Friday, February 29, 2008

Mandala 11

Here is the 11th piece in my new Mandala series.

Mandala 11

The artist and modern technology

When someone sees my art for the first time I often times get asked if they are photographs. Because I am a digital artist that prints my artwork on the same pro quality Epson printers that many pro photographers use, the question is understandable. Even though the finish piece (at least in my opinion) looks nothing like what would come out of a camera, the type of paper, matting and framing makes my art look as if they were digital photographs.

My, how times have changed in the world of art. Prior to the use of the vast array of new technological “gadgets” that we’ve become accustomed to, it was fairly easy to define the type of media artists used. In the world of flat, 2 D art, you were either a painter using oils, acrylics, watercolors etc. a printmaker that employed wood block, serigraph or other hand pulled ways to transfer your original to paper or a photographer shooting your masterpieces through your camera lens onto “film.”

Those old school method artists still out number us new “techies” a 100 to 1 and produce some of the finest art of our generation but technology is starting to make headways into the world of art, were we like it or not.

Take the way I produce art for example. I use mathematical algorithms to create fractals. These formulas are iterated (multiplied) over and over again to expose a graphical representation of the math I’m using. In most cases, these formula iterations are done millions of times in order to get the effect I’m after. Without computers this process couldn’t happen, thus this computer technology is most important in my work as an artist.

Other artists as well as some jurors that control who get into the art festivals I sell at, often look at my art as not as authentic as more traditional forms because I use a computer. That school of thinking is not only antiquated but also unfair to us using modern technology to make art. I’m sure the same thoughts were held when oil painters saw an influx of artist starting to use a more modern paint called acrylics.

The end result, the finished piece, the art hung on the wall can look similar no matter how it was created. There is no right, or wrong way to make art. It’s all right in my opinion.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Mandala 10

Here is the 10th piece in my new Mandala series.

Mandala 10

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Mandala 9

Here is the 9th piece in my new Mandala series.

Mandala 9

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Mandala 8

Here is the 8th piece in my new Mandala series.

Mandala 8

Monday, February 25, 2008

Mandala 7

Here is the 7th piece in my new Mandala series.

Mandala 7

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Mandala 6

Here is the 6th piece in my new Mandala series.

Mandala 6

Friday, February 22, 2008

Mandala 5

Here is the 5th piece in my new Mandala series.

Mandala 5

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Mandala 4

Here is the 4th piece in my new Mandala series.

Mandala 4

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Mandala 3

Here is the third piece in my new Mandala series.

Mandala 3

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Mandala 2

Here is the second piece in my new Mandala series.

Mandala 2

Monday, February 18, 2008

New mandala series launched

I've just released a new series of 35 "Mandala" prints that I will be debuting here on this blog. Each day until they are all posted, I will put up (1) one new design. These prints are an "open edition" and are priced at $20.00 each which includes matting. You can purchase them at my on-line web gallery They can be found under the navigation link "Mandalas."

My mandalas are artistic works of art that some perceive as sacred art. They can be used as focal points during meditation, interesting and beautiful prints to be hung and enjoyed or both. Many believe that mandalas may inspire and facilitate healing. I’ve always found them calming.

This series of mandalas are printed on archival stock, using archival pigmented inks and double matted to an over all size of 12”x12” with an image size of 7.5”x7.5”. Because of their standard size, these prints are economical to frame.

The print will ship flat, securely packaged and guaranteed against bending or dents.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Check out these cool studios

Have you ever wondered what the inside of an artist studio looks like? Or, if you're an artist yourself, have you ever been curious what other artist's digs look like compared to where you work? If you answered yes to either question, take sometime and check out a great new website I found.

Bohonus VR Photography takes you into dozens of different Seattle artists studios using the technology of "interactive panoramas" that play in both Apple's Quicktime VR or Flash players. Once you click on one of the artist's links, a new window will open giving you a 360 degree view of their studio. You can scroll right or left, up or down and peek into where they create their art. If you choose, after you view their studios you can also link over to their website.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

New artist discoveries

One of the things I do that makes my life as a traveling artist so fun and rewarding is that I am constantly meeting new (at least to me) and exciting artists. Each weekend during the "season" set up my booth amongst hundreds of other artists some my friends, others are artists that I have not had the pleasure of meeting and exploring their art yet.

