I had a thoroughly pleasant and gratifying encounter with Amazon.com this week. The end result is that though I had to return some things I ended up with The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and The Goonies in my #AmazonInstantVideoLibrary for less than the price of one of their HD rentals.
I am not trying to offer Amazon up for slaughter by masses of individuals trying to get something free. I had a very legitimate reason this transaction between they and I took place and they were great about it. And the other parties involved were also taken care of.
I only wanted to draw attention to Amazon and this situation because they provided incredible customer service. And it got me thinking about our service to others, the very idea of customer service and how rare it is.
We as artists, though I believe at some point in our lives enter our artistic or cultural industries/studies/disciplines wanting to produce 'art for art's sake', realize along the way that we can't really do that. We have 'customers': audience, patrons, participants, viewers, movie-goers, aficionados, enthusiasts, fans, super fans, collectors, connoisseurs, devotees, fanatics, followers, supporters, backers, votaries, habitues', lovers, 'card-carrying' members, appreciators, aesthetes, arbiters, junkies, groupies, admirers, zealots, even disciples that we are bound to create for.
We owe it to more than ourselves and our egos to produce the creative articles that the muse inspires us with. Now along the way we won't please every one of those 'types' of customer. #Mapplethorpe didn't have every 'customer' in mind when he produced in particular, his underground bondage and BDSM photos. #Cerny was not looking to please the occupants of #Prague Castle when he installed, in the middle of the #VltavaRiver, his giant purple hand with the middle finger pointed directly at the Castle; nor did #ROH likely have the sensibilities of every 'customer' in mind when they opened the graphic, rape-filled #GuillaumeTell this year.
As creators there is likely a time in the evolution of our creative lives when we are confronted with the muse that inspires us to push the boundaries of what our 'customers' finds acceptable, palatable ne worthy of their consideration. Even children's theatre doesn't please every parent.
But while we take those risks and need no reason to explain why we create what we do, I think there is value in building a dialogue as best we can that addresses what spurred our interest in the subject matter that might be met with disdain. I am not necessarily talking about education, I am just talking about basic 'customer service'.
Have you ever gone into an office and been met with a receptionist on the other side of the desk who didn't bother to look up or acknowledge your existence? Annoying isn't it? I believe we have an obligation to, at the very least, provide good customer service: to say hello, to welcome people into our work and to be willing to answer those questions, those disagreements, those outright refusals of our work, with a courteous smile and whatever information we can that will inform their understanding more.
No matter what there will always be those who dislike what we produce and some will go even further to try and have it banned and binned but we often dislike what we aren't willing to understand, even the receptionist on the other side of the desk who has not acknowledged us. But I think a very important way for those of us that create to continue to move forward in our disciplines is to be willing to engage those that don't agree with what we have produced. We won't please everyone but if we can be a bit like #Amazon customer service (no the hashtags are not part of some deal I cut with Amazon!), then we will be able to move forward with ever more confidence in our creative endeavors. All we need is one to ask....