Value your talent

photo by Sylvia
photo by Sylvia

On a brilliant summer day in a beautiful and artful city, a gentleman walks along a red-bricked street. Passing a small boutique, his gaze is arrested by the most enchanting, exquisite bow made of satin ribbon. This bow would be a perfect addition to his daughter’s birthday gift. Elated at his luck in finding this intricate adornment, he walks into the small shop.

“How much is the bow in the window?” he inquires from the young man approaching.

“The bow is $50.00,” comes the reply.

“What?! I’m not going to pay $50.00 for a 10 cent ribbon!” shouts the man.

“Ah, no problem sir,” says the young clerk.

He moves toward the window and with one quick jerk of his hand and wrist grabs the satin bow and whips it once into the air. Immediately, the bow becomes undone. As he holds out the long, straight, gleaming ribbon to the gentleman, he says simply, “Now, you may have it for 10 cents.”

This story was passed on to me almost 30 years ago by my
beloved Commercial Art instructor, Ray Coia.

16 thoughts on “Value your talent”

    1. From the perspective of the the creative person, it’s always a challenge to constantly have to “prove” the “worth” of talent. But it gets easier with age and confidence (in addition to a little bit of patience, a pinch of indifference and a box full of irreverent humor).

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    1. I would agree with that especially for non-tangible goods or services. When I get my hair cut, I pay the salon. When I buy a cheeseburger and fries, I pay for a cheeseburger and fries. When I buy three widgets, I pay for three widgets and I look it up in a widget book and I get a competitive widget price. Creative talents are swimming in the grey zones of economics. I believe enthusiastically that it’s up to the creatives themselves to educate the market. Do not sell yourself short. Pro bono work is a very good and satisfying thing, but those terms should be negotiated, honestly and without hesitation.

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      1. Or, I can just stick to doing things that interest me, and gives me satisfaction.

        “Work” has a negative connotation when it comes to my hobbies (writing, photography), and while I would not mind being paid to do what I like, there are caveats to transitioning from “hobby” to “making a living”, especially as it relates to enjoyment, satisfaction, etc.

        Sure, there are some who can both earn a living and enjoy their work, but these days it’s much harder to the the first, and that affects the latter.

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  1. Ty for the little story. Wish this would be tattooed on the brains or on the palms of almost every client requiring a graphic design job, be it creating a website, a brochure or a logo. Many seem to think that if they’d knew Photoshop or Illustrator, they wouldn’t need us, the creatives.

    Liked by 1 person

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