Because 95% of the time I travel to these shows solo, leaving my wife to act as the sole caregiver to our horses, goats, cats and dog back at home, I don't often get a chance to stroll the isles of the festival I'm selling at during actual show hours. Sometimes I get the rare opportunity to have a "booth sitter" spell me for 10 or 15 minutes during the day for a quick trip to the restroom or to grab a bite to eat. These breaks are never long enough to allow me to browse booth to booth checking out other artists works.

So, the majority of the new art I'm exposed to are the artists that are set up in the near proximity to my own booth. Depending on how busy the show is will determine how much time can be spent examining these new found work.

A habit that I've gotten into for the last few years is when I discover a new artist that I would like to check out further, I grab one of their business cards and "surf" their website either later that evening after the show is done for the day or once I return home. It's becoming more rare to find an artist I like that DOESN'T have their own website. By the time these artists I meet get to the level of shows that we're doing together (normally the top 600 US shows) they have discovered many different way to succeed in their art careers and a variety of ways to promote their work and their own website is high on the list.

That said, while checking out some of these artist's sites, I've often find links to still others art sites that I was previously unaware existed. I love that. Some of the most creative artists showing today, I've discovered this way. I've decided to share some of these "finds" with you here on my blog. Some will be links to their websites but others might be videos I've embedded here for you to watch. Either way, I hope to turn you on to other cool artists that you otherwise might not have had the opportunity to see.

Sketch Tuesday

While researching ideas to help jump start a gallery that I show in located in Sandpoint, Idaho, I came across this unique event held at the 111 Minna Gallery in San Francisco. Check it out, very cool and fresh. If you enjoy this video you can find others over at a "must see" site that I check out daily called These videos are done by Matt Petty in the "Art Adventures" section.

Friday, February 15, 2008

An experiment

The artistic side of my brain works in spurts. Sometimes, new works pour out at a rate that I feel guilty doing them that fast. But most of the time, I go through a methodical approach to making my art that takes time, often a lot of time. I often get asked when showing at festivals, “how long does it take you to create that piece.”

I most of the time give a stock answer that goes some thing like, “Because I work in layers, the finished piece might be made up of a dozens or more layers, which combined, make up the fractal.” I then go on to say, “depending on the complexity of each layer, it could take as little as 10 minutes per layer or over an hour. If the piece is say 20 layers deep I could literally be on it for a few days. I normally don’t sit in front of my computer working on the same image from start to finish so I might be working on several different fractals at once to keep each new piece fresh while I create it.”

My art career has become so busy with traveling to art festivals, gallery openings, website and blog work etc. that in order to find time to make art I’ve needed to implement a more strategic approach to being creative.

I’ve read about artists that do a piece of art a day, everyday and offer it for sale on sites like eBay, Etsy and a variety of other online art auction sites. They promote each piece through blogs similar to mine. The common denominator of these types of sales is that usually the painting, photo, collage or whatever is small. Typically these pieces of art are post card size or possibly 6” x 6”. Here is an example of an artist that has taken this art marketing to the extreme. His name is Duane Keiser and his art can be found on his blog at,

Take a look and you’ll have a better idea of what I’m proposing for my own art.

Starting soon, along with my regular articles, I’ll be posting a “new” never before sold fractal on this blog. I will give details on each print such as size, matted or not, whether the piece will be framed, if it will be an “open edition” or “limited edition” etc. I’ve decided NOT to include each print in my gallery website until after this “original” is sold.

My goal is to debut between 3 and 5 different fractals per week. If the experiment works, I’ll continue with it. If it becomes too much work for too little return, I’ll kill it. You’ll determine which path I take.

In any event, at least I'll be making art in a very regular cycle.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

How to set up a greeting card business Part 3

You’re almost done, at least for the layout, printing and packaging part of you’re new greeting card venture.

Once I get a shipment of printed cards back from the printer, I inventory them and put them away in their proper archival storage container until needed. This storage is easier than you might think because the cards are delivered to me “flat” or un-folded. Each card is “scored” down the middle of it providing a perfect guide on which to fold the card in half from.

In the beginning of my “greeting card career” it was easy to store the cards. I initially only printed 60 designs and all of the cards stored neatly on one self in my studio. Now that I have almost 300 different card designs, the process is a bit more difficult, but I can still store them in one area of my studio. With the addition of my new distributor I might be faced with a larger storage problem than I ever had before. That will be a good problem to have to deal with.

