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Time to get 'visionary' ... again!

Posted by Dave Bull at 7:37 AM, November 11, 2010 [Permalink]

This entry - and the ones that will follow over the next few days - will be somewhat long-winded. I will be writing them primarily with the object of trying to clarify my own thoughts on a particular topic. "If you're having trouble explaining a concept to somebody else, then you obviously don't yet have the thoughts clear in your own mind," is the kind of underlying idea. I have no idea if anybody will actually 'follow me' through this presentation, but I'm not overly concerned about that (although it would be nice to get feedback on the ideas that will be expressed.) I won't be directly discussing the current printmaking activities, so 'pass' if you like, or ... feel free to join me if you wish, as I try to work through some 'questions' that need to be answered ...

These days we are all familiar with the terms 'hardware' and 'software', and they need no explanation. But there is a related term that some readers may not know - vaporware. Whether or not you have heard it before, the meaning can perhaps be easily guessed - it describes a product that has been announced, but which does not yet actually exist.

We're going to move into vaporware territory on this RoundTable for the next few days. And in fact, we're going to get so deep into the mists that it might be a bit difficult to tell just what's real and what isn't! Our 'vision' will begin with tomorrow's post and continue daily for perhaps a week; that's about how long it is going to take me to get this concept down 'on paper' as it were. Before we begin though, a bit of background is in order.

My current series - The Mystique of the Japanese Print - will be made up of 18 prints. Not 12, which would have made a one year project - or 24, for a two year plan. I selected 18 for a kind of 'sentimental' reason. My birthday is in late autumn (today actually, here in Tokyo already :-), and in autumn a year from now - at the time the series of 18 prints will be wrapping up - I will become 60.

Here in Japan, particular significance has always been given to one's 60th birthday, which is known as kanreki (literally: 'returning calendar'). The old calendars, based as they were on zodiac symbols, had a 12-year repeating pattern - which is still familiar in such terms as 'year of the rabbit' (my year) - which itself comes around 5 times, to make an overall cycle of 60 years.

Now I have no interest at all in the astrological aspect of that, but I do feel that it makes a milestone worth taking note of. Becoming 30, or 40, or even 50, didn't make me sit up and take much notice, but this one feels far more important. I'm not quite sure where this has originated - perhaps it has something to do with all the acquaintances who are entering retirement in recent years, something that has no meaning for me as I have no pension waiting! - but it began to feel quite strong sometime last year when I was writing a series of stories for my newsletter outlining a kind of 'script' for an imaginary documentary program on my work.

One of the episodes of that series gave an overview of the prints that I have made over the past couple of decades, and while writing it I had an interesting thought - just suppose there were to be a 'retrospective exhibition' of my prints; what would it look like, and what would be included?

I sat back in my chair, and mentally building on my experience of visiting major woodblock print exhibitions here in Tokyo, went through an imaginary 'walkthrough' of the show. I won't run through the whole thing here, as it is not relevant to our topic today, but you can get the idea - the first room showed some of my early experiments, along with a bit of background about how I got started, etc. etc., and the 'route' then progressed through a series of exhibition rooms with my various print sets on display.

I had a very good time 'visiting' the show, even though I have seen all the prints before! The (imaginary) organizers had done a very nice job with the design and pacing, with not only prints themselves on display, but all manner of related material, including slide shows, video clips, and 'stations' where the visitors could listen to me explain some point or other.

I eventually came to the room which was displaying my current series - the Mystique prints. I couldn't clearly 'see' all the prints of course, as they have yet to be created, but after browsing for a while I made my way across the room to the place where the 'route' turned a corner to move to the next stage in the exhibition. There were some comfortable benches against the wall there, and I sat down to think about what I would see around the corner.

I have been 'sitting there' thinking about it ever since.

And here we come to the point - this will be about 'possible futures'. For many people - perhaps even many of you who read this - the general course of life is fairly well laid-out; usually along the lines of school~college~first_job~next_job~retirement~golf course ... etc. etc. For people who are on this kind of 'life plan', there are of course decisions to be made, but the overall arch of the thing is visible. (I'm not saying this with any sense of criticism, or anything like that, simply observation of what I see around me.) Now as it happens, due to the kind of mixed-up path I have followed, my 'arch' is less apparent. One aspect of this is the lack of a 'retirement' phase, as I mentioned, but another is that my job requires constant re-invention and renewal. At many places along the way, I have had to seriously think about 'what should be around this next corner'.

