The soggy truth…

There are so many wonderful, amazing aspects to being an artist! You make cool stuff for a living. You set your own hours. You stretch yourself with new concepts and techniques, developing a style that is distinctly yours. There’s nothing like it! 

And then to balance the scales, you have days like today. I’m at the Broad Ripple Art Fair in Indianapolis and my guess is that in the last hour, we’ve gotten 2″ of rain. Now what you should know is that yesterday it also rained. Truth be told, we’ve had more rainy days than sunny this spring! (I haven’t done any real fact-checking there, but that is what it feels like!) 

So, the field I’m in was good & muddy before the sky opened up & Armageddon began. Good times! Here’s where a good sense of humor is critical. Because the tough aspects to schlepping my wares around to sell become REALLY tough as I sit here. In the rain. Not selling anything. Staring at the artists across the aisle from me. (Who are delightful people I’m sure! But I’m not venturing over there in the torrential downpour just to say, “hi”.)

In an effort to stay remotely optimistic, I’m going to make a snazzy little list of things you can do while waiting for the rain to clear. Trapped in your tent. At an art fair. 

1. Take a video for Facebook/Instagram to gather sympathy from family and friends. Videos are supposed to be good for social media, right? 

2. Call/text someone who loves you. It’s always important to connect with your people. And gather sympathy, of course. If they can’t give you a, “Man, that sucks!”, who can? 

3. Stretch. It is vital to stay limber. Standing stretches only, obviously. 

4. Write a blog post. Share your experiences with your online followers. It’s good to post on a regular basis to verbalize your unique point of view. And of course, gather sympathy. 

So my friends, that is the current state of affairs. Upbeat and soggy in Indy! Feel free to rejoice in the fact you are indoors! And if you are feeling generous, I’ll be collecting bits of sympathy through today at 6:00. Or until the sun comes out. 

Please tell me about your awesome day creating cool stuff, setting your own hours or developing your unique style? I need to live vicariously for a bit…

Handwoven

ACC Show

A few weeks back, I participated in the American Craft Council Show in Atlanta. This was my first time doing a show of this caliber, with serious artists and a hefty price tag. I’ve had some time to reflect on the experience & I thought I would share a few of my take-aways. Here goes!

1. Anytime you have an opportunity to stretch yourself (no matter the outcome), it is a good thing! Intimidating artists, stunning displays, a smart & knowledgeable audience – this show had it all! It was scary & I was nervous, no doubt! While I was setting up the day before the show began, I majorly fumbled around with my booth display. My plans for a unique wall of Wallets went out the window almost instantly, and I had to go to plan B & C for my lighting just about as fast! In the end, my solutions worked out fine! Will I do it differently next time? Heck yeah! Was I cranky trying to figure it out? You betcha! Did any of my customers know? Not a chance! 

2. You never know who you will meet! Two holidays ago, I did a show where a lovely woman named Arwen Fine got my information, but we didn’t really connect in person. Through online communication, she then invited me to participate in her online gallery, which has been a great budding partnership. Well, at the ACC show, we finally had the opportunity to chat in the flesh! It was fantastic! 

3. Take notes, be influenced, but stay true to you! It’s so easy to get caught up in all the amazing things other artists are doing. Are they better than you? Maybe. They might have more raw talent, more drive, or more experience. But, no one is you! And someone (hopefully, large groups of someones) will connect with you over everyone else. I had a woman walk into my booth like she was on a mission & buy a bag. She made a point to tell me that she normally has to walk the entire show once before she buys anything. But, I was in the first aisle and she couldn’t go further without owning this handbag! Woohoo! I’ll take 30 more of her, please! 

4. A great show doesn’t guarantee great sales. The ACC Show had so many wonderful elements going for it, yet I didn’t get close to my sales goals. Is it because I’m a first time artist? People are nervous about the state of the world? There was too much fiber at the show? It’s nearly impossible to pinpoint the exact reasons I didn’t sell well. But at the end of the day, it’s up to me to analyze the data and decide what’s next. 

5. Keep learning! This show definitely affirmed that I am moving in the right direction – which sounds odd since you wouldn’t call it a success by looking at my bank account! But, when I analyze the arc of where I’ve been and where I want to be, this totally fit. I took copious notes on improvements I will make the next time I’m in this position. I’m already feeling better prepared! 

