Tuesday, December 9, 2008

15 Unforgettable Life-Lessons Learned in the Art Fair Business

I purchased my very first display panels spring 2008 from Connie, an art fair doyenne. She is so gracious and she asked me to "report in" on my first year in the art fair business. So, here it goes – "The Unforgettable Life-Lessons I Learned During My First Art Fair Season". Ahem –

1. How when I saw the truck fully loaded with panels, chairs, the tent, tubs of equipment and a few paintings thrown in on top of it all, is when I truly grasped the concept of "overhead."

2. How you shouldn't make the 500-artist show your first show. By yourself. Far away from home. ( I didn't mean to, but I was "blown out" of my first, first show.)

3. What is feels like to be trapped under a blown-over tent and debris during a micro-burst. (Or, when someone tells you to take the artwork off the walls because a storm is coming, leave immediately.)

4. How easy is it to get a "free" charge card merchant account (and then find out how much it really costs you).

5. How heavy those weights really are. (And, I still don't have enough of them.)

6. That 6 feet 7 inches is truly out of reach. (Even on my toes, no matter how hard I stretch.)

7. How little sleep you can get and still put up a display and talk to customers. (Note to self: don't try that again.)

8. What a hard, 16-hour day really feels like. (It ain't like the office!)

9. How April, May, June and ½ of July were a nightmare. (But how during the second half of July, August and Sept, I felt like a pro.)

10. The shock I felt when other artists started asking ME for advice (They must have mistaken my "finally, I know how to put this thing up in less than 3 hours" look for "seasoned.")

11. How gratified I felt when the local museum purchased a painting. (It was the only sale that day but what a good one!)

12. How my fear of talking to people who came into my booth morphed into a steady sales prattle. (I don't know how many customers I scared away!)

13. How (inwardly) irked I am when people comment to me, "how relaxing you must find painting." (Yeah, right.)

14. How it feels to be not "just" an artist, but, rather, an art business entrepreneur.

15. Most unforgettable are the people that helped along the way. A very special thank you to Kathy Eaton, who been an inspiration to me and a tremendous friend and wealth of knowledge. She has gone so far out of her way to point me in the right direction, subtly let me know when I am being an idiot and has given me great advice and insights. And, of course, my husband, who -- I can't believe it -- actually fixes mangled display panels, builds shelves for the art truck and encourages me to keep going.

I hope to see and meet many of you over the summer!

The Sketchbook Project at Brooklyn Art Library (Video)

Update:  I just discovered that there was fire involving the sketchbooks in the Brooklyn Art Library Sketchbook Project in February, 2022 --...