After each art festival I do, I take an inventory of both my cards and prints. That count gives me an idea of what I need to print and frame along with which greeting cards I need to assemble. I say assemble because that’s basically what happens. I pull the desired amount of cards of each deign I need from storage and place them on a workbench in the studio. I then “fold” the cards down the scored line I talked about and put all of the folded cards aside. Because the majority of the cards I sell are 5” x 7” I use an A-7 Arrow White card from Heinrich Envelope Company. The color white not only goes with every thing but also is the cheapest, under .02 each.

I place the folded cards on the bench next to the envelopes and one by one, insert an envelope into the center of the folded card and set aside.

To give my card line a touch of class I package the card and envelope into a clear plastic bag (#B75) that I purchase from ClearBags.

The extra .06 I spend on each one of the clear bags is well worth it. Not only does it keep the card and envelope together it keeps them both clean and free from dirty finger prints that would inevitably get all over the cards when my customer browse through them in my spin rack. I’ve witnessed many other artists run for cover to try and save their greeting cards when an unexpected rainstorm hits. The clear bags protect the cards from getting wet.

Now you have my secrets. Well not exactly secrets but the tips I’ve laid out over the past 3 articles will save you a good amount of time researching out my sources, plus, if you follow these steps you’ll be able to safely add a great deal of extra sales income to your already existing art business. I did, you can too.

How much extra of course will depend on how many shows you do each year and if you seek out a greeting card distributor to wholesale your cards for you. I charge $3.00 each for my cards which is a very fair price for the end user plus it gives you enough room to sell to stores at half of that so that they can mark up (keystone) the cards to your suggested retail price.

Are you willing to take the chance?

Monday, February 11, 2008

How to set up a greeting card business Part 2

As I mentioned yesterday, I not only used to do all of my own greeting card printing but, prior to printing I had to first do all of my own card layout. There are many different computer programs that allow you to do this type layout work. Quark Express, Adobe Illustrator or even Microsoft Publisher that comes with many of Microsoft’s “Office” suites will work. Publisher is a capable graphics program, especially if you are part of the “Windows” culture. I’ve used a number of them but finally stepped to a high-end program from Adobe called InDesign.

Years ago, when I first started my greeting card line, I set up my first series of cards in Publisher. It was simple to use and gave me good results. When I was doing my own card printing I was able to control the process from layout to print so if I hit a snag with the program, I was able to figure out a work around for it.

Once I out sourced my printing I quickly discovered that pro print houses had difficulties working with the files from low-level layout programs like Publisher. Because they aren’t set up to efficiently take my layouts and feed them directly into their presses I incurred an additional set up charge for each design I sent them. It wasn’t much ($5.00 per card) but because they had to re-format 60 cards that small $5.00 fee turned into a whopping $300.00 set up charge I wasn’t counting on.

Taking the advice of the print shops graphics director, I started using Adobe’s InDesign to do my layout and haven’t run into any compatibility programs since making the switch. This program is fairly expensive and has a steep learning curve so if you are just starting out or have just a few cards you’d like to have done, you might be better off with another, less complicated program.

If you are like me and convinced that the addition of a greeting card line with greatly increase your yearly profits, by all means, take the plunge and start off right from the beginning with InDesign.

If you do, here are the steps I go through to create a PDF ready card that any printer can use.

The first thing that needs to happen is that you need to do is to convert the image you’ll be using for the front of your greeting card into a format that your printer will find compatible. The most common, and the one I use is JPG. If you will be creating standard size cards such as a 5” x 7” you will need to size your image to 5.125” x 7.25” which will give you a photo that will completely cover the front of your card and not have that amateurish white border surrounding the image. In the industry, this technique is called “the bleed.” By having your image slightly larger than the final card size (front side) the printer will be able to print the card and do a final trim to the finished size you’re after, thus leaving only the image on the front showing.

I use PhotoShop to do my post processing work (adding a “plate signature” layer) for my fractals so I’m very familiar with this program so I also use it to re-size my images down to the size I need for my cards and then save it as a JPG there. While in PhotoShop I also create a much smaller copy of the image on the front for a thumbnail image for the rear of the card. This step isn’t necessary but I find it gives a more finished touch to my line.

