Call for Artists, Making Money at Juried Art Fairs, Craft Shows and Festivals
I guess I'm looking for some moral support from those of you who travel ALONE
maybe 500 or more miles from home to participate in shows. I'm single and retired;
I have the flexibility to travel, but I cannot get the courage to do so. Family and friends all have other commitments such as work -- and driving 700 miles does
not fit into a week-end schedule for them. I really do want to venture out beyond the local shows and perhaps combine a trip to a resort coastal area with an art show.
If any of you travel solo (long distances requiring overnight stays), I'd love to hear
from you. I need some inspiration to move forward because I'm stuck in my comfort zone, evidently.
(I did post this request in another spot -- but being new to this site, I think I entered
it in the wrong "discussion." My apologies.)
Not sure exactly what you need help and support on, so some specifics might help.
Is it issues with getting the tent up by yourself, moving stock around, feeling comfortable about checking into strange motels by yourself, and things like that? Or is more to do with the economics of going for a longer haul?
I see older artists doing this all the time. I'll be 64 this fall, have arthritis in my back and have a bad knee. As long as I take my time, and don't do anything stupid, I can get the booth up and hung in about 3-4 hours and take it down in less if all things go well.
I'll be driving to Minneapolis by myself for Loring Park. I'll probably stop at a rest stop somewhere and sleep in the back seat of the van as this is about a 12 hour drive for me. Twelve hours at a clip is pushing it and takes too much out of me. I drove from Indianapolis to Charleston earlier in the summer, again, by myself and that was one helluva drive. I did it in one day coming back as I got a full nights sleep in the motel after the show and was rested. It all depends on your physical condition and mental attitude.
At this stage of our lives, it's time to do what we want and if family and friends aren't supportive, then they can step aside and not hinder us. I don't want to be sitting in a chair in 20-25 years and think about what I could've or should've done and didn't because I didn't have the gumption to go for it. Don't talk about it, just go ahead and do it ;-)
What concerns you about doing this solo? I am 63 and do most of my shows by myself. I have never had any problems. I can set up and take down faster by myself than telling someone else what I want done. It is my business and my husband generally does not wish to travel so I go by myself. But you have to feel comfortable doing that. I have many female friends who don't and that is their comfort zone.
The concerns include: will I be safe, feel lonely, regret taking on a 2-day drive, etc.? And I can think ofall the "fix-it" solutions to all of these issues; I just wanted to read about other solo travelers' experiences.
The physical labor and economics of it don't enter into the equation -- and for that matter, I ALWAYS
need help with my temperamental tent-- wherever I am.
I can say one thing about loneliness on the road; I'm too tired to feel lonely. I get something to eat, head for the motel, and if I've had a beer or two, I hit the bed and am out like a light. If I don't have the beer or two, in 10 minutes I'm out like a light.
As far as safety, stay at reasonably decent motels, Red Roof or better and avoid places like the Bates Motel. Just apply common sense to your comings and goings. If in doubt about someone hanging around, do the smart thing and circle around or come back later.
Regarding tent; there are ways to make it easier to put them up depending on what type it is. Just ask.
A lot of that depends on your personality. Yes, I stay at decent hotels - even if I have to pay a few bucks more. I don't mind being by myself. Yes, it is nice when my husband comes to have someone to have dinner with but I am generally tired and just want to eat and go to bed. I'm probably not the best company after being at a show all day. I like driving and I take it more slowly and pull over more often. Stay over if necessary - if I'm really tired.
I am 60 and have a helper, my neighbor, who goes with me to help me set up my Easy-Up. I have not tried to pull it apart by myself. I agree with Robert Wallis, that if family or friends are not supportive - turn an ear to their silliness and do what you want. I'm a widow and just after my husband passed I was speaking with a friend about not going to movie theaters for I didn't want to go by myself as it seemed all I saw were couples. She said to me something that I've not forgotten, "Suzanne, do you think they built movie theaters for couples only? No they did not!" Applying this to going to shows by oneself, do you think they have shows just for couples? No they do not! I guess one must be adventerous for nothing ventured, nothing gained - right? Once I stepped out and went to a movie theater by myself - it wasn't so bad the next time. I venture the same will hold true for going to fairs by oneself. It seems to me that's good advice for this writer as well - for I know there are other vendors who have stopped to help me with attaching the sides of my tent, or advancing a leg up. I encourage you to try it. One never knows until one tries. Happy travelling!
