This week’s blog is written by Carl Sandeen of Kristi Usher Fine Art. Carl’s wife Kristi is a bronze sculptor of western themes as well as a two-dimensional artist with oil, pencil and ink. Kristi's work is known for realism and projects her intimate knowledge of horses, dogs and the cowboy way of life.
Artists know that shows highlighting their body of work, bringing in customers ready to buy art like theirs, help pay the bills. Sometimes just one or two shows a year. Sometimes one or two a month. And if it's a venue like Portland Saturday Market, weekly. Shows are hard work, and when the cost of the booth, travel, meals and lodging are met and exceeded by sales, a thrill. Kristi and I have pared art shows down to only a few each year, and to those that are within a narrow niche--for us, ranch and rodeo western art. We've learned buyers of art know what they like, and will choose from the many options to focus on their favorite shows to attend.
Facilitating and directing a show is also hard work, usually consisting of a team constantly looking to make it better. At the end of a show, smart leadership will debrief artists for valuable feedback, and act on ideas that come out of that process. Often, artists that have been faithful in their attendance, are asked to join an advisory board, or something similar. Kristi and I recently received a letter from one of those show teams for an art show we plan to display at in October. We think the letter demonstrates some of the great ideas that can come from great show leadership. It reads as follows:
"It's Spring in the Pacific NW and ... last fall, after the show, we sent out a questionnaire ~ we asked ~ you answered ~ we listened ~ we brain stormed ~ we have many winning new ideas ... We want you to think 'Art Extravaganza'! We will have all art forms represented ~ both visual and performing ~ Opening on Saturday and Sunday only ~ Friday night gathering & dinner for artists to unwind and visit with their peers ~ Fewer booths to allow for a different set up arrangement ~ Spotlight Stage for demonstrating artists and performers ~ Showcase Gallery for one piece from each artist to submit for judging and People's Choice ~ Gallery area for pieces submitted for sale only ~ Children’s art display area ~ Finishing Touches Auction to replace Quick Draws ~ Central area for Slow Finish artists to gather for the patrons viewing pleasure ~ Ticketed Dinner and Live Auction on Saturday evening ~ Silent Auctions ~ Benefit Auction ~ Color Catalog with auction items ~ Full screen photos projected during auction ....
"We have hired an Advertising Agency to help us promote the show. We will continue to send out beautiful full color brochures to our Patron list ~ we have already secured ... publications for ads ~ we will use pertinent newspaper ads ~ we will have a very heavy social media presence and paid ads with them ~ we will also be pursuing public TV. Another piece to complete this advertising component is you contacting your own patrons...."
Being a member of Artistic Portland is a great chance, not only to sell art, but also to network and share ideas. Just like the debrief at the end of a show, participating in a cooperative and spending time with other artists, can help us in all areas of the artist life. And maybe pay the bills.