Art show preps for 2015

DISPLAYS TO GO!

http://www.displays2go.com/C-0/Largest-Selection-of-Display-Products-POP-Displays-Online

Searched all over the place for a decent, affordable and lightweight floor system and these guys are the ticket.  When you consider a floor for your display, and you definitely should, you will need to have one type for the hard surfaces and another solution for the rough terrain kind of surfaces like grass, sand, etc.  I went with a lightweight foam instead of rubber which is extremely heavy and a lot more expensive.  Time is everything so search for a product that you can easily set up, yet have it light enough that you can manage it.  They have pretty much everything you need for your displays from easels, tables, signs, etc.

Getting ready for the 2015 art show season and things are moving very fast!  You have to really stay on it to apply for all the upcoming shows in advance.  If you don't subscribe to sunshine artists, you should. They are a tremendous resource at a very affordable price.

Several of you have asked me where to get your art work photographed and printed into a "giclee" format and my man Jeff Diener is the go to guy for that purpose!  I just had him shoot one of my pieces and he was insanely meticulous about it and the end product was perfect in every way.  He's easy to work with and surprisingly easy on the wallet!  You can reach him at:

http://www.jad-photo.com/about-j.a.d.-photography.html

 

"You'll figure it out eventually..."

Yes, those were the words I kept hearing over and over during the years I have been doing shows, but how nice it would be if there was a book or article to point you in the right direction.  It could be like a "Dummies Guide to the Show Circuit", for artist "wannabes".  I've been trying to do just that with this blog, so that others won't have to go through the same trials and tribulations that I have over time.  If you look at my booth at the next show, you will see a huge difference in one thing in particular and that is the framing and presentation of my work.  So often times the jurors refer to "the body of work" as to why they chose a specific artist for an award.  This connectivity of individual artworks as a whole in your booth can be achieved by doing one or several things to unite each separate piece as part of a group.  I have chosen to do only minimal black wood frames for virtually every piece or if the rabbit depth is deep enough, do painted edges.  If doing painted edges, make sure that all the pieces have the same rabbit depth (that's how thick your canvas is).  Minimizing the variation of sizes is also helpful and that helps with the packing up time too!

This is a pic of my booth at the most recent Seawall Art Show in Portsmouth. It still has a ways to go in terms of limiting what I want the jurors to see.  The clutter on the table for example is way too distractive and when doing a booth shot, I leave that out.  Also, the print bins on the table add a vertical element that is distracting, however, I need the table to store things for when I make a sale and want to package it up in inclement weather!  The fitted tablecloth is essential so that it does not blow apart in the wind too.  Notice that almost every piece is lined up with formal balance on the top of the booth to give a clean flow and line of sight.  Whenever possible, I move my demonstration area to the left of the booth and outside the booth if allowed by the promoters.

This is the front view of my booth.  Notice almost every frame is black.  The loose edge on the front of my carpet also will need taping up with blue duct tape.  When that does not work, I inserted grommets into the carpet so that I can use twist ties to hold it in place.  I will also take all the print bins off the table and lay down small originals on the table.  The small prints will go into another stand alone bin like the one on the left from propanels.com.   

This is the front view of my booth.  Notice almost every frame is black.  The loose edge on the front of my carpet also will need taping up with blue duct tape.  When that does not work, I inserted grommets into the carpet so that I can use twist ties to hold it in place.  I will also take all the print bins off the table and lay down small originals on the table.  The small prints will go into another stand alone bin like the one on the left from propanels.com.

 

Here is a view of my outside wall with all those pretty wood frames from Italy!  I chose them because they match the pieces well, however, as a body of work, you can see how disconnected they are!

This is my outside wall and I chose an animal and garden theme for the most part.  The backs of my interior paintings are also showing as well as my cooler so I will have to work on a solution for that too, but, "I'll figure it out eventually..."   

This is my outside wall and I chose an animal and garden theme for the most part.  The backs of my interior paintings are also showing as well as my cooler so I will have to work on a solution for that too, but, "I'll figure it out eventually..."

 

I hope this little tid bit of information is useful to some of my fellow artists.  It's always a work in progress so I will keep you posted on the next learning curve.

Playa Venao Panama, Paradise Found!

As I sit here watching some of the smallest waves on earth in Va. Bch., I can't stop thinking about our trip to Playa Venao, Panama in July.  I had no idea that there could still be places like this left on the planet and am so grateful to our hosts at Playa Venao Hotel and Resort and all the newfound friends we met while there.  I am eternally grateful to all of the locals who shared their precious, yet plentiful waves with me every day.  There was an off shore wind blowing virtually every day at some point in time, and there was rarely a day under head high surf!

