First Art Show Lessons


My show is over. I made it! My first art show and I survived intact, had fun, made sales and met cool people. Happily, the event was made even better by the fact that my brother (cbpottery) was there with me. I definitely learned a few things for next time, so in no particular order:

1. Do NOT forget calculator
~ Imperative for the math-challenged artist. Although everyone was kind and understanding, I still felt like an idiot taking so long trying to do simple math for change. And you can just forget about sales tax. Holy crap.

2. Do invest in a REALLY good tent
~ while I opted for el cheapo tent because it was the only show I'm doing til next year, I really understand now why a well-made tent is a must. I spent so much time putzing with it in the minimal wind (tent reacted as if it was a gale), reinforcing it, and taking the damn thing down again (un-reinforcing took forever) when I was tired from the day - that I almost started throwing pieces of it around. Forget THAT trash. E-Z Up, reserve one for me!!

3. Make firm lunch plans OR get more reliable husband
~ My brother and I waited around, albeit with snacks and water, from 8:30am to 3:00pm waiting for my husband to show up with the lunch we asked for before he left ... Meanwhile, he was taking a day-long nap at home thinking we'd call when we were ready or had figured it out ourselves. By the time we got a hold of him, my brother decided since the show was over in a few hours - we would just eat afterwards. Heh - who knew between our evil tents, and repacking glass and earthenware inventory (and various lengthy convos with other folks), it took us almost two hours to leave. There was a happily-ever-after though, as my mom took us for a celebratory "first sibling show" dinner at a swanky restaurant (read prices that were high enough that I thought they were the meal "numbers" for ordering) because we were famished.

4. Do NOT (even if there are conflicting end times) try to get out the minute it's "over"
~ People showed up late - looking to spend, and spent it mostly on the one guy who hadn't gotten around to packing his stuff up yet because he was gabbing. Meanwhile, my inventory was mostly in boxes - which I did take out to show a few pieces but got no sales. Not that it would have been a "for sure" thing - but I do regret being hasty, and can understand why my brother was for holding off packing up for a bit.

5. Do NOT expect people to watch their children around your breakable valuables
~ I was reminded heavily of my lifeguarding days when some parents assumed that since you would save their children from drowning, you were also their babysitter for the day. *grrr* I learned that perhaps my glass boxes with the fun hinged lids should go a BIT out of reach of the 6 and under crowd - because some parents are perpetually oblivious to what their little ones are doing at any given moment.
*slam slam slam "this is fun, Mommy! I want one!" slam, slam*

6. Do STRESS LESS about fingerprints on glass - people just have to TOUCH everything
~ I've never really paid much attention to people's need to touch what they are looking at - there were fingerprints and smudges all over every piece of glass! I finally just gave up trying to buff them out, and started joking with folks about it. Because, y'know, *chuckle* it is always the other people that do it, not us.

So - what did I do right??? Here's a tiny list:

1. Invite your FRIENDS to visit! Do the show with FAMILY!
~ Having my wonderful big brother there was ... wonderful! It made the whole experience just all around better and more fun. We even started using it to our advantage when hobnobbing with the people, like a little comedy team. It was super nifty having my first show be along with him, because HE is super nifty.
~ What bright points in the day to have people I knew coming through here and there! It's hard to be "on" all day with strangers, it's nice to get a hug and a moment to nudge and wink with some bosom buddies (who know enough to fade politely away when necessary).

2. Coupons, cool business cards, group sale announcements, t-shirt with familiar arty place!
~ I made up some 20% off coupons good for one item at my online store. My mother advised to only give them out to people who bought something, but this show turned out to be more promotion than sales, so I handed them out to the serious browsers. I figure if they wanted my business card - an added incentive to actually look up my online store was a happy coupon!
~I also gave away EGA sale announcements and info to serious browsers AND to people I noticed wearing pretty jewelry or arty clothes (yea yea - snap judgements, but those I deemed would be interested in EGA goods - why not hand out a 1/2 sheet flyer??) Those flyers and coupons were sitting there for anyone to grab if they wanted, but only a few took them - so I did a lot of handing of my own accord.
~My brother and my MOO cards were a big hit! Definitely more so than a regular business card.
~ I happened to be wearing a t-shirt with a bright logo of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, and got quite a few comments on it, even a few conversations. Which might have possibly sparked a sale or two. Who knows? But, I do so love the MIA, so who cares?

There is probably more things I did right or wrong, but my well of thought has run dry. Needless to say, I had fun, sold enough to more than cover my expenses to be in the show - and hopefully drummed up some traffic to my Etsy store. (Which, of course, I'll be able to track through my ingenious coupon codes!) Oh, and everything I didn't sell - is happy extra inventory! WOO

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