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.