Monday, June 10, 2013

more notes on an art show

This weekend was a whirl wind.  A dragon birthday party and then a sick 3year old.  Milwaukee for the Bead and Button show, and then Saturday was working Mom's first art show in Hinsdale IL.  I've talked about Mom's painting before and I'm a big fan of her work.  I came to the show to help, but I learned a lot that day and thought I'd share some of that.  And hopefully use it toward my big show coming up here June 29th and 30th.

First signage is IMPORTANT!  I would never have guessed it, assuming people would just know.  They should just know that paintings are original.  They should just know that they are even paintings and not photographs.  That you don't let your kid pick them up and walk away from the booth, even to just show Dad.  I learned you can't assume anything.  I am thinking of exactly what signs I need and want in my booth.  I'm thinking something that says "Original Hand Beaded Flowers, " and something about yes I do take commissions.  I'm also hoping to have a slide show on my ipad showing photos of all the commissions I've had so far and how they were used.  Like the Mimosa bar, and wedding bouquets, and baby shower flowers. 

Second lesson, layout and design is important.  The display needs to catch your eye.  You need color and shapes, especially if your work is small.  That something needs to stop a person and encourage them into the booth.  I have no idea of how I'm going to translate that from paintings to flowers.  But I need to figure it out.

Third, it's way easier selling someone else's work.  I felt pretty comfortable sitting on or near the booth and discussing the paintings.  The colors and themes in them.  But they weren't mine...I wasn't selling myself.  The biggest lesson was more of a dose of reality.  It's scary selling at art shows.  You are really putting yourself out there.  It made having an Etsy shop look like a breeze.  I can hide behind my keyboard and monitor, type big thoughts, spell check them (or not).  In person it's putting a part of yourself out there for someone to buy, critique, scowl at, hate, or love.  And you have to watch it.  You have to learn to see that they are interested and somehow close the deal.  I'm now officially petrified by my upcoming experience in a couple weeks.  I don't know how to prepare or practice for this. 

Rethinking the feasibility for bigger Chicago area shows.  I like the idea of doing shows.  Despite my fear, part of me wants to really give this a try.  But I finally recognized a huge obstacle I have and need to conquer before I move to Chicago area art shows.  Booth fees alone for Chicago area shows are a few hundred dollars.  I need to be able to make at least that back to attempt to break even.  That means I need to sell A LOT of flowers/wine charms, or make some bigger ticket items.  I think my flowers will already be bordering that art vs craft debate and lower prices will encourage that.  I have no idea if this obstacle is even possible to overcome.  Hinsdale show was nice.  They had a pleasant variety of arts, and the people were all very nice.  I'm sure I could jury into the show.  But if I had done it this weekend I doubt I would have come close to making back the booth fee.  This will be an internal debate for a while.  I'm hoping to find a good solution. 

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