madshutterbug: (c)2009 by Myself (Houdini&I)
One of the projects I've worked up over the past year (about as fast as either glacial advancement or melting... ) is creating Greeting Cards from some of our photographic art. The initial thought is getting something into an affordable price range which is also attractive and could bring more sales. After all, there are two means (as it were) to making 'The Nut' which is a shorthand term for Booth Fee, Expenses, and then we can look at Income. One is to sell a Big Price Ticket item, a framed print. This doesn't happen often. The other is to sell a larger quantity of Lower Price Ticket Items. That's where we're trying to go with this concept, add those smaller items that will be attractive.

It's not an original idea with or from me. I am frankly stealing the idea and filing off the serial numbers, though yes I'm putting our artwork out there as the subjects. Said another way, I've seen a lot of artists at the weekend festivals selling Greeting Cards. Go for it.

This project involves then three parts. Part the first, develop the Art. (Since we're talking Photography here, Pun Intended.) Part the second, design the Card. Part the third, actual production which involves acquire materials (Cost of Goods Sold on the Schedule C for Uncle Irs) and then presentation.

So. Part the First you've seen as we go along in these State of the Artist postings. Still, related to this project my start-up last year involved images done up as Holiday Cards (sold a few, eh) yet not necessarily the images of which I sell prints fairly regularly. The cards sold last year included a couple images of mine and one of Herself's. I'd also printed a few which are scenic or site specific for the North Central Baja Jorja area here, those didn't sell as well. Total inventory at that startup, around a dozen cards which included the card, an envelop, and a transparent sleeve/bag holding both.

Then we sort of sat on the concept for a while, taking that small amount of stock to the other weekend Art Fair shows after the 2013 Holidays and putting them out. Not majorly, basically on a small table, and very, very low key presentation. Coming up on the 2014 Holidays we revisited, decided to print some more, and work up at least a small display that will handle an inventory around a score of cards.

Did some research now, looking at sales records over the past looking for which images sold. One of those is titled 'Peek-a-Boo' of a Tom Turkey at nearby Dudley Farm State Historical Site (a very cool park which is a Florida Cracker farm, maintained in a manner around the Turn of the Century 19th - 20th time). Another is my rather abstract and Sci-Fi/Fantasy image, Naiad. Didn't get that one printed up yet as a Greeting Card, did print up 'Peek-a-Boo'. Also looked at some of the Critter Cards we've discussed and printed up some of those.

So that's the Make the Art side so far.

Now, here's another aspect of the project that I'm going to taught. The software to develop both the art and the product (greeting cards) is Open Source Software, free to a good home. That I use Gimp for the art work, photographic post-production I've mentioned before. For producing the cards, we need a document layout application, perhaps more familiar to you as a Desktop Publishing program. Ahem.

So the 'State of the Art' here is still probably an Adobe product called Pagemaker®. Got several hundreds of dollars? Go buy it. A good alternative that I've used in the past is Microsoft Publisher® which for a time included some features that Pagemaker didn't. It's actually one of the few Micro-Shaft products I recommend. Discovered earlier this year, that's probably because Micro-Shaft purchased the application from the company that developed it, as in not an in-house initial product. Ah.

However, earlier this year while researching this whole Open Source Software movement, I came across Scribus®. The version I acquired is 1.4.3 and available through their web site and as mentioned, being Open Source is free. It may not have all the features of even Publisher but so far, it's meeting my now-a-days much less extensive need for a desktop publisher document layout application.

These desktop publishers shine by taking already written text (use a word processor for that, eh), then importing that into a 'Text Frame'. In a larger publication (a Newsletter, a Magazine) these text frames may be linked together and a story then continued over several pages. The application also provides Image Frames, for placing artwork, or small charts (spreadsheets or graphs) and et cetera.

For the Greeting Cards, I developed two 'template' files, one for the image on the card to be in Landscape orientation, one for Portrait orientation.

This is the Landscape:
Landscape Half-Fold Template )

This is the Portrait:
Portrait Half-Fold Template )

When I'm working up a new card design then, I first work up the image and get a 'print ready' copy at the size I need for a card. Hmm. Back up a wee bit.

So these cards I'm showing the templates for are called 'Half-Fold' because they work to a standard size sheet of paper or card stock (8.5x11 in the US, A7 elsewhere) and will fold in half. Another size is called a 'Quarter-Fold' because it could take that standard sheet, fold it in half and then half again (quarters) for a smaller card. What we do is first cut the standard sheet in half, then fold those halves for the smaller cards.

So I've got a 'print ready' image for a Half-Fold card, it's about a 5x7 photograph. Being print ready, I can print a 5x7 and then do the Mat & Sleeve thing for a matted piece to sell, or mat and frame it for a framed piece, and for a card I'm importing that 5x7 file into the Image Frame. This is usually the front of the card. Sometimes the cards will have an Inside as well; usually just another Image Frame on a Page Two in the template file.

