The Final Buzzer or an Intermission?

Empty space where my photo printer used to be.

Back when I decided to hike the Continental Divide Trail (CDT) I knew it would involve getting rid of my photo printer. It couldn’t be put in storage for several months and I wasn’t going to ask anybody to keep it at their place and use it every few days to make sure nozzles didn’t get clogged. That was definitely one of the big cons of doing the hike when I made the decision. I wasn’t sure, after getting rid of that, if I would ever get back into printing photos. 

As the end of 2020 approached I decided I would try to make a bunch of prints before I sold the printer to use up remaining paper and matting supplies. This would also give me a stockpile of prints I could use for art shows later on even if I didn’t have a printer. After selling the printer I would terminate my business registration in Texas and Missouri, but keep my business registration in Oklahoma (where I had originally registered it). Although keeping it in tact would involve some monthly expenses and renewing my insurance, I wanted to keep it in tact in case some sort of opportunity came up quickly after finishing my hike. I had also put a lot of work into getting it set up, so I wanted to keep it going if I could, at least until I figured some things out after the hike. 

Then January and February happened. My printer started having a problem with clogged nozzles on a particular color. I couldn’t get the problem to go away, so I ended up having a technician stop by a couple different times to fix it, which cost me around $1,000, and neither attempt fixed the problem. After the second attempt, he suggested running a bunch of ink through. In the meantime, I purchased several ink cartridges with the intention of replacing a few expired cartridges that were in the printer prior to selling it. With all the nozzle cleaning, I ended up needing some additional ink cartridges. At roughly $90 each, this was another good chunk of money spent. Between the repairs and the ink cartridges, I had spent about as much money as I was likely going to get from selling the printer. I had all sorts of issues with the ink cartridges being out of stock or getting delayed in shipping. After two months of trying to get the problem fixed I still hadn’t made any progress. I was to the point that I didn’t want to put any more time or money into trying to fix it. The cost of the only other fix the technician had mentioned was about as much as purchasing a brand new printer. So in early March I finally decided to just give the printer away. Another artist picked up the printer shortly after that. 

January and February brought me to the realization that the chances of giving it another go anytime soon are probably pretty small. A printer is a big investment, and I will be hesitant to buy one unless I feel confident I can reliably make sales. I need to make enough sales to keep enough ink moving through the printer so that cartridges don’t expire, and that is quite a bit of prints. Another option would be to use a lab, but I don’t want to do that. It almost feels like cheating, and that it’s not fully my piece of art. With that realization I have decided to completely “close up shop” prior to starting the CDT. I have already started filling out and filing the paperwork for Texas and Missouri. I’ll start with the Oklahoma paperwork before too much longer. 

Although there have been some frustrating moments with the printer, and it ended on a very sour note, overall I have enjoyed learning the process and making prints of my photos over the last two years. It is much more satisfying seeing a beautiful print of one of my photos as opposed to just seeing it on a computer monitor. I also feel much more pride behind the prints when they come from my printer as opposed to from a lab. I absolutely loved to see my tent all set up for a show. For the most part I enjoyed traveling to and participating in the few art shows I got to do. I enjoy road trips and seeing new places, and the art shows were a great way to do that. Not having much of a social life, the shows were a great way to get out, socialize, meet other artists, and see lots of great art. I have several pieces of art from other artists hanging on my walls that I likely never would have found had it not been for getting into the art shows. It also gave me the opportunity to get some fire hydrant pictures in places I may not have otherwise visited. 

However, while there have been some enjoyable parts of trying to sell my art, the last two years have been disappointing to say the least. There has been no shortage of positive feedback and comments about my art wherever I have been, but sales have been a different story. I haven’t sold a single limited edition print over the two years. I never came close to breaking even on any of the art shows I participated in. I never sold a single print in the three times I had my art on display in a gallery in Paseo (the art district in OKC). While I enjoyed the shows, I often came home depressed about the sales. I will admit a lot of this likely had to do with my initial limited edition prices being too high, and by the time I got them down to where they probably should have started COVID hit and I only got a couple opportunities to try to sell them at that price. I also should have done better at offering/advertising non-framed limited editions. Despite not making many sales, the printer still had to get used to keep ink moving, so I had to decide whether to stockpile prints or waste ink by printing on plain paper, so the printer became more of a burden. I started to have issues with ink cartridges expiring before I went through them. As mentioned above, January and February were particularly frustrating. 

