Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Most Successful Unsuccessful Show Ever

I have two more art festivals under my belt; first let me backtrack to the Sept 7th show in Shell Beach. Driving down from Paso Robles, I entered a low, misty cloud and remained in it for the rest of the day. It was cold and damp the entire time.

the cloud

I’m getting fairly accustomed to setting up the tent, but had some technical difficulties with the dolly. It lost a wheel, so setup and take-down required extra trips.

The crowd was drastically different than the month before. For the first few hours, they walked around, remaining a few feet away from the tents. Arms crossed, they acted like us artists were going to accost them with sales pitches and grab their purses.

a new necklace display

Luckily, I had some visitors to keep me company. A few of my lovely models stopped by, and some friends stopped in to chat. I barely broke even with sales, but had a fun day nonetheless.

this guy was popular

San Diego’s ArtWalk (Sept 13-14th) was my first art festival out-of-town. Applying to these shows is risky, since I’m incurring hotel and gas expenses along with the entry fee. Entry fees can range from $300-$800 for some of the bigger shows, so it’s a gamble, especially since I don’t know what to expect. I took the gamble for the networking opportunities. I’ve outgrown the central coast, so I’m hitting the road to get more exposure, bypass the gallery system and take the reins of my career into my own hands. The work is hard, and I’m teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, but at this point, the only direction is forward.

the night before, setting up

The setting is beautiful. Right on the bay, the tents have the ocean behind them, with a thick jasmine bush to keep everyone hedged in. My first “fine art” show, I was in awe and intimidated, but thrilled to be there. Some of the art is impressive; gorgeous paintings, sculpture and glass. I recognized some of the artists from magazines, but my admiration was tempered by a good amount of displays lacking in professionalism, to put it nicely.
ArtWalk provides tents. This is good, because I don’t have to tow a trailer around San Diego (this time). It’s bad because I lose control over the presentation of my work. Luckily, the mesh walls from my own tent fit over the provided one, and set-up went smoothly. That night, we had a good night’s rest and showed up at the show ready to go

all set up

I soon discovered the crowds were not art buyers, for the most part. They were families and couples, here to enjoy the day. I sold some necklaces and prints, but no where near enough to make up for the money I shelled out. Useful art sold the best. The woman next to me sold $10,000 in stained glass lady-lamps, and a furniture maker was mobbed the entire weekend. It seems like artist here do really well or not. It’s tricky, because it may take a few years to build up a clientele. There’s also the possibility I’ll find my audience in places like Beverly Hills. Still, I had a wonderful time, and met some incredible artists who gave me invaluable advice.

the lady-lamp

The second day of the show, I was visited by a gallery owner. He carefully looked at all my pieces, and said he wanted to meet with me in his gallery-that day. He was looking for nudes, and wanted most of my originals. The gallery is located in the Manchester Grand Hyatt, and carries fine art, sculpture, and glasswork. The artists are way out of my league (not in quality, but in exposure and career level), so I’m left feeling unprepared, and a bit confused.

In the end, I left San Diego without rent money, OR paintings. I want to be excited, but I'm filled with trepidation. The gallery may not work out, but for now I am represented by them. The reins are once more out of my hands, and there's another show in three days.
The best quotes of the weekend:

A man walks into the tent, his wife remarks, "Course you know where Joe goes...naked ladies". She rolls her eyes and walks out.
A little boy and his mom were passing by, the little boy sees my stuff and shouts, "Ewwww!" Mom says, "just cover your eyes, cover your eyes!" They RUN by me.

No comments: