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Often, simple is better when it comes to keeping on schedule, and getting things done. This is an Excel spreadsheet that I use from year to year to keep notes on which shows I’ve applied to, and which shows I still need to do the paperwork for. It could be a lot more complicated, with columns for booth fees, electrical, whether I’ve sent the money in, and so forth. But practically, since Zapp keeps payment and acceptance records indefinitely, and you can generally access the archived applications, I found that I really only needed a list to go by from year to year. I apply to the same shows from year to year, adding a few, subtracting a few. Too much data was overkill for me.

So here’s the spreadsheet. Feel free to modify, add, delete, whatever you like. Comments and suggestions welcome.

ArtShowApplications_Blank

If you are on the fence about traveling to a national show versus staying home to do a smaller show, here’s an Excel spreadsheet that will help you model the expense and income from both. Make one sheet that reflects your actual product mix, and then duplicate it for each show. Fill in the travel and show expenses; get figures for show attendance and number of artists. When you have the two sheets side by side, you will have a better idea of which show might work for you.

Of course there’s no guarantee that the weather will be good, people will show up and buy stuff, or that your competitors won’t have a double booth across the way from you. There are so many variable in this business, that it’s very hard to predict an accurate outcome from any show. But this little sheet can help you get a handle on just how much you need to break even at any show.

Get the worksheet.

Award of Excellence, Levis Commons Fine Art Festival 2011

Award of Excellence, Levis Commons Fine Art Festival 2011

Looking back on 2011, it’s been a successful year by many standards. In a declining economy, my sales are trending upward (thank you!), and I’ve had better acceptance than ever at art shows. I’ve managed to get into many of the top shows on my bucket list, some of which I would love to get into again, and some of which I’m glad I did, but have no desire to go back. My new work is pleasing not only you, but me as well. And even the theft of the Artanic in Fort Worth turned out to have a silver lining. So lets pray for continued success for the rest of 2011, and into 2012. Show apps are already coming due for the winter season. Fort Myers, Coconut Grove, Gasparilla, Winter Park — all due in the next thirty days or so.

And to top it off, I’ve won a few awards along the way. I got to thinking about it this evening, and realized that I had done NO horn tooting about it since last year’s Barrington ribbon. So, without further ado, here’s the list.

  • Images, New Smyrna Beach :: Award of Merit
  • ArtFest Fort Myers, Fort Myers :: Award of Distinction (1st place in Photography)
  • Gasparilla Festival of the Arts, Tampa :: Selected for Judging (an award in itself!)
  • Winter Park, Winter Park :: Award of Distinction
  • Crosby Festival of the Arts, Toledo :: 1st Place in Photography
  • Glencoe Festival of the Masters, Glencoe :: Award of Outstanding Achievement
  • Levis Commons Fine Art Festival, Perrysburg OH :: Award of Excellence (2d Place in show)

I think that’s it. At least those are the ones that come to mind. Thank you, judges and jurors.

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Inside of the new trailer

Inside of the new trailer

In the aftermath of the Main Street Fort Worth show, I had some time to reflect on what was working and what wasn’t with my transportation systems. After a lot of thought, a few sketches and some conversation, I decided to go with a setup similar to the one I had before. Of course there are a lot of options for getting your stuff to and from shows. Many artists are opting for Dodge/Mercedes Sprinter vans now, which have more headroom, run on diesel fuel, and are easy to maneuver into tight show spaces. Many artists still use the standard Ford E250 white van. A few tow a trailer behind a truck camper. But I’ve been set up to tow a standard tag-hitch trailer behind my Toyota Tundra, so that’s what I decided to stay with. I can’t use a Sprinter because of the two large bin boxes, and without rethinking that whole system, it was easier to stay with a truck/trailer combination.

About three weeks after returning from Fort Worth, I placed an order with my dealer for a new Wells Cargo Road Force trailer. As it turned out, I was able to drive to Elkhart and pick it up. I bought one that was in stock, saving about six weeks build time. It wasn’t quite what I wanted, but close enough. 14′ length, 7′ width, an extra six inches in height, a modified v-front for aerodynamics, dual axle with electric brakes, ramp in back, door on the side. A nicely built trailer.

After I picked it up, I spent three weeks building a rack for the panels and a new pole cart. I also built big drawer units that hold mats, frames, glass and other supplies. Shelves were constructed in the front of the v to make use of the wasted triangular space. I installed a spare tire hanger up high, to get it off the floor. I also had to build a new unit to carry larger framed work, because the two boxes that handled my 30×40’s were stolen with the Artanic. Luckily, the weather cooperated, and I was able to use the driveway to spread out to make the various parts and pieces.

Work in progress

Building panel racks and shelves on my driveway

Panel Racks and Pole Cart

The rack holds about 16 30" x 84" Pro Panels

Materials Storage

6 Drawers hold mats, frames, glass, clear bags and other materials

Arthur the trailer

Arthur

I had to build a ramp flap on the back ramp, as this trailer didn’t have the extra piece. Ordered a 6′ steel hinge and drilled holes for large screws and installed that. I built a rack to hold the four 75 2″ steel weights near the front door. I used to have to stow them on the floor and they would slide around. The rack holds them in place vertically in the 12″ space between the door and the v — a space that would normally be unusable. The ladders stow behind the panel rack so that they are easily accessible for setup and teardown. The two print bins weren’t stolen, so they stay in the same place in the back. I installed e-track along the door-side wall, and in the v, to secure various boxes and bins. I also bought industrial strength ratchet straps with e-track attachments, which are vastly superior to the Home Depot variety in strength and durability. A good source for e-track and cargo control is US Cargo Control.

All in all, this trailer is more efficient than its predecessor. It’s quicker to unload and load. Lessons learned from the first two trailers proved invaluable here. Little things like bigger ladder hooks to stow light bars and hang a lantern from, the weight rack (not seen in the photos), the spare tire hanger — all of these items help keep the trailer neat and tidy.

And the Road Force with the torflex axles rides smooth as silk. Items don’t shift in transit. It doesn’t quite get the mileage that the Artanic did (10 mpg vs 11mpg), due to the flatter v-front. But the 4′ v on the Artanic added weight without being very useful storage space. Probably a good trade-off.

And the final touch: security on the trailer. When we leave it parked, it gets two wheel boots, one on each axle. The hitch gets locked up with a gorilla guard and a padlock through the hitch release. Hopefully it won’t get towed off like the Artanic. The wheel boots are Titan Grips, from Universal Security. They take about ten seconds to install, and don’t take a lot of space on the trailer when not in use.

Front end storage

Bungie cords keep small bins from flying out of control

And we’ve had the opportunity to test it out on the road several times now. It’s been to ArtBirmingham, Northern Virgina (Reston), ┬áthe Columbus Art Festival and Chicago’s Wells Street show. It’s a bit easier to park and maneuver due to it’s slightly shorter wheelbase, and it’s easier to load and unload. There aren’t any barriers in the middle like the old had. I did have to build a ramp for the side door, for emergencies when I have to unload something in the front without taking everything off the back first. But it’s essentially done.

I’m thinking about print storage like I had on the old trailer — 6 boxes to hold prints in alpha sort. But that can wait. The drawers hold an awful lot, more than I expected, so I have some time to see if the additional box is needed.

We named the third trailer, of course. His name is Arthur, sort of an abbreviation of Art and Third. A faithful beast of burden…

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