Now some of these decision points have been a lot easier than others. I came to a fairly easy one late last year when trying to figure out what to do at the end of the 'My Solitudes' project (and a lot of the consideration was done in public on a series of postings in this very RoundTable). But sometimes it is much more difficult. Back in 1985~6, when I was a basically happy 'salaryman' in Vancouver with a family, and thinking of moving to Japan, the question of 'possible futures' was extremely complicated, not to mention 'dangerous' - I had two baby girls to take care of!

What I have done on those occasions, each and every time, is go through a three-stage process: first I have to think about various possible futures, mentally playing with different ideas about what I might like to do, or where I want to be at some point in the future. Once a number of such ideas are in play, I then have to decide which one is 'the way' to go. This may involve a lot of calculation, planning, and analysis of the options. And of course, once a decision is made, stopping at that stage gets you nowhere, so I then have to act - I have to work out a concrete plan to turn that particular vision into reality. How do I get 'there' from 'here'?

So as I said, it seems to be time (again) to think of possible futures, and (yet again) this one seems to be a major junction.

A year ago, during the discussions in that thread I just mentioned, the options on the table were mostly aimed at trying to figure out what kind of print series to undertake for the upcoming year. A one-year project? Two years? Large prints? Small prints? What theme?

It's not that easy this time. Given that this is such a major milestone, it's time to look at options on a wider scale. Here, put as succinctly as possible, are a few possible futures:

Option 1) Call it a day for printmaking. I'll probably never be 'better' than I am now, so quit while I'm ahead, and take up something else. Maybe writing, maybe something to do with computers ... programming for the new tablets, etc. There are lots of possibilities.


  • kind of a waste of highly developed skills
  • loss of friends and 'community' in this field
  • have to start again right at the bottom ...
  • maybe get broke! :-)


  • enjoy a fresh feeling in my life by challenging something else (I would get to start right at the bottom!)
  • leave with a good reputation behind me in the printmaking world
  • perhaps get rich! :-)

Option 2) Pretty much continue on my current trajectory - work out an idea for a new series that would be interesting for collectors and provide me with a challenge. (Lots of potential ideas for this were in that previous thread ...)


  • familiar. I know I can do this
  • I am going downhill physically - specifically my eyes are very much weaker, almost day by day it seems - so how long would I be able to keep it up?
  • won't be able to get much more than a basic lifestyle (so the distant future is somewhat unsettled)


  • familiar. I know I can do this
  • continuity of 'community', contact with friends and collectors
  • potential for some good achievements; I think I still have some good stuff in me
  • can maintain a stable lifestyle (for as long as I am able to work)

Option 3) Keep at the printmaking, but do it a different way - instead of running a totally private workshop and doing it 'all by myself', open up ... hire some printers, get some apprentices, maybe a manager, salespeople ... let's see what we can build together.


  • I would completely lose my wonderful and perfectly calm and relaxed current working situation ... one that took me decades to achieve. I'm living something that is a dream for many people. Why on earth throw it away?
  • we're in a major recession here. Nobody is buying anything. Start up a business based on a non-essential item like woodblock prints? Are you crazy?
  • endless 'employee' troubles. You just get them trained, and they quit to do something else, or get pregnant, or something ... And finding good people in the first place, how on earth do you do that?
  • I might go bankrupt. Really. I mean as in lose my house, etc. etc. And it would almost certainly involve having perpetual bank loans, debts, yadda yadda ... Who needs that sort of stress?
  • if I were trying to manage this thing, no way would I have time to do good work at the bench myself. Even now I'm finding it difficult to concentrate on good printmaking work; surely it would become completely impossible in this situation. I would no longer be a craftsman, I would be a businessman.
  • my days would no longer be free. As present, I get up, have a peaceful breakfast, and then decide what to do; it may be work (most days it is, of course), but it may not ... But as the owner of what would be a 'small business' I would no longer have that flexibility. Ball and chain.
  • hey, I'm going to be 60 already. That kind of thing is a young man's game. Would I really have the energy to pull it off?

