Tag Archives: art shows

Obvious Outdoor Event Lessons

I did my first outdoor Farmer’s Market today in Keene, NY and I learned some lessons about outdoor venues… lessons that should have been obvious in hindsight.

First, it is windy outside. If you have a tent anchor it. Luckily, mine was adequately anchored for the light wind we had today. My display, however, was not. I work with wood. Wood is actually pretty light. Some of my bowls took flight. None were damaged, thankfully.  The other problem with my display was with the metal grid I use to hang some of my pieces from.

A gust knocked it over. One of my pieces was damaged. I potentially lost customers because I had to fix my display.

My first idea to fix the problem was to put the walls to my tent up. This worked for a while, but it was insanely hot. Again I potentially lost customers, because no one wanted to stay long enough to browse. Even with the walls, the display was knocked over again.

My final attempt to fix the problem was to stabilize the grid. I don’t think it looked as good. If I had thought of it earlier I would have rearranged my entire display around it.

Now I just need to figure out a more stable way to display my bowls outside. .

New Work 11-13-2011

I’ve been busy creating some wonderful new pieces for my upcoming shows.  This weekend I am at the SUNY Plattsburgh Art and Craft show.  Here’s a peek at a few of my new items…

copyright Christina Kester 2011

copyright Christina Kester 2011

copyright Christina Kester 2011

copyright Christina Kester 2011

 

Craft Fairs

I now have two small craft fairs under my belt. While that does not make me an expert by any stretch of the imagination, I did learn a few valuable things from my experience. Before my shows, I did some online research on what to bring with me and how to stage my display.  For my checklist, I used a list by Bazaar Bizarre and adapted it to my needs. It is important to keep in mind that the fairs I went to were small, local events. If you were going to a bigger festival, you would probably need more things.

  • Information and directions to the craft fair – For Applefest, I needed to find the person who ran the festival to see where to set up. For Colors of Fall, I was given a map and my spot was marked.
  • Inventory – I brought everything I have to both events. I highly recommend bringing more than you think you will need. It can be hard to gauge how much you will sell, particularly if it is your first show in that venue. At the smaller fairs I went to, I learned that I need to have more lower priced items and fewer higher priced items. I brought a portfolio of work I had sold to Colors of Fall. The people who were really interested in my work would take the time to look through it.
  • Inventory List/Price List – All of my items had prices clearly visible, however they were not affixed to the items. It was nice to have a list of prices so that I could make sure the tag was next to the right piece if someone had set it down in a different spot after picking it up to look at it. Having a complete inventory list will also help you keep track of what you have sold. I marked an item as sold immediately on my inventory list.
  • Change –  For the small fairs I went to, I had $100 in $5’s and $1’s. I kept it in a locked cash box. Some people like cash aprons or cash bags better because it is easier to take it with you if you have to leave your booth for any reason.
  • Display – This was something I put a lot of thought into. Your table (or tent) is the first thing your potential customers are going to see. Make sure that you cover your table with a cloth at the very least. I also added some seasonal elements (leaves and gourds). Don’t forget your sign. You want people to know who you are. Here are some pictures of my display. There are a few things I want to do differently next time, but it isn’t a bad start.
  • Helper – For me, this was important. I really wanted the moral support for my first show. And having someone around to mind your table/booth while you go to the restroom is a life saver. Here are some pics of my awesome helpers.

  • Business cards – Customers may want an easy way to find you again.  I went through a couple hundred at the very small fairs I went to, so bring a lot.
  • Receipt book – I didn’t actually use the one I brought, but I really want to use it next time especially with the larger purchases.
  • Cell phone – Always a good idea to have
  • Packing materials and bags –  I used the paper that my unfinished bowls were shipped in to wrap purchases. For bags, I used ones I kept from the grocery store.
  • Snacks and water – To help keep your energy up
  • Miscellaneous supplies –  Pens, paper, tape, sewing kit etc.
  • Business license and tax permits – It is the law. Make sure you are conforming to it.
  • Camera – It is a good idea to take a picture of your display for future reference and for marketing
  • Portfolio –  If you have room on your table, it is nice to bring a portfolio or even just a photo album of work you previously sold or didn’t bring with you.
  • Craft Supplies – Work on your craft during downtime… besides the fact that people are curious and may ask you about it, it keeps you busy.
So far my experiences have been positive. One of the fairs was not high in sales, but was full of information. I learned which of my designs seem to be the most popular and what price range people were more likely to buy.  I hope my next craft fair in Tupper Lake, NY on October 15th proves to be a good one. 
Cheers and good luck in your own artistic endeavors.

Thoughts from a Meeting with the SBA and New Work

A couple of weeks ago I had a meeting with someone from the local Small Business Administration (SBA). I got a lot out of the meeting and would recommend that any artist who is having trouble with or just needs some advice on the business side of art give it a try. My meeting was specifically about writing a business plan. It is something you have to do if you want to get funding, but my goal  is to be able to provide myself with a road map with some clear goals.

I went in concerned that I was crazy to want to dive into a full-fledged craft business in a rocky economy. One of the first things that the counselor told me was that the art and craft market is a little different from other sales markets. In part, this is because people buy the connection with the artist as much as they are buying a unique item. So one suggestion she gave me is to make myself, not just my product, stand out.  A bad economy is not necessarily a bad time to start a craft business.  Planning and hard work can make it viable.

