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

IMG_4169

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.

Big Magic: Lessons Learned

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The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them. The hunt to uncover those jewels – that’s creative living. The courage to go on that hunt in the first place – that’s what separates a mundane existence from a more enchanted one. (Pg. 8)


Fair warning: this is a long post. Probably one of the longer posts I’ll ever do. Haha. But I hope you take the time to read through it.

Before I even get into all the amazing things that I got out of Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, let me go back to how I even came across this book in the first place.

Back in February, I made a trip to Santa Fe for a photo printing workshop. The workshop took place on a Tuesday and Wednesday. I didn’t leave to come home until Friday, so I had Thursday to hang out and explore the Santa Fe area. John Charbonneau was gracious enough to meet me in the morning to discuss selling at art shows. I really wanted to talk to someone who had experience with this while I was in Santa Fe, so I was super excited to get to visit with him for a bit, and I’m super thankful he took the time to meet with me.

After that, my plan was to take a road trip and try to grab some fire hydrant pictures in the small towns around Santa Fe. However, after the conversation with John, I decided to go check out a few of the art galleries around Santa Fe instead. One of the first (if not the first) gallery I stopped at was the Photo Eye gallery. As I was looking at the art there, one of the assistants started a conversation with me, and I mentioned that I was getting ready to get into selling my work at art shows. During the course of our conversation, she suggested I read Big Magic. I had never heard of the book before that, so I made a note to look into it later.

I’m not much of a reader, so I didn’t rush off and buy it right away. Plus, I was busy with getting my business up and running. But a couple months later, on my way out of town for a camping trip, I stopped and purchased the book since I figured I would have some time to read during the camping trip.

Funny side note regarding purchasing the book: When I purchased the book, the cashier mentioned something about how awesome it would be to have Julia Roberts play you in a movie. I had no idea what the cashier was talking about. Surely a movie wasn’t made about the book I was buying. It wasn’t until nearly two months later, when my friend mentioned it, that I finally realized that a movie was created from the “Eat Pray Love” book that Gilbert had written. Haha.

Anyway, I got a lot read during the camping trip, but it took me around a month and a half to actually finish the book. I would read a big chunk, then set it down for a week or two, and then read another big chunk.

Now, as I mentioned already, I’m not much of a reader. Generally I read something because I have to, not because I want to, and I don’t think I have ever read a complete book twice. However, this book was different. By the time I finished reading this book the first time, I had already made up my mind I was going to read it again so I could write down some of my favorite passages from the book. Thankfully I haven’t been as busy lately, so the second time it only took me a couple weeks to get through it.

So why this story? The more I think about this whole thing, the more I see what Gilbert calls Big Magic behind it all. I was supposed to go on a fire hydrant trip, but instead went to an art gallery where I got a recommendation for a book, and even though I’m not a reader, something made follow through on reading it. Maybe it was because someone at an art gallery recommended it. Maybe it was because the gallery assistant was cute. Or just maybe Big Magic was behind getting me to read Big Magic.

Anyway, that’s the backstory. Now on to all the great lessons I pulled from the book.

It’s Not About Pleasing Other People

One of the first steps I took towards starting to sell my art at art shows was talking to a fellow coworker about his experience selling his art. He is a painter, not a photographer. Why does this matter? During the course of our conversation, he brought up the point that some other artists don’t think photographers should be part of fine art shows.

Prior to this conversation, I had always viewed painters as superior to photographers. It seems like it takes so much more time and effort and talent to make really good paintings vs really good photographs. But it wasn’t to the point that I thought photographers should be excluded from fine art shows. Maybe that was because I had always seen photographers in shows. Regardless, my coworker bringing this up didn’t help things. It definitely made me pause and rethink if I wanted to take part in shows if I wasn’t welcomed by some of the artists. I obviously decided to press onward, even before reading this book, but it was encouraging to read the passages below, and know that I don’t have to be worried about pleasing other artists, potential customers, or anybody else.

I also liked the passage about perfection. I’m really OCD, and I try to get everything just right. Sometimes it’s a good thing, and sometimes not so good. I decided fairly early on in creating my art that trying to make it perfect wasn’t going to be a good thing. It would take way too much time, and probably result in a lot of frustration. That’s not to say that I don’t take it seriously and don’t put effort and care into it. But I just have to be careful not to go overboard. As the passage states, chances are someone will find something wrong with it no matter how particular I am. Haters gonna hate. But I just have to remember to keep pressing onward and doing my thing.


