2016 Edmond Art Festival Review – “They’re coming in hot!”

Everybody else sleeps. You don’t want to just do what everybody else does, right?

Before I gush about how this was my highest-grossing show ever, I have to offer some advice: If you do the Edmond show, either bring enough inventory, or drive home every night and make more prints. Friday will generally give you a good read on what your most popular prints are. When it comes to art, this place is a madhouse. And use Java Dave’s coffee to your advantage — you can sleep next week.

Setup – smooth like butta

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I’m feeling caffeinated through the air

12 minutes and 11 seconds: The amount of time that my van was parked inside the bounds of the show.

When setting up for any show, I follow the rule: Come in, dump everything near the spot, park the van somewhere else, and set up at my leisure. I know I’ll be there 2-3 hours, and I can go get the van later. Not everybody does that, or can do that. Some artists have unique storage and unloading methods that require their vehicle to be present for the duration.

Until I did art shows, I never thought I’d have to do needlepoint with a minivan, but that’s part of the process.

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If you have the beepy location sensors on your bumpers, they will play a song in morse code for you.

That said, the show implemented new rules for coming in to unload, and it was a good improvement. Artists on each of the three blocks of the show were supposed to enter from the west on the cross street to their north, turn south to unload, and then exit going west on the next cross street. Even though some vehicles remained parked for several hours, they were at least pointing the same direction.

Since it was supposed to rain that night, I didn’t bring any artwork on setup day. I still use way too many cardboard boxes to store my stuff, and there are not many things in the universe more useless than wet cardboard.

I requested a north-facing corner booth because I get way too sunburned in a south-facing booth. I got the north-facing corner I asked for, but this time I was on the west side of the street, rather than the east. That turned out to be better for two reasons:

  • By 4:00pm, I was in the shade of Java Dave’s! Only five hours of sun instead of 10.
  • The crowd goes counter-clockwise — they will go north along the east side of the show, and south along the west side. If you have a corner, it’s best to have a north-facing corner on the west side, and a south-facing corner on the east side. This maximizes visibility.

This city is very art friendly. Right behind my booth was a bronze of a girl feeding a chicken sitting on the back of a pig.

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I love this city.

Friday – a bit touch and go

I arrived with all the artwork — which in hindsight, I could have done the night before because I had a tarp to cover all the cardboard.

One of the perks of showing up early is that they will let you bring your vehicle in to unload, as long as you’re out by 9am. Well, I’m not a morning person, and my time management skills are iffy. I arrived at 9:50am. “Yeah, 10 minutes.. I can do this. <sharking in the parking lot> but that lot is full.. and that one.. and that one too..” I ended up parking in the gravel lot near the BFE branch office.

Everything was shuttled to the tent in three trips: One for my new storage box / print bin (with the podium, chair, cooler, and foldy print bins piled on top). One with the 2×3-foot cardboard box full of gallery wrap canvases. And one with the six boxes of prints strapped to the dolly, and my camera bag strapped to my back. Those journeys took around 30 minutes.. Yes, 20 minutes into the show, and I didn’t have any artwork on the walls.

One hour into the show, halfway into setting up, the judges came by. (Think fast!) I explained that the “empty areas” on my wall were part of a new line of invisible work — one of which was a commission piece as the cover art for John Cage’s “4’33”. Seeing as how I didn’t get an award, they must not have been fans of post-modern music.

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minimalism at its finest

There’s some rain. It’s windy.. The sun comes out and heats up the place just enough for the clouds to get all big and dark. Storm’s a coming. David Payne is on TV already, so gather around. We’ll watch him on my phone.

For those of you not from the area, David Payne is chief meteorologist from OKC’s Channel 9. April to May in Oklahoma translates to “tornado season in tornado alley.” If David is on TV, and it’s not part of the evening news, that means he is saying something very important and you need to listen.

By 5:00pm, a heavy storm blasted 80 mph winds all over Norman (south of OKC), and the crowd dispersed. I’m not sure, but maybe three artists remained open. I left at 5:30.

Sales = $0.

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what happens when there are tornadoes 30 minutes away.

