Over this last weekend I took part in An Affair of the Heart (AAOTH) in Tulsa. While technically not my first show, I would consider this to be my first “real” show. The Vinita Route 66 Festival didn’t end up being much of a show due to the weather.
I knew at some point I would want to give AAOTH a try. It’s not the ideal venue for selling my art, but just the sheer number of people that attend made me want to give it a try. I wasn’t expecting to give it a try so quickly, but when I got to the point where it was either do nothing until September, apply for a show in Colorado in August, or apply for AAOTH, I decided to go ahead and give AAOTH a try. I applied last minute, and didn’t have high expectations for getting in, so I was pleasantly surprised when I got confirmation that I had a booth.
Thursday was set up day. Thankfully Tulsa is a pretty short drive from OKC, so I left shortly after lunch and was able to take my time setting up that afternoon into early evening. It was nice being able to think through the set up and not have to rush to get things set up (completely opposite of what Vinita was like). Between this being my first show and being such a large audience, I definitely had some anxiety, and didn’t sleep well at all Thursday night. Haha. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday were all show days. Then Sunday evening it was packing up, driving home, and unpacking. Some lessons learned, positives/highlights, and negatives are outlines below.
- I met a guy with a fire hydrant picture on his phone. I don’t think that will be a common occurrence.
- A joke was made about my fire hydrant pictures and the service dogs walking around.
- I got to talk to a young photographer who stopped by my booth. This was one of the bigger highlights. It was neat to get to interact with someone who is where I was not that long ago and hopefully provide a positive interaction and a little encouragement.
- Someone called the fire hydrants a fire plug. I had heard that before, but it still threw me for a loop for a second. Haha.
- Making people aware that we do indeed have a lighthouse in Oklahoma.
- Figured out a different way to pack my truck, totally by accident.
- Figured out a booth layout I really like.
- My first “stranger sale” (sale to someone other than a friend or family member) was a photo in my “other” category. I found it kind of ironic that my focus is mountain and fire hydrant photographs, and my first “stranger sale” was an “other” photograph.
- The “why fire hydrants” question didn’t come up until midway through the second day. I figured that would come up much quicker than that.
- I only made two sales the entire three days. I wasn’t expecting to sell any of my framed work (which I didn’t), but I expected I would sell more of my non-framed work. That was pretty frustrating, and made for three pretty long days.
- If I’m going to take stuff to make PB&J sandwiches to have for lunch during a show, remember to take ziplocks to put the sandwiches in.
- Have paper towels at my booth (just in case, for example, I drop a piece of said PB&J sandwich).
- Be careful with automatic app updates. This almost bit me big time. In the days leading up to the show, my iPad was low on battery so it wasn’t automatically updating apps. I charged it the night before the show, and the next day when I connected it to my hotspot (wi-fi), it updated apps since it was charged and on wi-fi, and in the process used over half my data for the month in that one day (literally two days after my data reset). Thankfully I didn’t need much data the rest of the show (and won’t need it for the remainder of the month), so it didn’t turn out to be a big deal.
So in conclusion, while it was a pretty big failure on the sales side, it wasn’t a complete loss. It was great for the experience, for learning some lessons, and getting more kinks worked out. There were some great interactions with people visiting my booth, and I got a lot of great feedback on my work. And maybe someday down the road I’ll look back and realize an opportunity presented itself due to participating in this show. But for now it’s hurry up and wait until the Joplin Arts Fest in mid-September, which should be a much better venue to sell my work.
Finally, if you stopped by my booth during the show and have any feedback (positive or negative), I would love to hear your it. Shoot an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, send me a message on Facebook, or use the contact page on my website.