Reckoning: a humble start

You hear about artists and entertainers “bursting upon the scene” as if they just picked up a brush or a guitar and their genius gushed out. You want to be that person. You walk on stage unrehearsed because you’re confident the magic will happen.


I started doing Spoonflower challenges because, if I want to design fabric, I have to stretch my skills and practice, practice, practice. But like everyone, I get caught up in the competition.

The challenge is a popularity contest — not juried, no explicit criteria, just whatever strikes the voter’s eye. The 300-900 entries each week come from a worldwide talent pool — from seasoned professionals who know their customers to iPad doodlers.

Between September and February 1 (5 months), I have entered 12 challenges (one still in voting phase). I finally found where the voting and rankings are posted and couldn’t resist checking. [Insert sound of fingernails scraping across a chalkboard.]

Seven of my designs rank in the bottom quartile — worse than 75% of the entries. Three were in the third quartile (worse than half). One, my “Dragon Feathers” (Animal Skin challenge), actually got 112 votes and wound up in the top 10%. Woo.

Those brilliant performers who pop out of nowhere to enchant the world? We all know their actual tale of relentless ambition, obsessive work, strings of failures, and a few lucky breaks over many years. Very little magic.

So, memo to self: tear up the results and carry on.

2 Replies to “Reckoning: a humble start”

  1. I’m with you. My Spoonflower designs haven’t ranked highly either. But yes, we must carry on! 😊 Did you also know that people can vote multiple times for a design? Spoonflower says people can’t but my husband and I did a test. So please don’t take the stupid rankings to heart! Keep creating

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Barbara, thanks for weighing in. Today the topic on Brainpickiings is “The courage to be yourself.” ( ““To be nobody-but-yourself — in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else — means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight.” (EE Cummings)

      Very timely!


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