|For the fourth day in a row, business was at a standstill at the Bennetton Art Design Studio. Hayley, the 4th grade owner and manager, scanned the Marketplace to see if others were experiencing the same lull. Didn’t appear that way. There was a long line outside of the Balloon Animals venture as shoppers looked through the catalogue of offerings, placing their orders for poodles, monkeys, and perfectly poppable petals. Didn’t they realize that in a day their creations would be all but deflated shells? Finger Knitting Fantasies had a table of intent crafters learning the art of finger knitting one strand of yarn at a time. Even Zoom Racers had a handful of consumers scrutinizing the selection of model hot rods and test driving them down the designated stretch of highway before making a final purchase. Something was definitely wrong. The only lines Charlotte saw at the studio were the not-so-clean ones in the pieces up for sale.
“What are our numbers for the past week?” she asked her sales associate, Kyle.
“We’ve sold one large piece since Monday.” he promptly answered with a glance at his records. “The sunflower drawing.”
“One piece in the past four days?” she questioned, eyebrow arched.
“Oh, wait. I was wrong. We’ve sold one large piece since last Monday. So I guess, in the past 9 days.”
Hayley clearly saw the bottom line. If business didn’t pick up, the Art Design studio was out. The way things were going she would never be able to pay rent, utilities, and her employee’s wages.
Gingerly picking up a drawing from the sales table, she looked closely. With intention. It was clear that the house was drawn quickly. Almost hastily. In fact, one of the windows was paneless; an obvious departure from the other 3. “Kyle, what is your honest opinion of our merchandise?” she questioned.
Hunching his shoulders, he delicately answered, “I guess they’re kind of sloppy.”
Hayley pulled aside what appeared to be a kindergarten passerby. “Excuse me, but can I ask you a question? Would you hang one of these pictures in your room?”
Eyes darting from picture to picture, she exclaimed, “Probably not. I could draw the same thing on my own.”
They were right. And she realized that she was wrong. For not inspiring her artists. They clearly needed more than the directive, “Create”. As the owner of this place, if she didn’t guide them, who would? Hayley needed to teach her artists to think like artists.
How did artists think? After researching several local artists and Emailing them, she discovered that they listened to music, explored outdoors, and studied the work of artists who came before them. They looked at ordinary objects in extraordinary ways. They thought about their own life stories. And sometimes they did nothing at all, other than let their pencil or paintbrush or charcoal go and the lines and images just flow.
Thus, the “Inspiration Station” was born. Each production day, Hayley brought in a different prompt to get her artists’ creative juices flowing. A seashell from her summer vacation. The new Katy Perry song. A poster of Monet’s Water Lillies. They didn’t have to let these artifacts guide them. But they could.
The result. Strokes of brilliance. And surging sales. A true masterpiece.