This was the typical view every morning in front of the pool.

This was the typical view every morning in front of the pool.

Our resort had virtually everything you could ask for including an amazing breakfast included every day and an incredible infinity pool.

The beautiful infinity pool in front of the break!

The beautiful infinity pool in front of the break!

The cottages were five star with massive high ceilings to accommodate the long or short boards, AC, exotic sheets and beds of the finest linens and fabrics.  Needless to say, the wife was quite pleased and on a surf trip, that's a very big deal!

The quality of the surf goes without saying and so I leave you with these few shots of some of the best surf I have ever gotten.

Nice backside out front

Kris checking out the river after the storm.

 

Every day was filled with new adventures and new friends.  The positive energy of the locals was amazing.  I want to thank everyone who purchased one of my prints too!  It's nice to have my work going around the globe and I promise to return with even more images of Playa Venao soon!  

Thanks to my bros at the Beachbreak Hotel next door too for giving me the opportunity to pinstripe the numbers on your doors while I was there.  Nathan has a first class operation that he has personally carved out of the jungles of Panama.  A huge thanks to my hosts at the Playa Venao Hotel and Resort whose staff met and exceeded all of our expectations for service.  Thanks also to Alex for transporting us from Panama City to Playa Venao and to Richy Arosemena, the local photographer who has inspired many of my latest paintings.  

Last but not least, thank you to Owen Rayfield, my former student and successful restaurant owner of "Mantaraya" Mexican food.

Reflecting on the 2014 Boardwalk Art show

Reflections on the MOCA Boardwalk show: "Sometimes you get the bear and sometimes the bear gets you". This time he got me. Sales were definitely down for me and I did not make booth. Not even close. I will of course do the show every year considering how much talent there is from all the applicants. It is truly an honor just to get into this show, show sales are not the main reason for doing it. I personally will do this show every year because I live here and support the local MOCA arts scene. I was very proud of some of my fellow artists who won awards too! They threw a terrific party on Saturday with great food catered by Steinhiblers restaurant which is top notch and then some! The coordination and effort that goes into this show is fantastic. Last year I lost my tent to some bizarre straight line winds and did not even set up Friday after Thursday's total wipe out in the wind tunnel on 25th street. Saturday and Sunday last year I exceeded making booth and made a hefty profit. This year not so much. This year I purchased the water barrels which I would highly recommend and got a booth in the center of the block. Try to avoid the end streets! Doing the Boardwalk show is an annual badge of honor and I was proud to be a part of it. I have found that often times its not at all about the sales for some shows, but rather the cause, whether it's for the Edmarc foundation in Portsmouth, The Hope House Foundation in Norfolk at Stockley Gardens, or shows like the boardwalk. Met some terrific future clients and artists and as always, had a profoundly wonderful time in my home town. Thank you for having me. My cup is half full and I am pleased to be a part of such a rewarding experience hosted by MOCA!

Packaging tips for load in and out at shows

I always seem to be the first in and nearly last out at these outdoor art fairs and continue to learn something new at each one.  For example, I have these very expensive Italian wood frames that damage so easily.  I had the perfect protective covering with custom made bubble wrap bags that I created and card board corners.  After that I used the black split foam used on PVC (without the adhesive) to put on the long parts of the wood frame edges and it worked fantastic.  Perfect for shipping, not so much for outdoor art fairs, because it took forever to remove, store, and then reinstall the packing materials.  Another down side to bubble wrap and black foam is that if left in the sun, each little bubble acts as a magnifying glass and melts the black foam to the bag.  That was a painful learning experience!

Note the time consuming corners, bubble wrap and foam insulation.

Note the time consuming corners, bubble wrap and foam insulation.

I have moved on to a totally new system where I create the plastic bags from heavy duty vinyl film you buy at home depot.  I duct tape the edges inside and out so they don't stick to the painting or the plastic bags as they are inserted into the newly created 1/4" inch foam envelopes I make.  I get the foam in rolls from ULINE in the 48" width and they are like crazy big! They were so big, I had to take the two rolls and unwind  them into four rolls so they would fit through my front door.  The cost for those two rolls was just a bit over $200.00 but I have enough foam now to do about a bazillion paintings, at least!  What's really nice is that once I slip the painting into the vinyl bag, it glides into the white foam envelopes really fast!  The plastic protects the canvas surface too.  The foam cushions it when they are stacked in the vehicle.  It used to take me three to four hours to take down my show at these events.  We now have that down to about and hour, or an hour and a half.  I also have my smaller pieces in foam envelopes and put a lot of them in standard boxes I got from ULINE.  With the similar shape and sizes, they fit well, load in and out surprisingly fast, and add an extra layer of cardboard protection when stacked.