Whether you think you’re brilliant or you think you’re a loser, just make whatever you need to make and toss it out there. Let other people pigeonhole you however they need to…It doesn’t matter in the least. Let people have their opinions. More than that – let people be in lovewith their opinions, just as you and I are in love with ours. But never delude yourself into believing that you require someone else’s blessing (or even their comprehension) in order to make your own creative work. And always remember that people’s judgements about you are none of your business…Just keep doing your thing. (Pg. 120-121)


Recognizing this reality – that the reaction doesn’t belong to you – is the only sane way to create. If people enjoy what you’ve created, terrific. If people ignore what you’ve created, too bad. If people misunderstand what you’ve created, don’t sweat it. And what if people absolutely hate what you’ve created? What if people attack you with savage vitriol, and insult your intelligence, and malign your motives, and drag your good name through the mud?

Just smile sweetly and suggest – as politely as you possibly can – that they go make their own fucking art.

Then stubbornly continue making yours. (Pg. 125)


We must understand that the drive for perfectionism is a corrosive waste of time, because nothing is ever beyond criticism. No matter how many hours you spend attempting to render something flawless, somebody will always be able to find fault with it…At some point, you really just have to finish your work and release it as is – if only so that you can go on to make other things with a glad and determined heart.

Which is the entire point.

Or should be. (Pg. 169)

Not about success/making money

Making money off my art wasn’t the main reason I decided to start selling my art. I decided to do it more so because I felt like I was wasting my talent by taking pictures and then putting them on my computer to never be seen by the outside world again. However, as part of this selling my art decision, I decided to start a business, and I didn’t start the business with the intention of being unsuccessful. I knew there was the potential that things wouldn’t go well, but I obviously wanted to be successful. So this talk about it not being about success/making money is a little counter intuitive. It’s a great thing to keep in the back of my mind though. I don’t want to keep making art to the point where I have run myself bankrupt. But at the same time, I can’t get so focused on success that it becomes the only thing that matters.

My first two “shows” have been a great opportunity to put this to practice. I put shows in quotes because my first two shows have really been anything but shows. I did a grand opening for friends and family at my house where it rained nearly the whole time and nobody showed up. And then my first official show ended up being a disaster due to the weather. These were obviously disappointing. I could have taken the stance that it isn’t meant to be and that mother nature is against me and I should just quit before things get even worse. But instead, like the quote from the book below, I have been able to look at these and find lessons learned and things I can improve upon for the next show. I’m also just happy to have the opportunity to get my art out into the world at this point. Even though I didn’t sell anything, it wasn’t a complete loss, and I can hopefully be better at the next show. So while success matters, it also matters to enjoy the creative process.


As for having reached the top, with only one way to go from there, Lee had a point, no? I mean, if you cannot repeat a once-in-a-lifetime miracle – if you can never again reach the top – then why bother creating at all?…

But such thinking assumes there is a “top” – and that reaching the top (and staying there) is the only motive one has to create. Such thinking assumes that the mysteries of inspiration operate on the same scale that we do – on a limited human scale of success and failure, of winning and losing, of comparison and competition, of commerce and reputation, of units sold and influence wielded. Such thinking assumes that you must be constantly victorious – not only against your peers, but also against an earlier version of your own poor self. Most dangerously of all, such thinking assumes that if you cannot win, then you must not continue to play. (Pg. 69-70)


No way was I going to give up on my work simply because it wasn’t “working”. That wasn’t the point of it. The rewards could not come from the external results – I knew that. The rewards had to come from the joy of puzzling out the work itself, and from the private awareness I held that I had chosen a devotional path and I was being true to it. If someday I got lucky enough to be paid for my work, that would be great, but in the meantime, money could always come from other places. There are so many ways in this world to make a good enough living, and I tried lots of them, and I always got by well enough.

I was happy. I was a total nobody, and I was happy.  (Pg. 113)


I told the universe (and anyone who would listen) that I was committed to living a creative life not in order to save the world, not as an act of protest, not to become famous, not to gain entrance to the canon, not to challenge the system, not to show the bastards, not to prove to my family that I was worthy, not as a form of deep therapeutic emotional catharsis…but simply because I liked it. (Pg. 118)


I kept working.
I kept writing.
I kept not getting published, but that was okay, because I was getting educated. (Pg. 146)


I have a friend, an aspiring musician, whose sister said to her one day, quite reasonably, “What happens if you never get anything out of this? What happens if you pursue your passion forever, but success never comes? How will you feel then, having wasted your entire life for nothing?”

My friend, with equal reason, replied, “If you can’t see what I’m already getting out of this, then I’ll never be able to explain it to you.”