Once I have all of the images for the cards I want to layout done I open another program (InDesign) and start my layout. Using the size example stated above I start by going to File>New>Document and size a new document to 7” x 10” which allows me to have a folded 5” x 7” finished card. I like to have the ruler and snap to guides optioned which helps me distinguish the front from the back of the card. If I’m working on a “vertical” image, the layout will be 10” wide by 7” tall with a grid line (invisible in the final printing) down the center. Using the “rectangle frame tool” I then create a 5.125” x 7.25” “box” on the right side of the layout. Then I go to File>Place and browse to where my images are stored on my hard drive and select the image I’ll be using for the card which I “place” in the rectangle I created.

After the image appears, I make sure that it fills the entire box I made. If for any reason it doesn’t I use the Object>Fitting>Fit contents to frame command. That should expand your JPG to fit into the rectangle box you made.

I then turn my attentions to the “back side” of the card. Here I make a series of smaller rectangular boxes like I did for the front of the card image but instead of “Placing” a JPG into it I click on the “Text” tool button and type in the desired “copy” that I want on the back of the card. Depending on how much you want to say will determine how large these boxes are. I try to use a font size large enough for people to read but small enough to fit in everything I need.

For my cards, I have 6 different rectangles. I use one for a thumbnail size image of what’s on the front of the card. One for the “body copy” and 2 others that contain the company name, address, website info and copyright symbols. The last rectangle is for my company name/logo.

After I do this preliminary layout I do a visual, on computer check to make sure that every thing is in it’s correct place and even sometimes print out a hard copy. Once I’m satisfied with the results I save the file as an. indd file (suffix for InDesign) and then export the finished file as a PDF for printing. This step might not be necessary if your printer wants the file in a format that they can tweak but prefer providing them with the un-tweakable finish file ready for the press. That way, I know exactly what the final card will look like right there on my computer.

After they’re printed and delivered back to you comes the final step. I’ll cover that tomorrow.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

How to set up a greeting card business - Part 1

I love greeting cards and if you’re an artist trying to make a living selling your art, you should too. A few articles ago I mentioned that I recently set up a distribution deal with “Starshine Arts” in Eugene OR. Here is how I got this far.

Artist’s opinions on greeting cards vary. Many feel that if they were to offer cards for sale, their matted and or framed print sales would suffer. Others, like myself, find them a valuable income stream adding to my art sales. I can’t remember the last time I did a show that I did not cover my booth fees with greeting card sales alone. To me, greeting cards enhance my total sales.

Every artist has to decide for him or herself whether or not to add cards to their mix but I can speak from experience that at least for me, they work out great. I had seasoned artists tell me that greeting cards would degrade my work not enhanced it. When I listened, I missed out on a respectable portion of my yearly sales. When I finally tried cards and found out how many people purchased them because they either could not afford my larger prints or just wasn’t in the market for art but bought the cards anyway because of their affordability I got over the stigma of what others thought.

Now, I don’t leave home for a show without them.

Like others who gradually get into selling greeting cards of their designs, I printed my own, in my studio, on cards that came in “kit form” from different paper companies like Kodak, HP, Staples etc. I grumbled everything I ran out of a certain card instead of being happy I was out and needed to print more. I reasoned that it took me the same amount of computer/printer time to print a card as it did for one of my 8x10 prints and because I sold my prints for nearly 10 times that of a card, I was loosing money every time I printed a card.

Correct thinking, just not thought out completely. Once I decided that greeting cards were going to stay, I looked for ways to make the whole process more efficient. Local printers could handle the printing of the cards for me and then all I would need to do was to fold, insert an envelope into the center of the card and put them both into a clear plastic sleeve. The logic was right but it didn’t scale. Local printers needed quantities of at least 1000 cards PER design to get the price per card down to where I needed it to be. Since I had over 200 different cards I wanted printed that was out of the question.

I started researching a better alternative and found out that a new, at least to me, Indigo digital printing press was being used for “short” runs which would make it feasible to order quantities of 50 cards of each design instead of 1000. I settled on one firm in Canada but have since discovered many companies offering the same service.

Now when I run out of a certain design I don’t get bummed and head to the Epson 4000 and start printing, I just e-mail my supplier and request X number of cards of X design. They print them and 7-10 days latter I have the cards back in stock. Ready to allow me to sell enough to cover that ever-increasing art festival booth fee, I hope.

