Friday, January 18, 2013
Galleries vs. Outdoor Shows
I was also invited to be in a show at Cedar Creek Gallery. Same thing, really nice people, work didn't sell. Got it back, sold it myself.
I get a check every month from The Bascom in Highlands, so I am very happy with that relationship, and Sarah at NC Crafts just supports me no matter what and most months I get a check from her. I was in The Collectors Gallery in Raleigh, but sadly they closed. I am also now in Saxapahaw Artists Gallery but too soon to tell how that is going.
All in all, I am happy with the galleries I am working with and hope to continue those relationships. Every gallery that I have had any dealings with has been really great.
I was invited to be in The Winter Show at the Greenhill Center in Greensboro this year and I was honored to have been asked. I got a call last week from them saying I could pick up my work from the show. What? My pieces didn't sell? They were two of the nicest pieces I made this year, ugh.... I got a little teary, seriously bummed out, and on the hour drive to Greensboro, I considered everything from quitting clay altogether to running my car of the road (not really, but don't you want to do that some days with this clay business?!) so I'm driving to Greensboro in the fog and the rain, getting more and more depressed, but then remembering all the pieces I DID sell this year, mostly of my own doing from a show I did or an order from my studio, and things started looking a little better. Then when I got to Greenhill, most of the show was still up, and there were many many pieces that had not sold. Not just mine, I wasn't alone, heart is feeling better. And then I looked at the artists that were in this show. Was I really in a show with these people. Seriously? I'm feeling a little impressed with myself. I saw a documentary recently on Sylvia Heyden, the 86 year old weaver. There were two of her pieces on the wall, $4500 each, not sold. By the time I left with my box and my barns, I wasn't bummed anymore and had an hours drive back home to think about this emotional roller coaster business I have gotten myself into.
Last year, I had terrible luck with outdoor shows. It wasn't the sales exactly, it was the weather. Every show I signed up for got rained out and I lost my entry fee. So much wasted time and money. The one indoor show, the CDCG was a complete waste of time. My studio tour was great, less than last year, but still good.
So here's what I'm thinking. In order to make this work, it seems that I need a little bit of everything and I need to sell in various venues. Barns for nice galleries and shows, jewelry and small items for Etsy, less expensive items for outdoor shows. Last year I was single minded, making barns, that was about it. I was focused on work for galleries and my big indoor show. Sales were fine but there was a huge group I was missing, the $50 and under customers, like me. I waited until late in the year to start making smaller items and they all sold quickly, In looking back over receipts and photos from 2011 and 2010, I was reminded that I did pretty well at Shakori and a couple of the other outdoor shows I did. I know I said I wasn't going to do it, but I sent in my application for Shakori and for one other outdoor show for spring. Lesson learned in never saying never! Shakori is just four days of fun, no matter what so there is no harm there. I will have a good time if I sell work or not, and the other outdoor show fee is reasonable and if it rains I won't lose a lot. And it is an art show, not food, music, and kitch.
I also resigned from the CDCG board that I just got voted on to and have decided to sit that one out this year. I love the artists and the people that run that show, I don't particularly care for the attendees so much. They come to look at beautiful art, but they sure weren't buying a lot of it. I also don't care for the booth fee and barely breaking even.
I will do the studio tour again, it's fun, it's successful and it is a great way to end the year.
So, as I review the past three years as I have seriously set out to sell my work, I think for the most part it has been a success. It's been bumpy at times, I have been elated, depressed, touched by some of my customers commissions, I have met some very wonderful people, and I have learned a lot about myself and my work. I'm looking forward to moving ahead with this knowledge and growing my business and my art even more. The most important thing I have learned is you just have to show up. And you have to offer something that you love and you are proud to put out there. To me, craftsmanship has become very important and my quality control hammer gets a lot of use!
I also realize that if I am going to sell work, I can't just rely on galleries. I am going to have to suck it up and do some shows. I don't really want to, but that is the reality of not having a retail shop here. I gotta go where there are customers, at least for awhile. I will not, however, be entering shows that you have to pay a jury fee for, or pay to enter (except for a reasonable booth fee that I tend to myself).
One last thing. I am starting off the new year with a commitment to do props for a spring play at the ArtsCenter. I really miss the theater, I had some time available and the show is a musical about Walt Whitman, so I said yes. I love that they still call me to do shows and I am happy I have some time to go back to what I really love doing. I also dressed my loom yesterday, we have snow on the ground and it is really cold, so 'm staying in and doing some weaving today.
It looks like this will be a year of variety. A little clay work, different shows, different work, some weaving, and some prop design sprinkled in to keep things interesting. Last year I was focused, single minded and worked really hard. This year it looks like I might be all over the place, but who cares? I'm going to have some fun!
photo: Lark and Key Gallery Charlotte NC