So, at this point, I’m actually kind of looking forward to closing up shop. I can put the money I was going to spend keeping the business in tact towards storing all the stuff. I’m hoping I can use it as more of a reset button than a complete shutdown. I would like to give it a go again at some point, hopefully sooner rather than later. Despite not making near as many prints in January and February as I had hoped, I still have a fairly large stockpile of prints that I would rather not trash or just give away. There have been lots of lessons and skills learned over the last two years that would help out with another attempt.

I’ll still keep most of the tools and supplies for the time being in case I do decide to give it another try at some point down the road. I’ll still be out taking pictures. I’ll still have my website where I post/display my photos. I’ll keep my Facebook and Instagram pages going. I will be stopping my monthly newsletter but I will keep my blog. So I won’t be going completely away, but the official business will cease to exist. To all of you who purchased one of my prints, thank you so much. You definitely helped make this short adventure worth it, and I love knowing I have a few prints out there in the world. Hopefully this is an intermission instead of the end, but we’ll see what life has in store. 

Show Report: Austin Music & Arts Fest 2020

Over the weekend I participated in the Austin Music & Arts Festival. Even before the coronavirus I didn’t have real high hopes leading up to the festival. I got the impression it was more of a music festival with artists on the side, but it was supposed to bring in a pretty large crowd, so I figured it was worth a shot. I never saw any sort of promotion or listing of the artists participating (outside off the musicians). Most of the shows I have done so far (if not all of them) have at least listed the artists on their website, so that was a little bit discouraging. And then caronavirus happened, and I fully expected the show to be cancelled. They did end up changing where the artist booths were located and the arrangement to try to space us out a bit, but the show went on. Keep reading for all the details of the weekend.

Friday

I got to the festival site a little after noon on Friday. It wasn’t clear at all where we were supposed to check in. I eventually found another artist and talked to him about it for a minute. There really wasn’t a place to check in, and it was first come, first served for booth location, so I pulled up to an open spot and started setting up. One really nice thing about this show was that I was able to park my truck right behind my booth and leave it there while I was setting up and during the actual show. It’s always really nice not to have to dolly everything to my spot. I have had a couple other shows where I have been able to park my truck next to the booth during set up, but this was the first show I was able to park the truck behind the booth during the show. 

Set up went pretty well. The weather was great, which always helps. When I was setting up the top of my booth, I ended up putting it on ever so slightly crooked, which I didn’t notice until I started putting the exterior walls up since it made the exterior walls off a bit. I eventually got it fixed well enough. Lesson learned for next time. Haha. I believe I was finished setting up in about 2.5 hours, and that was going at a fairly relaxed pace. Much better than the 4 hours it would take me when I first started doing shows. Thankfully that left me some time to go get some fire hydrant pictures around Round Rock. After I spent 2-3 hours doing fire hydrant pictures, I checked into the hotel, got cleaned up, and then went to eat at Torchy’s Tacos. I asked one of the locals where to eat after I finished setting up and he recommended Torchy’s. I got the green chile pork taco and Mexican rice. Both were very good. After that it was back to the hotel to call it a day. 

Saturday

On Saturday the show didn’t start until 11, which gave me some time to go get fire hydrant pictures in Austin. When I went to make my PB&J sandwiches before leaving, I realized I had left my peanut butter at home. Thankfully I had noticed some peanut butter packets in the breakfast area, so I went and grabbed some of those. I spent about an hour and a half getting fire hydrant pictures, and then went to the show. Once again I thought there was supposed to be a spot for artists to check in when we arrived, but that was nowhere to be found. Eventually I went with a couple other artists and we found one of the organizers, and the organizer said someone would be by our booths at some point with our packets. Someone came by a while later with the packets, which had our wristbands, two $8 credit tokens to the food trucks, and two beverage tokens. It was nice to get the food truck and beverage tokens. 

The show got off to a pretty slow start. I think it was about an hour and a half before someone actually came into my booth. Thankfully the booths were closer together than I was expecting, so I could visit with the neighboring artists while it was slow. I had been worried leading up to the show that the distance between booths would make visiting with neighboring artists and watching my booth difficult. During the early afternoon there was a fairly steady flow of people coming through the festival, but not busy by any means. Then after 6:00 traffic pretty much died off. I ended up leaving around 7:45. The weather was great once again. It got a little bit breezy around noon, but it died back down later in the afternoon. I made a couple sales, I got visit with a couple of my neighbors, and I met a former city manager of Guthrie, OK and had a good conversation with her. So not a complete loss of a day, but I have had better days. 

