FOR THE LOVE OF ART 2ND YEAR AT HARRIS BARN!
Devoted to all the sane and crazy artists & artisans brave enough to give it a go

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(posted on 9 Jul 2019)

I find that as artists move closer to considering themselves "a professional artist" they also become more aware of the business aspect of getting their work out there. Often, making that first sale to a stranger triggers thoughts of being "a professional" when in reality you either see yourself as a professional or you don't and behave accordingly. 

It's true, you have to sell yourself to sell your work. You have to put it out there for potential buyers & collectors to see. It means finding places and sometimes fighting for spaces in the right shows. Even in this world of social media, Pinterest, YouTube etc. people do like to see the real thing up close and personal and may even - are you ready for this - want to have a face to face conversation with the artist. After all, you create works based on what's going on inside your heart and head. Some people will want to know what makes you tick. 

A view to professionalism by the way, has little to do with the amount of time spent creating (days - weeks - months - years) or a degree in Fine Arts or whatever measurement tool you use. It's a definite mindset toward thinking as a business person about how to promote your work to an audience bigger than your cat or your family.

That said, in my short experience as an organizer the artists who think of themselves as in the business of selling themselves and their art, while selective where and how they show their work always get their submissions, contracts and/or fees in a timely way to help secure that space. They have their bio / artists statement prepared in a few formats (different shows, events, etc. require different information) ready to go when asked or shortly thereafter. 

It's amazing how many artists / artistsans will ask for a submission form and not sent it until after the deadline and then be pissy when you inform them the spaces are full. Full with artists who see themselves as professional and sent in their submission form right away. Not after the fact. Even after an email has been sent out reminding all who requested that the deadline is near. 

The truth is I love artists. They all have interesting stories. But it is truly like herding cats. 

 

 

I write this with my tongue in cheek while rolling my eyes and sighing deeply . . .

Art shows are wonderful and can bring together a dynamic and eclectic mix of styles, mediums and personalities in one place for a few meteoric days or hours. But, first you have to gather them up! If you are a new start up in art events (like this one) it's wonderful and necessary to have a few brave, trusting souls agree to give you money, time & talent to forge ahead. Enough of them to keep the venue booking from collapsing for starters. This is where you need friends who are artists and a few others who at least know how you are and will take a chance. 

Creating a vision for the event was easy. Trying to explain it was not so as much. Especially the part of dissecting "fine arts & fine crafts/artisans" from crafty shows. A bit more elevated. A bit more elegant. The right venue with ambiance and warm. Lots of parking. Easy access. And openness. 

As the event rolls into the second year (now 2 days) I was fortunate enough to have 60% of last years artists submit again and thus began the call for submissions. For 2.5 months. A few new artists submitted within the first 2 months. Slow. Painful. What is going on . . .  

Being an artist myself and knowing many artists we are a notorious group of "last minuters" - distracted by other things like life & creating. But also: 1) there maybe a better show 2) there maybe a show closer to home 3) there maybe a cheaper show 4) there maybe a show with artists I know/like/prefer 5) there maybe a show that people know better 5) I may not have enough inventory 6) I may not be good enough 7) I may be too good 8) oops - I forgot to submit (is there still space???)

Then, like magic in the last 2-3 days that submissions are open (1 minute before on the last day), the organizer (me) gets flooded with applications many missing crucial information while the artists rush to get in under the wire. Trying to get the info is a challenge and some people get down right snarky when a week after closing they answer and you have to tell them too late! You didn't actually complete the application so I have no idea what you create, what size a space you are looking for . . . and like a cat looking for food there is loud meowing.

I'm going to leave part 2 of this until later. I have to go herd more cats.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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