Saturday, November 7, 2009

The First Demonstration

So, last night I did my first printmaking demonstration at DVAC's opening of ARTtoBUY. First of all, the gallery looked great and I can't believe the transformation of half of it into an art gift shop. Hats off to Patrick Mauk who runs the thing, as he did an incredible job. Secondly, that place was filled! It was three hours of non-stop people and at many times it was difficult to even move about. I can see why they call the event "highly anticipated" on the website. I'm looking forward to my first volunteer day so I can look around and see what items other area artists have to offer. There were some gorgeous looking ceramics pieces and and lots of handmade jewelry.

The reason I didn't get a chance to look around was that I was incredibly busy the entire time I was there. I talked for three straight hours without a break while printing and showing prints I'd done and explaining the process. I think I actually did much more explaining than demonstrating, which was OK, because printing while talking isn't exactly something I'm very good at. I also learned a few lessons about demonstrating, so I think the next time will be easier and I'll be more prepared.

There were a few things I did wrong. First, I was running late, which isn't a big surprise. That left me setting up as people were arriving, and I have to admit I was a little disoriented. I'm so used to my printing set-up at home that it wasn't easy to replicate it in another environment quickly. I hadn't realized that I had become such a creature of habit when it comes time to print. I always know which brush is for the blue and where it will be, so looking for it threw me off a little. Actually the brush/ink thing was a problem that I'll have to give some thought to before I attempt this again. So was sitting down. I've been printing at my kitchen island standing up and for some reason sitting just felt uncomfortable, and my back agrees.

I'm glad I had thought to bring all the sample prints from my demonstration block (above) because I strew them about the table and it looked as if I had just done them, and I could talk about them as I was inking up the block. That block I had made, with several different print combinations, was definitely a good idea. It was easy to explain registration, which a lot of people were curious about, as well as layering colors and having different blocks for each color.

Also, I'm glad I thought to bring what was left of the block from a recent reduction print along with a couple of proofs. It made the proccess easy to explain. In hindsight, though, when someone wanted to purchase one of the proofs which was a different color than the others in the edition, I probably should have let her. She really liked the color. The problem was that I really liked the color to, and I wanted to keep it for myself. I've got to get over that if I'm ever going to make money at this.

I'm a little on the fence as to whether or not it was a good idea to have prints for sale on the table with me. It was probably a good idea, but it kept me from demonstrating because I spent so much time explaining how each was done. Maybe there's a line there that I have to figure out - am I there to show what I do or am I there to talk about it?

And finally, about the talking... It seems like there were mainly two groups of people I talked to. There were people who were not artists or those that used a totally different medium who liked my work and might potentially buy something, and there were those who did similar types of artwork or printmaking who were intensely curious about what I was doing. I enjoyed both groups. There are definitely some people out there who would like to give this a try and I think I could be a rep for Akua Kolor Inks. People who print and have never tried water based inks are amazed by their properties and how they can be used like paint. I have to admit that I had a little difficulty when there were times I had to balance the two groups at once, because I would definitely prefer to talk about ink and paper and barens over trying to sell something.

It was a positive experience. I enjoyed it and the next time I will be more prepared and less apprehensive. As I was on my way home, I started thinking about the demonstration. I was thinking that maybe I'm better suited to showing people how to do this rather than trying to sell what I've done.


Nighthawk said...

Always be prepared to let go of the pieces you love the most....they will most likely be the same pieces that others want.

I am so very glad that the evening went well for you. Perhaps you need to have Mr.Alexander with you the next time to wrap up sales...that would be very cool!

Annie B said...

I completely relate to all your experiences demonstrating. It's really hard to work in a strange space, it's really hard to print and talk at the same time, it's really hard to demo and sell at the same time, and talking to non-printmakers vs. talking to printmakers is very different.

My spouse was invaluable to me at my last demo as chief schmoozer and money collector. Also, the simpler the design you're demoing the better. So glad it went well for you. Congratulations!

starkeyart said...

Thanks for the advice, Mom. And Annie, is good to know that it's a similar experience for others that do it. Mom's suggesting I bring my 14 year old son to be my spokesman. He probably would be good at it!

Patricia said...

I enjoyed meeting and talking to you last night! And I love your work. I hope you don't mind that I have been looking through your site and blog. Thank you. -patty

starkeyart said...

Thanks Patty. Nice meeting you as well. I'm glad you found my blog. It's great to get comments and know people are actually reading this, although I do tend to ramble on a bit!