As Valentines Day is just around the corner, I thought I would show you another Snug that was commissioned for a wedding present.
This cosy was designed as a kind of keepsake or reminder of the day itself. The colours I chose to use were the colours used in the wedding and I made small figures out of felt to represent the couple. The groom, in this instance, is a Steeple-jack and I depicted him climbing a ladder to reach his lady love.
The making of this Snug turned out to be quite an interesting process. The photographs I am showing you here are not how the finished piece was delivered to the client in the end.
I guess I am alternative in my own tastes and when I approach something I can’t help but bring that to the table. I am not married myself and I have never had a wedding but I think if that day does come for me I will probably approach it with a non-traditional attitude also (as this is how I live my life).
When making this cosy, I decided to give the figure representing the bride a black dress. I did this not because I’m trying to enforce a Goth lifestyle on anybody. I did it because I thought, that in the long term, the cosy could be a reminder of the day but it didn’t have to be a literal depiction of the wedding itself. I made a design decision based on what I would like for myself.
I finished the Snug, it was delivered to the client and I moved on to other things. A couple of days after it was delivered I received a request to change the dress from the black one into a more traditional white wedding dress.
In my experience, it is always a little upsetting when you have made something and the customer is not 100% satisfied with it. I hate the idea that the brief wasn’t properly fulfilled or you didn’t deliver in some way or another. The customer here couldn’t have been nicer about it though. When they saw the piece, they would have preferred a more traditional look. In this situation it all came down to personal tastes. As I said, I know my motivations for making it the way I did but the customer wanted something different and I can completely respect that.
I made the changes that were requested and even gave the bride a tiny veil to complete the look. Unfortunately, because of the changes and the time constraints caused by them, I never got to photograph the new finished tea cosy before it had to be posted back for the big day.
In my experience, there is no harm in things like this occurring. It is a good opportunity to observe yourself and your process in these situations. As an artist, you are of course attached to your vision and I think that is healthy. But there can be another side, which is, the satisfaction of the commissioner who is paying for the work. It is a difficult line to tread between personal expression and client expectations. You don’t always get it right.
I think different projects fulfil different needs. A work of art expressing your beliefs or personal experience can be totally from the self with little influences from outside sources. A work of art commissioned to express something about the patron or their loved ones can be openly discussed and a compromise can be struck between artist and client.
The trick is learning when to fight for your vision and when to be open to input and constructive criticism of your work. When I was just starting out, I got a commission to do something that was way beyond my experience at the time to deal with. I made an attempt at it but it was rejected rather cruelly, the memory still stings. With hind sight I can say I think the commissioner had his part to play in the out come of the project. He wasn’t offering me enough money for the standard and look he wanted to achieve. He thought he was being clever by saving money through hiring an inexperienced artist right out of college. By the end of it, the whole situation left a bad taste in the mouths of everyone involved. I learned then, that if someone is trying to cut corners, the art work will ultimately suffer. In that situation the customer was also entitled to name his dissatisfaction. But I would now, with some life experience on my side, ask him to take responsibility for setting the budget so low and not being clearer in his brief. Experience really is the teacher of all things.