Monday, March 21, 2016

Art Shows are Like Fishing

Packed the booth walls and paintings into an 5x8 U-Haul trailer and headed east to St Augustine. I was lucky for we have friends who live about twenty minutes from the venue so I was saved the cost of housing.

The show was held in a large field across from the parking garage which was different for all the previously attended events were on main streets closed to traffic. Because they had excess space they placed booths into quarters so each booth had an outer display wall. They also allowed the exhibitors to set-up on Friday from noon to seven, which is less stressful than putting your booth up in the dark.

Since St Augustine is a popular spot and with strong ties to art, I thought the show would be well attended by art lovers with money; sadly, this was was not the case.

There was a forecast of rain on Saturday, which did not occur except a few sprinkles, but it may have been the reason for a mediocre turn out. A few tire kickers stopped by the booth to view the paintings but were not serious buyers. One can identify those interested in purchasing a painting by the excitement in their voice and where it would fit in their home. Most view those paintings that seem interesting and say, "I really love your work" as they exit the booth.

While accolades were once a validation of the quality of work I produced, it now passes as a polite expression viewers say as they walk past me on their way out.

Others are what I call, "Drive by viewers", they look towards the booth as they walk by, which differentiates them from the ones who just walk by. I figure that most of those who attend art or arts and craft shows are doing so as something to do. They might stop at a booth if they find something of interest but there is only a 20% chance they might make a purchase. While talking with the vendor next to me, I told him that attending shows is much like fishing. You may or may not have the right bait but one has to wait in hopes a fish passes and takes the bait. Then it is up to the fisherman to land it.

Using this same analogy, there were view fish walking around and even fewer interested in what I had to offer. Saturday was a long day full with disappointment. In order to be a fisherman one has to be optimistic expecting at any moment the big one will bite.

The weather improved on Sunday and it seemed more fish, I mean people, were milling around but few stopped by the booth. An idea slapped me across the face, hang the large painting, "Two Willetts" on the outside wall. For those who are not familiar with my paintings, it is a 3 foot by 4 foot black and white painting of two willetts. It is an eye catcher for sure and it did the trick. Those entering the gate noticed it immediately and walked up to look it over.

Two women were drawn to the booth to look over the painting and I showed them my other paintings hanging inside. When one of the ladies saw, "Sea Grapes" she told her friend to purchase it for it would go well with her couch.

My spirit was soaring until they said they wanted to walk around, but they would be back to purchase the painting. From experience those who leave the nest never return, or to return to the fishing analogy, once a fish throws the hook, they swim away.

Later that afternoon I began to smile watching them approach the booth. They walked to the side with the "Two Willetts" and one lady said she would buy it and then we walked in side and she wanted to buy the "Sea Grapes". Wow!! two paintings that would be over six hundred dollars. The second lady didn't see anything that would go in her house and that is when I pulled out my pad to show her paintings I had hanging elsewhere. I struck pay dirt when she saw "Egret Taking Flight". The colors and subject matter worked - she said she would take it. I had to tell her that it was hanging in a gallery and I couldn't pull it until the end of the month, which wasn't a problem.

One never knows when a fish may strike and make your day. I asked for a 40 dollar security deposit, which they provided - their purchase made my day!

As for the show itself, it had weak attendance for those vendors who spent a great deal on housing, food and the 250 dollar booth space. After attending over six art shows I still haven't found how to identify profitable art shows or if they exist. As I said, it is a lot like fishing.

No comments:

Post a Comment