Sunday

Sunday I slept in a little bit. I had thought about getting up earlier and getting some more pictures in Austin, but decided to wait until next trip and try to get some extra sleep since I would be getting up early on Monday morning. It actually turned out to be a good choice because it was raining lightly in the morning. I got breakfast and then worked on getting some of this blog typed up while I had some spare time. 

I headed to the show a little after 10:00. Several of the artists around my tent decided to pack up Saturday evening and not come back for Sunday. It rained on and off from the time I got there until around 2:30. That on top of everything else resulted in the show being a ghost town pretty much. Between 11 and 2:30, I only remember two people coming into my booth. I was able to do some reading on hiking options for my solo backpacking trip later this year, so that was nice, but that was about the only nice thing about it. 

I decided around 2:30 to call it a day and started packing up. I would say at least half of the artists at that point were either gone already or in the process of packing up. By the time I left, there were very few artists left. The tear down was nice since I was able to take my time and there was music playing. That is the first tear down at a show where it hasn’t been a rush to try and get everything torn down and packed. However, packing up when everything is wet is no fun, and the exterior of my tent ended up getting pretty dirty. Thus the picture above of my tent exterior drying after getting wiped down in my garage.

Conclusion

So all in all a pretty crazy trip. Lots of ups and downs. Definitely not the most organized show, but they did get thrown a curve ball at the last minute. Sunday was really disappointing, but I was glad I was able to make a couple sales on Saturday. It wouldn’t have surprised me if I didn’t make a sale all weekend. Hopefully some of the pictures I got turned out. That would at least help make the trip a little more worth it. I really liked a song they used to test the sound system, so I got a new song added to my iTunes library. I ended up coming home with some art from a couple other artists to get hung on my walls (more details on this on Facebook later this week). And as always, it was nice to meet some other artists. I will try to get the pictures posted in the next couple weeks, so be on the lookout for those. 

Show Report: Feb. 2020 AAOTH OKC

A couple weekends ago I had a booth at An Affair of the Heart (AAOTH) in Oklahoma City. This was my second time to do AAOTH. The first time was in Tulsa this past July. I knew going into it that it wasn’t the ideal show for me, but there wasn’t much to choose from in regards to fine art shows this time of year unless I wanted to drive a long ways. It was a nice show due to the amount of people that attended, it was a big plus that it was a local show, and a big plus that it was an indoor show (didn’t have to take my weights or tent exterior). 

It was interesting doing this show after having done a few fine art shows. The Tulsa AAOTH was my very first show so I didn’t have anything to compare it to. The amount of people that attend AAOTH shows far exceeds any of the art shows I have done. However, I would say the amount of people who actually came into my booth at the OKC AAOTH was on par, or even less, than some of the art shows I have done. So while the crowd was bigger, most of the people passed by my booth, whereas at the art shows I did last year a much larger percentage of attendees seemed to actually come into my booth. 

I didn’t have very high expectations going into the show, but it actually ended up being a really good show for a couple reasons. It was my best show so far in regards to sales, which really isn’t saying much at this point, but that was encouraging. More than that, though, was the exposure. It was nice to get my art out into the local market, and my booth ended up getting featured in a video on the AAOTH Facebook page during the show (thank you AAOTH!). Any additional exposure I can get at this point is a big win. 

So all in all, it was a positive weekend, and I’m glad to be back doing shows after having a couple months off. 

2020 Print Sales Changes

2020 is here, and with the new year I’m going to make some changes to how I’m selling prints. For reference, here is the way I have done it up to this point:

  • Small size
    • Open editions (semigloss paper, matted)
  • Medium size
    • Open editions (semigloss paper, matted)
    • Limited editions (matte paper, matted and framed)
  • Large size
    • Limited editions (matte paper, matted and framed)

Going forward, I’m discontinuing my medium size open editions, and will start taking medium size limited editions that aren’t framed to shows. Why make these changes?

