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Size Matters

September 14, 2014

Minis at Buddy and Doris 2

We have been on the road for the past three weeks, traveling to visit kids, grandkids and Nell’s family in Ohio, then back to Houston to do the First Saturday Arts Market on September 6.  The next day we headed  to San Angelo in west Texas to visit my brother and sister-in-law, with a stopover in Austin to spend the night with our youngest daughter and her family. We returned home on Thursday, spent Friday creating and framing a group of new minis, then got up at 5:15 am Saturday (yesterday) to do 4 hours at a farmers market in Sugar Land.

At the last three shows we’ve done, we have found that, for us, the combination of small, colorful and inexpensive is the key to generating revenue at small, low-cost venues.  I suspect size might also be a factor for those who sell at higher price points and do higher priced shows.

I’ll address the reasons we do the low cost shows and markets in another blog article.  For now, I’m just using a quiet day off from being on the go to catch up with our activities.

FSAM Sept 1

The booth at the September  First Saturday Arts Market

Making the transition from a “gallery” style booth with Pro Panel walls and framed paintings to a much simpler presentation has been challenging.  There has been, at least on my part, a bit of adjustment  from “look at how elegant we are” to “look at the fun stuff we have”.  Our lifestyle called for a reduction in the amount of equipment we stored and transported.  Age has also been a factor.  Loading, setup, tear-down and unloading and storing had become a bit more physically challenging, especially on hot days.  So we have simplified things.

FSAM Sept 2

Our booth at the First Saturday Arts Market on September 6th consisted of the Light Dome canopy and three tables.  (Unseen in this image is the third table forming an “L” corner at the left side of the photo.)  Where we used to carry three large tubs with framed art, we now have four small tubs for framed minis, unframed canvas minis with little easels, note cards, and unframed 8×10/5×7/4×6 paintings.  We sold primarily framed minis, some unframed canvas minis, a few packages of note cards and a couple of 4×6 unframed originals.  It was an almost unbearably hot day, but for our purposes, it was profitable.  The added bonus is the enjoyment of meeting new people, and the potential for creating new collectors.  We also had friends on each side of us: jeweler Steve Sellers and potter John Delafield, which meant several hours of conversation and camaraderie.

Nell for sugar land

Nell enjoys playing with color.

We arrived back home from our trip to west Texas on Thursday afternoon.  Because we had sold quite a few of the little mini paintings, we spent a good part of the day Friday producing more of them.  I did simple quick light pencil sketches, then, using acrylics, Nell painted over them in her colorful, whimsical style.  I added some pencil enhancements on top of that, along with a coat of acrylic gloss varnish.  After dinner, we put them into frames and packed them up.

imperial sugar farmers market sept

The “revised” setup under the pavilion at the Imperial Sugar Farmers Market.

The alarm woke us at 5:15 am Saturday morning.  We had loaded the car on Friday, so all we had to do was fill the cooler with ice and drinks and load it in.  We had decided to do the Imperial Sugar Farmers Market for two reasons:  it was an easy drive; and as an incentive to draw more artists to the venue, this one had no booth fee.  We had been watching the weather, and the forecast was grim.  Thunderstorms to hit right around setup time, and rain throughout the day.  We arrived around 7am and were greeted by watercolor artist Mike Vollmer.  We had met Mike a few years ago at First Saturday Arts Market.  When we slowed our attendance down, we lost track of Mike.  Turns out he’s been doing the Farmers Market in Sugar Land for a year or two, and had coordinated the drive to get more artists to setup during the weekly markets.

It was misting a bit when we set up, and the wind picked up at about the same time.  Our friend Steve Sellers showed up with his wife and son and they began setting up across from us.  We were all just about completely set up when Steve walked over with the weather map on his phone.  What looked like a pretty nasty storm was headed our way.  Steve recently had back surgery and was still recovering, using a cane to get around.  With the possibility of having to tear down in driving rain, Steve made what I think was the right decision:  they decided to break it down, load it up and go back home.  Nell and I had just about completed our setup when Mike Vollmer stepped over from his spot next to us.  I had noticed he had his canopy up, but hadn’t unpacked and set anything up yet.  He was debating whether to stay and ride it out as well.  We had never walked away from a show before, but that pretty much did it for us.  As we watched Steve Sellers drive away, we decided to pack it up.

Once all the artwork was packed up and we were about to start taking the canopy down, a lady came over from the pavilion and said there were a few open spaces and we were welcome to set up there. Mike and I walked over, checked it out and decided we would stay and set up under cover.  To allow others to do the same, we agreed we could share a 10×10 space.  We finished the teardown at our original spot and moved the tables and art into the pavilion.  Even with the limited space, we managed to meet some very nice people, reconnected with Mike, and sold some art.

We knew that some of our artist friends had been doing area farmers markets for quite a while.  Since we are small venue artists, we decided to try it.  With a booth fee of $25 and less than a half hour drive, we couldn’t go too far wrong.  As it turned out, even if we had paid a booth fee on this one, we would have made it, paid for gas and lunch, and still made a little money.  The way we look at it, we could have stayed home and sat inside on a rainy day and made nothing.

Where’s the adventure in that?

Minis at Buddy and Doris 1

Above is a closeup of some of the new miniature work.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Marilyn permalink
    September 14, 2014 4:19 pm

    Following you on your adventure…thanks for sharing and good luck with the whimsies!

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