When it’s for love, you will always do it anyhow. (Pg. 184)

Think Twice About Making Art My Career

Ever since getting into photography, I’ve thought it would be really cool to be able to do fine art photography as a career. I have always admired the photographers with their own studios in artsy towns who get paid to take amazing trips to capture photographs. At the same time, I have always been a little weary about making that jump as I was worried making photography my career might take the fun and enjoyment out of it. It was nice to hear the encouragement in the passages below that I don’t necessarily need to make it my career. In fact, it may be a good thing not to make it my career.

Having a day job right now that is able to provide income for me to do my photo business is a huge stress relief right now. If I didn’t have that income from my day job, I would likely be much more stressed out right now and in a much darker place, which probably wouldn’t be good for creating my art. Now, is there some point at which I’ll decide to make that jump? Quite possibly, and hopefully one day I can make that jump. There will definitely be pros to having more time devoted to my art. But it’s good to have reassurance that there is no rush to drop everything and make art my career.


I held on to those other sources of income for so long because I never wanted to burden my writing with the responsibility of paying for my life. I knew better than to ask this of my writing, because over the years, I have watched so many other people murder their creativity by demanding that their art pay the bills. I’ve seen artists drive themselves broke and crazy because of this insistence that they are not legitimate creators unless they can exclusively live off their creativity. And when their creativity fails them (meaning: doesn’t pay the rent), they descend into resentment, anxiety, or even bankruptcy. Worst of all, they often quit creating at all. (Pg. 152–153)


It’s for these reasons (the difficulty, the unpredictability) that I have always discouraged people from approaching creativity as a career move, and I always will – because with rare exceptions, creative fields make for crap careers…

But creative living can be an amazing vocation, if you have the love and courage and persistence to see it that way. I suggest that this may be the only sanity-preserving way to approach creativity. Because nobody ever told us it would be easy, and uncertainty is what we sign up for when we say that we want to live creative lives. (Pg. 185-186)

Less Pressure, More Enjoyment

The previous lessons each contribute a little bit to this lesson, but there is another part I wanted to touch on with this. Gilbert discusses an interesting paradox in the book: art matters, but at the same time it doesn’t. I’m not going to get into all the details on this, but if you can wrap your head around the fact that art doesn’t matter in the big scheme of things, then it can take a lot of pressure off you in creating the art. It’s more of a thing for fun rather than a necessity. With that in mind, you can relax and enjoy the process.


Pure creativity is magnificent expressly becauseit is the opposite of everything else in life that’s essential or inescapable (food, shelter, medicine, rule of law, social order, community and familial responsibility, sickness, loss, death, taxes, etc.). Pure creativity is something better than a necessity; it’s a gift. It’s the frosting. Our creativity is a wild and unexpected bonus from the universe…It doesn’t discourage me in the least, in other words, to know that my life’s work is arguably useless. All it does is make me want to play. (Pg. 128)


As a creator, you can design any sort of jewelry that you like for the inside of other people’s minds (or simply for the inside of your own mind). You can make work that’s provocative, aggressive, sacred, edgy, traditional, earnest, devastating, entertaining, brutal, fanciful…but when all is said and done, it’s still just intracranial jewelry-making. It’s still just decoration. And that’s glorious. But it’s seriously not something that anybody needs to hurt themselves over, okay?

So relax a bit, is what I’m saying.

Please try to relax.

Otherwise, what’s the point of having all these wonderful senses in the first place? (Pg. 134)


Go be whomever you want to be, then.

Do whatever you want to do.

Pursue whatever fascinates you and brings you to life.

Create whatever you want to create – and let it be stupendously imperfect, because it’s exceedingly likely that nobody will even notice.

And that’s awesome. (Pg. 175)

Don’t Quit Too Soon

A little while after I got my business set up, my dad asked me how long I would go if things weren’t going well. I didn’t give a specific reply, but essentially said I’m going to give it a try for a while. I wouldn’t quit after one bad show. I have no idea at which point I would call it quits. If it gets to the point where I’m going into debt and risking bankruptcy, then yeah, I’ll probably call it quits. But one bad show? Two bad shows? Five bad shows? What constitutes a bad show? I’m just going to go along for the ride and see what happens. But the passages below are a great reminder not to give up too soon, and some great tactics on how to move forward after failure. I’m sure there are going to be plenty of days in my future when I question why I’m doing this, and if my first two shows are any indication, there will be a lot of failure. But hopefully I can remember this lesson and keep pressing onward.


And maybe it’s like that with every important aspect of your life. Whatever it is you are pursuing, whatever it is you are seeking, whatever it is you are creating, be careful not to quit too soon. As my friend Pastor Rob Bell warns: “Don’t rush through the experiences and circumstances that have the most capacity to transform you.:

Don’t let go of your courage the moment things stop being easy or rewarding.