  • Open editions are not allowed at some shows. 
  • It will simplify things. Small prints will be open editions, and medium and large prints will be limited editions. I will no longer have the same size sold as open editions and limited editions. 
  • It will eliminate one tote that I have to take to shows.
  • I will be able to get rid of one of my print racks, which will open up a little more wall and table space in my booth. 
  • If someone wants a limited edition, but doesn’t like my frames, this will allow them to purchase the print and frame it themselves. 

I will continue to sell my current inventory of medium size open editions at the same price, and will continue to print and sell small size open editions at shows I can. Unfortunately, it will be messy until I sell the remaining inventory of my medium open editions, and it’s definitely a gamble from a sales perspective. However, I think in the long run it will be a good decision.

Finally, I will be reducing limited edition pricing by about 10%. 

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out using any of the methods on my contact page

Show Report: Art in the Park 2019

This past weekend I traveled all the way down to Friendswood, TX (southeast side of Houston) to participate in the Friendswood Art in the Park. Back when I started applying for shows, I made it a goal to try and participate in a show each month. When I was looking at shows for November, I was having trouble finding shows within a few hours drive of OKC, and happened to stumble across this show with a Google search. I would have preferred a closer show, but since I couldn’t find anything else, I decided to apply and give it a shot if I got in (and as you can now tell, I got in.)

Friday

I left Friday morning at 6:00 A.M. to try and get to Friendswood with enough time to set up before it got dark. I have heard from many, many people about the horrible traffic in Houston, so between that and having to drive through Dallas/Ft. Worth, I wasn’t really looking forward to the drive. It actually didn’t end up being too bad on the way down. I made it in a little over 7 hours. There were a few slow spots in DFW and Houston, but nothing too bad.

After figuring out where to park, I ate a quick lunch and then got started setting up. There were 3 side-by-sides available for the artists to use to unload their stuff. That was definitely a good perk. However, I just used my dolly since it wasn’t far from my truck to where my spot was. The weather was beautiful for set up, and set up went really smooth. Since they had to move the booth locations the night before the show (due to recent rain and muddy conditions) and I didn’t see any place to plug in, I figured we wouldn’t have electricity and didn’t put up my lights (more on this later). I was completely set up by around 5, with some time to spare before it got dark. I think I finally have a pretty good system down for setting up, which helps a lot.

After getting set up I headed to my hotel and got checked in, and then got dinner at a Wendy’s. The rest of the evening was spent getting stuff ready for the show and watching some TV.

Saturday

Fire hydrant picture taken in Kemah on Saturday morning prior to the show starting.

The show didn’t start until 10:00 on Saturday, so I left the motel around 7:45 to try and get some fire hydrant pictures before the show started. I almost didn’t bring my camera for the trip, but by the end of the trip I was really glad I put it in. I got a few pictures, and then headed to the show. Right before the show started I was given my booth sign. I didn’t have any rope with me to put it up, so I had to run back to my truck and dig my rope out to put it up. That was a little bit annoying. It would have been nice to get that the day before when I was setting up.

It got busy pretty quickly after 10:00, and it stayed busy until around 3:00, at which point traffic slowly started tailing off. Around 4:00 I started noticing a few booths that had lights set up, and shortly thereafter noticed a couple extension cords running behind my tent. I went behind my tent and looked, and at some point after I finished setting up a generator had been placed back there with some plug ins. By 5:00 I was wishing I had put my lights up, since it started to get pretty dark inside my tent. I had meant to ask about power when I arrived, but in my hurry to start getting set up, I forgot to ask them, and my assumptions were incorrect. Lesson learned. Haha. The show ended at 6, but I shut down around 5:45 since it was really too dark to see anything in the tent.

Lasagna dinner at Frenchie’s on Saturday evening after the show.

Other than the lack of light towards the end of the show, it was a good first day. It was the best day of sales I have had so far (which isn’t saying much), the weather was beautiful, and I had pretty good traffic through the booth most of the day. After the sun went down, it cooled off quick though. By the time I left, I was pretty cold, even with my fleece jacket on. After I left I stopped by Frenchie’s Italian Restaurant for dinner. I got their lasagna. I highly recommend stopping by there for dinner if you’re in the area. It was delicious. I really wanted to try one of their desserts, but I was too full for that. After dinner it was back to the hotel for the evening.

Sunday

Picture taken Sunday morning prior to the show starting.

On Sunday the show started at 11, so once again I left the motel early and took some time to get some more pictures. I got to the show about 40 minutes early to give myself some time to get set up and then walk around and see some other booths. It was nice to have some time for that. Since I’m by myself I’m not really able to walk around during the shows.

