For the last 5 days, I’ve been working to get ready to show my work. This is much like a marathon. It requires months of preparation, hours working out at the wheel, strength training in the area of packing, hauling and set up and pacing yourself as you near the finish line.
As a studio artist, I work alone and I like it. I spend my days at the wheel throwing, rolling slabs of clay, painting on underglaze colors, glazing and loading and unloading the kiln. I experiment with different clays and ideas. Lately, I’ve been finding new characters popping up on my shelves.
While there is a definite presence in my studio, there are no people present. And the loudest sounds I hear are singers on Pandora.
Don’t get me wrong: I love the challenge, exercise and connections.
But moving my work to the areas largest convention center, surrounded by hundreds of other artists, thousands of art lovers and musicians playing live music.
Packing up my work is the easy part, even though this year I broke a vase trying to fit into one of my plastic bins. Then the work has to be loaded into the car, driven to the site, unloaded and set up. But before I can unload, I help haul, unpack and set up the group booth where I will eventually show my own work. I zip tie shelf units, haul shelves, unfold boxes, unpack LED lights and hope they work.
By afternoon of the first day, I get to set up my shelves and display my work. That’s the fun part and where I learn and get help from my fellow artists. It’s so much easier for me to see display opportunities with other people’s work than my own.
Thank goodness, I’m not alone.
Working together to surmount the obstacles setting up the large group booth helps us work together setting up our own small spaces. I help one person and two others help me. If I’m not there and a piece of mine sells, another artist restocks my shelf. I do the same for them.
Saturday, sick with a cold, with two work shifts back to back, I was beyond hungry. I was at that dazed stage when another artist came up to chat, seeing where I was at, he went to his booth and got me two cheese sticks I could eat right then and there.
Working by myself, I am alone. Showing my work, I am not.
There are so many fun, happy, silly and crazy moments in this kind of huge show. Seeing new work from my artist friends. Sharing silly stories. Hearing an entire shelf of work crashing down. People mistaking me for another artist(even though our work is totally different) loving my ‘new work’. And, of course, finding wonderful new homes for my pieces.
Making my work is a labor of love. Selling my work is a lot like labor and delivery. But as with any birth, the struggle is always forgotten in the end.