I survived my first art show! I haven’t unpacked my paintings or my jewelry yet so I feel like I haven’t quite finished the whole process, but I wanted to update you on how it went. I’m putting off the big unpack because I am implementing an inventory system and I need a big chunk of time to do it correctly. I am looking forward to getting my art “house” in order because big things are coming!
I didn’t sell many paintings at the art show, but I sold enough jewelry to cover the booth fee. After speaking to several artists I discovered that the art show had a much smaller crowd than usual. There was talk of the economy and the weather being the problem and some people thought that the show had been more successful during previous years when there was more of an “art opening” vibe on the first night (complete with wine and h’orderves). Some artists did pretty well with sales, but some didn’t sell a single thing so I feel pretty lucky that I made my booth fee back. That of course didn’t cover travel expenses or any of the other investments I made (framing, bags, and other necessary equipment), but some of those investments will carry over to the next show I participate in. I still have an opportunity to recoup those losses later. As one veteran artist told me: These shows help you get out and meet the public and often lead to sales later so don’t give up! There were long stretches of quiet on each day because the crowd was so small and I found that fatiguing at times. I think I will bring something to work on for the next show so during the slow periods I can sneak in some painting. Nothing makes time go by slower than standing around with nothing to do!
Now that I have gotten the negatives out of the way there were many positives. I made some great professional connections (I even met an artist that is going to train me how to weld!) and I received many compliments on my work. I brought a big stack of business cards and they were all taken which seems like a good sign. I met a lot of pet owners who may contact me in the future for pet portraits. I did a lot of listening and have a new list of animals people would like to have painted on their jewelry. I also found out people would prefer more options for chain lengths. I figured out what was a necessity and what wasn’t. For example, a comfortable chair is very important ( I did not have one) and how you set up your booth can make the difference between someone walking by or coming in to take a closer look. I got to talk about my painting process and answer questions which helped me become more confident in verbalizing what I do in my studio, all alone, day in and day out. Talking it all through with other people gave me new insights into my process and some new ideas I am looking forward to experimenting with.
I also met some fascinating people. I met people who were just getting ready to use alcohol inks for the first time and had a lot of questions that I was happy to answer. I had in-depth discussions on baby wearing and birthing stories. I heard wonderful, heartfelt stories about pets saving their owners lives through love. I watched children squeal and run into my booth to point out a painting that reminded them of their dog at home (that part was really fun). I especially enjoyed hearing the names people had given their pets. Some people are so clever. I got to meet one of my blog readers and her family and that made my day! I had the opportunity to see what other artists were creating and to be blown away by their talents and ingenuity. That part was inspiring!
I probably won’t do the New Mexico Arts and Crafts Fair next year mostly because it is far from home and a very expensive show when you include lodging and travel. I am setting my sights on some shows that are closer to home for the next couple of years and maybe as my reputation builds and my profit margin grows I’ll try it again. It was an excellent experience and I am glad I did it, but I think I am going to do more research and talk to other artists before committing to a show in the future. I want to make sure I get the most out of each investment that I can.