Because that moment?

That’s the moment when interestingbegins. (Pg. 247)


So how do you shake off failure and shame in order to keep living a creative life?

First of all, forgive yourself. If you made something and it didn’t work out, let it go. Remember that you’re nothing but a beginner – even if you’ve been working on your craft for fifty years. We are all just beginners here, and we shall all die beginners. So let it go. Forget about the last project, and go searching with an open heart for the next one…

Whatever you do, try not to dwell too long on your failures. You don’t need to conduct autopsies on your disasters. You don’t need to know what anything means. Remember: The gods of creativity are not obliged to explain anything to us. Own your disappointment, acknowledge it for what it is, and move on. Chop up that failure and use it for bait to try to catch another project. Someday it might all make sense to you – why you needed to go through this botched-up mess in order to land in a better place. Or maybe it will never make sense.

So be it.

Move on, anyhow.

Whatever else happens, stay busy…Find something to do – anything, even a different sort of creative work altogether – just to take your mind off your anxiety and pressure…

Call attention to yourself with some sort of creative action, and – most off all – trustthat if you make enough of a glorious commotion, eventually inspiration will find its way home to you again. (Pgs. 251-254)


And so it came to pass that one of the most important writers of his generation spent several weeks sitting in his driveway, painting thousands and thousands of tiny stars on the bicycles of every child in the area. As he did so, he came to a slow discovery. He realized that “failure has a function. It asks you whether you really want to go on making things.” To his surprise, James realized that the answer was yes. He really did want to go on making things. For the moment, all he wanted to make were beautiful stars on children’s bicycles. But as he did so, something was healing within him. Something was coming back to life. Because when the last bike had been decorated, and every star in his personal cosmos had been diligently painted back into place, Clive James at last had this thought: I will write about this one day.

And in that moment, he was free.

The failure had departed; the creator had returned.

By doing something else – and by doing it with all his heart – he had tricked his way out of the hell of inertia and straight back into the Big Magic. (Pgs. 256-257)

Final Passage

A couple things before I close this out with one final passage from the book. First off, I doubt Juliane ever reads this, but if she does, a huge thank you for recommending this book. The trip to Sante Fe was worth it just as much for getting this book recommendation as it was for learning how to use a photo printer. Second, if you are contemplating, or have even already started, some sort of creative endeavor, I highly encourage you to read this book. I have provided plenty of great snippits from the book in this blog, but these are just a small portion of a great book. There are plenty of other great passages I recorded in a document but didn’t include in this blog. You may not agree with everything in the book, but I’m sure there will be enough gems of knowledge that you will be glad you read it.  So with that, one last passage from the book:


The final – and sometimes most difficult – act of creative trust is to put your work out there into the world once you have completed it.

The trust that I’m talking about here is the fiercest trust of all. This is not a trust that says “I am certain I will be a success” – because that is not fierce trust; that is innocent trust, and I am asking you to put aside your innocence for a moment and to step into something far more bracing and far more powerful. As I have said, and as we all know deep in our hearts, there is no guarantee of success in creative realms. Not for you, not for me, not for anyone. Not now, not ever.

Will you put forth your work anyhow?…

Fierce trust demands that you put forth the work anyhow, because fierce trust knows that the outcome does not matter.

The outcome cannot matter.

Fierce trust asks you to stand strong within this truth: “You are worthy, dear one, regardless of the outcome. You will keep making your work, regardless of the outcome. You will keep sharing your work, regardless of the outcome. You were born to create, regardless of the outcome. You will never lose trust in the creative process, even when you don’t understand the outcome.”

There is a famous question that shows up, it seems, in every self-help book ever written: What would you do if you knew that you could not fail?

But I’ve always seen it differently. I think the fiercest question of all is this one: What would you do even if you knew that you might very well fail?

What do you love doing so much that the words failure and success essentially become irrelevant?

What do you love even more than you love your own ego?

How fierce is your trust in that love?

You might challenge this idea of fierce trust. You might buck against it. You might want to punch and kick at it. You might demand of it, “Why should I go through all the trouble to make something if the outcome might be nothing?”

The answer will usually come with a wicked trickster grin: “Because it’s fun, isn’t it?”

Anyhow, what else are you going to do with your time here on earth – not make things? Not do interesting stuff? Not follow your love and your curiosity?

There is always that alternative, after all. You have free will. If creative living becomes too difficult or too unrewarding for you, you can stop whenever you want.

But seriously: Really?

Because, think about it: Then what? (Pgs. 257-260)