An Alternative To Cash
Previous version posted Nov 2020 —
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 and services, for lots and lots of things I needed at the time — and was way, way 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. It happened to me; it’s sad but true.
In a yard sale I found a clipboard to fit 11 x 14 inch paper that would work perfectly for my live drawing (which I was doing full time in a shopping mall). That clipboard was priced at twenty-five cents. A whole quarter, gang.
I actually debated whether to spend the quarter. Debated the investment. No kidding.
Yes. I was actually that broke. Again, that is a true story.
Happily, I spent the twenty-five cents, made that huge commitment and glad I did. Now that little clipboard 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, has saved me a few times over the years since its retirement about twenty years ago. And still is the ONLY clipboard for 11×14 inch paper I have ever seen. About 12 x 16 inches size, maybe.
I think my first Barter deal came about 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, drawing quick sketches on speculation, paying a very small fee to the gallery. Next door was an eyeglass shop and I got to be pals with the mom & pop owners there.
I needed glasses. So how do I Get It With No Money? How we gonna get this done??
The mom was walking past my post one day, smiled, said good morning as usual. Hey, I said, do you have time for a free drawing?
I asked her if we could work out a deal, if I could do anything to get eye glasses. We talked a bit and I ended up drawing at a party for them — and in return I received an eye exam and new glasses. Did not pay a dime. Hey, cool! That worked out!
No harm in asking, right?
I was doing editorial cartoons (mostly pretty lame) for a weekly newspaper at that time and wanted to promote that to the big newspapers. So I approached a small print shop, asked for a deal for them to print up a collection of my drawings to send out, hoping of course to get a full time editorial cartoonist gig with a major daily. Did some drawings for the print shop to promote their business, they produced my books, I sent them out — and of course failed in that assault on the major daily papers. Ah well.
Since then I have traded my little sketches in various forms in return for all kinds of things including movie tickets, advertising, theatre tickets, had a website built, even free dental work.
And lots more that my fading memory can not pull up as I write this.
So, to finally get to my point here, if you find yourself stressed during this hideous, unending Covid-19 train wreck we are all trapped in, maybe underemployed and worrying about cash flow, please, please think about BARTER in your world.
You really CAN Get It With No Money. Really.
You have skills, goods, services and talent you can offer to shops that can use them. Maybe not your landlord or your electric company — or maybe so. Who knows?? Try it!
Don’t know how to work it?
Try something like this —
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. Have your Elevator Pitch ready, a very few words (ten seconds max) showing your obvious benefit to their world, in return you are asking for “Some kind of deal on my debt to you.” Or maybe “Some kind of deal to offset my monthly bill for your services.” Have it ready for that specific company. Something along those lines.
If they say No — ask for their supervisor. ALWAYS do that. Always, always.
And always gently, very politely.
No harm. If you are polite, professional and relentlessly persistent (very, very important!) I can almost guarantee 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 hard-working management people are always overloaded and looking for a quick-fix to every issue. ANYTHING to shut you up!
Chances are excellent they will very quickly see what you can do to help their world be more efficient — or more fun — or save money…
And give you a deal. However modest the offering, TAKE IT!
Then, once you work with them and they love you, well, hey, who knows where that could go? Eh?
Try it, friends. I bet you get lots of breaks and numerous VERY interesting conversations!
Hey, write us a blog on that, willya? Let us know about your adventures, please…