Sunday, November 28, 2010

Booth Shot

Here's some booth shots from my show at the Greater Barre Craft Show. For this show, I had an unusual configuration: 16 x 6, rather than the traditional 10 x 10. But, this isn't too much different from my standard booth layout.

As you can see, I lay out my booth in a very particular order. The paintings are laid out so that the largest paintings are at the top and eye level. In the middle of the booth, I stagger the second largest paintings with my most popular ones in the middle of the booth. One of the panels is used strictly for the small 9 x 12 (in a vertical order). In addition, I ONLY show originals on the walls. No prints are hung. This reduces the confusion on whether any of the paintings is a wrapped canvas print or original painting. In addition to the paintings on the wall, I have a strictly black/silver style going on. Gives more of a professional look and ensures that my paintings "pop" when viewed from several aisles over.

Once I have the paintings up, I put two flip bins next to each other on the opposite side of chair. This gives customers room to look around without my hovering. I have two of my print bins underneath the table cloth next to my chair. This is also used as a table when making change or writing out receipts/credit card payments.

One of the things that you don't see here (as you can see by my 6 foot height) is my additional panels. I also have another 2 foot panel that goes on top of these panels. This raises the lights to be out of the way of the customers and blocks out the background from the customers view. I did not do that for this show because I don't have a sign or enough paintings to fill the spaces (yet). This is something that I need to work on.

Greater Barre Craft Show

For this weekend (Thanksgiving), I participated in the Greater Barre Craft Show. This is the third time that I have participated in the show and did nominally well. Rather than the traditional three-day show that is seen for this weekend, this craft show is only two days (Saturday and Sunday).

For setting up/break-down, the parking is right next to the building and there is plenty of parking. It was very easy to get in/out of the show.

The show itself is not very expensive to participate in, but you do have the downside that the booth is only 8' x 6'. The reason is so that they can make more room for more artists. This year the show was staffed by 132 booths. For people attending this show, there is no gate fee. So, you get a lot more people from the local area showing up. In the past, I was always had a small booth downstairs, but I was fortunate to be able to get a double-booth (they are limited) upstairs, in the main room. There are plenty of signs to let people know that there is an upstairs AND downstairs portion. So, the crowds downstairs are just as plentiful. The only downside to being downstairs is that it's a bit cooler. The show is always well attended and there are volunteers to watch your booth so that you may use the restroom or get food.

For Saturday morning, the aisles were extremely crowded such that most people had to enter booths to get around other visitors. I did a brisk business that morning and was able to make my booth fee in the first 30 minutes. After that hectic morning, the rest of the day saw a steady stream of people. There were brief moments where I was not busy but, for the most part, I spent a lot of time talking to patrons. During the afternoon, the crowds started to slow down. This was mainly due to a snowstorm.

For Sunday morning, the stream of people was pretty constant during the day. Didn't sell any paintings, but did sell a number of prints. It was surprising that there were a number of people there at the last thirty minutes of the show. Matter of fact, I was able to sell some prints within the last 20 minutes.

Most people responded very well to my paintings. Everybody thought that the pricing was reasonable and they loved the prints. The standard response to my paintings was: "These are very cool" and "I love these because they are an interesting take on the traditional oil painting landscapes". Although there was some minor interest in my still life paintings, they weren't the favorite. The colors and shapes present in my landscape/abstracts were what drew people to my booth.

There are several changes that I need to make. First of all, I need a sign to say "Doug Hoppes Studio". Secondly, I need to make sure that I have enough prints. I ran out of 4 different prints early on Saturday. Thirdly, I need to have more paintings for my booth. I couldn't put my full display height due to the fact that I was lacking enough paintings.

Overall, it was a good show and I did well. With more paintings under my belt and more prints, I can do better.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Still Life: Back to Basics

Now that I'm done with working extra hours for my main job, back to my second job: painting. This week, I was able to go back to my painting class.... and it was not pretty. I had forgotten a lot of the basics (massing the shadows, massing the lights, etc) and my painting showed it.

So, back to the basics. When starting working with still life setups, the first thing that we learned was to paint round objects. On a round object, there is a highlight and you modulate the values to create the roundness. Important points, such as not putting the darkest or lightest parts on the edge of the material help create a roundness.

So, time to play with a simple apple. Here's the start. Essentially, I just massed the light area, the dark area and defined the basic areas where my light is hitting. The next step is to work on the apple to give it that round feeling. Once that is done, then I can start working on the reflected lights and the reflection on the table (to create more of a realistic illusion).

However, with every journey, there is just the first step.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

On a trip

Well, just flew in from my business trip and "Boy! Are my arms tired!" Okay, couldn't resist that one. So, whenever I do a business trip, I always bring my sketch book with me. There are plenty of times where you have 20 minutes here or there that you are doing absolutely nothing! Make use of that time.

This destination of this trip was Neuroscience 2010 (San Diego, California).

The first drawing is the convention center. This was a really fun drawing to do. The time was 9:00 p.m (at night) and the weather was a fantastic 65 degrees. The second drawing was one of the palm trees in front of the convention center. Then we have a flower in a vase (at my breakfast table) and a friend asleep on the airplane ride (he was in the seat in front of me). Most of the drawings were extremely quick (except for the convention center).

I really should be doing more of these quick drawings at home. Quick drawings help in ensuring that any realistic painting looks correct and helps with future compositions.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Thumbnail Sketches

Now, if you read a lot of art books, most of them say that the best way to create a composition/painting is to create a thumbnail sketch. These sketches should be around 3 to 5 inches in size and lacking detail. A lot of my works are usually created using thumbnail sketches of the landscape. It's a way for me to layout trees/clouds/rocks in different positions and decide what composition that I like.

