Enlightened by a Lampshade

Hand Marbled Paper for Lampshades by Miki Lovett

I don’t like doing commissions. I never have.  I am resistant and do not enjoy them at all. But why?

A few months ago, I completed a commission for six sheets of matching hand marbled paper to be made into lampshades for the bedroom of my client’s son. This poor woman had been after me for over a year to make these papers after I sorta-kinda told her I would. She finally got after me to fulfill my agreement.

So, I grudgingly set out to make them for her. But why was I so resistant and grumbling?  It had nothing to do with the client who is a very pleasant lady and talented designer. The problem was me. But what in me resists this? In the course of several trial runs, I had the opportunity to reflect on just why I resist doing commissions.

There were many:

  • I don’t have time to do my ‘real’ work; heard that before and still don’t know what it means.
  • Matching the client’s colors is always so difficult; true but did not answer for the degree of my repugnance.
  • How many rounds of tests do I have to do before things are approved; again, true, but I can put a limit on test submissions myself. Toss that one.
  • I have to submit to the client’s scrutiny and approval; OK we’re getting closer.
  • When I’m doing a commission, I’m working for the client, not for my own joy; BINGO!

There it is. For the first time I understood, to my great satisfaction, that the joy of doing the work outweighs the financial remuneration. That was a turning point for me. For many years, making money has been the end all and be all of my life, not to get rich, but to pay the rent and eat – and, thank God, I do have that and more!

But I also learned something else, and something that I will need to think about and work on; giving joy to others through my work is also a joy. And a commission is the opportunity to do that. To be open to another’s ideas, design needs, tastes can expand my views on what I like and want to do. It can be a stretching of the person to serve.

Does this mean I will start taking commissions any time soon? Probably not. But I will not look at them with such a jaundiced eye – I hope.

I have a long way to go.


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