I do a lot of travelling by myself, sometimes to shows, sometimes to shoot photos for the shows. I've come to be a good judge of "safe" places to stay. Usually I look for newer places and where there are a bunch of other motels, especially higher priced places. Most of the time I find the places near an interstate exit. I use the Choice Hotel chain a lot, especially Comfort Inn and Sleep Inn. I also look for places that have a decent free breakfast and free internet! Choice usually does. Sometimes I will print out several possible places to stay before I leave home. That way I'm not locked into how many miles I have to drive. That works better if you don't have a specific time to be someplace. If you are doing that, call the motel directly. Sometimes their rate will be cheaper than the 800 reservation line.
When I'm doing shows out of town, by evening time I'm too tired to worry about being lonely! Time to do sales recaps, grab something to eat, then crash for the night. When I'm on a photo journey, then I usually edit photos at night, and back them up.
Get a few audiobooks to listen to while you drive. They make the drive so much easier. I download them for free from my library onto an mp3 player. Works every time!
I drive to Florida every few months for my job (about 14 hours). I like to leave early in the morning like 4AM. I find I can do the trip in one day if I do that but if I leave around noon I end up having to stop. Mostly that is because I normally go to bed early so I'm tired when it gets late. Make sure you have AAA or some other road side assistance in case of any difficulties. The audio books are a great idea. They really make the time go faster. You can stop at one Cracker Barrel, buy a book, listen to it and then drop it off at the next Cracker Barrel and they only charge a small amount. I have a GPS system in my cell phone which helps in strange places and for traffic alerts. There is also a great Priceline app for cell phones where it will give you all the hotels in a specific area and you can make your reservation right on the phone. I don't know that the prices are any cheaper but it is nice to have all the choices and rates in front of me. I stick to the more expensive hotels off of the first floor. I don't stop in rest areas after dark and I get gas as soon as I hit a half tank. I do get lonely but I also get to watch whatever I want to watch on television.
I have been doing shows alone for most of my 22 years of art fairs. I’m 56. I burned my husband out years ago! When our kids were young, someone had to stay home. Now they are all gone, but he really doesn’t want to go, and I would rather have him stay home and be happy.
I don’t drive more than 8 hours to a show. That is a pretty good radius. Most of my shows are within 5 to 6 hours. 8 hours is really pushing it, so I will take more breaks to make sure I stay alert. As others do, I listen to books on CD. I bring several, in case I find I don’t like the one I’ve started. Usually long things I would never get the time to read at home. If I find my attention flagging, I switch to music.
I treat the stay in a hotel like a vacation. At home there are always household chores I could do. In a hotel I am free from all that, so even though I am working hard at the show all day, the hotel is restful to me. If the drive home is more than 4 hours, I always stay the night at a hotel after the show is over. If I am exceptionally tired after pack up, I’ll stay, or drive an hour, then find a hotel while it is still daylight.
I almost always stay at hotels with internal corridors, and never on the first floor (unless they have no elevator). I only stay at the “drive-up, doors on the outside” older style motels when there is no choice. I try to exercise my sixth sense for safety. I check window locks before I unpack.
I don’t get lonely for a 2 day show (3 hotel nights). If it’s a 4 day show, I’ll start talking to myself. I bought a small laptop just 2 years ago. I go on Facebook (most of my FB friends are artists I met on this site) or email my friends, which helps a lot. I also started writing a novel. I work on it during a slow show, but only if there is no one in my booth (on paper, in longhand. A computer on my lap would be a turn off to customers) . Often I work on it in the hotel, while eating dinner. I have no time to do this at home! After 30 minutes or an hour, I am unwound, then I shower to relax and go to bed. I check in with my husband (“I’m back at the hotel, and safely locked in”) maybe twice a day. He’s not a phone talker, so it is brief. But if yours is, there is no reason why you can’t talk longer.
I no longer do shows in urban areas where I might feel unsafe packing up. It takes me a long time to pack up. I keep an eye on what other artists are doing. If it looks like I will be the last one there, and it’s getting dark, I speed up. If need be, I start a bit early.
I don’t eat out. I am uncomfortable eating in a restaurant alone, and I don’t eat fast food. I bring microwavable things and eat in my room. Once that door is locked I seldom go out, unless it is to use the hotel pool.
Where would I find a motion detector alarm? Thanks!