Tomorrow I’ll cover the details of how I layout my cards in PhotoShop and InDesign.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Print Bins

Every artist, especially traveling artists need them. Print bins, display cases, print racks. Whatever you call them isn’t as important as having them and using them correctly. Artists with different medias other than “flat” prints, require different ways to hold and display their works, but because I am a 2 D artist that sells both framed and matted prints, I’ll concentrate this post on that.

The different ways that prints can be displayed for your customers to “browse” is varied. I’ve seen artists do every thing from stacking matted prints flat on a table in their booth almost like large playing cards. The rustic look of wooden crates might work depending on the style of art you sell and the way your booth is decorated, but if not thought out, this look can resemble a flea market, offering little or no value to your art.

Plastic bins work for some, especially if there is a uniform look to all of the containers, but I’ve done shows where in the rules, it is spelled out that “no plastic print holders will be allowed.”

If most of your work is framed and hung on your walls, a very professional and efficient look is to have your loose prints matted and bagged in a clear glassine envelope and displayed in folding print racks. These racks come in various shapes and sizes. Some are made of wood while others are aluminum and cloth. Either way, the potential buyers are able to “flip” through your pieces. These type racks usually sit on the floor/grass and have an unobtrusive look to them.

My problem has always been, how to manage over 200 different images, in 4 different sizes and still have a booth that is attractive and efficient to shop in. I’ve tried many different set ups in the past but this year I will be debuting a new system that I think will solve many of the problems I encountered.

I’ve researched the web using every conceivable name for print bins as I could think of and Google has returned thousands of sites for me to look at, but none have even come close to what I want. I need space to carry 300-400 matted prints, plus a variety of metal and glass frames. At first I was thinking that I would need many different cases to store the prints in because weight would be an issue and my back isn’t getting any younger or stronger.

These containers need to be strong and tough enough to stand up to unloading and re-loading into my trailer 30 or so times each year. I’ve seen carpeted bins on wheels before but each time I asked the artist where they got theirs, the answer was always the same. I made them or I had someone make them for me.

Well, I finally decided to build my own. I’m in the process of building 3 bins each 60” wide by 20” deep and without the wheels they are 28” tall. I am mounting these cases on 6” pneumatic wheels that will allow me to roll these print bins over uneven ground as well as flat floors for indoor shows. Each will be set up to hold different sized pieces of art and will act as the base for my browse bin that will sit on top of each case. These top bins are where my customers will actually “flip” through my prints.

I use 12 different wooden bins for this purpose. They are slightly wider at their top and taper down at their bottom, which allows me to stack them into each other for traveling.

I’ve installed doors on the front of each rolling bin, which will both hide and prevent stock from falling out during transit. Each of the cases has a horizontal shelf dividing it’s top from the bottom which enables me to stack matted prints on end. The placement of this shelf is different in each case allowing storage for the 4 different sizes I carry.

I’m undecided on what type of covering to use on the box exterior. The others I’ve seen were done in indoor-outdoor carpet in a dark grey color. My browse bins on top are made of a nice looking Baltic birch wood stained in a rich maple shade so I’m leaning toward this look although it will require me to be much more careful moving the cases into and out of my trailer.

Carpet might be a wise compromise in this decision because I’m always tired and in a hurry during break down and I can’t see myself being that careful every time I move these cases. I’ll keep you posted on what I decide and will put up some photos of my finished project.

Once done, I envision my set up time for each show to greatly decrease and offer a much more professional look to my booth.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Art Festival Directory Sources

I started writing this article by listing many of the various sites on the Internet that offered artists a place to go to research the many different art shows around the country.

Many of them I personally subscribed to and used.

Some individuals prefer a written directory book or magazine. Others prefer a searchable online website. Both have their strong points as well as drawbacks. The book directory allows the artist to take it along with them to their shows to do research during the slow sales periods. Some people just like the tactile feel of paper. These folks by and large might not be as comfortable using computers and thus not be as efficient using the different online searchable databases available. The downsides to books are that they are usually printed once, twice or in extreme cases only 4 times a year. That doesn’t allow these written directories to be as up to date as they optimally should be.

