Monday, May 11, 2015

The Things I Learned...

...From my first Art Show.

My improved booth at the Durham Art Walk Spring Market
It's been a while since we last talked, friend.

My bad.

It's been crazy (stressful?) around here for the week leading up to my first actual art show.  I did my very best to stay calm, cool, and collected.

I'm pretty sure I was probably, definitely a raving bitch.  *sigh*

It's been a week since the show, now.  I can confirm the above with certainty.  Mike was amazing as he calmly but firmly told me I needed to chill out and relax a little.  It was so hard.  I was freaking out about set up times, if I had enough things to sell, and if I needed to bring an extra table because "doesn't this just look too crowded?"

In the end though, for my first official show, I thought it went pretty well.  I sold a few things, met my small goals and came out slightly ahead at the end of the show. Plus I had an amazing group of friends that showed up throughout the weekend (surprise, planned, or otherwise) to help support my venture with Mike and I.

I definitely felt the love.


Some things I learned?

  • Sometimes trying to control every single detail of something this big will only culminate in more stress, not less.  I've always taken to heart the little things I learned through my girl scout career, especially the simple motto of "be prepared".  However, there is only so much "preparedness" one can do when dealing with something completely new and out of their element.  Sometimes, trading your tried and true motto for a different one [like your husbands "no stress express"], every once in a while, will only improve things.  And make your other half VERY happy.  Trust me on this.
  • Learn to read the social cues that alert you when there are opportunities to further a conversation and potentially land a sale.  So, it's no surprise that I completely suck at randomly starting up a conversation with a complete stranger.  I joked with Mike throughout the Show that I really needed to look into a promoter for myself.  The morning of the first day was terrible.  I was awkward, and missed heaps of chances to engage interested festival goers and possibly make a sale, or just network a little.  Part of it was nerves, anxiety, pressure to meet my small goals, and just basic awkwardness on how to start a conversation without sounding like I was being too pushy with "buy my art!".    This is something that will only improve with practice.  By the second day, I was a little bit more comfortable an felt a lot better about engaging my audience when possible.  I'm still a work in progress though.
  • Presentation is definitely important as well as first impressions.  The Show was sort of spread throughout a few different locales, and all indoors.  I was put into a room with several other vendors, and even if their wares were similar, their presentations were not.  I definitely took note of how everyone's displays were carefully put together to draw traffic into their spaces.  It's not a competition, of course, but standing out a little is still important so you don't get lost in the background with other vendors.  Mike and I adjusted my display a little throughout that first day, but I think I did okay with drawing interest in.  Display "things" aren't cheap either, but I have plans to slowly expand my displays over time to improve on my impact with the audience and traffic flow.  And I can also take time to steam out my table cloth beforehand...   
  • Bring a sufficient amount of snacks/beverages.  Events like this can last a long time.  If you don't have anyone with you at your table/booth, then you are pretty much stuck.  I learned that events strongly discourage you from leaving your booth or table space, and maintain that you should be present at all times.  Obviously, barring the standard bathroom breaks of course.  You better have someone bringing in lunch for you, or you pack your own cooler of snacks.  Hangrily engaging festival goers does not a sale make.  I promise.    
There's a ton more things I picked up on, but the above are the major ones.

Now the goal is to clear out my working commissions and crank out some new things for a few possible fall shows this year.

Fingers crossed! :)