I chatted with a potter recently about entering an upcoming show that I thought would be good for her. She surprised me when she laughingly confessed that the previous year she had skipped that opportunity because she was afraid that she would have no time to re-stock her pottery when she sold out at the show held two weeks earlier.
In my twenty one years of selling my art for a living, I have stumbled near or into many pitfalls known to beginning businesses......and I have a seasoned amount of "Things Not To Do" stories. It doesn't stop at one thing of course. Rather it's more like a Folder on my computer with numerous categories inside.
One of these Folders in my brain refers to the artist beginning to participate in art shows. I won't go into the little mistakes that I initially made with seemingly small things that became huge as the event wore on such as forgetting the sunscreen, weights for the tents, business cards or bottled water. Those fall under the heading of "That won't happen again."
But I will focus on that Folder that I discovered every artist has when contemplating a series of shows regardless of what he creates. And that is the concern of "If I enter this show and sell out, I won't have enough for the show in 3 weeks" syndrome.
Looking back it's actually funny only in the context of how much angst and brain power it caused in looking at all the possibilities such an event would cause. But when an artist first comes across the need to make a plan of the upcoming show season, it wreaks havoc with one's logistical skills. And, as it always turns out, unnecessarily. It is a rare artist or craftsman who is left with nothing to sell at the next show after hitting a bonanza at the current one. The typical range of emotions runs the whole gamut during the course of the show from mentally calculating the bank deposit to the stark realization (or conclusion) that you may not make expenses. And somewhere in the back of this artist's mind are the words from a seasoned show artist to "Not worry about selling everything in your booth." Ouch.
My potter friend was rueful about her beginning naivety and now enters the shows that she can accommodate based strictly on business factors. She learned that the old adage "Never count your chickens before they hatch" has nothing to do with lack of optimism, it has everything to do with reality and missed opportunities while waiting for just one batch to hatch. The beginning artist often quits after just one or two shows because the expectations fell short of the reality. But there is NO golden rule for success at every art show or festival you enter. There are definite rules that will enhance your chances of success, but every show is a learning experience. And each time you participate and file away the experience, and learn positively from it, you enhance the chance that you might, indeed, sell all your art in your booth and not have enough for the next show!
To learn more about selling your art, visit us at www.ArtCareereExperts.com . Next marketing class June 18 at Jerry's in Raleigh!
To learn more about what we do, visit us at www.OnRoadArtists.com