So, ten years from now when I look back at this time in my career, I think the ACC Show in Atlanta will definitely be seen as a pivotal moment! How? I’m not quite sure yet. The good news is, I don’t have to know right now. I only need to carry on – taking risks, being brave, and weaving like crazy! I’m excited to see what’s next! 

What valuable insight have you gleaned from a recent experience? 

Recovery required 

I just returned from a 2-day show in Indianapolis – the Indiana Art Fair at the Indiana State Museum. A lovely event in a gorgeous setting! All the artists were fellow Hoosiers from around the state and we were identified by location. So, a common question was, “Where’s Porter County”? Everyone seemed to know the cities in the middle of the state – not so much at either end. We had a fairly steady crowd visiting us throughout the weekend and my sales were okay. 

But what I’ve learned is big crowd or small, record-breaking sales or a big goose egg, when the show is over, I need serious downtime! I mean, lock myself in a room away from any other people/pets/plants/anything that might remotely need me. 

You see, at the core of it all, I am a big ‘ole introvert and being friendly for an extended amount of time is exhausting! Don’t get me wrong – I love people! I find them fascinating and I sincerely enjoy interacting with them during an event! But the minute it’s done, I need everyone to go away so I can read a book or aimlessly watch tv for a few hours. 

Once I’ve recharged my battery, I can be allowed back out into society. But, if recovery time is too short, I become a snapping, snarling beast – it is just not pretty. So I’ve learned to simply build in time to the schedule, think of it constructively and ride it out! I’m simply hard wired this way – no need to feel guilty or wish I was different. These days, I look forward to losing myself in a good story after hours of smiling and know that I’ve earned every minute of it! 

How do you handle the post-event period? Are you really pumped after being around a crowd, or do you look for the closest quiet corner to hide in (like me)? 

The view from my booth

Obelisk which was right next to my booth

This was my corner of the world for 2 days.

The calm before the storm…

I am currently wedged firmly in between the end of outdoor art fair season and the start of the short, but frantic holiday season. So as you can imagine, it’s quiet… and I’m not exactly sure what to do with that! Every time management book I read talks about how to get the most out of every minute of every day. And while that might be a very productive use of my time, I’ll be honest – I’m having an awesome week just sleeping in! I find it hard to transition from the continuously reactive I-have-an-event-every-weekend mindset to the calmer I-have-no-plans-and-could-actually-begin-a-project version.

So, in the spirit of chilling at home for a couple weeks, I am working on a small bolt of custom fabric. An acquaintance of mine brought me a box of neckties from her late husband and she has asked that I use them to create woven fabric that we will sew into handbags for her family! I love these types of projects, where I’ve been given something personal and then have the challenge of transforming it into something new to be cherished and enjoyed!

And while I could be making an enormous to-do list and vigorously checking things off, I have to admit I’ve been thrilled to spend hours simply cutting up a big pile of ties, prepping them for a project I’ll get into this weekend… probably…

What are your tricks when changing the pace in your life? Thanks for the tips! I’ll have many opportunities to incorporate them for sure!

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Signs that my outdoor art fair season is over!

Doing an outdoor art fair is hard work… well, that’s not exactly right. Doing an outdoor art fair is the most exhausting, challenging, exhilarating, taxing experience you’ve ever had! So, after 6 months of craziness, it is time to put the tent to bed (or, in the garage in this case). And here are some of my personal signs that I’m done –

– My feet seem to have adopted permanent tan lines from my Chaco sandals. They might fade by next May? 

– The bungee cords holding the weights to my tent have stretched out to the point that they look like over-stuffed sausages. 

– After my last event, I discovered an inch rip in the butt of my lucky Lucy pants. Thankfully, I had been wearing a long cardigan so I didn’t over-share with the world! (There’s no photo for this one, for obvious reasons!)

– I have finally figured out the best spot in my car for the dolly. Getting everything I need into a little hatchback is a crazy puzzle. And for the most part, I have it down to a science! Except the dolly. So of course, at the very last moment, it all comes together – just in time for me to change it next year… 

– My demonstration loom finally snapped. I got my loom used about 5 years ago and I’ve noticed the cords at the top have started to fray. The entire season I’ve kept replacement cord at the ready & haven’t needed it… until last Sunday! 

So with all these signs, I am calling it – the 2016 outdoor art fair season is over!!! Until next year…