The special experience of having a reeeaaalllllly bad show.

So this years line-up of shows has been good.  It’s like I’ve been on a lovely trajectory of each one being better and better.  I’d hit an all-time high, and then the next one would be better.  The one after that I’d hit a new “best ever”, and so on and on it went.  I’m no fool, and was aware that I was on a wonderful lucky streak.  That at some point it would end, and the shows would go back to being “pretty good”.  Maybe I was cocky, maybe just naive, but I didn’t plan on a major face-plant.  Not at this point in my career.  Oh no, not ol’ Carolyn, not with her charming animal pots and appealing sculptures.  How would it be possible to have a Bad Show when so many people squeal with delight when they come to her booth?

Well, it happened.  Three long days of misery. My original expectations of income very quickly became reorganized. My the end of day 2 I was praying to make my expenses.  By the middle of day 3 I was horrified that the whole day could come and go with not one blessed sale.  My bright and shiny smile declined to a false facsimile of pleasantness.  I was smiling on the outside and cursing the arts-and -crafts god on the inside for delivering me into this hell-hole.

The majority of artists at this show were making pumpkins on sticks, metal Yoda’s and nail files guaranteed to make your nails happy and healthy. And they were all selling at a disgustingly brisk rate, to top it all off.  When we first pulled into the parking lot, and I saw a miniature outhouse with a cut-out moon on the door, my stomach flipped.  What the hell did I get myself into?!! Why didn’t I come here first to see the type of work that was shown? Why did I assume that just because it was a beautiful wooded setting and well attended that my sales would be a slam-dunk? I turned to Richard with a  stricken look and he looked back with what I’m sure he hoped was an encouraging smile.  We set up the tent and booth and quietly drove home, trying to muster up positivity the  next three days.

About halfway through day one, I became extremely embarrassed. I hoped that no one I knew would come to this show and see me, sitting next to giant smiling candy corn (on a stick).  I am, after all, a full-time artist who aspires to being taking seriously and earning the respect of the talented artists I normally show with. “Do NOT put on Facebook that I am here”, I hissed at Richard. “I don’t want anyone to think I do these kind of shows”  I admonished.  So naturally he takes a picture with his phone of the nail file guy, with the items in the front of my booth showing, and mentions that his partner Carolyn is doing this show.  You can guess how this went over.  He said I needed to get over it, that all artists go through bad shows, where tacky stuff is shown, and where profit is small or nonexistent. I  disagreed (at high volume) at the time, but after digesting the Demise of Carolyn’s Lucky Streak, I decided he was right. The fault was mine for not doing proper research, and I didn’t lose money. After expenses I made a smidgen of profit. Much better artists than I have lost money on a show.

So. Back to the studio I go.  My inventory is still high, so the pressure is off for the next show.  I will choose my shows for next year VERY carefully, and I will attempt to keep smiling if one goes very very badly.

Feb23 005

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9 Responses to The special experience of having a reeeaaalllllly bad show.

  1. Ron Sutterer says:

    Richard is right, unfortunately we have all experienced your pain.

  2. S Jeter says:

    Oh yes, the unending agony of being at the wrong show is the stuff nightmares are made of and something I can truly empathize with. Don’t blame yourself too much. I once jumped through all the pre-show research hoops and still ended up spending three equally disheartening days in a lovely New Jersey town.

  3. Rochester Artisans says:

    Well said, so honest. Been there, done that, as Richard said.

  4. Dennis Allen says:

    Once did 3 days between the tupperware lady and the gutter shutter guy. seemed like a life sentence.

  5. sharon says:

    I know exactly how you feel,, my pots were going like hotfire,,, then a show where they moved my booth– I sold 1 cup in 2 days– it is such a terrible feeling,, I thought my potsa had lost there appeal,, but the next show was great,, smile honey,, hugs to you ,, your work is amaizing ( I know that doesn’t pay the bills) and your next show your babies will shine !!!!!

  6. Pat says:

    Oh, Carolyn, we have all found ourselves at duck-on-a-stick shows, even after all the research and previews said that it was great. Teaches you how to grind your teeth, doesn’t it. Sometimes it just happens, and we’ve all made wrong choices. You just won’t go back to that one.

  7. Caryn says:

    If it is the one I am thinking of, I was at it as a customer and attendance seemed to be down on both Sat and Sun. We camp there that weekend and have for the last thirty years. I did the show myself for over fifteen years and usually found it to be excellent. Sorry your experience did not bear that out. It is truly disheartening to see pumpkins on a stick walking around. We once did the Park Ave show and I swear all we saw was tie dyed t shirts having the same experience of barely making our booth fee.

  8. Sharon says:

    I am a photographer who just did my first show. There were good artists there, including two other photographers. Attendance was down from previous years from what I heard. I sold not even a card, although I had a lot of lookers. It was a juried show, but a relatively new one. It was a mixture, though of really nice artistic things and some things that were more like home crafts, although no giant candy corn. Maybe I was in the wrong show. The other photographers didn’t do well either. I think I need to do more research about shows in the future.

  9. Joanne Buchanan says:

    I was there and I agree with you. I purchased from your both only. Your work stood out amongst all the other “stuff” that was there. I wish you had had a better experience.

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