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I Survived My First Art Show

I Survived My First Art Show: New Mexico Arts and Crafts Fair 2015
New Mexico Arts and Crafts Fair 2015

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.

 

2015 New Mexico Arts And Crafts Fair Begins Today

Hey, Happy Readers, I’ve been missing in action on the blog lately because I have been busy getting ready for the 2015 New Mexico Arts and Crafts Fair. It begins today so if you are in the Albuquerque area this weekend stop by and say hello.

Booth at the 2015 New Mexico Arts and Crafts Fair

I spent yesterday setting up my booth and I was impressed by the amazing work going up around me. There are some seriously talented artists in New Mexico. I wish I had more time to wonder around and visit each booth. I wish I was independently wealthy too because I want to buy everything. Just from my booth alone I could see a fiber artists selling gorgeous sweaters, amazingly tiny oil pastel paintings that I went gaga over, Raku fired clay clocks (mind blown), and right next to me are these fascinating sculptures that I thought were clay, but are actually made with paper (I’m in awe). I’m enjoying the creative vibe. It’s contagious!

I was worried about having enough paintings for the show, but I actually had more than I could display. I’m learning about how to set up a booth and what kind of booth I have. I was a little worried that my booth might be over the top and flashy next to my fellow artists. The creative people surrounding me have more minimal sophisticated displays than I do. It’s really interesting to see the choices each artist makes and how those choices reflect their personalities. My booth definitely has a whimsical bohemian vibe. When you turn the corner and see it the first word that comes to mind is “fun.” That was my goal and I am super happy I was able to pull that off. I wasn’t really sure if it was going to come together, but in the end it certainly did! I’ll be writing more about this entire process and give you some perspective on what it is like to participate in your first art show.

2015 New Mexico Arts and Crafts Fair Booth Set-Up

If you attend the show I am in booth 108 which is just a few spaces down from the silent auction and demonstration booth. I hope to see you there!

Have a terrific weekend,

-Lillian