The traffic was definitely slower on Sunday. It wasn’t dead by any means, but not as busy as Saturday. The weather was absolutely beautiful once again. Thankfully I made some sales on Saturday, because I didn’t make any sales on Sunday. The show ended at 5:00. I finished getting everything packed up at 7:00. I was a little bit worried about packing up in the dark, but thankfully there was enough ambient light that it wasn’t a big problem. As with the setup, I think I have a pretty good system in place now for the tear down as well.

After that it was back to the hotel to get stuff ready to leave early the next morning.

Final Remarks

My main complaint with this show was that the communication could have been much better. The only communication I really received between my confirmation in July and the show was my booth location a week before the show. The two shows I did prior to this sent out at least one email prior to the show with details such as parking, rules/regulations, electricity, hospitality, sales tax, etc. Once the artist application was removed from the website, I couldn’t figure out a way to get any of this info for the show. When I got to the show, there was no check in booth. I just had to ask around and find the person I needed to talk to about finding my spot and setting up. And as I mentioned before, I didn’t get my booth sign until the start of the show. So in the “leading up to the show” phase, I have definitely experienced better.

As far as the show itself, it actually exceeded my expectations. With the lack of communication leading up the show, and the show not being on Zapplication like a lot of other shows, I was kind of skeptical going into the show. There was a nice mix of mediums, along with performing arts and food trucks. There was pretty much always at least some traffic through the show, and I had a lot of people stop in my booth to take a look and chat. As I mentioned earlier, Friday was my best sales day so far, which still wasn’t great, but still a positive. I was actually really surprised at how much interest there was in my fire hydrant pictures. I haven’t expected to sell a whole lot of those, but the sales and interest so far in those (particularly at this show) has been encouraging. All the people I encountered were great. A couple of the previous shows I did were better about bringing around snacks/drinks to the artists, and having booth sitters stop by, but that’s not a huge deal to me. Just something I figured I would point out. I didn’t visit with other artists as much at this show as I had at my previous two shows, but I still met and chatted with a few, which was nice.

So all in all, a pretty good weekend. It was fun to visit a place I have never been to, to get some pictures while I was there, get my art out in front of some more people, and meet some more artists. I’ll definitely consider this show for next year. I have a couple months until my next show, so hopefully I don’t forget the system I have put together for packing, setting up, and tearing down 🙂

If you want to see the pictures I got over the weekend, go check them out on my website.

Trip Report: 10/19/19 Fire Hydrants

This past Saturday I decided to take a day trip to photograph some fire hydrants. It had been a long time since my last trip, and I figured I better get a trip in while the weather was still nice and I had a quiet weekend. I decided to go up to northwestern Oklahoma. The route I took is in the picture below.

Friday night and Saturday morning I had scouted out some possible pictures along this route using Google maps and street view. I had done that for trips before, but not to the extent that I did it for this trip. By the time I left, I had a pretty good list of pictures to try and get.

I believe I left around 9:00 Saturday morning. I wanted to let the sun get up a little ways before I headed out. My first stop was Calumet. I quickly discovered that Google street view isn’t necessarily a reliable source for what things currently look like. One of the buildings I wanted to get in the background of a picture had been torn down and a new building was in its place. I got a couple pictures I was wanting to get, along with one I hadn’t planned for.

That was the general trend of the day. There were a couple other instances where either the fire hydrant I wanted, or the building in the background, were no longer there, which was always disappointing. One of the most disappointing ones was the fire hydrant in the Google street view image below from Okeene, OK. I was really wanting to get a picture of that hydrant with the church in the background, but the fire hydrant is no longer there. I was pretty bummed out about that.

Another really disappointing one was the fire hydrant in the street view image below from Clinton, OK. I really wanted to get the old fire station in the background of this fire hydrant. But when I showed up, there was a stop sign behind the fire hydrant that ruined the picture. I thought maybe I just missed the stop sign when I was looking at street view, but in the street view, the intersection has a stoplight, not a stop sign. So I got a good lesson to not necessarily get my hopes up based on Google street view. Haha.

But even though there were a few that didn’t work out, there were a few that were surprises. In Calumet I was able to get a fire hydrant with several drilling rigs in the background, which is the first panoramic fire hydrant image I have done, and is quite fitting for the area. I also got the image below as I was leaving Okeene. I kept driving about a 1/4 mile after seeing this before I convinced myself to turn around and get the picture. I’m glad I turned around and got it.