Boy, that's quite a list! It is really worthwhile even bothering to look at the 'other hand'?


  • wow. sounds exciting!
  • we're in a major recession here, with people out of work all over the place, empty buildings on every street, and near-zero interest rates. This is a kind of a 'once in a lifetime' opportunity.
  • if it actually started to fly, we might have a good kick at keeping this craft alive for another generation!
  • if we were successful, there is my 'retirement plan'! Assuming the business could reach a reasonably stable position, the younger manager(s) would keep things going, as I gradually step back bit by bit, until that eventual day when 99-year-old Dave doesn't show up one morning ... :-)
  • a downside to the 'wonderful and perfectly calm and relaxed working situation' that I described above is that I am recently very much feeling that I am 'running down' mentally - perhaps more than natural for my age level. Days sometimes go by without actually talking to anybody; I suspect that as the years go by, this sort of 'isolation' is not healthy at all. Being plunged into a cooperative venture like this, although very 'troublesome', would definitely be stimulating, and I believe important for both mental and physical health.

I'm sure that I could add to those bullet points ad infinitum; this is just a place to start.

For those three possible futures, I have to say that number one - quitting printmaking - is pretty much off the table I think, at least this time around. I'm having too much fun with this, and I would hate to think that the above-described exhibition does end in the room with the Mystique prints. There has to be more. And there has to be something spectacular around that corner! But whether it is a room of prints from my own next series, or whether it is an escalator to an entire second floor of prints created under my supervision, I can't say. So it is the choice between 2) and 3) that I must make sometime over the course of the coming year.

OK, I think that's enough for an introduction. Beginning with a post on this RoundTable tomorrow, I will attempt to outline one vision of how option 3) might look in reality. I'm not going to address 'how to get there from here'. This is just the first part of the Think/Decide/Act procedure mentioned above, and I'm simply going to try and describe something that perhaps 'could' be.

Talk to you tomorrow!

[Update: the series has now begun ...]


Following comment posted by: Jacques on November 11, 2010 7:48 PM

Hey Dave: many congratulations with your 60th birthday!!! Next year will also be special for a numerical reason as I'm sure you're well aware: 11/11/11.

As for the future room(s) in your exhibition, I certainly hope you won't stop making prints! But I'll follow this thread and let you know when I have any comments or ideas...

Following comment posted by: Dave on November 11, 2010 7:59 PM

Jacques ... not yet! A full year to go before I'm 60 ...

Interesting about the 11/11/11 ... I hadn't thought of that. It's similar to my birth date, of course: 51/11/11

And as I mentioned, I really can't see myself stopping printmaking. As much as I would like to get involved with some other projects, I think there are some 'interesting' prints still waiting to be made here!

Following comment posted by: Jacques on November 11, 2010 8:36 PM

Sorry, I guess I read too fast.

My congratulations still hold for your 59th though!

Following comment posted by: Annie B on November 11, 2010 10:24 PM

Your 60th birthday does seem like a milestone, and a good time to evaluate your situation. All I could think about as I read your entry was "Dave, you have to use that beautiful wood that's been waiting for you all these years!"

Following comment posted by: Marc Kahn on November 11, 2010 11:30 PM

Hi Dave, and Happy Birthday to you! I read your discussion above with great interest. I'm less than 2 months away from my 62nd birthday and let me assure you that I’ve had some of the same thought processes that you have. I’ve got some “advice” for you. Take it for what it’s worth (the ramblings of an old coot), but I believe that some of what I’m going to say will resonate with you.

I’m a capitalist, and proud of it. Within the capitalist framework, success is measured by how much “wealth” we accumulate. “Wealth” is the portion of what we earn that we don’t spend; rather, “wealth” is what we keep. In common usage, other words for “wealth” are “assets” and “capital”.

