Monday, March 17, 2008

Pyramid schemes ... (part three) ...

I made it my business to educate myself, to learn as much as I possibly could about etching, embossing, silkscreening, and lithography. Wood-cutting I already understood.

I had some vague awareness of the concept of a 'limited edition', how that differs in value (in 'quality' limited editions, the paper is usually hand-made, oftentimes by the artist himself) from that of a 'print' -- something mass-produced in the thousands by a machine.

Never did I delude myself into thinking that I might come across someone who would want to invest millions of dollars into original art. There was no way, honestly, that I could have helped him, personally. The best thing that I could have done, and would have, would have been to thoroughly research the field and refer that person to someone of integrity who had more knowledge and expertise than I.

I might have realized some sort of "finder's fee" out of it, but there was no way that I could have handled such a transaction. My credentials were simply not there.

As my business continued to grow, I realized more and more that I had to 'expand my horizons'. TransArt had a wonderful line of art, framing and mats, but the selection was limited. I found myself searching for a local framer that I could trust.

I began by just driving up and down the streets in my own neighborhood. I found Michele, who at that time was just renting that space and hoping to relocate in the "Village" -- closer to downtown, and certainly in a more prestigious area.

I asked her if she offered discounts to people who were 'in the business'. She was somewhat skeptical, at first (wouldn't you be?), but then -- realizing that I was seriously interested and 'in' to this business, gave me help out the wazoo!

Heavens to Betsy! The help (not to mention education) I received from Michele was --I find, even in retrospect from this much later date -- incalcuable!! She generously offered not only her time and expertise, instructing me on such specifics as 'museum-mounting', acid-free mats, reverse beveling, etc., but invited me to a private showing on one of my art-buying trips to NYC.

From the bottom of my heart, Michele, I thank you!

Meanwhile, back at TransArt's ranch, they were expanding like mad ... area rugs (I have a very large one in my home to this day that I dearly love), jewelry (Castine's ... I tried to recruit my own daughter to sell this line!), drapes, furniture, etc. Heavens!! I was clearly out of my depth on some of this stuff.

I attended at least two of TransArt's (now TransDesigns) national conferences, held in August each year just north of Atlanta. Each time, I drove -- in a 1984 Honda Civic wagon that was absolutely perfect for transporting art -- and 'camped out' in the Kennessaw Mountains, at a campsite that was available to the general public.

I tried to absorb every last scrap of information that I could about TransDesigns' ever expanding business. I took notes like crazy.

From the very beginning, I had felt a tremendous amount of pressure to 'recruit', as Christina had done me. Initially, I tried -- running ads, 'interviewing' interested persons in my home, etc., -- but my heart wasn't really in it, I don't think.

I wasn't interested in trying to motivate someone else for my own gains, I just wasn't! If they couldn't motivate themselves, I wasn't about to try and do it FOR them!!

TransArt, as I finally came to understand, was what I would describe as a "pyramid" organization. You recruit someone, a percentage of their sales comes back to you in the way of profits, they recruit someone else, a percentage of that person's sales comes back to your recruitee in the way of profits (with a lesser amount to you, as the initial recruiter), and so on and on it goes. Are you confused?? Hope not.

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