Saturday, September 7, 2013

No Business Like Show Business

Just this morning, someone was asking me what it takes to participate in a show. I used to do the big shows, hauling an elaborate tent and all the rigging, giant panels to display my paintings, driving great distances to compete with a zillion other talented artisans with a fortitude I no longer possess. Sitting outside in the heat, taking shelter from sudden rain storms and praying my panels wouldn't blow over with a strong southeast wind no longer appeals to me. But what I do enjoy is taking part in the smaller, local indoor shows. This gives me a chance to meet the public, talk about what I do and why I do it and be at one with my peers. Though on a smaller scale, these shows are still a lot of work, taking a fair amount of planning and set up if you want to have good sales, because the best art in the world can't sell itself. In a temporary retail space like this you must be creative and innovative if you want good sales.

This past week I did a two-day show which was a great success, not just for me but for many of the talented artists participating. One of them was my best friend, an emerging jeweler who listened to my advice and worked hard to create an appealing display drawing in new customers resulting in a fabulous show for her. But as beautiful as her work is, I'm not sure she would have been this successful without the gorgeous display she designed that truly highlighted her magnificent bracelets. It's not just about creating the items, it's about luring someone into the space instead of them passing you by and heading to the next booth with the eye catching displays and smiling artist that is eager to meet their customers. You must be engaging and welcoming whether they make a purchase or not. Thank them for taking the time to stop by. And you never know; they may purchase something at the next show or tell a friend about the cool work you do and the warm greeting they received.

After two days of smiling, being on my feet, talking and answering the same questions over and over, and restocking to keep the display looking fresh, I got to take the whole thing apart, lug it to the car, pack it just so, so that everything fits, drive home and unpack it all, luckily having much less than I started out with. So that's show season. Personally I love being with my peers, meeting new people, encouraging new artists and talking with patrons about why they enjoy my work and where it will end up. I can't imagine making a living without this being one of my outlets. Next up, Hertford, NC on October 5th. If you're in the area...

"Inside my empty bottle I was constructing a lighthouse while all the others were making ships."
                                                                                              Charles Simic