There are times when you wonder if there is just not a better way to go about this. When you are standing outside somewhere and people come to see you and the magic is just not there. The work you have to share is the same but it doesn't seem to get received in the same way. You begin to question if you should have brought something different this time. Did we set up the booth wrong? So they want metal at this show and not two dimensional wall art? The glass booth is selling why aren't we? The questions begin to eat at you almost from the start. How can you do one show on one weekend and everyone loves your work and the next weekend not sell a thing?
Standing in public and having to talk about the work you made with your own two hands is overwhelming at times. What do people really think? Do they realize that when they see you that each and every sale is important? That this is not a hobby to fill the hours between your "real" job somewhere? So many times when people look at the work and then ask if they can buy something on your website I often wonder, do you really want to buy something or are you politely telling us that you want to leave now. For every artist at the art shows that we do, the time that an artist wants to sell their work is NOW. Now when they have just spent money on gas, hotels, food, and booth fees. The promise of a sale in the future may be made with the best of intentions but it won't easily get us home to pay our bills.
We recently completed a run of four shows and there was one show in the run that simply confounded us. The entire weekend all we heard was the dreaded "Do you have a card?". This is every artists common complaint. We have just traveled all the way to your town to show you our work. We don't know if we will ever have another opportunity to come again (since all shows are juried each year) and you want to know if you can buy it later online. Here it is for you to look at in person, to talk to us in person and yet the entire weekend all anyone wanted to know was if they could look at it online. They loved the work, at least that what they said. It just drives you crazy.
Then we move a few hundred miles away and the next show people seemingly have the same response to the work but suddenly they can't wait to see you to take something home! It all begins to feel like an endless job interview or an audition for a part. They love me! They hate me! We never should have brought this, no next time we should only show that....
In the end all we can do is continue making the art that reflects the world we love and see around us and hope for the best. And continue smiling...
Bonnie Harmston works side by side with her husband Steve and travels the art show circuit with him.