With the advent of better WiFi service in many parts of the world the objection of not being able to use your computer to access the online databases isn’t as relevant as it was just a few short years ago. If your computer “sees” a hotspot, you could do your festival research in the field as well as at home. Still, this requires the artist to own or have access to a laptop computer and even then, many people aren’t comfortable taking a valuable piece of equipment with them anyway.

You’ll need to figure out what type fits your needs better before deciding on which route to take.

For those of you who would rather use a computer to aid you in your research, I have a recommendation for you. Actually, for that matter this company that I’m about to share with you offers their festival database in both book form as well as an online tool. So you choose which is best suits you.

Art Fair SourceBook, a company owned by Greg Lawler is located in Portland Oregon. Their slogan,

“The definitive guide to the best juried art & craft fairs in the United States”

really says it all. Out of the 4 different online research databases I’ve used during my career as an artist, the Art Fair SourceBook is by far the most comprehensive and up to date compendium out there.

I had sampled the book form of their database a number of years ago and found it to offer more information for each fair than I actually needed. But we are all different so what might not be important to me might be invaluable to you.

Various show statistics like event name, show dates, size of venue, booth fees, jury deadlines etc. were there, plus one of my favorite features, the “Editor’s Critique” gives a fair yet hard hitting observation of the festival. If the show director states false or misleading information about their event, Greg is there to point out the discrepancy and set the record straight. His take, plus the section based on different artist reports on the show is worth the price of the yearly subscription alone. These artist reports are actual recaps from the artists themselves. What better way to see if the fair is for you. Reading about it from artists who actually did the show gives you an insight that is much better than that of the show director trying to “sell” you booth space.

I can’t tell you how many times when I started out that I found myself attending a show based on what I read in the show prospectus that was written by the show director only to find out that the information was based on inflated attendance figures or at least out of date numbers.

“Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”

That is one of the main reasons I prefer using the computerized online database over the printed version is because their editors can update any information immediately instead of waiting for the next printed edition to come out. Your show profits are based on this information, get the freshest you can find.

I could go on and on about this directory. There are many more reasons to use it, but trying to give my opinion on all it’s different aspects would be too time consuming. I gave you the main reason why I use the SourceBook, check it out for yourself to see if some of it’s other features could make your life as a traveling artist easier and more profitable.

If you do subscribe, tell Greg that I recommended him to you. I don’t receive and financial considerations from those folks but because I strongly believe in paying good things forward, and it would be nice for them to know you found the SourceBook through me.

Art Fair SourceBook

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Organize yourself - my festival checklist

I don’t know why I got out of the habit of my daily “to do” list, but I did. There was something incredibly satisfying about crossing off things I accomplished each day. I can’t say exactly when or why I stopped this organizational habit but I recall it to be around the time I started doing art festivals full time.

You would think that I would use a checklist. With the importance of NOT forgetting something necessary to your booth setup or some other essential items for your show, I should have from it crucial to use, but for whatever reason, I just got out of the habit.

I am rather anal when it comes to my “mental checklist” though and that got me by somehow. But with experience comes age and with age comes brain farts so for 2008 I decided to go old school and start using a written checklist again. From experience I can tell you how big a bummer it is to be hundreds of miles from home and realize that you forgot something. When I use to use table cloths to cover my print bin tables, I was unpacking at a festival and realized I didn’t take the washed table cloths out of the dyer and pack them in my truck

Scrambling to “jerry rig” your booth set up right before the show opens is no fun and put a definite “doubt” in my mind for the entire 3 days of the show. It worked out fine and I don’t think anyone but me knew how amateurish I thought my both looked but I still had that mishap in the back of my mind the whole show. Not very conducive to a strong positive sales outlook.

With that in mid, I wrote this list. Of course you’ll have to adapt it to fit your art media. I’m a 2 D print artist and this checklist is written for that. There will be some basic items that every type of artist will need for a show, which you find here. You’ll just need to modify this list to better fit your needs.

This list is for show essentials only. In later posts I’ll cover things you’ll need for safe and comfortable traveling to and from shows.