Note the velcro tabs installed to keep the plastic from flying in the ever present winds and rains.

Note the velcro tabs installed to keep the plastic from flying in the ever present winds and rains.

You have to tape the inside seam so that the plastic bag does not stick to the tape, or plastic bag.

You have to tape the inside seam so that the plastic bag does not stick to the tape, or plastic bag.

I also added velcro tabs to keep the loose vinyl from flapping in the ever present wind and rain that you can expect at almost every show!  Better prepared than sorry.

Finished 1/4 thick foam envelope.  You're gonna need a lot of stamps for that one!

Finished 1/4 thick foam envelope.  You're gonna need a lot of stamps for that one!

Good luck out there this year at your shows!  Kris and I are living the dream and loving every minute of it!  Make sure you keep your shows positive and upbeat and always remember, many of them are not about making a profit, winning awards, etc.  Sometimes the shows promote a very worthy cause that is much greater than us and you are very much paying it forward just by being a part of the event, so be proud of that, even if your sales are lackluster.

See ya on the road!

Ed

"Weather or not?"

Soooo....here I sit after loading up my van for my next show, and with it being the month of April, we all know that April showers bring Mayflowers, and of course, Mayflowers bring pilgrims.   No matter what you do, the weather is bound to go south at spring shows and the earlier the show is, the greater the chance that it will be a bigger surprise than you have prepared for.  That's because here on the east coast of the United States, we get very big cold fronts that meet very big warm fronts and the two weather systems collide and form powerful, damaging winds of all sorts along with the possibility of tornadoes too!  Let's not forget about the lighting and hail, two of my favorite weather friends!

 I am pondering this carefully because last year there was virtually no warning in the long term and even short term forecast of what was to come, and come it did, in the form of straight line winds in excess of 85 mph!  Almost 40 tents went into the ocean that evening shortly after I had put my last painting into my van, and mine was one of them.  It was loaded down with hundreds of pounds of weights on each corner, ratchet cabled to the boardwalk rail, and I even had 4 buckets of sand on each of the front legs in addition to the 4 cement weights per leg.  Each of those was 75lbs each!  One of the main reasons mine and others went flying through the air with the greatest of ease was that I chose an end corner in a wind tunnel so I could have more room to paint at the show.  Wind tunnels are nasty banshee beasts that gobble up tents with malevolent forces that exceed any violence you could possibly imagine!

My labs Rusty and Raven were a huge help at picking up the pieces of my tent that went for blocks!  Notice the huge barrels that were filled with water to hold my neighbor's tent.

My labs Rusty and Raven were a huge help at picking up the pieces of my tent that went for blocks!  Notice the huge barrels that were filled with water to hold my neighbor's tent.

You can prepare for this nightmare experience and weather the storms by doing some very simple things.  Listen carefully for the weather and if it appears to be rather ominous, then simply lower the tent or take it down altogether.  My wife and I have gotten pretty fast at setting these things up and it's a lot easier than buying a whole new rig.  It also helps if you have art insurance like I do from RLI at USAA.  They were wonderful and supportive after I sent them the before and after pics of my tent.  You also need to prepare your work in plastic bags you can easily make for large pieces like my 40 X 60 works of art, from plastic you can buy at home depot.  I put them in the plastic bags and then create a large white envelope from 1/4" foam sheets that come in rolls from ULINE.  Great stuff.  I now make those envelopes for all of my work.  The rolls come in a wide variety of widths and lengths too.  Have lots of tarps on hand, plenty of ratchet straps (rope is fairly useless in the wind), lots of extra clear plastic, and have a foul weather plan with a list.  I keep this in my trailer so that I don't forget anything.  You can also avoid a lot of this buy selecting the space for your tent that is centered on a big building and avoid the side street openings/wind tunnels.  We also keep a lot of "sham Wow's" in the van for cleaning up all the time.  Have a table handy that you can put in the middle of the tent and put the work on to wrap it up during foul weather.  It's pretty hard to wrap up things on the ground when the wind and rain are coming at you from all sides under the tent.  Higher up on the table, you avoid that altogether.

My brand new tent ripped to shreds at the 2013 Virginia Beach Boardwalk Art Show.

