I'm not that great at craft fairs, I've got to admit. As well-prepared as I try to be, as early as I try to get my game going and build my stock, it's always a slightly torturous process for me. Despite the fact that I'd been producing at a steady pace and keeping very close to my schedule, I still found myself awake at 3 am the morning of the Rieke fair, up after working all day making last minute adjustments to my displays and packing last minute cards into cello bags.
In my 3 am angst, in anticipation of the scant hours of sleep I was destined to before the fair, I questioned myself, "why am I doing this again?"
Even in the midst of my early morning exhaustion, the source of what drives me to do this to myself over and over again was still apparent.
I like it. I was enjoying myself.
Not the torture part, but the challenge and the pushing myself, and the satisfaction that I've done all that I can to make this the best it can be - for now - and for the next time, there are the lessons learned and the growth that occurs from putting yourself out there in slightly uncomfortable circumstances.
The five (or so) things I've learned doing art fairs:
1. There's nothing like a deadline to kick you in the pants.
2. The opportunity to place your work among that of other artists you know make excellent work, and who have been doing it for a lot longer than you creates an excellent opportunity to challenge yourself.
3. The craft fair milieu itself challenges me to think about a specific audience, which is a good exercise in and of itself.
4. The networking is great! This Sunday I met a handful of really talented local artists, including Cathy McMurray, painter and multi-media artist. Her gorgeous work can be found on Etsy here, and on her blog, Habit of Art, which is a wealth of beautiful eye candy and helpful information on the business of art making.
5. This is perhaps the most important, yet the most difficult point for me to digest - that the part of my practice that is making ephemeral printed things and blank books for craft fairs, for selling on Etsy, and for -honestly- my own personal enjoyment, is just as important to me as making so-called fine art. I'm inexplicably drawn to this process, probably because it's personally challenging to me. I'm unearthing a part of me that I've buried for a long time, the part of me that wants to be good at this and not be dismissive of my stationery as an incidental pastime, while also acknowledging that the many facets of what I make and do are more integrated than they are compartmentalized.
P.S. Spring seems to really be here! I hope you're getting at least as much lovely weather as we are here in the great PNW.
P.P.S. I have a TON of things to photograph and list for ye olde shoppes. Updates to follow in the next few days.
P.P.P.S. Check out the awesome displays The Monkey built for my cards and posters!
They're a little hard to see in this photo - but they're much fancier that I ever would have dreamed up had I built them, and completely collapsable and assemble-able without any hardware, (gotta love living with a machinist) so there's an upside to running out of time and delegating tasks to willing co-conspirators.