I grabbed some food at Jiggs Smokehouse in Clinton before hitting the road back to OKC. Jiggs is in a really random spot. I would have never known it was there if not for Google maps. It was on the pricey side. Over $12 for the food below and a small (think kid size) drink. The food was great though. So for taste, I recommend, but if you’re on a budget, probably not the best place.

So there you have it. Disappointments, surprises, and some good food. Generally how each trip goes. Haha. All my pictures have been posted on my website. You can check them out here. Leave a comment about which one is your favorite!

Show Report: Summit Art Fest 2019

This past weekend I participated in the Summit Art Fest in Lee’s Summit, MO. It had its ups, and it had its downs. Keep reading for the details!

Friday

I had driven to my brother’s place in SE Kansas Thursday evening, so I left from his place around 7:20 Friday morning to head up to Lee’s Summit. That got me there around 9:20. I got checked in, pulled the truck up to my spot, and got everything unloaded. After parking the truck in the artist parking lot, I started getting stuff set up. It was in the low 40s and windy while I was setting up, but thankfully my spot was fairly sheltered from the wind, so it wasn’t too bad setting up. Set up went much better than the Joplin show last month. Having it fresh on my mind and the learnings from the Joplin show helped a lot. I tried a little bit of a different layout than Joplin, and I really liked it. I’ll probably stick with that going forward. My custom print rack worked pretty well. It’s a little bit higher than I would like, but I’m not sure how I’m going to fix that. 

I did get pretty lucky with set up though. The tents are set up on the sides of the streets, and since the streets are fairly narrow, I couldn’t have my stuff sitting in front of my booth since it would block traffic. Thus, I had to set most of my stuff behind my tent. Thankfully I was able to get my tent set up and get everything moved around the front and into my tent before I had people set up on both sides of me. Had people been setting up on both sides of me while I was setting up, it could have been a really frustrating set up. 

I finished set up shortly after 1:00, and left to go grab lunch and try to check into the hotel. I got to the hotel around 2:00. Check in started at 3:00, but thankfully they let me check in early. I got stuff moved in, changed clothes, put some food together, and then headed back to the show.

The show started at 4:00. It was a fairly slow evening. I’m sure the weather didn’t help. By the end of the show at 8:00, I had on two jackets, gloves, and a beanie, and I was still a little bit cold. As I mentioned before, though, I was pretty well sheltered from the wind, which I was very thankful for. Some art show volunteers came by during the evening giving out a free slice of pizza to each artist. That was nice. Since it was fairly slow, I was able to chat with a few of the artists around me. It was great getting to know them a little bit. The show ended without making any sales. That was a bummer, but I had heard several artists say Saturday was their best day last year, so I was hopeful that Saturday would be better. Overall the weather was much better than I was expecting. I was expecting it to be a pretty miserable day, but it wasn’t too bad, other than getting a little cold at the end of the show. 

Saturday

Saturday morning got off to a rough start. As I was walking out to my truck to head to the show, I thought to myself I was glad none of my windows were broken out on the truck. However, after I opened the door, I realized that someone had been in my truck and stolen several items (tool boxes, sunglasses, rain suit, etc.). So I had to wait for the police to show up to make a report. The show started at 10:00, and it was 10:45 before I made it to the show. That put me in a sour mood the rest of the day. I tried to put on a happy face, but inside I was in a pretty bad mood. 

There was a fairly steady stream of traffic most of the afternoon. It wasn’t super busy by any means, but steady. I used my food truck coupon for lunch, and ate my normal PB&J, fruit cup, and pudding cup for dinner. We got another free slice of pizza for dinner as well. I finally made my first sale around 6:00. The evening was pretty slow, which allowed a lot of time to visit with the artists around me again. The weather was much warmer than Friday. Still a little bit chilly by the end of the show, but better than Friday evening. The show ended at 8:00, at which point I closed down and headed back to the hotel. 

