Covid Fixit — Try THIS!

Baseball player doc

Uncle Sam dentist

Let’s Make a DEAL!

I have been doing this caricature live-drawing thing for a bit more than forty years now (Yow! Old guy!) and one of the unexpected BENEFITS has turned out to be — Barter. Yes!

Trading my drawings for actual goods, services, lots and lots of things I needed at the time.

And often was too broke to pay for those items. We have all heard of the classic Starving Artist, right? Hey, some of us have lived that life, kids. I have a story on that point you will not believe. I was there; it’s true. In a yard sale I found an 11 x 14 inch clipboard that would work perfectly for my live drawing, which I was doing full time in a shopping mall, priced at twenty-five cents.

I actually debated whether to spend the quarter.

Yes. I was that broke. Happily, I made that investment and it is still with me in my art bag as a backup for the moment when the Portable Drawing Table I built is not useable. Still works fine, spring has not broken, has saved me a few times over the years since its retirement about twenty years ago.

I think my first Barter deal was when I was sketching daily at the old Salem Mall here in Dayton, Ohio — the mall is long gone now — I had a deal with a small art gallery with two chairs next to the entrance to their shop. Next door was an eyeglass shop and I got to be pals with the mom & pop owners there, and one day I asked them if I could do anything to get eye glasses.

We talked a bit and I drew at a party for them which we agreed would pay for an eye exam and new glasses. Hey, cool! That worked out!

I was doing editorial cartoons (mostly pretty lame) for a weekly newspaper at that time and worked out a deal with a small print shop to print up a collection of those to send out and ideally get a full time gig with a major daily. Did some drawings for the print shop, got my books, sent them out and of course failed in that attempt. Ah well.

Since then I have traded my little sketches in various forms in return for all kinds of things including advertising, theatre tickets, even dental work.

And lots more that my fading memory can not pull up as I write this.

So if you find yourself stressed during this hideous, unending Covid-19 train wreck we are all trapped in, worrying about cash flow, please, please think about BARTER in your world.

You have skills, goods, services you can offer to shops that can use them. Maybe not your landlord or your electric company — or maybe so. Try it! Phone up your current crisis item, let’s say your internet provider, and speak to customer service. Propose your services for a break on the bill. Be brief, chatty and friendly.

Barter your goods and services to survive Covid.

Think it through ahead of time for each target provider (what they offer, what they might need), be ready to offer ways for the deal to work. Anticipate objections; have comebacks ready. Nothing too pushy, just ideas to make it work. Get the concepts down to the classic Elevator Pitch, offer that and wait.

If they say No — ask for their supervisor.

No harm. If you are polite, professional and relentlessly persistent I bet you will get a deal. Just keep working up the chain of command. They are required to pass you on when you ask to speak to a higher-up. And those people are always overloaded and looking for a quick-fix to every issue.

Try it, friends. I bet you get lots of breaks and some VERY interesting conversations!