Thursday, February 8, 2018

On Being a Professional

What does it mean to be a professional in the world of weaving?

It can mean many things.  Mostly people take it to mean that you get paid money for your efforts.  While that is one measure of a professional, there are others.

One way to be professional is to do what you say you will do, when you say you will do it.  Another way is to arrive at an event you are presenting at, on time and prepared.

Sometimes things happen that prevent this from happening.  Like the time I arrived, but my luggage, and therefore all my teaching samples, didn't.  It did eventually catch up with me, but it meant I stood up in my travel clothes (a much more casual - comfortable - look, than I try to portray!)  And there was a lot of arm waving and use of the guild members show and tell textiles to be examples of my talk.

Sometimes you get sick.  I have multiple allergies to various and sundry foods and I have, more than once, spent the night in the toilet, then had to deal with the brain fog of a severe allergic reaction while trying to find the right words to use to convey meaning.

Sometimes parcels get lost in the mail.  I had to replace several copies of Magic in the Water (yes, the original) when the box didn't arrive - or arrived damaged due to adventures in getting across the pond.

Was that my fault?  No.  But it wasn't the customer's fault either.  So I made good by sending another copy.

The majority of weavers (and spinners) who teach do it because it is one of their income streams.  They work hard prior to an event - either guild workshop or conference - putting in many hours of preparation prior to the event, generally purchasing their tickets a month to six weeks ahead of time, essentially financing the event until they get paid.

Teachers should not, in my humble (or not so humble, take your pick) opinion should not be subsidizing an event by being paid low for their teaching, subsidizing the event by financing travel prior to but most especially after the event has happened.  Teachers frequently purchase class materials well ahead of the event, so they are in effect subsidizing the event by financing those class materials until they get paid.

I have only once been paid for materials for a guild workshop when I shipped them.  It was a welcome courtesy that was completely unexpected because it was so rare. 

I have instead been made to wait for up to three months after an event to get paid for my teaching, travel and materials.  To me, this was most unprofessional on the part of the organization.  I was able - at that time - to carry the financing - but teachers should never, ever be expected to do so.  Payment in full should be taken home when they leave the event.

If teachers are expected to act professionally, they should be treated as professionals and get paid, in a timely fashion, and not have to nag the people who are paying them.

And that is the rant du jour from me.


wonderous woolerie said...

Just so you are part of my daily thought process....... Thank you for you! Peace, Pia

Louisa said...

Love your opinions, Laura! I think the problems stem from the “hobby” label on our work. Don’t need to treat it professionally if it’s “only” a hobby, no? Grrr.. You’ve expressed one of the reasons I gave up teaching - because it was costing me more than I was making. Not sustainable.