Show Me The Way...

I was originally going to write this post mostly about a show that I just exhibited in. While I will share some of my thoughts on that, I am now mostly writing about why I am going to focus in a different direction with my art. Unfortunately, outdoor shows will no longer be part of that direction. More on my new direction later…

I think I’ve given outdoor shows a pretty valiant effort. I’ve done several in all kinds of weather. Wind, rain, heat, cold, sunshine, cloudy, humidity. My work is on wood and very heavy. We are in our 60’s. It is SO much work and very labor intensive. I applaud the artists that “work the circuit” and attend shows every single weekend. It’s a grueling process and oftentimes, for those who really want to sell, they fall quite short.

This past weekend, I participated in an outdoor show that I was juried into many months ago. I accepted the commitment and prepared diligently for months. When I say prepare - I mean:

  • Selecting existing art for the show

  • Creating new art for the show

  • Sending out “save the dates”

  • Posting on social media. Here’s the layout I planned for this past weekend’s show (and most notably, my last outdoor show).

  • Researching and locking in hotel and rental van rates

  • Planning my show layout by creating a detailed photoshop document of the space that I will be exhibiting in.

    • I add each piece of art to this layout to scale and move it or change it out for the display I think I’ll be happy with. I’ve put together a little slideshow of this past weekend’s layout.

Of course it didn’t end up exactly like this as there was a last minute booth change, but you get the idea.

There is also other administrative work such as:

  • preparing the art title and information cards

  • making sure that all of the details for each piece of art are correct and consistent across multiple platforms and lists.

  • and on, and on, and on

And these are the short lists… so much more that gets done that would make this post about 3 pages long if I truly spelled that all out…

I digress….

In spite of the fact that the weather forecast being extremely poor with cold, rain and thunderstorms predicted, I rented a van and Chuck (hubby and biggest supporter who I do NOT know what I would do without!) and I packed everything up (tent, tarps, plastic, tables, ProPanels, tools… the list goes on and on…) I followed my husband in the van in our CRV with our dogs and we traveled the 2+ hours in the rain - first to a relative to drop off the dogs and then on to the show to set up. I wanted to back out… seriously. The drive was anxiety producing as well as the thought of it storming on us the whole weekend. But I am a person with integrity who keeps their commitments and didn’t want to leave the show promoters with an empty space. I was also trying to be optimistic. I tried to think of this as a learning experience and asked myself over and over again - what lesson am I supposed to learn from this? Is it patience? Humility? Integrity? Well, I guess the partial answer is all of the above but I did come up with a final answer further down in the post.

The weather ended up as I pretty much expected. It rained or drizzled or was gloomy the entire time. We had a thunderstorm Friday night that made me lose sleep but we were fortunate in that the tent and panels held together with only a few tiny droplets of water inside. Saturday was fairly dry - some drizzle and a sparse crowd. Sunday was raining up until about noon, practically non-existent crowd. Sunday afternoon it picked up a hair, but let’s just say it wasn’t a day that people want to go out and play in. The show’s organizers took care of us and did everything they could, including bringing us hot coffee, but they certainly can’t control the weather. The show closed about a half hour early.

I always try to look for the silver lining. I got four names on my newsletter list. That’s four more than I had. Win. I got to have dinner with my daughter 2 nights in a row. Another win. The tent didn’t get knocked down. Win. win. win. I met an amazing artist next to me who makes INCREDIBLE custom leather bags. Check her out! (and yes… it’s mine. a black and purple cross body bag and I LOVE it.)

Sales - zero. I’m OK with that. Of course sales are nice and definitely help the hubby retirement plan, but I have always been of the opinion that I want honest sales - meaning I want my pieces to be loved and cherished at first sight and ever thereafter.

So, the bottom line and my “final answer”. There are many artists that festivals and shows work for, but I’ve discovered they just don’t work for me. I am still going to do one or two indoor shows that I love. The One Of A Kind Spring Show in April is a favorite and the last show I have for this year is the Winter Fair Off the Square Show in Madison which is on November 10th and 11th. I also plan to do one or two invitation only privately hosted events next year. And of course, I will still remain a part of the wonderful Gallery of Wisconsin Art (GOWA) in addition to seeking other gallery representation. My website is always here for your perusement as are my social networking spaces. I am debating the Print On Demand sites I currently use (Fine Art America and RedBubble). I want to have a good focus so I can concentrate on doing what I love, which is making art. It’s all a learning process, and who knows what else might change (including my mind?) but at this point, here is where we are.

Have any questions, thoughts, comments? Please do express yourself (keep it nice..😊). I welcome your feedback.