Call for Artists, Making Money at Juried Art Fairs, Craft Shows and Festivals
That's what the snotty GPS lady says whenever we veer off her predestined route. I say "snotty" because sometimes I swear she sighs in exasperation. She seems to want to say "make up your mind, twit, I have things to do". She has a point because I have already veered off my topic here.
I am rethinking my whole art biz thing here. I'm not talking about a slight deviation, I'm thinking of reinventing myself as a working artist.
About 15 years ago I decided to develop a profession outside of the government job I hated so that I could move on. I started as a papermaker which led to the book arts and I settled into a niche. I stopped making my own paper, concentrated on journals and various specialty books, along with some peripheral items that were paper related. For a while it was pretty lucrative. The inherent low materials cost with having a paper-based specialty allowed me to make less gross money with a healthier net. And I loved my books. Still do. But I think the journaling craze may be about over because my books are selling a lot less than before.
I tried making new items, using imported Italian text blocks for diaries and photo albums, etc. They sold but very slowly. When re-thinking product I always concentrated on functional because I had confidence in myself as an artisan but never called myself an artist. (unless I was asking where the artist parking was. Someone here said that once. so true.)
A couple of years ago I started playing with collage, using the scraps from my bookmaking. I never expected them to sell, I just needed to have a back wall and I have always been drawn to mixed media. They started to sell. I experimented with making prints of them to bump up the bottom line. They sold very well. I made cards of them. Bingo.
So, holiday gifts shows are winding down and I have some hard choices before me. My journals used to sell like crazy as a gift item. Not this year. I just finished a three day show that earned me gas money and little else. Outside of stocking stuffer items, I sold more collage- - framed, prints and cards, than books.
Now I'm thinking that it might be smart to spend the next couple of months working on the craft of collage and doing a show or 2 early on that focus on them. See how it goes.
This is a scary detour because the collage is totally about the art itself. As we say here, nobody needs our stuff, and they need stuff on their walls the least. And rejection of these works would be a total rejection of me, because they are totally me and not a widget someone might use.
But I think I'm going to do it, and you know why? Because when I go up to my studio on the days I am making collage, I have a little bubble of anticipation in my gut and I am happy. When I finish one and hold it against the mat to see how it will look, I am happy. When customers comment on little things in the design, yep...happy.
I know happy doesn't pay the bills, but if I can do this right, maybe it will. Because if it was just about the bills I would still be occupying a 10 X 10 cubicle instead of a canopy.
Time for a legal u-turn, I'm thinking.