I just finished 28 hours of an art show. That’s probably really 36 hours on my feet on a hard concrete floor once we have set up and tear down. The experience was amazing and I wouldn’t trade any of those minutes for anything, but chatting with my fellow artists all weekend brought out some things that we agreed they never tell you are part of the job description.
1. Describe your art in 10 words.
When you meet anyone at an art fair there are about 100 things competing for their attention. You need to be able to talk about what you do in 10 words or less if you want to start a conversation with someone and talking about your art is why both of you are there, usually. My phrase for this event was “Let me know if you have questions. These are all digitally printed fabrics from manipulated photographs.” Most people would pause for a second (as they made sense of all of those technical sounding words that I just said) and then I would get a big smile and they would say “Oh, that’s really cool!” or “Wow, I’ve never heard of that.” I had a lot of really great conversations that started just that way.
2. Cute outfits always include comfortable shoes.
There is just nothing like the 10th hour on your feet in inappropriate shoes. Danskos will save your life. Cute dress, tights, danskos, cardigan sweater. That’s my uniform. Pockets are also really necessary.
3. Eat lunch in 2 dozen 2 bite segments.
Almonds, cheese and apple slices are my very favorite show lunch. You can eat two bites between conversations, and your fingers don’t get messy. Sometimes you are lucky and you can step away for a few minutes and sometimes you just can’t. This particular show had a demonstration by the local TeaSource (who will be forever my heroes!) just across an aisle and I can’t tell you how good a hot cup of tea is when you have been talking all day.
4. You will get sick the week after it is done.
I shook about eleventy-thousand hands and I was already stressed and a little sleep deprived from getting everything ready. It was inevitable. I should remember to schedule nothing the week after because that’s exactly what is going to get done: nothing.
5. You will have another deadline.
The week I was getting ready for this show (the biggest one I have ever done!) was also the week that the final edit of the manuscript for my book was due. Yup. Two deadlines right on top of each other and by the time I realized that they were all going to happen on the same week there was nothing I could do but hang on for the ride. The universe will sense all of that great creative energy and will throw things at you like crazy. The best strategy is to just admit that you are insane and not let the stress get to you. I let some things go, I wrote some emails and apologized for having to delay a few others and I tried to enjoy what I could – these were really GOOD things happening that were making me stressed.
I didn’t really listen to my own best advice, although to be fair, I didn’t know about either the show or the book deadline when I agreed to this week’s project: Black Hills Fiber Arts Fair. I will be teaching 4 classes and minding a little vendor booth all weekend in Rapid City SD, my hometown. Hopefully I will be over this cold. The classes are ones that I know and love and so there is no stress about preparing for any of them. Just good fun teaching. If you are in the neighborhood, stop by! My youngest sister will be minding the booth for me so I can teach one day. Say hi to her too.
What are your additions to the artist’s job description? I know you have them.