for higher amounts.

Others, like Patreon offer the chance to subscribe to an artist by paying pay a small fee per month for Patreon-only content or access to exclusive offers. Again, there are usually different levels, starting at around £1 per month. This is an interesting idea as it might allow me to offer commissions to backers on a more manageable scale.

Crowdfunding is often referred to as a ‘virtual tip jar’. This is sometimes true, you can, for instance – *shameless plug alert* – buy me a virtual cup of coffee here but it’s a bit misleading. I am more interested in seeing if it could provide me with a small basic wage and make it possible for me to reinvest more of my profit into new equipment etc., explore new ideas and offer more exciting ‘ready to buy’ items through my website.

If you’re interested in crowdfunding and would like a much better explanation than mine, I recommend watching Amanda Palmer’s TED talk on the subject. One of my favourite musicians and a very inspiring artist. If you’re *really* interested, you should also read her book The Art of Asking.

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I would be VERY interested to hear your thoughts about all this. You can comment here, tweet me, message me on Facebook, or email sam@poochweasel.com, whichever is easiest for you.

As for this Christmas, once I’ve finished the last commissions I have taken on, my plan is to make a few festive models for my website. They will be available for sale but they will also be fun for me to do and hopefully make you smile too.

I may blog again this year but in case I don’t, I hope you have a wonderful Christmas and that next year brings more than its fair share of peace and happiness to us all. And dogs, obviously. Lots of dogs.

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PS: As is often the case, if the title of this blog means anything to you come and talk music to me! 🙂

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