One of my problems is that the thumbnail sketches are not simple. As you can see from the drawings above, they are more linear and detailed. However, the thumbnails that you see are the more finished products (more are at: ). Also, when you look at the art books that stress doing thumbnails, you see equally or more detailed sketches. This is not fast.

The latest blog posting of Muddy Colors ( ) shows a great example of how the thumbnails are properly done. Notice how there is very little detail. Just large shapes and the general direction of the shapes. Some of the thumbnails were abandoned during the drawing because they didn't have the right feel.

I really like this looser way of doing the thumbnails and will try it for my next painting.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Looking for some Craft Show in New England Region

So, spent the night doing some searches for shows for 2011. A couple of years ago, I have just been doing smaller shows in the Vermont area, but am confident about my display/products now. So, time to graduate up to the bigger shows. So, I've expanded my area to New Hampshire and Massachusetts.

After doing some searches, I came up with a small list of shows. The main thing that I was looking for was 1) more than 100 vendors and 2) more than 2000 attendees. The shows that I have no experience about are:

1) August 5 - 7 Hildene Meadow Festival (Craft Producers
2) November 26 - 28 Wilmington, Ma (Craftsberry Show)
3) November 5 - 7 Boston Christmas Festival
4) May 29 - 31 Meredith NH (Lake Winnaupasaukee (sp?))

Anybody have any experience with these shows? Also, I don't seem to see a lot of shows from January - June in the New England region. Love some more recommendations.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

No complicated software here

You know... I've been a software developer for 20+ years and have written a lot of software in my time. So, decided several years ago that I need something to manage my inventory and let me know what sales I had and when the print/original sold. I started layout the database, the user interaction, etc. However, it's been over two years and I still haven't written it.

Why? Simple. I don't want to. After spending the entire day writing software, the last thing that I want to do is go home and write some more. I need to improve my painting skills, work on my inventory, spend time with my wife/dogs, etc. Not enough time in the day for it or the inclination to write the software.

So, this weekend, evaluated what I really needed to do and how to achieve it. I realized that all I needed was to track my list of items that I had for sale and track what item sold at each show. Excel spreadsheet works just great for this. So, I spent about 1/2 hour and entered everything in Excel. Easy and done.

The point of this post is: Even though you may be able to do something, is it really the best use of your time to do it? Part of the program that I was planning to write was a tracking system to help me manage my task lists for shows, painting, inventory management, etc. I could spend hundreds of hours doing it.... or I could just buy a $40 program to automatically do it for me. I opt for the program.

So, is there something that you need to do and realized that it may be more cost/time-effective to "outsource" the work?

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Why I like Craft Fairs

Well, I was reading Wet Canvas and someone commented about craft fairs. They asked if they should do them? Would this doom them to never having gallery representation? My opinion:

Well, time to put my two cents in. :-) First of all, you make "craft fair" seem to be a negative/bad word. You seem to imply that a craft show is for "hobby home-maker", not serious artists (I hear this a lot from other "fine artists"). In my opinion, it depends on how you think of your artwork. It's also how you think of yourself as an artist. If you consider yourself a "fine artist", what does that mean? Are you doing art to make a statement or is it a business? For me, art is a business. I like making my paintings and I like selling them. I don't consider myself a fine artist (though, my work has been shown in galleries) or a crafter (I sell my work at craft fairs, among other venues). I'm an artist that has a business of promoting my art work.

Galleries are like craft fairs. Their job is to present your work and sell the painting. Depends on how "hands-on" you wish to take on the business of marketing/selling your work. For galleries, they do some of the marketing and handles the sales, but you are competing for a minimal space with a lot of other artists... and they receive a commission on each painting that you sell (typically 40% or more). Craft fairs, you have to sell your own work and do your own marketing. There's the startup costs of buying/building your displays and, of course, entry fees. To make a lot of sales, both are a lot of work.

Some artists make around $10,000+ at these shows and make a great yearly living. The key to craft shows is the size. If you are at a small show, where the fees are typically around $100 to get in, most of the sales are going to be prints or cards. If you are at the mid-size shows (booth fee around $300), you'll sell some original paintings (average price $500 or more) and a lot of prints. If you are at the larger shows (booth fees around $600), you'll mainly sell a lot of original paintings around the $1000+ range and a large number of prints.

Craft shows are like any other business venture. You have to have a booth that entices people to come in and look. You have to have a product that prices reasonably and that people think that it's worthy to purchase. You have to do your marketing to get more people to come. Also, remember: think of craft shows as marketing forum. I've had a number of people come up to me at the small craft show and get my contact information. Later on, they called to purchase a painting.

If you want to sell your paintings, remember that it's business. There's a look that you want to portray of yourself, your work and your business. Doesn't matter whether it's a gallery or a craft show. It's still business.

My point is that the decision is not whether to do craft fairs or not. It's your identity. How you want to be perceived. Craft fairs are just another avenue in the marketing/business of selling your work. Just like the ebay, etsy sites, artfair sites, galleries, selling out of your garage, etc. If you've done the marketing right and got a good product, people will find you, no matter where you sell your work.

For me, I like the craft show market, more than the gallery market. I find that I sell more paintings at a faster rate. It also gives me more of an opportunity to try out new styles and methods, to see the public's reaction to them. You can't do that with a gallery. It's more work, but, I'm building a name for myself. Remember, galleries also like it if you have a name for yourself and a following. That way, it brings more business to them.