Monday, November 7, 2011

Boston Christmas Festival

This last weekend, I had a booth setup for the Boston Christmas Festival in Boston, Massachusetts. Although hopeful in the beginning, I soon realized that the show was not for me. Although I sold one large painting and made a number of print sales, the crowds did not seem to have any interest in viewing my paintings. The crowds were definitely present, but they were primarily buying jewelry, food, or small/inexpensive items. Most of the people were just walking by my booth and didn't even come in or look at any items in the print bin. After talking with several other 2D artists, this trend seemed to be pretty consistent among them.

For those who did stop within the booth, the standard comments of "This is Gorgeous!", etc were given out. Usual questions about commissions or purchasing over the website were also answered. It'll be interesting to see how many contact me after the show.

Some interesting things did happen at the show, though. First of all, I met an old friend of mine from college. I went to Boston University in the mid-80's for a couple of years (until I couldn't afford it any more). A friend from freshman year, Sam, showed up in my booth. He immediately recognized me and I had an inkling of who he was when we first met. Since it was quiet in my booth, we had a chance to catch up a little bit. That was a great surprise.

Quite a number of the artists mentioned that I should be doing the Paradise City Art Fairs or art fairs in general (rather than just craft shows). The clientele who goes to those shows are more inclined to purchase my paintings. I totally agree. The traditional craft show seems to be filling up more and more with buy-sell vendors and people who don't do their own products (just resellers).

Got a nice compliment from an artist who mentioned that he thought that I had one of the top 15 booths at the show (considering that there were around 400 booths), that made me feel pretty good. Even the show producer stopped by my booth one morning and complimented me on how gorgeous my paintings were and how well my booth looked. She loved the style of my paintings and the presentation.

Another vendor mentioned that I really should be focusing on galleries because my work would sell well and fast. She took my card and is planning on presenting it to some gallery owners that she knows.

Monday, October 31, 2011

My process for art fairs/craft shows

When doing a craft fair/art show, I break the event into four basic areas: pre-show setup, show setup, the show, and post-show.

Now, I’ve gotten better at this (believe me… my wife knows how disorganized I was). For the pre-show setup, I like to make sure that all of my prints are done, all labels are created, all prices are attached, and I’ve made a decision about what artwork to bring. My prints are separated into two bins (which is in my booth). The top bin contains multiple copies of my most popular prints (in alphabetical order). The bottom bin contains multiple copies of my other prints (in alphabetical order). I also begin wrapping my paintings in bubble-wrap and place them in boxes for transport. Other things that I make sure that I bring to a show: scissors, clear tape (for wrapping up paintings in bubble-wrap), extra bubble wrap, my credit card machine, extra roll of credit card paper, price labels, receipt book, extra pens, address form for new contacts (also, small clipboards), business cards, table cloth to cover my bins, water, extra lightbulbs, granola bars, and … most important… altoids (nothing like having your customers avoid you because of bad breath!). Now that I’m more organized, I do this several days to weeks ahead of schedule. I used to do this the morning before and it led to some incredibly hectic mornings!

Now, I like to setup for a show the night before. That way, if I forget something, I can bring it the next morning. So, when setting up a show, I keep a couple of things in mind. First of all, I make sure that I have plenty of room in my booth that people can come in. My chair and flip bins are against the outside corners. I like having people inside of the booth so that they look around without people running into them or walking in front of them in the aisle. I also position my lights so that they are taller than a 6’ person and not shining in people’s eyes. The setup is pretty simple. Using my graphic display panels, I have black coverings that show of my work pretty nicely. I place the $75 paintings over the prints because people who are mostly interested in prints may consider a lower price original. I also place my brightest and best paintings in the center of my booth. That way they are seen from a distance and have that “Wow!” effect when people walk by. The point is to get them to stop walking and come into the booth. For extra prints, etc, I keep the bins in back of my booth so that I can access the extra bubble-wrap and other materials easily.

Now, I mentioned that my top bin has my most popular prints. The top bin also contains shopping bags for my customers and some bubble-wrap/scissors/tape for paintings. The point is that you need to get to the materials to make the sale, replace the item and get the customer out of your booth as quickly as you can. It’s like a restaurant: the more people that you can get in/out with product, the more products that you can sell.

When working a show, I have a prepared script that I always follow. I would suggest that everybody has one. Something not truly annoying because you will say this a thousand times. First of all, you NEED to talk to the customer. Don’t sit in your chair in the back. You won’t get customers or sales. Don’t ignore them. You pay money to do this! The point is to come home with more money than you spent to be in the show. So, when a customer comes into my booth, I show them a paper that has a drawing on it and explain that I create drawings out of my head. Once the drawings are done, I mix the drawing with plein-air work to create my original pieces. The paintings are gallery-wrapped, so that there is no need to purchase a frame. From there, I let them look and interact with them, if they are a talkative type of person. Don’t continuously talk to them. They need time to look at everything. If they stand in front of a painting for a while (about 10 seconds), go over and talk to them about the painting. Ask them what they like about it, etc. Start a conversation. The most important thing that you can do is to say “Hi” to a lot of people and smile. This will get a lot of them to stop and enter your booth. Never judge about who can or cannot buy your art. You never know.