Booth Display

Tent or canopy sides & roof
Metal poles/legs
Display walls; ProPanels, Mesh walls, grid walls
Hooks to hangs art from
Rolling print bins (3)
Back stock bin
Tables & table coverings
Canopy weights
Stakes (for use on lawns)
Zip ties
Shims (for uneven ground)
Artist chair
Pedestal desk
Extra frames and framing supplies
Glass cleaning supplies
Fan – summer
Heater -winter
Battery power supply
Greeting card spinner rack
Floor covering (inside shows)
Lights (inside shows)
Ice chest
Water container
Booth banner
Artist statement/bio
Price list

Art – Inventory – matted & framed

1 of each image plus at least 1 backup (these sizes)
5 x7
8 x 10
11 x 14
16 x 20
12 x 12
24 x 24
Greeting cards
My book (Fractals…Artwork for your imagination)


Tools – hammer, knife, screwdrivers, tape measure, pliers
Guest book – e-mail newsletter sign up
Price tags
Credit card machine w/extra receipt rolls
Cell phone interface cord for Credit card machine
Fanny pack – cash
Business cards (4x6 art cads)
Plastic bags
Protective foam corners – frames
9 x 12” manila envelops
Paper towels

PS To Linda, my wife, happy birthday sweetheart!

Friday, February 1, 2008

Don’t make the same mistakes I did

If you’re anything like me, when I started my art career I received some advice from a veteran of the art show festival circuit that I took as gospel. My “mentor” suggested that I apply to, at least 2 or even 3 festivals for any given weekend because the chance of being rejected was so high that if I didn’t double up on my applications I could face the reality of not getting into any show for those dates.

On the surface, that advice makes sense. You increase your odds, thus ensuring a venue to display and hopefully sell your art for that weekend.

This advice does come with a few caveats though. The first one is that as an artist just starting out in the festival scene, chances are that you don’t have unlimited financial resources to rely to keep your boat afloat. Application jury fees cost money. Today, most shows worthy of doing realize this and charge a fee for the privilege of you gambling whether or not you will be invited to that particular show.

These fees can range from as low as $10.00 to upwards of $50.00 just to “get your images into the game.”

If you really want to continue trying to make a living selling your art and not get grand idea of starting your own festival so as to be on the receiving end of these jury fees, DON’T READ THIS.

There are a number of larger art festivals that are so prestigious literally thousands of artists apply to the show with fingers crossed hoping to get invited to attend. Using a conservative application figure lets say that 1500 artist apply. The jury fee is $50.00. Now do the math.

1500 x $50.00 = $75,000.00 just for the bloody jury fees. Add that to the booth fees the festival receives, say 300 artist paying $600.00 per booth, that’s another $180,000.00 plus if the festival promoters charge admission that could bring in an additional 100 grand or more.

I know, there are many costs involved with putting on a quality art festival so promoters out there, don’t get me wrong, in most cases (at the art shows I elect to do) you earn every penny of the money you make. I always get a kick out of the artists who complain about massive profits a show makes and doesn’t even provide artist amenities like booth sitters or a reception dinner for the artists.

By and large, that statement could be true for many shows but I guess after “paying my dues” on the local art show circuit for many years I was able to graduate to a level of shows (nationally) that do offer some of the niceties that make the artist show life more pleasant.

The second caveat I warned about earlier is being too successful in applying to shows. This was my problem in the beginning of my art career. My art was so unique that I was getting accepted into nearly every show I applied for. That won’t be the case for artists who have chosen photography or jewelry (or many others for that matter) as their media. Those categories are packed with fantastic artist representation already which makes it hard to break into, but my art, well, there just isn’t a whole lot of fractalists out there so juries aren’t faced with me and 25 other applicants vying for an opening.

Because of that, I was being accepted into multiple shows for the same weekend. I didn’t always read the show prospectus close enough, especially in regards to fee refunds and I’m sad to say that I’ve had my share of “lost” booth fees because I didn’t meet the refund criteria. Make sure that when applying to more than one show per weekend, you have a game plan or at very least, a calendar with important dates for those shows on it. Like the date when you can last notify the shows promoter saying you can’t make the show and still get your booth money back.

Use that “get out of jail card” sparingly because like elephants, promoters have great memories. They don’t like rejection any more than the artist does and when you call them to say you can’t be in their show, if it’s a lame excuse, they’ll remember it and your chances of getting into their show in the future will be compromised.

In regards to your jury fees, they’re lost; those aren’t going to be refunded. It’s a cost of doing business. It’s our fee to get in the game.