The continual challenge for the capitalist is how to invest his/her wealth to achieve his/her investment objectives. Over the course of a lifetime, it is appropriate that investment objectives change according to a set pattern. The young capitalist’s objective is capital appreciation, which necessarily involves accepting risk. As the capitalist ages, he/she must slowly execute a transition toward the investment objectives of capital preservation, generation of income, and minimal risk. Once a certain age is reached (say "60 years old" for the sake of argument), the transition to capital preservation with minimal risk should have been completed.

Before I discuss the deployment of your capital, I think that it would be helpful to define what it consists of. Let’s look at 2 different classes of assets, tangible and intangible.

Dave’s tangible assets:

  • Original woodblock sets for well over 300 separate prints.
  • Home in Tokyo, owned free and clear of all debt.
  • Tools

Dave’s intangible assets:

  • Knowledge and skills as a craftsman.
  • Ability to communicate via writing and mastery of electronic media.
  • Ability to survive quite nicely with minimal monetary expense.
  • Competence in running a small business.
  • A solid base of customers.

No doubt, there are some elements of your capital that I don’t see, but in my estimation from what I can see, you are indeed a wealthy man.

Here’s my counsel:

  • Avoid risk! You’re too old to bet the farm on anything, no matter how certain it seems.
  • Accept your failing eyesight and transition from carving to printing (but not until you’ve carved those 6 cool blocks that you stashed away years ago).
  • Give more attention (but NOT money) to Mokuhankan, with the objective of getting a stream of income which will not involve handwork on your part.

That’s my advice. Whatever happens, I’ll still be there as an eager customer for your products. Investing my own capital in your prints has always seemed like a good plan to me.

Following comment posted by: Marilynn Smith on November 12, 2010 12:32 AM

I rarely read or comment on your round table discussions. This time I want to say I am sooo glad you will not leave printmaking behind. Facing our senior years and figuring out how to continue as our bodies grow old is indeed a task. The one asset you possess that has not been mentioned is a good clear mind. With your skill, your level head, clear mind and strong independent will I am certain you still have much to give to the world of printmaking. I too, as one who is over 60, would counsel you to avoid risk. Find ways to spread your knowledge without putting your monetary assets at risk. The next room in your imaginary review will most certainly not be empty.

Following comment posted by: Jane on November 12, 2010 12:44 AM

Dave, what about teaching? I've always thought there would be a huge audience of international students just longing to come and learn from you. You could convert part of your home into some form of basic accommodation and offer short courses, residential courses and perhaps year-long courses/apprenticeships. In time you then hire a series of 'experts' to hold master classes in baren making, paper-making, Japanese book-binding. People love Japan and will visit anyway, wouldn't it be great if they could combine their vacation with a traditional Japanese woodblock printing course taught by one of the master carver/printers in the world? It would take some effort on your part to set up, there's no doubt, but it might be something that could keep you going for a long time yet, without having to rely so much on producing your own prints and selling them. Anyway, just a thought. You may have considered something like this and decided against it. But your DVD is brilliant and I think you would be a great teacher to limited numbers of students. Good luck with the thought-process, I shall be reading on...

Following comment posted by: Margaret on November 12, 2010 1:58 AM

I second the teaching suggestion. You've already got the textbook, after all: it's this website and your e-books! Rather than setting up your own school, though, were I you I'd start by doing seminars. Like Jane, I think that you might have your largest audience outside Japan, so you might spend, say, three months of the year traveling across Canada and the US teaching, and then the remainder of the year printmaking, with the balance slowly changing until you spend more time teaching than you do printing.

(And thanks for sharing these thoughts with us. I feel quite honored that you've done so!)

Following comment posted by: Sharri on November 12, 2010 3:22 AM

Teaching is a very good idea - bringing in an apprentice might be another one. This person could help with the things that failing eyesight might necessitate. An apprentice could help with all aspects, both the craft of carving blocks and eventually with the printing, business side and teaching. You have lots of alternatives within the printmaking world - no need to take big risks in the capitalism scenario. :-)

Following comment posted by: Anita Cage on November 12, 2010 4:07 AM

First, I also want to wish you a very Happy Birthday.