Saturday

And naturally I showed up late again. The decision was a bit rock vs. hard place: Should I arrive early without new prints, or show up with new stuff whenever I get done with it — which hopefully translates to “before 10:00am”?

Solution: Make the new stuff. If you miss the 9am crowd, the 11am crowd will swoop in and buy it anyway.

I arrived earlier than before: 9:45am!

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Boy, was I right. Friday was like a pressure cooker — it held everyone back for a day, so Saturday contained two days worth of people.

Not 24 hours after watching David Payne on our phones, he comes by to visit! He asks if I have any photos of Grand Lake (on the other side of Tulsa). Not yet, but I do know someone who has a rental house there, and I can likely get photos this summer. We then chat about storm photos, and I think I was the first person to show him that Monument Rocks, Kansas exists. (I’ve done this show since 2008, and I got the impression that he recognized me before I recognized him.)

6:30pm — The shadow of Java Dave’s shrouds my booth, and it dawns on me that I forgot my lights:

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Sales: astronomical. Just in one day, sales were within $100 from exceeding my previous ‘best show ever’ — which was this very show in 2012.

Saturday night

Go home and make even more stuff — especially the prints that people had to order because I ran out of stock:

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Sunday

..Five hours of sleep and I’m ready! I just need to stock up on caffeine, and I can keep up with y’all.

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Sales: yet another “three day show” in one day.

In conclusion

The tent was rode hard and put away wet.

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velcro lol

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it was nice of the rain to wait until the show was over.

Total sales exceeded my previous highest-grossing show (Edmond 2012) by 33%. I’m still buzzing, and I will spend the next several months analyzing what could have caused that:

  • Name recognition: I have done this show since 2008, and more people are coming by saying, “good to see you again! what’s new this year?”
  • My own comfort: Eight years of being out in public does a cool thing to your personality. During my first year, I was a twitchy nervous wreck. Now I think of running an art booth as people coming by to say hi and check on what I’ve been up to. The part that involves buying something from me is secondary. (Don’t force it.)
  • Location-based subject matter: I have tons of photos of the OSU campus, and since Edmond is on the north side of OKC, they’re that much closer to Stillwater, and more likely to be affiliated with OSU.
  • Money: Edmond is upscale.
  • Booth location and orientation: north-facing corner booth on the west side of the show, facing the oncoming crowd. (see the ‘Setup’ section above)
  • Workmanship: I am printing my own work, and assembling my own frames.
  • Schedule: I posted that this is my only other Oklahoma show in the spring. (I will be out of the country while Lawton, Mayfest, and Paseo are going on.) Maybe people took it as, “since we won’t see him again for a while, we better hurry up and buy something!”
  • My shirt: When I started doing shows in 2008, I just wore what I owned — simple t-shirt. After a couple years, my excitement of doing shows manifested itself as ‘loud’ Hawaiian shirts. As time went on, I just wore the same thing that I wore to my day job — single color polo shirt. For this show, my friend saw me being indecisive on the morning of the show and she suggested a certain light blue button-up shirt that I bought last month but hadn’t yet wore. I wore it Saturday. Thinking that it contributed to my success, I bought two more Saturday night, and wore one of them on Sunday.
  • Combination of all of the above: If you have what they’re looking for, and you look like a trustworthy business, you will get love.

Quotes From The Show

  • “All the old people are out today!” … “Yeah! All the grandpas and grandpas and grandpas…”
  • “Just say anything!” …a couple girls came by just to listen to my voice. I sound like a radio announcer.
Posted in Art Festival Reviews

2016 – The year of very few shows

I will be attending only one more art festival in Oklahoma this spring, and likely only one in the fall.

Due to an upcoming vacation, I will be skipping the Lawton Arts Festival, the Tulsa festivals (Mayfest and Blue Dome), and the Paseo Arts Festival in OKC.

Spring 2016

If you are planning to see/purchase my new work this spring, I strongly encourage you to make the drive to Edmond.

