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Sausalito Art Festival was what I needed

I was very excited to get into the Sausalito arts festival. At least from my research this show was the show highest on my list. There were several bumps in my plans as I got ready and the stress I put on myself left me wiped out before I got started. I was going to have to learn everything a newbie learns at the one show my heart had always wanted to do. So how did I do?

Well first I want to thank Lucia Friedericy, her advice was very useful in pricing and Larry when it came to photos.

I think I did well, well meaning I stood nearly the entire time and spoke to everyone in my booth and I was polite to those who asked me details that shouldn't matter, for example: how long does it take you to do a sculpture? and how do you come up with your ideas? I have some of those answers on a banner by the way. I didn't get stressed even though one of my sculptures was broken by a volunteer. I didn't have any of my social anxieties flair up I was so concerned about.

The first evening after setup we had to run and get cleaned up and be in the booth for the gala party people who would be coming through as the went to the party. This was something I didn't know about, due to no paperwork given until we checked in.

That evening I had already been awake for nearly 2 days, I needed sleep. In my booth entered a very nice man in a tux and he asked me questions that just seemed like he wasn't serious, but he was. He handed me his business card and said everyone at the show knew him and he would be back to pay for a particular sculpture. I know I was shocked to sell something but also I wasn't convinced he was for real. I quickly googled him and found out indeed he was someone everyone but me knew. He apparently was someone high up in the duties of the show and he owned 7 food markets one of which my car was currently parked in front of. I became certain he would return so I wrapped the sculpture and was thrilled. The show hadn't started yet and I was in the race!

Day one I sold 360.00 worth of art, day 2 I sold nothing, and the man came back to check on me. When I told him of my sales he was disappointed. He said, he thought his purchase would give me a great start. Part of me thought crap he didn't like my art, it was a mercy sale! my mind spun out of control, do I just let him off the hook, after all he hadn't paid yet. day three came and just at the very end someone spent 800.00 with me and then the man came back. He said he hoped his wife will like it. I thought well he bought it as a gift to his wife, I know I like it. Okay, I will feel good about this. So in the end I sold about about 2235.00. It cost me in expenses 2500.00 plus all that generally comes with a show and I am not counting the broken statue at $1350. So okay it wasn't good but it was my first show.

Now for what I learned, Yes there was foot traffic, loads of it. I would say I have visited maybe 15 shows and this was the busiest I had ever seen. I would say wealthy people with good vocabulary skills not fake wealth. Polite people, people I would like to live around. No one said one rude thing to me. Where I live rude is all you hear. People especially the wealthy were uplifting and encouraging. I told several people that is was the first real show I had done and not to feel uncomfortable, that I just was people to see my artwork that I have never had the opportunity to share, so please take their time in my booth and look my art. Most people responded to that and actually I felt less pressured.

At least a hundred people asked for my card, not just picked it up as a collection. I felt like I was taking my time to get to know the people that came to this show. I would say that at least 20 people said to me, are you new I don't ever remember seeing you, and I always come to the show. There were people who had been coming for 30 years. People shook my had and gave suggestions. It was a very good experience for me. 

When I first came to art fair insiders I was just at the beginning of learning about shows and building courage to show my work. I was an introvert hidden away for many years. It had almost been 28 years since a violent sexual assault crime was committed against me by a customer of mine along with 6 other men (I was a sign painter). I had lost my memory, but my body felt the trauma and I was in constant fear.  fairly soon afterward closed my business. When my children grew up and I had told myself I would resurface and get better. I waited 20 years and went back out to the world to paint signs.

The first sign I painted was at a restaurant. While painting that sign in broad daylight I was assaulted again, my shoulder was dislocated and drug down the street by my throat then, I was doused with alcohol and I was afraid I would be lite on fire. I was rescued by the cook. I went into shock and stayed in that state.  No one really knew how traumatized I was cause everyone was so busy in my life. I stayed home most of these years afraid to drive, afraid to go outside, even though I did those things they made me scared. I have spent years trying to move forward with a completely different direction sculpture. Being among this many people and being able to be okay for my husband to run off and have fun at the show was really nice. I felt like I was going to get my life back. So even though the business numbers don't add up to a good show for me it was. So when you read what comes next you'll understand a bit of my concern.