Mine is another voice suggesting that you might explore the world of education. Specifically, I am thinking of short courses and seminars at universities around the world, and especially at private universities in the United States. There are many types of visiting artists/scholars programs which can be created and funded by grants and university funds well able to sponsor and pay for your travel and teaching time. These often work well in interdisciplinary studies or in collaboration with museums for maximum community benefit. Such programs as I am envisioning need a good bit of lead time for a sponsor to arrange. You will need to plan your bookings at least two to three years out. The first few are the hardest. If the programs are good and the efforts are well organized on the part of the institutions involved, further demand will be generated.

As an ordinary consumer of art and culture, I have observed that there is a rhythm and cyclical pattern to the ideas and subjects that come into popularity and that the span of your lifetime has seen interest in Japanese culture increase in this country from the all-time low of the forties to the very high approval rating all things Japanese enjoy today in American culture. This is to say that you are well positioned, ahead of the curve and in the right place at the right time, I believe, to take advantage of the market in this country for Japanese culture.

While you have expressed no particular interest in traveling, you seem in an ideal position to do so at this point in your life. You already have at least the suggestion of a willingness to construct such presentations which need only to be tailored to the particular institution to which you might be marketing your expertise. You can provide gallery shows, media presentations, hands-on demonstrations, children's programs, professional training, presentations about Japanese culture and language--you would be the ideal one man band for some city or university that wanted to honor artists, entrepreneurs, Japanese heritage, or any other accomplishment represented by the many hats you wear so well.

Another aspect of teaching and working with eager students which I have discovered is the great joy and satisfaction one finds in getting to know them and helping them along their own path. I am not able to go out much now but I still receive visits almost every week from a number of former students whom I mentored along the way. The best and the brightest always appealed to me and many became more friend than pupil in the end. I have beloved friends and family of my own generation but the spark and excitement in my life now comes, I must confess, largely from my interaction with those young people I got to know along the way. Students are good for you.

To get started you would need some contacts in the field, perhaps a kind of agent, but I think if you had one or two visitors to your world from, perhaps a museum specialist or a professor of Japanese studies or woodblock printmaking in a university fine arts department, the treasure you bear in your person would be apparent and you would find suggestions and invitations would surely follow.

My only word of caution is that you aim high and present yourself as the highly accomplished individual you are and that you price yourself appropriately. In no circumstance should you offer this at anything less than a fee amount that will aggregate to a respectable nest egg over the next ten to twelve years. I have worked in meeting planning and specifically hired speakers and teachers while in that position in education and I can assure you that nobody wants a cheap expert. You only damage your chances if you do not value your offering highly. You must also be specific about travel, shipping, product marketing and accommodation arrangements to the last detail.

I hope you can find someone who has done this type of work with whom you can have a good long conversation about the pros and cons. I think you would be ideal for a two- to four-week stay as a visiting artist at a university/museum jointly sponsored program. The possibilities for collaborative programs are exciting for all the groups who might be interested in the Japanese aesthetics any city. I could go on suggesting additional possibilities but I think you probably can see them for yourself.

As someone who will be 76 this month, I can empathize mightily with your concerns for the next step. I started a new career at age 55 and thereafter paid off a mortgage as well as provided for a meagre retirement. (You are well ahead of me in the regard of already having paid off the mortgage at age 59 AND in having amassed the kind of capital Marc Kahn described).

I regret not knowing myself the ideal contact for you in this context but I will investigate and find out whether the people I do know, in turn might know the exact right person.

Following comment posted by: Dave on November 12, 2010 8:49 AM

Wow, this is incredible! I get up this morning and find this huge list of long - and thoughtful - responses to the post. I had been really hesitant to start this whole thing, thinking that it would just be a lot of 'noise' that would be pretty much ignored. "Oh, here goes Dave again ... just making noise to get attention ..."

My 'problem' right now, is that I would love to sit here and write some responses to the ideas posed here - specifically about risk and teaching - but I've got to do some real work this morning! I'm still only at the tracing stage of print pair #9~#10, and this is going to be a difficult pair, with one of them involving a technique I've never done before.

But now that I think about it, this will force me to 'think before I reply', which is not such a bad idea. So please wait a bit, and I'll return to this page either later today, or perhaps tomorrow. (By the way, in case you haven't noticed it, you can always keep up with new RoundTable comments through the 'Recent Comments' list on the front page.)