Downtown Edmond Art Festival

If you have not been, it’s a fantastic show! This is a strict “fine art” show, and the city of Edmond is generally upscale. Come on by, bring your friends, enjoy! (..unless your friends are dogs. They don’t allow dogs at the show.)

Fall 2016

Art in the Square – Utica Square, Tulsa

  • Oklahoma artists only.
  • Date & Time: TBA (usually the first Saturday in October)

And that’s it.

What about the big show at OCCC? The one with the circus tents? Due to the Oklahoma budget shortfall, Oklahoma City Community College will not be able to fund Arts Festival Oklahoma in 2016. My heart sank as soon as I heard that news. I have participated in it since 2009, it has been a staple. It has certainly had more than its fair share of relentlessly hot weather, but it’s still a darn fun show. I really hope it comes back next year.

Well, I do have some out of state shows.

I don’t do very many out of state shows… I have a full-time job, and a lot of my work is based in Oklahoma.

But if you’re planning a road trip with friends, stop by and say hi!

  • June 4-5 – Mulvane Art Fair – Topeka, Kansas
  • September 16-18 – Bradley Fair – Wichita, Kansas
Posted in Art Festival Reviews

2016 Stillwater Art Festival Review – “Be water, my friend.”

“If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. If you put water into an art show, it becomes the art show.”

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Sunny days are the exception at this show. I live here, it’s my ‘hometown show’, and I’ve done it since 2008. Let’s recap:

  • 2008 – (Couch Park) My very first show ever. I think it sprinkled a bit.
  • 2009 – (Couch Park) Indistinguishable from the Woodstock ’94 mud pit
  • 2010 – (Main Street) Rained from 10:00am Saturday to 5:00pm Sunday — the exact duration of the show.
  • 2011 – (Main Street) Sunny both days, but so windy on Sunday that I had to pack up early.
  • 2012 – (Main Street) Sunny, no wind, amazing!
  • 2013 – (Main Street) Sunny, maybe some drizzle, but it was light enough that I was comfortable bringing my outdoor carpet. (yes, I have one. But you don’t get to see it because it rains so much.)
  • 2014 – (Main Street) Overcast. The weather was decent, but it was Easter weekend and hardly anybody showed up.
  • 2015 – (Husband Street) Saturday: “A river runs through it” (referring to my booth), Sunday: the show was canceled two hours early because of a tornado threat.

This was the first time that I remember an entire day being canceled. For just rain? really?? feh.. we could have done it.

Setup

Upon check in, we got the usual fare: street map, tax info, a review sheet, and then some trinkets: In past years, they’ve given us ink pens, t-shirts, travel mugs.. This year: sunglasses and a selfie stick. (My suggestion for next year: umbrella and a squeegee.)

Aside from still being on Husband Street (one block west of Main Street, its location from 2010 to 2014), they didn’t change the layout of the show. We were in groups of four, so everyone got a corner booth, but the entire show was scooted to the west side of the street for fire safety purposes.

The unload process is pretty good. Being on Husband Street means there are parking lots in every direction, and most of us didn’t have to park on the street in order to unload.

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good proximity to the Postal Gallery

First order of business: I had to go meet up with fellow photographer Ken Smith. A few weeks ago, he contacted me on Facebook and was interested in purchasing my print bins. (I was offloading them because the dark bins don’t match my new light-colored panels.) It was great meeting him. We had a good chat, and he seemed very experienced with doing art shows. He offered some business tips that I’d never heard of: get two coaches — a business coach (with no art experience), and an art coach (with no business experience), and have both of them individually critique your operation. The business coach led him to set up an LLC. His art coach (his wife) offers tips like, “only offer images that customers want to buy.” — That means: If she likes it, it goes in the booth. If she doesn’t it, he has to keep shooting. Brilliant plan! :)

Since I no longer have print bins, I designed and constructed a combination print bin / storage bin. By day, it becomes a print bin. By night, it changes back into a box and stores all of my framed pieces. (I’m quite proud of myself. I’ll have to create a whole blog post for this.) And I’ll need a second box before the next show.

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Wheels, pocket patterns, the works!

Saturday – Wind. The result if Earth and Fire forget to show up.

