AFHS 09 Over, Cleaning Commences

Hello There! I’ve missed you all and I’ve got plenty of blogs to catch up on! I thought I’d review how my show went, both FYI as well as FMM (for my memory!). The show opens with a 7-10 PM reception on Friday night, then 10-5 on Saturday and 11:30-5 on Sunday. They do a wonderful job of providing 2 electrical outlets to each of the 60 booth spaces, so I was able to use all 8 of my cheap-o clip-on lights, 4 of which are the trumpet top bulbs I talk about here. My 10x 10 had plenty of light, and lots of artists came by to ask about the lights, they were so bright and the colors so true!

My problem (as always) with the setup is that I always have too much stuff I want to show. This was especially true at this show as I had neighbors just to each side of me, and the walkway wasn’t very wide, so I couldn’t ooze into any space outside the tent. Here’s how it looked Friday night:

I had a huge panic attach because I sold less than half of what I had done the year before that 1st night. There were lots of crowds walking by, but not many buyers, and I wasn’t sure whether it was the economy or my booth setup. Considering some of the folks I talked to had done pretty well, I was convinced it was me, so we changed the setup the next morning so there was more room for folk to enter the booth. Hands down the most awesome thing was this scarf stand built by hubby. Each arm has little indentations for 5 scarves to drop across the top. I’ve divided my colors into 4 season, so each arm held all the same weight (5mm habotai or 19 mm charmeuse) of a particular season. I have a stack of plastic bins with extras of all the colors (because I dyed 200 in the past 6 weeks!)…this made it so easy to show all the options.

I moved my stand that holds all the misc. packaging and hanging stuff to the back, and this seemed to make it easier for folks to come in, but it still was a tight fit with more than 4 people.

One thing I’m happy with, I now have some video of me doing the free motion quilting, I was able to show folks who asked exactly how I do what I do, most often impressing them with the fact that i do my stitching without any pre-drawn lines. I’ve got this little freebie DVD player I was able to plug in and leave running throughout the show.

Sales picked up on Saturday & Sunday: I ended up selling 55 scarves, 8 each of the baby outfits and going green totes, a couple of Scribblers, a messenger bag and a medium tote. I may also get a couple of commissions for bags in weeks to come…

So why do I feel so dejected?

  1. I sold less than last year.
  2. 3 people asked if my Branch & Bird series were coasters.

I see-saw back and forth between making things that are practical/beautiful and things that are made just for the joy of it. Many MANY people commented on how I’d come up with new things, and how clever I was. I take it as a compliment, because to me, each thing I make allows me to hone my artistic vision and improve my craft. BUT, I don’t want to fall into the trap of becoming a “Jack of all trades, master of none”.

Both the Branch & Bird series and the Botanical Sketches series were made for 2 purposes:

  1. I had this need to make them and see them hung up in groups on a little clothesline and
  2. These could be affordable art – something small that someone who got my art could purchase without a huge investment. 

I only connected with 2 people who felt the latter during the 3 days of the show.

My earliest venture into the world of art selling w
as with my quArt, which also involved multiple pieces that people could combine at re-shuffle on a whim. Although I’ve sold a decent amount of the quArt mounted pieces (20-30 I’d guess), over half of them were single pieces. My husband feels that I should be making larger combinations, mounting them in some way and selling them as larger, complete installations, which of course defeats the goal of the small, affordable art.

If you’re still reading this, I’d love your point of view. Obviously this is going to continue to be a struggle for me…

16 Responses

  1. Hey Candy — I’ve missed chatting with you.
    Your booth is a beautiful explosion of gorgeous colors! Your baby outfits are wonderful – almost make me want to run out and borrow a baby just so I can dress them. Almost!
    Love your DVD and video idea. Really shows off the artist in you and yet shows that you generously share your techniques.

    Your question certainly is a tough one to comment on as I can clearly see each point of view. I think that often people have a hard time putting things together. An example would be the popularity of the pre-packaged quilt kits; some people just have a hard time “seeing” what looks good.

    Also, unless one had a specific place to put a small piece of single art then they may not see a need for it even if it was in the price range.

    Again, beautiful work and thanks for sharing it.

  2. I love your booth set up. As to selling the art pieces maybe it would help to display them on sets so that people can see how 3 or 9 of them would look together. Having them all together does make you want to pick one. But what if you had them hanging all around the booth in different sets arrangements. Then people would see the impact of a grouping.
    As to the coaster comment. If people wanted to use something of mine as a coaster and they were willing to pay my price I would tell them “why yes, they would make wonderful coasters!”

