Have you ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes of an art show? What the application process or setup and take down is like? I'm a couple months into my summer show season, and I thought it'd be fun to share some insights and behind the scenes info with you!
Most of the shows I'm doing this summer are juried, which means you apply at the beginning of the year, and usually pay an application fee (which adds up when you're applying to 20+ shows!), then a selected jury votes and decides which applicants they want to invite to participate. Some of the shows can be quite cutthroat! Once accepted, you have to pay the booth fee to hold your space. When you add up the application fees, booth fees, travel expenses, time spent at the shows, and of course all the material costs and time spent prepping, shows are a big investment. And also a total gamble.
There's a lot of trial and error, and sometimes you have an amazing show and feel inspired and uplifted, and like you're right on track and living your purpose. And other times, you have a show that doesn't go well. You break even or lose money, you don't connect with the crowd, and spend the whole weekend questioning all your life choices! It's hard to pick yourself up and motivate after those shows, but it's worth it when you get to the good ones.
Before setting up my booth.
And after setup.
I'm guessing most people don't think about what goes into the setup and take down when they come to an art show. They just see beautiful booths, and hopefully lots of beautiful art! A lot of shows are three days long, with setup on Thursday before the show. So, I will do all my last minute prep and organizing before loading my car up on Thursday to head to the show to setup. I've got my setup pretty dialed in, so it only takes me about two hours to unload everything and set it all up. There is typically security at night keeping an eye on all the booths, but since jewelry is small and quite valuable, I pack it up every night and set it out again every morning before the show starts. The days are often long, and typically hot with unpredictable weather. By the end of the day, I'm usually so tired, all I want to do is jump in a body of water if there's one around, eat a good meal and go to bed. I'm an introvert at heart, and while I love talking to people at shows, I'm always spent by the end of the day and need to go recharge before doing it all again the next day.
One of the biggest challenges I've encountered so far when it comes to shows, is finding the right audience. Doing a show in a wealthy town doesn't necessarily mean that the people in the town are going to want to buy what you make, or connect to your work. It can be really discouraging spending a whole weekend sitting at a show that you had been told was great, only to find out it's just not the right crowd for you. After a couple uninspiring shows this summer, I decided that I needed to get really clear about who my audience is, and get creative about how to find them. I've been applying to and adding in some extra shows for late summer and fall that I'm really excited (and a bit nervous) about! If you know of a show that Stray would fit in perfectly at, send me an email! I always love hearing from you, and any suggestions are welcome.