(..maybe we could have a show in September.)

Here’s where I apologize for setting up late. I had two excuses: I was assembling new pieces until midnight, and making last-minute modifications to my new box. Since this is my first show of the season, I use it to work out the kinks; whether I plan to or not.

When I arrived at the show, only the canvas gallery wraps (from last year), and the largest framed pieces had hanging wire on the back. The smaller framed pieces had nothing.. I was scrambling. AH! I went through my supplies and found my 75-foot roll of velcro and immediately thought of fellow photographer Dana Echols — he would hang all his work with velcro! Staple it on the back of each piece and slap it up on the wall. I had 20 minutes before the show started, so it was this or nothing. A couple people came by to help with my velcro assembly project (thank you whoever you were! I apologize that I forgot your name!) Here we go:

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Art on the front porch of an art museum

The best part about velcro is that the pieces really stick to the wall — they don’t swing around in the wind like they otherwise would have. And when I sell one, I remove the velcro (unless the customer has carpeted walls at home. I didn’t ask, that’s their business.)

The crowd was good, even though sales were down. I was behind schedule, so some photos were only available as canvas frames, not prints. I likely missed a few sales because of that.

The forecast for Sunday was so dire that a few people just packed up and left. Now, I can understand asking the director for permission to leave after the first day is over, but one artist had the audacity to park their gigantic cargo van next to their booth while the show was still going on!

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(photo by Janet Weilbrenner)

The rumor was that they didn’t have a very good show and didn’t care that they weren’t going to be invited back. But where were the police? Why wasn’t that damn thing towed off and melted down to slag? Not only did I miss it pull in, but management missed it too. The sight of someone packing up makes the show look like it’s over. It made the crowd disperse, made other artists close up shop as well, and it snowballed from there. How about some common courtesy?? Come on, dammit, you had one hour left.

Management made a very serious point that no vehicles were allowed inside the barricades until after Sunday was over. We residents of Stillwater, Oklahoma get nervous when a vehicle wants to blow past the barricades, thankyoumuch.

I decided to store all my artwork in the van, but I left the booth. It’s only rain, but I didn’t want to risk all the new work that I stayed up late creating.

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ratchet straps EVERYWHERE.

Sunday – The show completed its final transformation into water form.

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To make up for showing up late yesterday, I made sure to arrive early. Sure enough, it was raining to beat all hell, but I was ready. When I arrived, the show was about 2/3 gone, and several vehicles were parked next to their booths. What happened to everyone? Was everyone late getting back? Did management cave in on their strict rules and let people pull in to unload? It wasn’t just that, the show was over. They sent an email at about 5:00am — a message that I did not receive.

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That was it. It ended with a splashy thud. I was looking forward to playing in the rain. Oh, well.

Miscellaneous

One particular couple are my first customers. They purchased my photo “Elevators” at the Stillwater Art Festival in 2008, and since then, they would stop by, say “hi” and check on me. They would seem quite proud that of the fact that they are my first customer. This time, only the wife stopped by. She and her husband of 23 years are going through a divorce. I had to ask who ended up with the photo: “It went with him. It was for his man cave.”

Quotes From The Show

Two hours into Sunday, most tents were gone, and the only volunteers left were the show director and her boyfriend/husband.

As we’re packing up in the pouring rain, I overheard an artist from a neighboring booth (who made crafts of a mystical sort) tell the show director, “It sure rains a lot at this show. What you need are some weather witches!”

Without skipping a beat, the director comes back with, “I’ll ask if we can fit them in the budget.”

Posted in Art Festival Reviews

Spring 2016 Schedule

Spring has sprung, the air smells of Bradford Pear blooms, and I will be attending three shows:

The other set of shows that I usually do in May (Lawton, Blue Dome / Mayfest, Paseo) occur at the same time as a scheduled trip to Italy, so I will not be attending those.

If you’re in OKC, come and see me at Edmond! If you’re in Tulsa, come and see me in Stillwater!

Posted in General Discussion

New Photos — Old Central in Fog

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Prints are available in the Oklahoma State University gallery.

 

 

Posted in Photo Set