Sunday, October 13, 2013

Art in the Park show

Yesterday was my art show, outdoors in the park. It turned out to be a beautiful day, blue skies, nice simple breeze. Considering the forecast earlier in the week, I was sure it would be postponed. But it wasn't & the day was a lot of fun. There were 100 artists in the show (limit based on submissions), and cash awards for 1st, 2nd, 3rd & honorable for 5 different mediums (acrylic/oil, watercolor, mixed media, draw/print & photography) Then 1 cash award done for best in show. The 2 judges (& 1 photographer) were well established in the art community.

I did not sell anything at the show (although I had hoped I would), nor did I win an award (I had also hoped) - but then, being a newbie to the art circuit, maybe I had hoped too much? Ah, but we all dream, don't we?

When the judging was over & awards out, I sought out the judges to ask for feedback. That, combined with some observations of my own, plus some feedback from a few of the other artists - all proved to be quite valuable. I thought I'd pass a bit of it along:

1) Your overall display is similar to 1 giant canvas. Choose your works and their locations with that in mind - you are designing an image which is a potential buyers first impression. If it's inviting, they will stop to look. (having a basket of tootsie rolls doesn't hurt either!)

2) Make all your work look cohesive. Stick to 1 genre & do it well. Since I had 2 genre's going (Architecture & Floral) the judges felt it lacked that cohesiveness. This is probably what dropped me out of the final judging (this & 3# below) - they said my architecture work was terrific and should have stood on it's own. The floral made it seem like there were 2 different artists & 2 different displays in one. Architecture is about the straight lines, perspective, angles -- Florals are not, and so they didn't complement each other very well.

3) Frame your work! I had mine as matted, ready to be framed. That may be fine for selling (as you explain to a buyer that they can frame it themselves with their style). Although buyers will have a calculator in their mind as they tally up buying the painting, then buying a frame. Also, some buyers are uncomfortable in trying to find & buy a frame. As for judging, unframed pieces looked unfinished. One exception to that are the gallery edged stretched canvas's, provided the painting continues on the side. Many artists had their works in frames, most of them cheap frames. They sold multiple pieces because people feel they are buying a completed piece & can take them home & just hang them. "Completed Piece" is a term I heard over & over from artists. One artist told me she gets her frames at garage sales & spray paints them if she wants to change their colors. But they all said "just make sure whatever frame you choose, it makes your art look better. Don't let the frame take over."

4) Do not be shy! You need to interact with potential buyers constantly, it's all part of the selling game. Everytime you stand off in the background, you are letting potential buyers walk away. If they pause in front of a piece, or start commenting on the piece to their friend - you need to be there, next to them, and engage them in a conversation about the art. Often that connection to the artist, as well as to the subject, will open the door to a possible sale. 

This is one area where I felt that the 2 genres were working against me. While I spoke with one buyer about one of the floral pieces, the architectural person walked away. And vice versa as well. With all one genre, you will often find yourself talking to a group as they are all interested in the same thing -- What was my connection to that house, that church, that bridge, etc. 

All in all it was a fun experience. Hopefully I got some exposure and there are a few people today talking about my work. I had brochures printed up (Vista print) that explained the Home Portraits and how someone can order one - I just counted and about 20 of them went. Perhaps some sales will come from them, and many of my business cards went as well. 

Would I do the show differently with what I've learned? Yes!

And next year I will!


Joanne Grant said...

Fantastic and informative!!

I have had many opportunities to do an outdoor show (booth). I haven't done one yet....but this post will help me tremendously when I decide to take the plunge.

I for one, know I would have taken unframed pieces to sell. Thanks for the tip to frame everything...even if inexpensively!

And thank you for all the other lessons you shared!

I also think that if you do another outdoor show, people will start to recognize you and your work. They will feel familiar with you and then more likely to purchase your work. Keep at it! Your work is stunning!!!

Joanne Grant

Nan Johnson said...

Thank you Joanne! I should say that the feedback were from 2 judges, and that there are countless other judges out there that probably have different opinions. Still, the total cohesive look is a good practice to follow. Inexpensive frames should not look cheap - guess I should have said that too! LOL

And thank you for your very kind words about my work!

CrimsonLeaves said...

Sounds like a super fun and learning filled day, Nancie! I'd say you came away with much value! I like the display and the fact that all are matted in black to me does lend a beautiful cohesiveness. Mismatched frames don't do much for me when it comes to displays...

Nan Johnson said...

Thanks Sherry. It was definitely a fun day with lots to observe & learn. I probably should have said that having things framed means they need to complement each other. Mismatched frames can make a display look awful, I agree! Not all the identical frame, but similar in maybe color, or size, or shape.

The artist next to me had everything matted in black but also had a thin black frame on each. Definitely made them look "finished" (4 of them sold & he took 1st place in his category!)


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