So, Sunday I experienced my first art fair, Art On the Commons in Kettering, Ohio. It's a pretty big deal around here with about 100 artists juried in, 35 of them local, including me. I'm still thinking about it and trying to figure out what I did wrong and what I did right, and if it was worth the time and effort. Today I'm thinking it was definitely worth it now that I've cleaned up the aftermath of my whirlwind preparations pictured above.
One of my biggest mistakes is evident in that photo...the unfinished and experimental prints. A couple of weeks before something like this is not the time to be trying new things and making new prints, but I just couldn't help myself. When I should have been packaging up prints or reprinting things that I know sell well I was trying out some crazy hand inked collagraphs made from plants, carving and printing a big, yet-to-be-completed reduction print and trying to crank out some monotypes using pieces of lino blocks from previous prints. And there were the three reduction prints that still needed the last impression on over half the prints. I was a printmaking machine and I couldn't stop. I guess, in retrospect, that I didn't want to stop. After all, printing is great and I had a good excuse to be doing it. But the result of my actions was not so fun... two solid days and nights of cutting foamcore and mats and framing, printing up business cards and other collateral at the last minute and almost slicing my finger to the point of needing stitches, and packing my car up like a madman while trying not to bleed on any artwork.
I guess I'm a little regretful that I didn't make the most of the time I had to prepare, which left me a little loopy and not at my sharpest the day of the event, but on the other hand I got to spend the better part of my free time the past few weeks making prints. Or at least trying to. What could be better than that?
One of the craziest things I did during the preparations, though, had to be getting out oil paints and spending half a day painting over a canvas I started 10 years ago, especially considering the fact that I never paint. That is almost tied with the twenty or so hours I spent drawing on two litho plates when I don't know how to do lithography, just because once I started drawing with those litho crayons I really liked it and couldn't stop. I did get one good print from one of them before I ruined the plate, but I guess I can't consider it a good print because it's on newsprint. It was a damn fine litho crayon drawing, though.
Either I have ADD or given an excuse to make some art, that's all I'm going to be doing with every second of time I can find. Anyway, back to the point of the post, the art fair. It went well. I didn't make a huge profit but I slightly doubled the money I had into it, so I can't complain even though I had higher expectations. My expectations were so high, in fact, that I won't have to package up or mat or frame anything for a while, and I can focus on just making art. I've got the business part out of the way through the holidays and I won't have to spend any time or money getting ready for ARTtoBUY at DVAC this year, and I probably have enough packaged prints to start trying to spread them around the Miami Valley...and beyond.
The highlight of the whole thing, though, had to be the people. I just wish I hadn't been so tired and had been more engaging, and I wish I would have remembered to bargain with people who came back for a second look. But it was great to see people I hadn't seen for a while who came to see me because they saw my name in the paper. Also great were the moments when people recognized my work from DVAC and the Cannery, and even better were the three times when absolute strangers came up to me and told me they read this blog and talked about specific posts. How cool is that?
Looking back and writing about it and thinking about it, I would definitely do it all again, in a heartbeat. There's no way I would trade in a few days of crazy-busy for the joy of spending July 2010 making prints and trying new things and meeting people interested in how I print and meeting people who recognize my artwork. I guess after all the years I've spent having my hard work attributed to "artist rendering" that I have to say tonight that it's feeling pretty good to be the artist Andrea Starkey.