My brand new tent ripped to shreds at the 2013 Virginia Beach Boardwalk Art Show.

What's truly remarkable about disaster is the tremendous amount of support you get from total strangers and friends.  People came out in droves to help me salvage the parts of my tent and get it back home where I could later determine what was usable or not.  It totally gave me a new outlook on my fellow man/woman.  People really are pretty great and they come to your aid when you least expect it, which is one of the reasons I find doing art shows such a joy.  We always seem to meet some of the most wonderful people we would never have met otherwise.  Good luck out there doing your shows, and stay the course, regardless of the weather and all will be fine.

Fear and Loathing on the Florida Gulf Coast

Just got back from the marathon drive straight home from our gig in Florida, and what a long strange trip it's been!  We spent a little over a week doing the Anna Maria Island show at Holmes Beach, Florida and could not have asked for more perfect weather, and to be honest, it was really nice to get out of VA and get to some comfy temps!  The journey there with the trailer was pretty grueling and took us two days since it was my first trek with the trailer and I wanted to baby it the whole way.  Coming back was another story!  Balls out all the way in the intense rain and wind that led to a full on white knuckle trip the entire way and we never even stopped at a motel.  Thank God for coffee!

This little calf swam right up to us at Crystal River.  The trick is to just float and not let your feet touch the water.  No movements and no sound!  they love quiet and they do a lot of resting on the bottom.

This little calf swam right up to us at Crystal River.  The trick is to just float and not let your feet touch the water.  No movements and no sound!  they love quiet and they do a lot of resting on the bottom.

Prior to the show we had a blast at the local museum in Bradenton and saw the DaVinci exhibit and "Snooty", the oldest living manatee in the world (65 yrs. old.)  We spent a long time playing with all the hands on machines and giving Snooty lots of smiles.

 

The show was a great success and we totally enjoyed meeting all the nice people on the island but getting on and off the island was incredibly time consuming. We all know what a pain it is at our oceanfront during tourist season but we all know the back roads to avoid the "strip or oceanfront".  Down there, the island is so narrow and tiny that there is only one access for the most part and its a two lane road, jammed with spring breakers, lost tourists, and crazy drivers like you have never seen in your life.  The first day of the show, it took us 3 hours to get to our hotel which was only 9.5 miles away!!!!!  It was pretty cool to be able to get so close to the shore birds on Longboat Key and I got some terrific shots that will lead to some fun paintings later.

Very happy to be back in Virginia which I am very proud of!

Once we got out of the show, we toured the island north to south and had a ball watching nesting birds and later, going to Crystal River to swim with the manatees.

Once we got out of the show, we toured the island north to south and had a ball watching nesting birds and later, going to Crystal River to swim with the manatees.

For all my "out of state" art show wannabe's...

So there you sit all comfy in that chair looking at your computer and selecting these art shows all over the country.  You've done your homework, gotten your transportation together to get the work and the tent with all the accessories together, filled out tons of entry forms and responded to the notifications, and or rejections.  Surely with all those awards they will undoubtedly select you!  Not so fast there buddy!  You see, those things don't really come into play in this game of art showmanship.  It's incredibly competitive and those who read between the lines and follow the rules to the "T" have a better than fair chance to get into a lot of the shows.

Let's not forget about the three things that are always a constant in this crazy life of ours:  Life, Death, and Taxes.  Yes, TAXES!!!!!!!!!  Agghhhhh....but hey, we are so fortunate to live here in Virginia where believe it or not, they make the process fairly effortless for artists and out of state vendors.  When you go out of Virginia though, you had best prepare ahead of time, way ahead of time or pay some hefty fines!  Today I finally registered with the Florida Department of Taxation, something every artist/vendor must do long in advance of selling their wares in the Sunshine State.  It was a fairly painful and lengthy process that involved some serious screen time to get right.  You must have an FEIN (Federal Identification No.) or an EIN (employee Identification No.). to get started, along with your business license information and company name.  If you plan on doing shows in Florida, start here:

http://dor.myflorida.com/dor/

Here are a few important things that stand out to me about doing local and out of state shows:

