A collection of doodles with a bit of commentary by RICK GREEN - your cartooning friend

Monday, March 31, 2008

Shelly's Gift & Some Difficult Lessons Learned

There's a first time for everything. For the very first time I drew a caricature that someone did not like, and had to start it all over again. What's worst, it was all my fault.

Shelly wanted a birthday gift for her husband Ian, a drawing which featured him, and included the rest of the family. Ian is British and he has a love for sailing. So, I thought, clever man that I am, "I will illustrate Ian in a old British Naval uniform" - kind of "Captain Blye" like.

So, I drew him at the bow of a mighty vessel, with the family as the crew and sent it to Shelly.

My mistake was to take the illustration in such a dramatic direction without consulting Shelly. And I really do feel bad for her, having to contact some guy in Oregon she didn't know, and tell him that she didn't like the illustration. She just knew that her husband wouldn't like it, and that he would wonder why he's depicted as a Naval officer, having never been in the Navy.

There was nothing else I could do - I had to stand by my motto of aiming to please, and my reputation was on the line. So, with pencil in hand I start all over again, this time drawing Ian with a navigational chart in hand. I got lucky with that one. She said that was his job in his sailing crew.

After mailing her a sketch of an update of the illustration, and then, with a few more e-mails back and forth, Shelly was happy with the drawing and I was done - I thought.

The story doesn't end there... Last week I got an e-mail inquiring as to where the illustration was. Shelly politely pointed out that Ian's birthday was in just a few days and she had not seen the drawing in the mail yet, and that if she didn't see it by the next day she was going to begin panicking. When I saw the e-mail, I panicked right away. "The thing is lost in the mail,"?" I thought. "Now how will I ever get another one done for her on time?" To be sure, I check my stack of illustrations in my home office and THERE IT WAS! (I didn't cuss, but I wanted to.) I had not mailed the thing in the first place! I was really panicking then, and I knew that Shelly must be thinking "This guy is one big goof ball."

Boy, did I HATE replying to her e-mail and telling her that I hadn't ever sent the thing in the first place. Fortunately, Shelly is a very gracious soul. And more fortunately there was still time to express mail the illustration to her before the big day. I felt so bad about my mistake that I even sent her the rejected illustration too - a little bonus gift for all the worry that I had put her through.

I was NEVER so relieve as to when I learned that there was still time to get it to her, and just about as relieve to get the message that she had the illustration in hand and in plenty of time.

This morning I received this photo and this report from Shelly: "Thanks Rick! Your illustration was a hit! Ian was really surprised and pleased with the gift. And thanks for sending the “reject” as my son was happy he got to have his very own picture too (may have to have you do one for him one of these days! LOL). I’ve attached a photo of Ian’s response…had to get creative as my son’s shirtless body got in the photo too! LOL Thanks for helping to make Ian’s 40th a memorable one. BTW, had dinner that night with some of his sailing buddies and they loved the gift too – they all thought it was great and really got a kick out of the Can’t Can’t Un mockery. :o) Shelly"

Shelly, I can't tell you how happy I am that you got the drawing, that your husband liked it, along with his sailing buddies. I am more surprised to read that you would ever consider using my services again. I learned a lot from this particular project. Thank you for showing kindness to this aging artist.

In an additional note: I feel like I'm a little off my game lately. On all four of the most recent drawings I've done there has been something that the "customer" wasn't quite happy with. So, I had to go back to the drawing board with them. I don't know what I'm doing wrong. It sure has slowed me down, but I promise to carry on.


Karen Deborah said...

Don't be so hard on yourself. It's not easy to figure out what people are thinking much less draw an idea in someone elses head. It's sort of miraculous that it ever comes out right! My aunt is from England and she would have loved the Naval officer drawing. She's an artist too. I really like your drawings, just didn't have the moolah right now.

Anonymous said...

Maybe I'm a little biased having been in the Navy, but I like the first one better. Obviously it's a personal thing.

Maybe you need to take a break? I'm sure you have been getting a bit stressed by all the commissions you have, I would.

I suppose fame and fortune is like one big roller coaster? You get all caught up in it and can't get off.

Hope sending them to the UK isn't a jinx!!!!!

Laura ~Peach~ said...

Hugs rick... Its always hard to put on paper what is in someone elses mind!
You have a gift and part of that is to be able to make changes or adjust to suit someone elses wishes! You are fantastic in my book (no head swelling or ego enhancing here just true love for your talent!)
Kick back have a coffee and relax and give yourself a break!
another hug

Brenda said...

Unless you develop psychic powers it is bound to happen sometimes! Great picture.

TONYA said...

Love it. I think you did a great job. It must be so hard to read people you've never met and accurately depict them in a drawing. Seriously, you do a fantastic job. Why do you think I'm waiting with baited breath :)

Mabunny said...

Hey there Rick and please don't be so hard on yourself. Youvdid a great job, doesn't look like you lost a customer, so take a deep breath and just relax. It is bound to happen sometimes. You do a fantastic job in my honest opinion.
Take care, have a great day!

Coffee Bean said...

You are a real stand up guy Rick! Your extra effort and care in what you do shines through. It takes a special person to be able to go back and change something as personal as your artwork in order to please. Remember you are doing this through e-mail too... I think it would be much harder to catch the essence of what people look like that way. You do a fabulous job!

Chris H said...

You did well with getting that picture done and to them on time mate! I feel bad knowing I have given you a 'hard time' with my silly wee fish too..... darn!

roseys madhouse said...

I think you did a great job on both the pictures you did. As everyone else has said though you dont know what they have in their head.

Bob said...

I dunno. I REALLY like the first one better. Ian looks rugged-with the 5pm shadow, the regal naval uniform, the water spattering everywhere, the kids & mom entrusting him to get them to shore...

You've got talent, boy! Your stuff makes me laugh. Love it.

VanDerHoekArt said...

We've all been in that boat (pun intended)! Bravo to you for making every effort to fix the situation AND admitting you made a mistake on your blog, that took courage. Both drawings were terrific, you did a great job on them!