Thanks again for all the contributions!

Following comment posted by: Tom Kristensen on November 12, 2010 11:20 AM

From an entirely selfish perspective I would like you to expand your internet business to become a one-stop shop for all things related to Japanese woodblocks.

The business that now passes through the Baren Mall as a volunteer-powered service might be better served with you as a paid middle-man, and I suspect the business would grow with more attention. The range and presentation of products could be greatly improved with your range of skills.

With the removal of the language barrier and with your expertise both artists and producers would benefit. New products could grow the business in ways that might be surprising; production of custom made paper for instance, or perhaps the printing or carving of blocks. I would like the chance to purchase traditional Japanese frames.

There is a real hole in the market for a well built woodblock business operating from Japan.

Following comment posted by: Dave on November 12, 2010 6:08 PM

OK, I'll try to 'reply' to some of the suggestions and thoughts expressed in the comments so far, keeping in mind that this is all in the nature of 'brainstorming' - dumping possible ideas onto the table. It is against the whole spirit of a brainstorming session to talk about why something is not possible, but I think that it wouldn't hurt to chat about why I haven't done some of these things yet ...

1) The shop that Tom mentioned, supplying wood-block related goods around the world. Back when the internet was first getting started and I opened my website - which was incredibly more than 13 years ago! - the idea came up to do this. I talked myself out of it for what was in reality a pretty silly reason - pride. I was making a living at making woodblock prints, was very proud of that, and felt that I didn't want to do anything that would make people think, "Oh Dave, yeah he makes prints, but you know he really is only able to make a living because of his supply business." There are lots of people who call themselves 'printmakers' but who are actually university professors, or something, and I felt it was important to me to be a 100% 'pure' printmaker.

Go ahead, laugh if you will, but this was important to me. There are hundreds of foreigners here in Japan doing 'something with traditional arts', but who are in reality making a living as English teachers. (The last English class in my home was held in the spring of 1991, and I have been 'nothing but' a printmaker since then.)

But I guess that by now, I've proved my point - that I can indeed support myself with my baren - and having a supply shop would clearly be 'a good thing'. I haven't done it though, for two main reasons. First is that there are alternate supply sources for people nowadays, namely the Baren Mall (which I built for that group when it went 'independent') and the McClain's business over in the US, and it would seem a bit anti-social to step in and use my experience and reputation to go into open competition with them. But the second reason is more complex: if I were to have a shop with tools and supplies, I would have to stand behind those products. "This is good stuff! I selected it myself!" But with the tools and supplies that are on the market these days, I simply can't do that. It's crap. All of it. Without exception. Without exaggeration.

Well actually, I do exaggerate ... slightly. I saw some absolutely beautiful barens when I visited Goto-san's place last month, and lusted after them mightily, but for the most part, my comment stands. The paper we get, the blocks we get, the knife blades (don't make me laugh!) ... it is all of a quality far below even what I myself remember from when I first came to Japan. For the really old craftsmen, who might remember pre-war stuff, I can only imagine what they are thinking ...

So I don't know ... could I really, in good conscience, open a shop selling contemporary tools and supplies? Perhaps I'm simply 'over-thinking' this; perhaps nobody expects the products to be as good as what was available 100 years ago.

But Tom also wrote this:

The range and presentation of products could be greatly improved ...

... and perhaps this is a way through the conundrum. If the Mokuhankan concept that I am 'imagining' in this series of posts were to become a real thing, then as part of our own sourcing of tools and supplies, we would be pushing for better quality stuff. I'm trying to do that now, but I buy such small amounts that I have no 'power' at all; I'm simply a 'noisy' customer. But if the business grew to a point where we started to have strong influence with the suppliers, we could really perform a useful function to society. So OK Tom, fair enough. I'll throw this into the mix, and will add it to the spreadsheets with which I am trying to work out whether or not this whole thing is indeed possible.

2) Risk. It was hugely interesting to see Marc bring this up. Why? Because in all my calculations and thinking about this and that, and the trade-offs, and how I want to spend my days, and etc. and etc., this hasn't come up. It isn't a factor that really concerns me. When I mentioned in the post above that I would maybe get broke, I put a :-) after it!

