An Excerpt from the Book:
“Don’t expect to get business just
because you do good work”
Harry Weber studied Art History and English at Princeton, then ran his own ad agency for twelve years before dedicating himself to sculpture full time. He is nationally known for capturing movement and fluidity in bronze. His body of work includes over one hundred pieces in public spaces in fifteen different states and abroad.
I started drawing before I was six years old. It’s not an exaggeration to say that I drew every day: no tablecloth or surface was safe. Certainly, it took me a great many years to hone my craft, and it was a lot of work – but it was a practice I loved. I typically drew the people around me – not because I thought they were significant – I simply couldn’t stop doing it. It was my outlet and my meditation; it kept me fed and emotionally sane.
My biggest influence was Howard Brodie, a well-regarded sketch artist whose drawings had a loose, expressive quality, but was incredibly powerful. People know his work without realizing it: for years, he recorded many courtroom trials with his sketches oftentimes on the news. I never took a class from him: in the tradition of a Japanese copyist, a lot of what I learned was from studying his work.
In his book Outliers, one of Malcolm Gladwell’s assertions is that it takes 10,000 hours to gain mastery in any area, regardless of the talent of the individual or the medium (athletics, art, sales and so on). I think that’s about right. The easiest way to put in 10,000 hours is to have a bad habit; I was fortunate that my bad habit was drawing. Of course, talent is necessary, but how far you go is primarily determined by how many hours of hard work you are willing to put in. It’s that simple.
I studied Art History and English at Princeton, and I was in the Navy during Vietnam. I came out of the military not knowing exactly what I was going to do, but my drawing skills got me connected to different advertising agencies. After working for a few of them, I decided to strike out on my own. When I told my boss I was leaving, he gave me some of the best advice I’ve ever received, and delivered it in the form of a sneer: “Don’t expect to get business just because you do good work.”
I was 32 when I started, “CONPOSIT”. Mostly through referrals and word of mouth, I built up a niche for new product lines for some of the better known “sin” companies: Jack Daniels, RJ Reynolds, and the various drug companies. My clients let me know that I was very good at what I did, but the truth is, I didn’t much care for the profession. Marketing and advertising are not rocket science. Although there are moments of inspiration, there is not the satisfaction that I found while drawing.
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