  3. First, your booth looked great! The colors alone are highly attractive, but the variety… irresistable.

    Second, I hate the comments that you hear at shows. You really have to have thick skin and if, for whatever reason, you aren’t up for it, these comments can sting.

    Third, re: your hubby’s opinion…why not do a bit of both. I love the idea that you can mix and match and buy what you can afford. BUT, some might want it put together for them. Maybe you could have a few larger combinations pre-mounted for the big spenders and still have the smaller ones for people who can’t afford as much. With both options, you are sure to please all.

    Lastly, consider all that you have left over as a leg up on the holidays! Promote your tookus off and you’ll sell all of them in your Etsy shop…guaranteed!

    I’m sure you are relieved to have this show under your belt. You worked so hard preparing for it! Great work!

  4. I find this post VERY interesting. First, I love your booth – so bright and colorful, great lighting. But the comments about the coasters I find rather incomprehensible. But I do spend a lot of time in blogland, and creating small art myself, so I see them as they are. I agree with the grouping idea, that may help.
    I wonder, in this ecomony, if people are simply wanting practical items. Was this a CRAFT show, or an ART show? I think it would make a difference. They seem to attract two distinct crowds.

  5. This really hit home to me because I’ve had a similar problem. A couple of years ago I was making small pieces that I thought would be more affordable for people, but the question I kept getting was “Why are you putting potholders on the wall?”!! My solution was to mount the small pieces on a coordinating background fabric and stretch them over stretcher bars like an artist’s canvas. They have a wire hanger just like a painting. These pieces are larger by an inch and a half all around and somewhat more expensive, but they’re still relatively affordable and people do buy them because they can understand better what they’re supposed to do with them—hang them on the wall and enjoy them! Good luck–your work is beautiful!

  6. HI Candy,
    Oh how do we set up our stalls? Its so hard to decide what’s right. I love the way you displayed the birds. The series reminded me of Melody’s display of her individual fruit paintings, she had on her blog a while ago. Some how I felt these amazing birds were lost in the stall. Perhaps they might have been better with the bird mobile, or with a title over them, like you did with your quArt.
    Yes, I totally agree about having a thick skin at shows… some comments are causes for…..! Coaster indeed! It reminds me of when I bought my first apartment and made a comment about fitting in a bookcase and the seller said, “Oh, do you read?”!

  7. Great looking booth! I used to do these shows and it’s a tough way to sell. My advice is to take a good look at the show itself and the clientèle that it attracts. I see you sold a lot of scarves and that may be a good indication of the market that this show is. The visitors at this show are apparently more attracted wearables and functional items (maybe because they are more easily giftable?) than they are art pieces. So this particular show may not be the best one to try to sell wall art at. You may want to seek out a more higher end show for that market – a juried show where each booth is carrying higher end wall and wearable art pieces vs craft style booths. The Paradise City shows for instance or something similar in your area. The booth fees will be very expensive but you’ll attract a much different clientèle.

    Don’t let the coaster comment get you down! I think that’s just a good indication of the type of customer at this show.

  8. I wonder if you could also have a video running with examples of how to hang the quArt in groupings to show customers what to do with it and how they can change it to suit their moods. Maybe go to a high-end furniture store and ask them to let you photograph groupings above fun pieces so people can fantasize about it hanging in their own homes. I love the idea of it!

    One other thing I thought of….I tend to buy more if I don’t have so many choices. Perhaps at one show offer the bags and rompers…at another offer the quArt and scarfs….just a thought.

    Your pieces are all beautiful!

  9. First off, I think your booth is wonderful. To me, like a candy shop, and no pun intended there. It is one I would be attracted to with the variety of color and items. beautiful. I think we, as artists, look at your art as art and would purchase and hang as groupings and know exactly what to do with it… But for the regular shopper – they need to be shown. So having said all that, maybe have some photos of your installed art as a ‘see what you can do with these wonderful pieces.’ And as far as the coaster comment goes… I wouldn’t get too hung up on that…. it’s kind of like the comment “a blanket for my wall?” ouch. I think the clientele has very much to do with what sells and what doesn’t. The person looking for a ‘craft’ has a hard time paying the price for ‘art’…. finding the person to pay for ‘art’ is hard right now. But I think your video is a great way to educate attendees for this type of show….. It’s all beautiful art IMO! 🙂

  10. Hey, love your work! You are so creative and like all of us creatives, are always struggling to transform our head full of a constant stream of ideas into some kind of order, something that people will love and want to take home with them.
    I wonder if you would find colour grouping helpful in your stall, it would help to draw the customers eye around the stall as well as setting out the artworks as they would be if the customer had them on their own wall in their own home.