One of the things that I do, which some people say don’t, is that I sit in a chair. I have bad knees and can’t really stand in the same spot the entire day. So, I use a director’s chair. This helps me be at eye-level for most people. For people significantly shorter than me, I talk to them from the chair. It makes me less imposing. For most people , when they enter the booth, I get up to talk to them.

Also, never pack up early. You see a lot of vendors start to do this. I’ve sold works at the end of the show when people are starting to pack up

Once a show is done, I always write up a report. This details what I like about a show, what worked, what didn’t, what pieces the people bought, what they ignored, how much money I made, show costs, etc. That way, the next time the show rolls around, I can determine if it’s worth it for me to sign up again.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Weekend at the Mall

Well, this weekend, I tried my first kiosk at a local mall. Here's what my kiosk looked like.

Overall, it wasn't bad. I did better than I thought. I was able to cover my fee for the weekend and, if things go well, may have sold several paintings in addition. Still, I need to try it about five more times before I can tell if it's worth doing.

The traffic on Saturday afternoon was the busiest. This is where a lot of families were shopping with their kids. Those families were the ones that consistently stopped and bought prints. After 6:00 p.m., the viewing of the art slowed down considerably due to the mall mainly being filled with adolescents and high school kids.

Sunday, the walking traffic was not all that great. Several people mentioned that the mall was pretty slow and empty. Not sure why. May be, since it had finally stopped raining here, people were taking advantage of the nice day.

So, the next time that I am planning to try this will be in January. The sales warranted me to give it another try. November and December are already booked up due to the holiday season.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Latest Painting: Transformation

"Transformation" is an original 9" x 12" oil painting created on a 1" stretched, high-quality canvas. The painting is presented as unframed (Sides are painted).

All Artwork is copyrighted to Doug Hoppes Studio and is not to be copied or reproduced in any form without the permission of the artist. Sale of this item does not transfer its copyright.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

CVU High School Fair: 2011

For a one day show for me, this wasn't really that great. Don't know if it was the patrons or the product prices. However, only sold three prints, with the potential to sell more paintings later on (doubt it, though). The crowds were okay. At times, it was pretty busy and it was steady all day. However, watching the crowds, there weren't a lot of people carrying large items or any items at all. For those who had purchased stuff, it looked like the items were fairly small and inexpensive ($5 - $10 items). Seemed a lot of people were there for just looking around. Some of the other vendors that I talked to had a great show. However, they had a lot of smaller priced item.

Most people liked my paintings but felt that they couldn't afford them. More people, though, went directly to the print bin, after reviewing the paintings. I started collecting names for my contact list to send out coupons and notices to the various people who filled out the sign-up form. That worked out well.

According to Melissa, my sales pitch seems to be fine (need to not put my hand in front of my mouth when talking to some people). Also, a lot of people really liked the discussion of the drawing with the print. May have to work that into my display. Also, the display needs to have a visible sign with my name on it. Most people asked for my name. Need to change that up.

The setup went extremely well. Melissa helped with setting up and breaking down of the display. Reduced the time of setup from 2-1/2 hours to 1-1/2 hour and breakdown time went from 1-1/2 hours to under an hour. Plus, the new boxes for transporting the paintings worked out very well. The two boxes were able to fit all of the paintings that are to be on display easily in the truck.As usual, the load-in/break-down was very helpful. Some high school students helped bringing in the supplies and taking out the supplies. It was also helpful that one of the high school students went around to the vendors and took orders to bring them food.

Some of the things that I will need to do for the next show:

1) Create a banner sign with my name on it. Something fairly visible with my website.

2) Create a matted pen/ink drawing for each of my paintings. For a purchase of the painting, you get the pen/ink concept drawing.

3) Possibly work up a little booklet that shows how I go from a pen/ink drawing to a finished painting. Something that people can take with them. Something inexpensive. Need to figure that one out.

Overall, it's a good show for a more "crafty" type vendor, but not for 2D artists.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Latest Painting: Transition

"Transition" is an original 9" x 12" oil painting created on a 1" stretched, high-quality canvas. The painting is presented as unframed (Sides are painted).

All Artwork is copyrighted to Doug Hoppes Studio and is not to be copied or reproduced in any form without the permission of the artist. Sale of this item does not transfer its copyright.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Figure Drawing Session: 9/26/2011

More studies. Worked on foreshortening and back studies, tonight.