The Painful Truth

So here's the truth.  I feel like here in my blog I can tell you the truth, not sugar coat it.  I mean really....what's the point in lying? Nothing drives me nuttier than artists that only paint a rosie picture in their blog.  Because sometimes being an artist sucks.   So here goes.  The raw ugly truth about the art show experience this weekend.  And when the application for Marist Holiday Traditions rolls back around I have this gentle reminder that I do not need to apply. 
Here's a photo of my set-up.  Now in retrospect, I wish I'd put my tables at the front of my booth so as people walked by the new jewelry was in their faces.  The way I have it set up is almost too soft, and empty looking.  So not many ventured to the table to actually SEE what I had for sale.  In fact, what sold was located on the farthest outside grids....magnets sold like hot cakes and 3 paintings that were also on the very outside of the booth sold.  They were "in your face" so to say.

These beauties on the other hand pretty much all came home with me.   I was shocked.   Marist is not an easy show to get into.  It's juried.  And in fact, a few years back I sent in photos of some new jewelry I was making and they declined it.  I could only bring my art and items with my art printed on it.  In fact, Saturday I was standing in a booth talking to another vendor when the vendor chair came up to their booth and said, "You are not approved to sell this jewelry.  You must put it away now."  I appreciate this honestly.  It protects you as an artist from having copy cats or others selling the same product for less.  It keeps the integrity of the show in tact. 
So what was selling if my stuff wasn't?  Well the two people beside me were ornament people.  To the left she had 100's of hand painted ornaments that she personalized.  They were super cute.  Priced at $15 each.  The lady behind me was super sweet...she also made ornaments only they were clay, painted with assorted themes and personalized upon request.  Also $15 each.  They had lines at their booths for these.  I imagine they each sold 100 ornaments or more.  Across from me always is the wooden stake people.  They have snowmen, Santas, owls, turkeys, game days that they again personalize for you and you stick them in your yard by your front door.  The wooden stake people ALWAYS SELL OUT.  Priced all about $22 each.  They sell 100's of these things.  I can not imagine how long it takes her to make all these hand painted signs.  Marist shoppers love them.  And she is so nice and loves what she does.  That's the thing.  You can't even hate these people because they truly love what they make and some spend months preparing for shows like this.  Even though it's not my cup of tea, it is originally made, and lovingly crafted. 
Now  I was telling Billy all this Sunday.  And the bottom line is I am not going to become an ornament maker that personalizes nor a wooden yard stake maker.  Just because they sell 100's at these holiday shows.  It would not be full filling for me.  It's not who I am.  I am a painter and jewelry maker.  I love what I do.

Here are the numbers (yes, I am even telling you numbers folks). This weekend I sold $646 worth of stuff.  4 small paintings, a load of magnets and a few baubles.  The show cost $235 to enter.  I spent $200 on new jewelry pieces.  I spent $51 in gas.  And $20 on food.  That means I profited about $140.  Although I spent exactly that at the show on gifts and art for my home.  Funny right?  I broke even.  Now this is not normal for me.  At tent shows where art is the focus I sell lots and make a nice profit.  Back in the hey day when I was doing show after show I made so much money it was amazing!!  If I didn't sell it at one show, the next weekend there was another one to sell it at.   But now that I'm doing just a few select shows I am paying serious attention to the bottom line. And this weekend's bottom line was a doozie.

So Marist isn't my niche anymore.  And that's okay.  I am super glad my friend Rene was with me this weekend because after the show we went to Maggiano's and talked it out.  She's a big supporter of my work and told me some truthful things about what she as a consumer really likes about my business.  It's nice to have friends that will do that.  Just be honest.  Because sometimes you need to hear it.

So here's my goal.  I've a new following on instagram, facebook and my blog.  And many have asked how do I buy these new jewelry pieces?  And slacker me says....no where.  Boo.  Hiss.  Bad.  So goal #1 is to be active with Etsy.  I can do that.  And goal #2 is to paint.  It's my lifeline to the creative world.  It's speaks to so many people.  I can't tell you how many people wanted to buy the "How to Grow Love" and the "Penelope" painting.  I bet I got 50 comments on those paintings.  But again, since it was more holiday geared, people didn't want to spend $150 on themselves.

I'm not hiding in a cave depressed and feeling unworthy of happiness because of the show.  Actually it was kind of a wake-up call for me.  And another sign that teaching is a very good career path for an artist like me.  It's like the best of both world's if I can figure out how to motivate myself to get that online presence going.  And since I paid for the show entrance fee in March and the bauble pieces with my paypal I actually have the money from the show in my pocket.  On paper I made notta....but reality is that I have a nice stash for Christmas presents.

So....I have to get another computer cord (since Lawrence decided it made a great chew toy) but be looking for Etsy updates by next week!!   Because I am quite motivated to rid myself of the 100 baubles I lovingly made for you!

Well...again thanks for being here and supported my creative craziness.


Mary Ann said...

thanks for the honesty....it's nice to hear the non-sugar coated realty of being an artist is sometimes. Good luck with the Etsy listings!!! mary ann

Beth said...

I'm sorry you had a bad weekend for sales. I appreciate your honesty too. I feel your pain. I know I have to sit back and decide my best market and just concentrate on that. The art festival circuit doesn't seem to work for me right now. I lose money, but I really do enjoy them. But I cannot keep doing it to lose money. On the positive note, after the show I had a lot to list in my Etsy shop...and I'm still listing! Good luck and enjoy teaching. You seem to be a natural. It's just that balance that you have to find.

Darcy said...

Hang in there girl! You know you can do Insta-sales too - no etsy fee :-) People really do love your work and I think you're right about finding the right spot for YOU.

miss bennett said...

Hi, Jenni, I wasn't able to go to Marist this year so I am glad you have some baubles toput on etsy, but sorry to hear that it was not a good experience for you; I know you always enjoyed that show. Your art and jewelry always makes me feel a little bit lighter whenever I see it. I'll be checking your etsy shop! Keep on painting!

Christine said...

If a learning lesson "broke even " I would call that a good thing!!! They usually cost so much more.....they always have for me!!! I will be watching for your etsy updates!
Becky and I always love your jewlery!

Jaime Barks said...

Thank you for being honest! As an artist who is just starting to sell her work it is great to hear honesty. It is comforting to know that I am not alone, I've had a couple unsuccessful events. I love you and your work. I think you should paint, paint, paint. You have a voice and story the world needs to hear!

gina mckinnis said...

I just found your darling blog and I LOVE this post. THANK YOU!! One of the reasons I don't blog more is because I don't feel like I can create that "picture" of artist bliss. You're amazing and I'm crazy about all of your things!! I'm wishing you a fabulous day and I'm off to find you everywhere. :)

Millie said...

I am so grateful to hear this honest feedback. I am also an Atlanta area artist and I have been debating on pursusing the bigger sahows or stay with my small local shows. I do the Marietta square pretty faithfully and have been for the past several years. I never sell hundreds and once in a while I do very badly but last year I really traveled around trying different shows to see if there was a place where my group pf people were and I was not. It really was not a good summer last year so this year I am just going to be at the square.

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