IMG_2216.JPG
  1. Read the prospectus completely and follow it to the letter.  Every show is different and they all require different image formats and labeling of the images.  The ones you used for zapplication or juried arts services web sites may not be good enough or may be too big for some of the smaller venues you are pursuing.
  2. Make a list of all the things you need to bring to the show, especially your prints of the originals.
  3. Make separate containers or boxes for the prints and label them on the outsides as to the contents inside.  If you send your partner to the trailer/van to get a print refill or an original, it makes it a lot easier to find if you have a labeling system on your boxes filled with art.
  4. Put all the reproductions in one box that will go into the print bin so they don't get mixed up with the duplicates.  Don't put duplicates on the table or bin because it makes it appear like you have cranked out a ton of the same thing and cheapens the appearance of your work.
  5. Make a detailed list of all the furniture, electrical components, and hardware you need for your display so that you don't leave anything out.
  6. Develop a really secure system in your vehicle and trailer if you have one to secure all the contents.  I used lots of D rings, ratchet straps, netting, and bungies to secure my load.  
  7. Make sure that you load up your vehicles so that the items that need to come off first, like the tent, weights, poles, and carts get loaded on last and are out front so you can access them right away.
  8. Bring a lot of extra lights, battery type LED and regular flashlights, as well as hat lights.  Did you know that some of the shows have set up times at 4:30-5:00 AM?  When other artists see me at those shows they think its an Alien invasion because I have so many battery powered lights but it's really easy to loose something in the dark bro!
  9. Bring a well stocked cooler with food and plenty of bottled water.
  10. If you are doing lights, get a good marine deep cell battery, an inverter, and some LED lights that you can hook up to your display.  You can buy them pre made and spend a ton or just go to Home Depot and ask the electrical genius there to help you.  They usually know a lot more than you do.
  11. Check the vehicles completely, air, water, oil, fluids, etc.
  12. Don't forget the GPS!
  13. Put all of your paperwork in one place that you can find easily, including the business license, insurance proof, prospectus, etc.
  14. Bring a lot of shrink wrap, foam or bubble wrap to package the works you sell. My clients really appreciate it when I package the originals up professionally on the spot so that they can survive the trip to their place in perfect order.

That's about it for now and I am sure there's a ton of more things to consider that I did not mention, but these really stand out.  Remember to check with the state's tax web site to find out how to register for that state so you are in compliance and you will stay out of trouble and have a great show.

Kris and I are having the time of our life doing these shows and it's a lot more comfy when you do your homework and prevent problems before they come up.  Of course they always do and that's part of the fun!  Be safe out there and drive slowly when towing a trailer.  Trailer sway is a killer and can ruin your entire experience, and it's so easy to avoid by going slower!

This link at the Art Fair Insiders is pretty eye opening.  It gets pretty complicated in some states like NY and New Jersey.  Not only do they want sales tax, they also want income tax!  

http://www.artfairinsiders.com/profiles/blogs/taxes?id=2160589%3ABlogPost%3A359589&page=1#comments

 

Art Shows/Fairs & A Comedy of Errors

Consider me schooled!  I was so excited about getting into some of those Florida art shows again this year and learned the hard way that you really need to enter a whole lot more than you think.  Quite often, as artists, regardless of our ability and awards, we get the dreaded, REJECTION letter/email for a show we have tried to enter.  This happened a couple of times to me this year and sadly, I did not submit to multiple shows in advance. Advance means like six to eight months before the show, cash up front required!  Now here I sit in front of my computer screen scrambling to get in late to some of the even smaller shows, which at this point may be rather futile.

 For all you art show festival wannabe's out there, know this, every show has a promoter and they all have different rules about images sizes, application requirements, deadlines, submission rules and so forth.  If your images are just slightly out of their requirements, they won't even hesitate to reject you on that basis alone, regardless of the quality of your work so read between the lines and do your homework!  READ THE RULES!!!!

I am posting this because there just is no rule book out there for doing the outdoor shows and the web sites that offer input are just too complicated to get through unless you have like a bazillion man hours of extra time to put into it.  Frankly, I would much rather paint, because that's what I do best, but ya gotta do what ya gotta do to succeed in this business.

So here I sit, on the waiting list to nowhere searching for that game time in the Florida sunshine.  Hoping for somewhere nice near the manatees like Holmes Beach, FL where I can sketch and research these majestic beauties in person. If I don't get in because I am too late then I think Kris and I are going to take a badly needed vacation to see the manatees ourselves and leave the art back home.  I think we will bring the dogs on this adventure.  They deserve it after all they've been through with my parading around at these art shows.  I've sent the festival folks in that area some emails inquiring about entries so I'll keep you up to date on what happens with that.  I'm sort of hoping for another series of rejections so Kris, Rusty, Raven and I can just go on our own little adventure and then come home to paint about it.  God bless and good luck out there ya'll!