First, I want to thank everyone for sending their well-wishes for a successful art show this past weekend. I do appreciate your thoughts.
And I know people are asking “how did it go?” Well, it all depends on your perspective.
Prior to the show I set intentions to have a good show, to be a “rock star” artist, to have nice booth mates (the folks in the booths on either side and across the aisle) and to attain a certain financial goal.
The drive to the show was fine and the traffic was manageable. I got a kick out of using my Fast Lane transponder on the turnpike (simple things do bring pleasure.) Check-in went smoothly and I found a parking space not too far from my booth location. The artists on either side of me were pleasant and friendly, as were the artists across the aisle. I didn’t leave set-up till 6:00 pm as I was helping other artists set up their booths as well. Everything was off to a great start.
Saturday came; I was pumped and ready to go. And people came (though not in the crowds of previous shows.) And the sales didn’t quite happen as I had hoped. This was pretty much the way of the weekend. People came in bunches at various times, sometimes for an hour or so. And usually by 4 or 5 PM the aisles got pretty quiet. (Which meant it was a good time for artists to mingle and shop!)
Financially I only covered about 1/3 of my costs. Not my best show financially in the three years I’ve been an exhibitor. All my sales were small items of $30 or less. Some artists sold nothing the entire weekend. Some sold one or two large pieces or higher priced items. It seemed that clothing and jewelry were the better selling items; at least from my vantage point. I know on Monday, the last day of the show, some artists were marking down their work in order to sell it. Personally, I don’t believe in this approach unless it is something I’m not making anymore. But, hey, everyone has to make these calls based on business.
The financial outcome, however, was not the worst part of the show. The worst part happened when my car died on the way back to my hotel on Saturday after the show closed.
As we were driving back to the hotel (about a 20 minute drive), I felt something stop working in the car. The RPM gauge dropped to zero and I quickly turned on the flashers, started honking my horn, and moved from the left lane into the breakdown lane. I am thankful that Eric was behind me in his car. He quickly pulled over as well.
I turned off the car and then started it again. All the dashboard lights lit up but the engine would not catch. After a few more tries we called Saab roadside assistance, arranged for a tow, pulled stuff out of my car, and waited. Thankfully there was a Saab dealer a few miles from the hotel which is where we left my car. Unfortunately all the car rental places were closed (as it was well after 6pm when this happened.) This left me in a bit of a quandary.
And then I remembered a serendipitous moment from earlier in the day. I had met the mother of an artist in my aisle. She asked me if I was staying at the Hampton Inn because I had apparently talked with her over breakfast that day. I looked up her daugher’s name on my show list, called the hotel, left a voice mail message explaining my situation, and asked if I might be able to share a ride with them for the remainder of the show. (Eric would return on Monday to help dismantle my booth.)
The universe was indeed looking out for me. I heard back from Lark and she graciously let me carpool with her and her mom for the remainder of the show. We even went out together for dinner where I met another artist from the show and a friend of Lark’s. We had a great time. Check out Lark’s pottery here. And check out her friend Anne’s hats here.
On Monday morning, another artist stopped in my booth before the show started. We talked about my work and she gave me some great advice on booth redesign and display. Linda paints and also creates some pieces with polymer clay. You can see her work here. I even had my first show trade where I traded a pyramid vessel for a lovely hand dyed scarf made by Leni Hoch.
When I look back on this weekend, I am reminded of Byron Katie and a question posed in her book “Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life.” That question is “Is it true?”
I could say the weekend was lousy…but that isn’t true. I think of the the new people I met and the gratitude I felt in their support during my time of need.
I could say I didn’t sell anything this weekend…but that isn’t true. I did sell some items.
I could say I didn’t make any money…but that isn’t true. I did make some money and covered 1/3 of my expenses.
To some this may sound all polly-anna-ish. Believe me, I did have my moments of doubt, frustration, and wanting to throw in the towel. And when those feelings came up, I remembered all the good that did happen during the weekend.
With all challenges in life, your impression of things and how they affect you all depend upon your perspective.