I really love the column and it’s really awesome to see someone do so much good for the fandom, so a million hugs to you :3
My question is how to keep myself at a professional distance but still be me at the same time.
My issue is I’m starting to take my artwork seriously and finally getting good enough (in my opinion) to be taken seriously ... but, I’m still not used to dealing with people—I’m very antisocial and find people difficult at the best of times. So do you have any help for keeping calm with customers and looking professional while still being open enough to make friends?
Thank you for your time, and thanks again for being there for us confused furs <3
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Thanks for the compliment; glad you enjoy my column :)
What we have here are two issues, not just one: 1) how to deal with people in your business life, and 2) how to make friends when you are antisocial.
When it comes to jobs for the antisocial, being an artist is a good choice. Like being a writer, it is a very solitary occupation where you can sit for hours on end working on your craft in total isolation. Many a famous artist was a recluse (Bill Waterson springs to mind right away). But, in the end, if you wish to actually sell your art, you do have to deal with people. Again, fortunately, we have something called the Internet, which, while vastly increasing our ability to contact human beings all over the world, also creates a digital wall between us so we don’t have to deal with them directly. If you sell your art online, you really don’t have to deal with people. Just take their orders, collect the money, and when the check clears, give them the artwork.
If you sell your art in person, such as buying a table at a furcon for the dealer’s den, you will be facing people in person, naturally. Dealing with customers is not the same as socializing. Safe in the knowledge that you will only have to talk to them for a short time, be pleasant and helpful at all times. Answer their questions and do what you can to make the sale, then move on to the next customer. The key to good customer service is to answer people’s questions politely and quickly and make sure they are satisfied with the product. Make clear any return policy (or, if you have none, make that clear, too). You should be able to deal with customers without worrying about social anxieties, as business transactions are not about whether or not you are a sociable person. Think of it as putting on your “Businesswoman Fursona” and getting into character.
I would suggest working on your Businesswoman Fursona for a while, getting used to that before you allow yourself to relax a bit. Especially at first, you probably won’t get a whole lot of friend requests so much as people wanting to buy your art (hopefully). After a while, you may gain some fans, and fans can often become friends. Since you will both have an interest in art—in particular, your art—that should be a good ice breaker that could make it easier to form new friendships.
None of the above addresses the possibility that your social anxiety might benefit from some therapy, depending on its severity, but the above advice might help you, nevertheless.
Good luck with your art and your new business venture!
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