Sunday

Sunday morning I woke up at 6:45, and it sounded like there was an elephant walking around in the room above me. I wasn’t able to get back to sleep, so I got up a little while later. The show didn’t start until 11, so I spent some time looking up the value of the items that were stolen out of my truck so I could provide a final list with values to the officer that took the report. It came out to about $500 worth of items. It could have been a lot worse though. I got everything packed up and loaded into the truck. Before I left the motel, I looked through the security footage to see if I could see when/how it happened. I was able to find it, and took a video of the video with my phone. A huge thanks to the clerk for helping me out and letting me do this. After that I stopped by Dicks Sporting Goods to see if I could find some sunglasses, but didn’t find any I liked. After that I headed to the show and got set up. I got the email sent off to the officer with a link to the video. 

The Chiefs game was pretty much during the entire show, so I wasn’t expecting many people at the show. It wasn’t near as busy as Saturday, but there were more people than I expected, which was nice. We got to see the flyover for the Chiefs game, which was pretty cool. The weather was absolutely beautiful on Sunday. Perfect art show weather.

The show ended at 4:00, without making any sales. I got stuff torn down and packed up, and hit the road shortly after 6. I was on track to get home around 11:30, but something had traffic really backed up between Tulsa and OKC, so I didn’t get home until 12:15, and didn’t get to bed until 12:50.

Final Thoughts

The show itself seemed like a pretty good show. I’m new at this, so I don’t have much to compare it to. The hospitality tent was nice. It was in a neat setting in the downtown area. There were booth sitters if needed. The free pizza and food truck coupon was a plus. I was really happy with the spot my tent was in. And for once it didn’t rain. Also, there were a lot of dogs. Sometimes I was wondering if I was at a dog show instead of an art show. Haha. They were all really well behaved dogs, though, so it wasn’t a problem. 

I left the show not quite knowing what to think though. On one hand, I was really frustrated that I only made one sale and didn’t come anywhere close to breaking even. This is despite person after person coming through my booth commenting how beautiful my work is. All three of my shows have gone that way. I wonder how long I’ll keep trying this before I decide my money is better spent elsewhere (aka backpacking trips, new vehicle, etc.). And having the stuff stolen this time definitely didn’t help. One of the artists at the show encouraged me not to let it get me down, but it’s hard not to. On the other hand, it’s great hearing all the compliments. I’m not much of a social person outside of the shows, so it’s great to get to interact with the people who come through the booth, and to get to know the artists who are around me and see their work.

So for now, it’s on to the Houston area in about a month for my next show. I’m sure I’ll keep trying shows through at least the middle of next year as long as I can handle it financially, especially since I’ll hopefully get to do some local shows the first half of next year. And, as I keep telling myself, maybe I’ll be surprised one day from by something that came as a result of doing one of these shows.

Finally, want to give a shout out to Aaron Henry, Susan Kiefer, and Crystal Nederman for being great neighbors. I really enjoyed getting to know them over the weekend. I wish them the best of luck, and I hope I can cross paths with them again in the future.  

Show Report: 2019 Joplin Arts Fest

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This past Friday and Saturday I participated in the Joplin Arts Fest in Joplin, MO. Although I participated in “An Affair of the Heart” back in July, the Joplin Arts Fest was my first “fine art show” to participate in, so I was excited to see how it went. 

Friday

I left OKC around 6:30 A.M. Friday morning. I had to stop at my parents’ place on the way to Joplin to grab a couple things. I was planning on hanging out there for an hour or so, but rain was on the way so I grabbed what I needed and headed up to Joplin hoping to get my tent set up before the rain arrived. I got to Mercy Park around 10:15. I got checked in, unloaded my tent, and then parked my truck outside the festival area while I got my tent set up. I didn’t want to unload everything and leave my art sitting out in case it started to rain before I had the tent set up. 

It took way longer than I had expected to get the tent set up. I could definitely tell it had been a while since I had set up the exterior of the tent. Before I raised the top up to put the legs on, I strapped the sides of the top cover down to keep it on, and figured I would do the rest of the straps after it was up. After I raised the front up, the wind caught it and blew the front of the top cover back up over the top. Then later something didn’t seem quite right after I put the first couple walls up, so I took them back down and rearranged how I put the walls up. Just a couple examples of the rust that needed shaken off.

I eventually got the tent put up, and pulled my truck up again to unload the rest of the stuff. Just as I was starting to get stuff unloaded a light rain started to fall. It didn’t rain a whole lot, and thankfully I was able to get everything unloaded into the tent without anything getting wet. I left to grab lunch when I got to a good stopping point, and then came back and worked on getting the tent put together some more. It was fairly breezy during the afternoon, and after getting some stuff set up, I decided to change the layout due to the way the wind was blowing. That was a pretty big pain, and another thing that added time to getting everything ready to go. Thankfully I was able to get everything set up prior to the show starting. I cut it way closer than I thought I would, so it’s a good thing I didn’t hang out at my parents’ place for long.

