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Monday, January 14

What it's like

"They're lucky, they don't have to work" (Visitor at Allentown Art Festival regarding the artists.)

OK, here's the reality. I am speaking here as an artisan, not an "artist". It's different. This will be about the "product"

Before you can even think about doing your 1st art fair, you have to spend a lot of time deciding things. Things like what you will exhibit and how many and what size and at what price and will it be marketable and which shows would be right for you and which ones will actually take you. Of course, I didn't do it that way. I made prototypes of a book I thought I could make for real and took nice pictures and actually got into 2 shows. We laugh about it now. We did then, too, but with a hint of hysteria.

Art festivals are competitive. Some are harder to get into than others. If you want to do the "good" shows, you have to have work that is not only well done but is different. I had been making paper for another project and was introduced to book arts through those channels. I fell in love with making books. There aren't many who do it and none around here who do it like me. It helps me get into shows.

Once you have your "widget" you have to keep perfecting it, changing from season to season. New designs, added styles, different sizes. And you add other related things. I probably sell more of the other stuff now: frames and mirrors and cards. All of these had to be created, designed, tested, perfected, worked out, I had to find suppliers for the components, tweaking to make it work.

And you keep learning, studying, researching. You go hunting for inspiration and ideas. You learn to do things or you invent them. You work on pricing. Too much and it won't sell, too little and you lose money. You have to be aware of trends, which colors are going to be popular this year.

You make your decisions and you pin your hopes for a successful season on whether or not those decisions were good ones.

All that work and you still haven't made one thing.

1 comment:

Lee Kottner said...

Thanks for starting this blog. I'm in the process of setting up to do what you're doing, and your advice is already invaluable. Great reality check!