Monday, September 23, 2013

How technology is hurting us as artists……

Hoard Couture Dress 26

Yet again, a situation has arisen where our dependence upon digital communication has done a disservice to both a gallery and to me.  Previously I was willing to accept half the blame, but this time, no way am I responsible and hanging up on me is definitely not a way to gain points in the professionalism department. I would love to name the venue, but I will not ruin the opportunity to exhibit there by others. Yes, it is a “local” place, but not in our county so breathe a sigh of relief those of you who were perhaps starting to get a bit miffed.

Once upon a time, about oh….early 2012, I applied for a call for artists. They book a year or so in advance (do the math, which puts us at late 2013 at the latest). The application asks for those months when one would be available for the next calendar year (as of  early 2012 mind you….).  I apply.  I get a call, on the phone by a human being, about a month later saying they got my materials and will be looking them over, excited about the work. A year goes by and I hear nothing.

Early 2013 sometime, can’t be sure when, I see the same venue asking for applications for exhibitions so I figure mine has been tossed aside.

Yesterday, late afternoon, a rather curt woman calls and asks for me. (It is now mid to late 2013 remember). She says that she wants me to confirm the dates I was given for my show since I have not responded to the email (months ago or a year ago, she can’t recall) saying I was to be given a show, and also not responded to the email with the final dates allocated to me. I reply with an apology that I never received any such notification.

I was informed that “oh yes you did” and she read me my email address. Um…no…..perhaps it went to the junk folder although I do check those daily with care just in case. Oh forget this, Let’s just do the conversation shall we?

Caller - “Oh yes you did get an email and it was to the following address.” (which she reads correctly)
Jk - “That is my email but perhaps it went to junk or spam but I do check those and did not see any from the ____ gallery.”
Caller - “Well you never responded so these are your dates (listed here) and you must confirm.”
Jk - “I am sorry but those dates will not work, as the Hoard Couture show is between venues at that time and I have a contract with another venue to not show the work anywhere near here for a period of time on either side of that show. It would be unethical to violate that.”
Caller – (getting irritated) “We told you we were giving you a show, you just never replied.”
Jk – “ I am sorry for the confusion but I applied in early 2012 and ….
Caller – “We book a year in advance. You were notified and did not reply.”
Jk – (Trying not to be snarky that the show being offered is in 2014 and that is more than a year after  mid 2012 as far as my math is concerned) “I am sorry but I did not get any notification that you had accepted my work, only a phone call in mid 2012 that my application had been received.”
Caller –(Obviously pissed off)  “So you are not doing the show? Well good luck then!” and she hangs up on me.
Jk – (talking to the dial tone) “I would be happy to work with you to schedule a fall time slot……” Considering your attitude however, I would prefer to not work with you. This one was not my fault.

Okay, what is wrong with this whole thing?  If you are in charge of booking a venue and do not hear from someone whom you contacted by email within a reasonable amount of time, (and you have a phone number which was used once before….) do you not think it would behoove you to pick up the thing again and call? Emails change, computers break, spam filters block etc…. so I would be darn sure if it was my job that I would be following up on my communication. Next problem is the part where they ask for available slots because as time goes by, I try to book shows or life events happen, and time becomes unavailable, so a reasonable person would think to ask for updated availability….right? The next issue being if you really wanted my work, then why not offer to work with me since “obviously what we have here is a failure to communicate.” Hanging up in irritation is not a good choice.

I am not one for the phone all that much, but it does serve a useful purpose at times, like making sure some got the message. Remember answering machines and voice mail (I have both), plus contact via a website page, Facebook, text and a mail box out at the end of the driveway. All those methods of contact were on that original application and available to this venue.  Will I name them? No, not here, but maybe if you call me I would make sure you get the message loud and clear! We are doing ourselves no favors in this business to not try and work together when “mistakes” happen, although I never made one as far as I can tell. I am nothing if not ethical when it comes to this business. If I have a contract, verbal or signed, I will honor it. A gentleman’s agreement made face to face on a handshake is far more binding to me than someone getting snippy because I sent in an application of interest.

A recent mishap with a prescription medication between a doctor’s office and a pharmacy (one sent, one did not receive) due to two different computer systems being unable to communicate with each others, just goes to show that human beings are still far more intelligent than a machine. As Ronny said…”Trust, but verify.”

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