I’ve gotten a number of phone calls lately, from other artists mainly, wondering where I was hiding out during this or that art show. They knew I wasn’t hiding. They just couldn't understand why I wasn’t there.
It’s true. We’ve cut way back on show dates this year.
There are several explanations, road fatigue, family distractions, but the main reason is just plain business.
Last year I traveled across eight states to display my artwork at nearly twenty separate venues. That’s not much for some of my more dedicated colleagues, but it’s a full plate for us, along with running a full-time art studio and gallery.
We did well at these shows. I made lots of friends, sold lots of pictures, and paid a lot of bills. Unfortunately, I managed to accomplish very little else last year.
For example, in all of 2012, I was only able to complete three new drawings. One of them was large and fairly complex, but for someone who claims to be a working artist, three lousy pictures in twelve months isn't much to shout about.
By contrast, I’ve already completed six new pictures since the show season ended last Christmas, and made significant progress on a half-dozen more. We’ve done some interesting projects for a number of clients, and finished some much-needed updates on the Periodic Table of Elephants. I’ve written a book, too, and still managed to fit in a couple of art shows.
So, the first quarter of the year has been busy, and productive – largely because I have limited the number of out-of-town trips we’ve taken this spring.
It's really just a question of numbers. For each weekend show I schedule, I get to re-stock the display and pack the van on Thursday, drive and set up on Friday, then work the show on Saturday and Sunday before driving back home. That’s the job – all of the artists you see at your local art festival do the same, if not more. Monday is a make-up day, returning calls and catching up on paperwork and orders that accumulated over the long weekend. That leaves Tuesday and Wednesday for studio work (if I can get focused), before the process starts all over again for the following weekend.
That means that for every seven-day work week, I get all of two days to make art, which might also include sitting for a couple of hours signing prints, then spending a couple more prepping and bagging pictures for eventual sale. Those things still get done now, but instead of doing them between shows, I get to space them out between new and ongoing projects.
How’s it working out for us? So far we’re actually doing better than we have in years. Part of that may be the economy picking up, but most of it simply has to do with me keeping my head down, and paying more attention to my work.
Don't worry, folks, you’ll still see me on the road from time to time. I do enjoy traveling to art shows, and I love connecting with my friends and customers one-on-one. In the meantime, though, I’m going to be spending a little more time taking care of business right here at home.