Monday, March 8, 2021

Virtual Shows: The New Normal

It’s the COVID Anniversary. Cue the single finger salute, please. Right? Let’s all take a blissful step back in time to pre-COVID. Remember that time?

A year ago, I went out to lunch with a friend at an indoor restaurant. Shopped for a new pair of slippers(who knew they would become my primary footwear for the next year). Went to a large group meeting where I talked, smiled, laughed, hugged friends and got information about the upcoming big group show. 

Ghosts of the past?

Will big group shows and open studio tours and gallery art walks ever come back? There is an energy in being part of a large group of people with a creative focus. Setting up the show’s group booth and gallery was such a satisfying task. 

As an artist working alone in my own studio, I love my quiet creative space. But throughout the year, I looked forward to working alongside other artists, setting up displays, helping with stocking, working the cash register and wrapping. Did I get tired and overwhelmed at times? Sure. Did I want to do the event again? You bet. But COVID stopped it all. 

Virtual art sales.  

I’ve always had an online presence with a professional website and I’ve been using social media for years. But COVID has changed and intensified the whole online landscape.

While I used to spend time pricing and packing my work for a gallery or show, now I upload my work for my Etsy shop or an upcoming Virtual Show. It might seem the same, but it’s not. Yes, I built my own website on WordPress and updated it from time to time. I’ve got an Etsy shop. While online marketing used to be in addition to shows, it’s now THE show. 

This week, a large part of my studio time was spent shopping the best online options for my work: domain, web hosting and template costs. Should I give up Etsy and go to Big Cartel? Should I stay with Go Daddy and WordPress or go to Squarespace? Can I get the changes made in time for the Virtual Show?

Whew. One step at a time. I took new photos for the Virtual Show.  I found a new website platform. But best of all, I found time to get my hands dirty doing my most favorite thing pre and post COVID: throw and build some clay cups, bowls and little plates. 

Let me add hope. That the new normal can mix with the old normal. That virtual can mix and mingle and thrive with the actual.  

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