180112 On the couch again
Therapist have never seen me, in spite that someone, who I thought was my friend, suggested that I get help. He was a colleague in the art school where we had been working together—and playing—for almost twenty years.
He gave me this advice because I was raising a storm about the way my division in the art school was being run. I thought it was criminal, in the white-collar sense—how the students were being short-changed. It was my belief, after years of study and focused on global trends, that the printmaking division should spearhead a move toward recent technologies. It was 1984.
Printmaking, after all, can be said to be the ancestor of all technologies so it follows that a university of the size and reputation of ours (the UW) should take the lead. The pushback was strong, and some of the administrators resorted to covert methods to stop my campaign.
When I found out about their methods, I became the equivalent of a whistle-blower. It was at this point when my former friend said I was emotionally unstable and that I should get a leave of absence and seek medical help. In his judgement I was nuts, in other words, to think things like video and computer graphics had a place in the art school going forward.
I never put myself on the couch of a therapist. Like most crazy people, I suppose, I didn’t think I was crazy. The year before I presented my contentions (regarding future directions of the printmaking division) I had gone around the world, at my family’s expense, to gather evidence to support my thesis. What I had seen and recorded was evidence I was not crazy at all.
Besides, to offer myself to a therapist would have been tantamount to admitting I was nuts and, having risked my family’s finances, only proved it. I couldn’t bear that. I would no confess my error and as a result my family’s assets and my reputation, were ruined and I was forced to resign rather than apologize for my errors.
Today, as I read a business proposal plan offered to me by a recent buyer of one of my designs—a WeeWoodie Rembrandt Press—I experienced the same feeling of panic when I came to the part about hard facts of costs. The question, “Am I nuts?” reared its fearsome head. It was not a feeling that I was wrong to think printmaking is the ancestor of all technologies and therefore should be integrated into a printmaking teaching method.
It was ta feeling set off when, in reading the business plan template, I came to the requirement that I write down the financial structuring needed: How much will it cost? The budget must be known if I am to proceed. Otherwise I’m wasting mine and everyone else’ time.
I as a mollycoddled art professor who never had to write any more of a budget than an annual forecast of how much kerosene we might need in the etching studio, or what a new press might cost.
I’ve met this monster before and its name is financial ignorance. How would I know how much a printmaking teaching method designed for the cloud will cost?
If I am a subject matter expert, not a financial expert, am I supposed to know the answer? A printmaking SME is supposed to know how many drops of nitric acid one should put in how much gum Arabic when processing a medium-gray lithograph stone—and what considerations, besides the color of the stone, must be taken.
A printmaking SME also knows a bit of history and, above all, the place of printmaking in the world as it is today. He or she should know how printmaking fits in to education of young people above all others.
As a SME who gave a generation of his life to college-level printmaking education should also be equipped to adapt to the age of digital reproduction not only for colleges but also for the population globally. It might be argued that printmaking is the equivalent of buggy-whip manufacturing.
Why bother? Old-world printmaking is dead considering digital printmaking is easier, cheaper, faster, etc., is it not? Tell that to my 250 customers who shelled out thousands of dollars for the etching presses I designed and that my collaborator, Tom, built.
Tell that to the guy—a certified blockchain technology consultant—who provided me with boilerplate text to build my business plan on.
I deeply long for the ability to say what is the budget, but in the financial planning world I do not trust my ability to forecast what it should be. For example, as a SME, what salary or fee should apply to me? What should I pay the man who filled in the parts of the business plan as a gift, as—dare I say—a collaborator? He has not asked for anything, but I estimate, in his field, what he has already given me is of the value of at least $500 for two hours’ of work.
He has paid only $140 to me, which cost me about half to fulfill his order of a press.