The Artist/Patrons reception was from 5-6, and then the show was open to the public from 6-10. The weather was great for the show that evening. It was quite busy from 6-8, and then slowed down the rest of the evening. I spent some time while it was slow visiting with Randall Kronblad and his wife, who were in the tent next to me. At 10 I closed up the tent and headed back to the hotel. I thought having the show after dark was pretty neat. The lighting adds another creative element to the tent setup for each artist. I don’t expect there to be many shows where the show happens after dark.

Saturday

The next morning the show started at 9. It started out slow, but the crowd picked up later in the morning. It was fairly breezy in the morning. Not near as bad as Vinita was for me earlier this year, but still breezy enough to shake the tent around a little bit. Some rain came through around noon, but thankfully the wind died down while it was raining. The worst part of the storm went to our north. After the rain cleared out it was pretty nice right up until the end of the show. Right at the end a few more showers came through. Nothing significant, but enough to get the tent wet right before having to pack it up. I had a fairly steady flow of people through my booth most of the day. It wasn’t crowded by any means, but I at least had people coming through. I was able to visit with Randall and his wife quite a bit throughout the day as well.

At 4 I started getting everything packed up. I had my brother, his fiancé, and my mom there to help out where they could, which was nice. The weather ended up bring great for the tear down, which I was quite thankful for. I think it was about 6:30 by the time  we had everything packed up. We went and got some ice cream from Braums before hitting the road.

Final Thoughts

In regards to sales, it was very disappointing. I didn’t make a single sale the entire show. I think some other artists did fairly well, but I wasn’t one of them. I had lots and lots of oohs and aahs and compliments, but no sales. That was a big bummer. But with that being said, it was a good experience. It was a good show for my first show. The crowd was much better than “An Affair of the Heart”. I had much more traffic through my booth, and had much more conversation with visitors. It was also great to get to visit with Randall and his wife quite a bit. Hopefully I can run into them on occasion in the future. I was able to briefly meet an artist that will be at my next show, so I’ll have to try and find him there. There were volunteers roaming around offering drinks and breaks if needed, which was nice. The musical performers were great. I didn’t find them distracting or overwhelming, but a great compliment to the show. And it was nice to be able to try a different layout and some tweaks I had made since my last outdoor show. Each show brings learnings and things to try at the next show.

This show made 3 out of 3 outdoor shows that I have been rained on. I’m really hoping I can break that streak soon. Thankfully there weren’t thunderstorms like the previous two, and overall the weather was much better than I was expecting.

For the one night I stayed in Joplin, I stayed at the Best Western. The room definitely wasn’t anything fancy. Not bad by any means, but nothing fancy. The service was great though. I got a snack bag when I checked in. The front desk clerk called shortly after I got to my room to check if the room was ok. Saturday morning there was an employee offering to make waffles for anybody who wanted one. So I wanted to give this place some kudos for the service.

Finally, I want to give a big thank you to Steve Doerr for the mentoring/feedback he provided during the application process. This was the first art show I applied to, and after submitting my application, Steve got back to me with some feedback to help me improve my application, and allowed me to resubmit my application. That was great feedback to receive as I was just starting to apply to shows, and I am very appreciative of it.

Thanks to everybody who stopped by my booth as well!

Newsletter Change

Want to make you aware of a change I will be making with my August newsletter (which will likely be sent out this weekend). Up until this point, I have posted my monthly newsletters on this blog. Starting with the August newsletter, I will be using Square to send it out. If you have signed up to follow my blog with your email address, I will sign you up to receive my newsletter. If you would rather not receive it, you can unsubscribe in the email. If you have not signed up to follow my blog with your email address, you can sign up for my newsletter here. I will still post other content on this blog, just not my newsletters.

Show Recap: An Affair of the Heart Tulsa

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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.

Positives/Highlights

  • 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.

Surprises/Interesting Notes

  • 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.

Negatives

  • 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.

Lessons Learned

  • 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.

Conclusion

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 info@brentuphoto.com, send me a message on Facebook, or use the contact page on my website.