So the 'quick-n-easy' answer to Marc is that, "If I were the kind of person who worried overmuch about risk, I'd still be back in Canada working for the music shop!" But a more thorough answer would have to address his point that 'the young Dave' and 'the now Dave' should be managing risk differently, and to that I have no ready reply. He's basically right; it would be foolish to do something that would put my current - reasonably stable - situation at 'risk'.

In practice, what will this mean? Actually not much, for the simple reason that I won't actually be able to get into trouble - at least not at first - because there is no way on earth that I will be able to borrow money to initiate the kind of venture that I will be describing. Japanese banks would just laugh at me. Even my own bank - the one I have been dealing with for nearly 25 years - would show me the door. I had an interesting confirmation of this about three or four years ago; I didn't have enough cash to pay the deposit for that year's exhibition, so went to my bank to ask for a short term loan to cover me for a few months (I forget the exact amount; it was something like $4,000). This was the bank that was currently carrying my mortgage, which was around 70% paid off, and which I had never been late on, and they said no. Why? Because I was 'unemployed', and had no sponsor. (And by needing the loan in the first place, I was proving to them that I had 'problems' ...)

So whatever I do will have to be self-financed, and will thus have to be along the lines of 'start small, and build from there ...' That's not a bad thing in itself, and hey, I've got lots of time! :-)

3) Teaching/Education. This is a big one too, and I have lots of thoughts about it. But I think I'm going to have to take a bit of a rain check. In a few minutes, I'll be uploading the next posting in the series, and after that will have to get back to work on the tracings. I'll get back here when I can, hopefully tomorrow ... Thanks for your patience!

And thank you again, for the wonderful contributions. I can't wait to see what of pushback I am going to get to some of the things presented over the next few days! (Trainee Premium? Is he kidding?)

Following comment posted by: Jennifer Martindale on November 12, 2010 9:50 PM

Happy Birthday for yesterday, and what a timely discussion. I currently have a frozen shoulder which snuck up with sudden intensity. (Pain, no sleep no ability to use my dominant arm, even dressing is hard). So I have had to deal with a major awful 'what if I cannot make prints anymore' set of thoughts.
I would offer another possible string to your bow which again depends on your world wide client base. Do a deal with the major Come to Japan tourist agency and plan a potential visit for those interested in printmaking. You get them to sort out all the bookings processing etc, your job is to create a list of people and places such people would be interested in visiting, galleries etc. If it is feasable to contact Universities or art schools to provide a pool of students to actually act as guides that would encourage individuals to brave what to outsiders seems like a difficult maze to get around that is Japan.

If you included yourself on the visiting list then there is a potential to increase your customer base. Each trip may have to be tweaked according to what exhibitions are currently around, or even a one off around the Moku Hanga Forum next year in Tokyo.

You could not be expected to physically take people round, but pitch it to the Japan tourist people that your influence would attract potential visitors.. for a fee of course.

I know there is a government agency for Japan Tourism in London. There are plenty of small groups travelling to gardens, temples etc but I have failed to track any specialising in the art.

I understand the difficulty in creating 'grand plans' with all the necessary research, wasted trips and chasing contacts involved to be balanced against day to day battling to achieve a satisfactory days work. Remember to build in 'smell the roses' time or I suppose I should say admire the cherry blossom time. It is important to recharge batteries!

Enjoy the journey and Be happy You have a lot of support out there.

Following comment posted by: Julio Rodriguez on November 13, 2010 9:13 AM

Let me wish you a happy birthday, how could I forget you share the same birthday as my son in the Marines !!! Here is Veteran's Day and yesterday was "Marines Birthday" so he has been celebrating three occasions !

A few years back I tried to talk you into transferring part of the Mall business to your own. I can't recall the reasons why you said no but I thought the timing was right back then and it would not only help you financially but as Tom mentioned from our own selfish point it would serve to improve the customer experience and the line of products.

A few well timed seminars in the US or Europe in line with your annual family trips would not only help you financially but also promote your work and help spread the word about woodblocks.

I am certainly staying tuned for the next adventure, good luck my friend....Julio

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