Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Carlsbad Art Show Report

So, how did our first big art show go?  As it turns out, I'm still not exactly sure how to answer this question...

My son's birthday (1 year!) is on Aug 16.  Since the grandparents haven't seen him in a while, and we needed a babysitter to watch him this weekend anyway, they decided to come down and celebrate early.  This gave us the time to get some things ready for this show that we haven't had for other shows.  We finally made and matted a few of the largest print size that we can make, 16" x 20" (matted to 22" x 28").  We only have about a half dozen or so paintings that we have a digital copy that is high enough quality to print that size anyway.  We also printed some more greeting cards.  There were a few paintings that we hadn't made cards for yet and we wanted to have at least five of each one.  We also double-matted most of her original paintings using colored mat board.  I think that this really increased the perceived value of the artwork and they look great.  We're thinking about double-matting our larger prints as well.  Lastly, we printed and stretched our very first canvas prints!  I'm not sure how well they will sell, but they look really great.

Since the art show was 2 1/2 hours away so we left the night before and stayed with some friends in the area.  Waking up at about 6 am, we headed to Starbucks and the grocery store to pick up some water and snacks for the show.  About half of the attendees were already at the event when we arrived at around 7.  It was quite easy to find our space, a 10' x 15' spot between a glass artist and a lady who made and decorated bird houses with sea shells.  We were able to park our van right across from the spot, unload and set up with no issues.  Set up took slightly longer than normal due to having to rearrange our wall display to accommodate and showcase a few of the larger prints and canvas prints.  We also had to frame a few of her newer originals.  About an hour and half later, we were all set up and ready for the day.

One of the first things we noticed is that the atmosphere was a bit different there than at the other shows we have attended.  For starters, everyone seemed to actually enjoy looking at art! This makes sense of course as it was an art/craft only show, but it was nice to see greater interest in her works.  It didn't take long to be able to distinguish between regular show attendants and other artists.  Other artists usually gave themselves away by their tendencies to "analyze" the artwork rather than just look at it :P  There were a surprising number of artists that expressed the difficulties that they've had when they tried to use watercolor.  I heard a quote the other day that went something like "with watercolor, you're always only one decision away from disaster".  Genia doesn't seem to share that sentiment, her work flowing pretty effortlessly and smoothly.  Perhaps its simply that she doesn't see a "mistake" as a disaster as I typically do. 

Genia drew some rather decent crowds when she was painting one of the two paintings that she brought to work on.  One of them was the commission she's currently working on of a sleeping baby.  There were lots of "aww, look at the baby" exclamations with that one.  The other was a image of a local Calsbad monument.  It was great to see people point and say "Oh look!  That's just down the road!".  I definitely think that providing some type of demo increases the publics interest in an artist and Genia was one of only two that was doing so.  We were also one of the few booths with two people working it, so I guess its more difficult to do a demo without someone else to take care of the customers.  Husbands, help you wives! 

Despite the great interest in Genia's work and the many compliments that she received (the "Cactus Flowers" painting received a surprising number of comments), sales were not great.  In fact, we gave out even fewer business cards and fliers on commissions that at some of our smaller shows.  As to sales, it seems that most of the vendors only did "OK".  Now, what OK means to them, I didn't ask.  As to Genia and I, we did ok by our standards, which means that we made our expenses back.  Actually, after paying her families dinner, we actually lost money, but it wasn't a total flop.  The experience was great, we were able to meet a lot of wonderful people, we're getting her name out a bit more and we got to see some other artist's work and booths.  I was really hoping that we'd make enough to fund our next show, but alas, that was not the case. We've got a medium sized show next weekend in Apple Valley and another small farmers market in Barstow the week after.  We aren't currently signed up for any larger shows, need to develop some extra income, but we do look forward to trying again.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Our First "Real" Art Show!

I'm Excited! 

My wife and I have been attending local shows and swap meets for a few months now.  None of them were "art" shows and living in the high desert of California, we didn't expect sales to soar (and they didn't).  This weekend however will be our first "real" art show.  We'll be attending the 12th Annual Art in the Village in Carlsbad, CA.  First off, Carlsbad is a wonderful little coastal town very near Camp Pendleton, CA, where I was stationed for three years.  We'll be able to visit a few friends and even more, escape the desert heat for a few days!  Most important though, this will be the first real taste of what to expect at a show for artists with a very targeted audience. 

So, what are we hoping for?  Genia, of course, is excited to see the other artists and their art, maybe get a few new ideas and tips.  She's not a big fan of the high desert, and loves the coast so she'd be happy regardless of what we were doing.  A gallery owner from Carlsbad has been following Genia on twitter so she's interested in perhaps meeting with him and developing a new contact.  I, being the fiscally-minded person that I am, want to make tons of money!!  Ok, I at least want to make our fee back, which was $220 and a bit-o-profit would be nice too.  This show will really be something of a gauge to determine if we can/want to/should continue to do the local shows or move to art-specific events.  The great thing about local shows is that childcare is simple and there is little travel.  Also, the costs of the local events are quite low so one or two sales of our smallest prints make up for the expense typically.  Larger shows take a bit more planning and travel and the entry fees can really be quite high.  The returns have the potential to be great however, both in financial terms as well as exposure and publicity.  I'll be sure to post a review of the experience once its all done.

One very cool thing that we just discovered yesterday is that one of Genia's paintings, Cherry Blossoms II, was used on the event poster!  (click the link to view it in our website)  While this is extremely awesome, there's also an issue with it, primarily in that they never asked our permission to use the image.  I've asked Genia to review the event application to see if there was any fine print authorizing images to be used but so far she hasn't found anything.  While receiving this additional exposure and advertising is great on one hand, doing so without permission is a definite no-no.  After much deliberation, I've decided that I will contact them about it... after the show :P  At the very least, I want to learn more about copyright laws, especially after the Cheeseburger in Paradise incident

While this will be the most expensive event we've attended, and also the most regulated (every print signed and numbered, fire extinguisher required, seller ID number posted, etc), we're very excited and look forward to sharing the experience with you :)

Monday, August 2, 2010

On Passion...

Does an artist have to be passionate about art?  Is one an artist if they don't have that passion?  What is an "artist" anyway?

By no means do  I call myself an artist, nor am I sure that I ever will be.  Even more, I'm not yet sure that I really want to be.  For the most part, I have enjoyed the few things that I have done.  A few sketches, a few paintings (they'll be up soon, I promise), but at times, I wonder if I'm only doing this because my wife is or just to do something new.  Is the passion supposed to be there in the very beggining or does it come with time? 

I'd be interested to hear your thoughts both on what "being an artist" means to you and your views on the passion (or lack thereof) of artistic creation...