Last weekend, the typically drab common area of my office building came alive with art, craft, people, music, wine, food and fun. Last weekend, along with eight other artisans, I hosted an Art Walk Pop Up event that was so much fun. It totally invigorated and inspired me.
Having done a similar event last December, I wasn’t at all nervous about this one. That being said, it still lit a fire under my butt, and I worked like crazy getting ready for it. I signed us up with the Art Up PhinneyWood organization so we could benefit from their marketing and get on the Art Walk map. I created a flyer for our own advertising, set up a Facebook event, coordinated the eight other artists (setup times, tables, food and drink), and sewed and sewed my pillows. And I loved every minute of it.
This being an Art Walk and not a craft fair, I knew this was not the type of event people go to to shop – they go to look at art and drink free wine. Nevertheless, I sewed a ton of new pillows, even though I knew this was not about making much money. This was more about exposure, practice (pricing, labels, display, etc.), learning from the other artists, and seeing what people like. This was also about creating a safe and free opportunity for other women like me to put themselves out there. And that was probably my most favorite part about the Art Walk – hanging out for two days with an illustrator, a gourd artist, a photographer, a fine artist, a furniture up-cycler, a container gardener, a sock-monkey maker, and a purse-maker/seamstress extraordinaire. I had so much fun with these ladies, learned so much from them, and got so many good ideas.
I loved being around these other artists/makers. Each of these women is super creative, doing what they love, in their spare time, creating amazing things. But making what they love and selling it are two very different things. Selling is the harder part, because it’s the scarier part. The potentially risky and expensive part. But I believe in the net and I that we’re all in this together, so we might as well do things like this together, help each other out, learn from each other, and make things less scary and more fun.
Doing a big craft fair is scary and getting in isn’t easy. Usually you have to be selected, and to be selected you need a good web presence, great photos and marketing materials. You have to pay an application fee, and if you get accepted you have to pay the booth fee – usually $100 to $500. Then if (or should I say “when”) you get rejected, you get to feel like a complete loser who’s wasted her time and money, and who should seriously consider throwing in the towel all together.
On Friday, just before the Art Walk was about to start, I checked my email and saw that I got another rejection letter, this time from the Renegade Craft Fair. Darn it! Why? Well, I think I know in my heart why. I think I’m not really ready for a show that big. I think I need to start smaller, doing things like this Art Walk, applying to some smaller shows, taking small steps instead of huge leaps. Later I’ll try again, after I have some smaller shows under my belt, and more confidence about what I’m doing and what I’m selling (colors, pricing, inventory, display etc.) Rejection always feels bad, but it also offers perspective. How do I look to the outside world? Probably like someone who’s just starting out and needs to keep plugging away at what she’s doing.
Lots of people came to our Art Walk Pop-Up and I ended up selling eight pillows. Lots of people picked up my business card. My display was a little better than last time, and so were my price tags and care instructions. I really love the new pillows I made for the show. Lots of people commented on how great the space looked. And I met some other cool arty ladies who were also participating in the art walk.
And on Tuesday morning I got this email from the people at the Urban Craft Uprising:
We are so thrilled to invite you to vend with us at the Urban Craft Market at the Seattle Street Food Festival this August! We are super excited about this event, and to be working again with such a great organizing team.
We will be working closely with the folks at SSFF to coordinate all the details of the market, to fine-tune the booth map and provide you with all the necessary information as the show approaches.
Soon you will be receiving an invoice, and more details in the coming weeks.
But for now, Congratulations!