Another suggestion the counselor gave me was to go over my prices carefully.  She said artists and crafters tend to undervalue their time. I am certainly guilty of not tracking my time very well. It can be difficult to do when balancing working at home and caring for an exuberant young child. But I have started recording the time I sit down to work and the time I get up, even if only for a moment. It has been an eye opener.

Finally, the counselor gave me some great general advice on craft fairs. She said that each craft fair is a different market. What sells at one may not sell at another even if they are close geographically. It can take some trial and error to figure out what to bring to each fair. She also suggested bringing a portfolio of my work that includes items that I have sold or that I didn’t include in the fair. With this customers can see the full range of what I can do. If I advertise that I take commissions and do custom work, I may be able to get more sales.

My first craft fair is coming up soon (Applefest in Peru,NY on Sept 17 and 18). I hope that I can use what I have learned and make it a successful and enjoyable experience.

*****

As for new work, I have a lot of it. Here is a sample of some of my most recent.

copyright Christina Kester 2011

 

copyright Christina Kester 2011

 

copyright Christina Kester 2011

A Good Resource

Just a quick note today. I stumbled across a really good resource for artists aspiring to make a living doing what they love  – http://arts-careers.com/success/

If turning art into a career is something you want to do, please check this out.

Cheers!

Shows

The Longmont Art Link is tonight from 6-9pm. I will be showing at Maternal Instincts at 519 Main Street.  I will also be doing a demonstration. I’ll be working on Letter F of my alphabet. So if you are interested in my painting methods and are in the Longmont, Colorado area, I’d love to meet you.

In other news, I had a portfolio review at Art Mart on Pearl Street in Boulder. I will find out within a week or so whether they want to have my work in their space. The review went pretty well and I felt I was prepared, sporting my portfolio, resume, price list, and business card.

In addition to my ongoing alphabet project, I am working on a series of fish paintings. So far I have gotten a really positive response. I plan on doing more Koi paintings, but I am also working on some fantasy fish, including a sturgeon/lion fish hybrid.

New Work:

copyright 2010 Christina Kester

copyright 2010 Christina Kester

copyright 2010 Christina Kester

Sun and Festivals

The past two weeks have been busy. I have a couple of new ink drawings, which I will post by the weekend; I celebrated my anniversary with my husband; I caught a nasty little stomach bug and recovered, mostly; and I continued working on my goal of becoming a full-time artist.

 The Boulder Creek Festival was last weekend. It was fun and sunny, but too busy to really get a chance to speak with artists. I did get some ideas on how to present my art at an art fair like this and what types of equipment I will need.  

I am still taking inventory of my art and supplies. It surprises me how much I actually have. I even found a rather large, at least large for me, blank canvas that I didn’t know I had. When I get the time and space where I can paint again I am totally going to do something fabulous with it.

After doing some more research on local art festivals, I think I have found a few that I might be able to do this year on my limited budget. I’m looking into the Celebrate Lafayette festival on September 25th, the Louisville Labor Day Festival on September 6th, and the Longmont Farmer’s Market Holiday show in December. All of them have entry/jury fees of under $150. I will keep you all posted on which ones I end up going for. I was planning on doing the Longmont Art Walk again this year, but unfortunately, I missed the deadline by a day.

I have an even bigger list of events to look into for next year.  Now I need to see what the cost difference is between renting a tent versus buying a tent is.

For those of you interested in art festivals, here are some useful resources:

A list of what you need, plus some tips – http://www.lifetime.com/tipssolutions/organization/article.aspx?postid=174

Overall Advice – http://www.squidoo.com/art_festival

An older thread at wetcanvas forums that has some useful information – http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=169893

Plans and Ruminations

I’ve been wanting to make a serious go at switching careers and making art a full time gig for several years. I have consulted books, blogs, tweets, and podcasts on how to do it. I’m ready to act now and I am going to write about the process. This will include both my successes and my failures. Hopefully, someone else out there who is thinking about making the shift can gleam something useful from journey and apply it to their own.

For all intents and purposes I am pretty much a beginner with book knowledge and a portfolio.  Here is more detail on where I stand.

  • I have a very modest presence on the web, which includes a blog, a web gallery, a twitter presence, a facebook presence, and some activity on art forums.
  • I have some sales under my belt, but not enough to quit my day job just yet.
  • I have thought about what I want to focus on and I have a plan in the works.

So what is my next step? Paperwork. I am going to take stock of what I art I have, what I feel is ready for sale, prices, supplies and equipment.I am using an excel spread sheet from the SciFiFantasyHorrorSpace_ArtShows yahoo group. There are some good resources here, particularly for anyone interested in selling art at convention art shows.

One market I want to explore is art fairs. I need to find out what equipment I’ll need and how much it (and entry fees and travel) will cost. The Boulder Creek Festival is Memorial Day weekend. I plan on going and doing some research and networking as my first step. Ultimately I’d like to do several art fairs and possibly a renaissance festival or two a year.

I also want to submit work to publishers. I have done some research and picked five to start with ( I’m going to keep you all in suspense as to which ones for now). It is a small number, but I still have a full time day job and a toddler. I need to be able to keep track of who I  have contacted. After I finish my inventory, I will be putting together submissions for these companies. I will post more about this when I get to it.

And with that, the little one just woke up from his nap. Please feel free to leave a comment, give advice, or ask questions.