So the last night at the show it had already ended by minutes we were closing up. I had planned to pack the next day because there would be security and this was an option offered. I had planned on sleeping one more night at the trailer park and loading my trailer with my sculptures the next morning. Unfortunately there was a volunteer who said he was drunk but he wasn't he was drugged. Anyway this volunteer walked into the lady next to me tent and walked into her back area. The lady followed him and I started hearing her yell security.

I had spent years jumping to everything and being scolded to stop over reacting, so when I heard her I thought she was just playing with this guy. finally I walked over to check things out and he was flat on his back in behind her wall of her tent and she was trying to coax him out of her tent. He had tried to climb the 18 foot fence around the festival and fell. He got back up and  had a very dark sense about him and said he wanted to walk on top of the tents and proceeded to try to climb her tent. He climb a painters tent as well that was next to her. He destroyed a lot of merchandise and her hand was seriously injured.

I asked my husband to guard my sculptures and went looking for security. They had already been told and were slowly walking to the scene. The lack of energy and response very much bothered me. So I had no confidence in leaving my sculptures. The show it's self tried to help the artist and well they were in constant communication until the end.

So I know I decided to expose myself in this post, it is how I originally showed up here at art fair insiders and felt it was time to explain a bit why I had to go slow and do things in just a certain manner. And why I look at this show in it's value for me the way I do. The weather was pleasant and over all I think the show has a possibility of being better next year. Next year I will have pieces a prices more around 400.00- 800. and if the election year matters then that won't be an issue. This was the going consensus I walked away with and it seemed to be in agreement with people who had spoken to me before the show.

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Comment by Connie Mettler on September 14, 2016 at 1:30pm

Amazing story, Kara, and I don't even know where to start. 

First thank you for reviewing the show. I've heard so much about this over the years and know people that sell well there. I also know people who've made the long trek to the West and not been able to turn a profit given the expense.

It sounds like you were ready to meet the people and were able to stand up there and make it through 3 days with intermittent sales. That takes a lot of strength. As I was reading I was afraid your first buyer wasn't going to return and bet you were also. You also learned a lot of lessons for your next show. Don't want to say anything too cliched here, but there is an art to doing art festivals. It is complicated and you can learn something at every event.

What a lot of terrifying things you have been through. It is amazing you are able to carry on and go out in public. Best of all though is that you are still creating. I went to your website, there is a wonderful spirit there, full of romance and ideas. I hope you find your market and also that you have found Lucia Friedericy who creates somewhat in the same "space" as you, wonderful work full of fancy and beauty.

Comment by Kathleen J. Clausen on September 15, 2016 at 8:57am

Thank you, Kara.  You are very brave.

Comment by Sandra J. Atkins-Moran on September 15, 2016 at 10:11am

I applaud your courage in going on with your life and returning to your art.  You will find that doing your art is part of what saves you and allows you to participate in the outside world once again.  Congratulations on a real achievement.

Comment by Lucia Friedericy on September 15, 2016 at 10:52am

Hi Kara, So glad that you almost broke even--I'd be really encouraged by that for a first show since the expenses are so high. Also the art buying crowd up there goes to a lot of area shows and often has an agenda set, so I've found that you can develop a market in time. So its good you're doing Mill Valley-email to all the people you just saw that you are!

About the drunk guy--that's weird, but one thing about Sausalito, there is a LOT of drinking there(I'm sure you noticed). They start first thing in the morning with the champagne and orange juice drinks. And then because so much of the crowd comes for the music festival and they walk right through the booths to and from the music, it can get weird at the end of the day. Most shows aren't like that and security is something you have to look at each time and make a decision about leaving work. Take down time anywhere tends to be some what chaotic.

Anyway, see you this weekend!

Comment by Vera Foley on September 15, 2016 at 9:17pm

Kara, thank you for you frank and insightful review!  You are very courageous and probably much, much, stronger than you give yourself credit for. 


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