In the Landscape template above you see an upside-down Text Frame. This will be right-side up after the fold. Another nice feature about Desktop Publishing programs is one can create the Text Frame, set it to be 'upside-down' and then when importing text into it (or, for the cards, I often type the minimal amount of text into it straight up) and approving the overall look, will be upside down as needed.
It's all right-side up on the Portrait card.

Once the card is ready to go in Scribus, I do a 'Save As' and name the card. For printing, in Scribus I simply export the card to a PDF file. The application will send direct to a printer, but that part of it sends it to an EPS which is Encapsulated Post-Script and which is a very professional printing house kind of machine. Some of the HP laser printers will talk EPS, so will quite a few ink-jet printers and it's a lot more involved either way. Saving the file as a PDF is simple. Then just open it up in Adobe Acrobat Reader (also free software, because hey, Adobe wants the Whole World to us PDF eh so make it easily readable to everyone) and send it to ones printer.

I mentioned 'Peek-a-Boo' above. Here is what he looks like as a print-ready Half-Fold card:
Peek-a-Boo )

The Quarter-Fold cards may also be known as a Two-Up because there will be two layouts on the template. Miss Truffles Pig provided the images for one of these (she's also available in a Half-Fold) last year as one of the Holiday cards because the markings on her nose remind us a bit of a Christmas Tree:
Truffles: Happy Holinose (Two-Up) )

I did mention other Critter Cards, and here's Houdini Border Collie Bro. Border Collies are Working Dogs, and there are many in the Dog World that consider Border Collies to be the Type A Workaholics of the Working Dogs. Always ready and able to help, eh! So one evening I slid my headband type of battery torch onto his head. Surprise, he liked it. Also, with the text in this one I'm looking for all the Ursula Vernon fans out there (and doing a wee bit of fan art as well):
Houdini: Remember Tunnel 17 )

Finally, because I do call them Art Greeting Cards and because the particular subject is one of my personal artistic passions, my dear friend and muse Marjai from the Red Hat series (warning, gratuitous nudity behind the cut)
Red Hat #4 )

We aren't done once the printing is over. The rest of the production work involves folding the Half-Folds, cutting and folding the Quarter-Folds, then pairing them with an appropriate size envelope, then placing all within a clear transparent sleeve/bag. Now we may add them to Inventory, store them in the Transport Tote (I'm using Really Useful Boxes® these days more and more, but that's another State of the Artist post).

For Presentation at the Festivals, now, this is the next step. Since we're keeping total inventory on hand for these down to about a score of cards or so the display is small. There are a ton of display options out there, most of them marketed for Brick Stores and all of those rather expensive. We need something that will fold down/collapse and pack quickly and yet be very sturdy. It's a rough life out there on the road and that's only partially a joke. So the bigger display/presentation is still under development. For right now, Herself found a small wire rack which is sold as a lid holder for kitchen pots. Works very well for the Landscape orientation cards, not so well for the Portrait orientation. I tried an acrylic one this past weekend we had about the Ranch (things like this just sometimes come to us... it's a bit of a story in itself) and that worked... except not quite well enough. So I'm still on a search for the Portrait display pieces. Still, this is what the Cards looked like at this past weekend Blue Oven Kitchens Winter Gift Fair:
The Art Greeting Card Display at Blue Oven Kitchens Winter Gift Fair )

Summary, or Tell 'em What You Told 'em

About a year ago we decided to expand our 'product line' to include Art Greeting Cards. Our goal is to offer another affordable bit of art, one which is usable as a greeting card, or yanno, be greedy and keep it yourself. Startup plans included keep expenses down, so we expanded on using our free Open Source Software applications. After trying to do this using Open Office components, we found, downloaded and installed Scribus, a publishing application and found it works great for this type of product. We're printing using an Epson Artisan 50® printer which while I didn't mention above I purchased specifically for this project. Pretty happy with the printer too. Sales are OK so far, good enough to justify continuing to build this part of the Studio 318 Product Line.

Shameless Self Promotion

So if you are interested in some nice Art Greeting Cards, drop me a line. If you've got my e-mail use that directly, otherwise leave a comment here and we'll work something out. No, don't have a place I'm selling on-line otherwise, but trust me, we can work something out.
madshutterbug: (c) 2011 by Myself: Zone VI 8x10 view camera (View Camera)
Each show, each weekend art festival, brings new lessons, reinforces some lessons, and always, always the question: Will this setup grab enough attention to promote sales of my/our artwork this time around? No sales may not be a life-ending problem, and at the same time sale is one of the goals if only to kick some 'children' out of the house. The entire process is both involved and simple. This most recent go-around even provided an opportunity to review for myself once again, and begin to mentor someone starting on this same journey. It is not something which does well with an impulse to go and grab something by improvising. There is an infrastructure to working on selling a product, ones own artwork, and that infrastructure needs to be transported to site, easily unloaded and set up, then just as easily struck and loaded to go home.

We call the loading/unloading process the Show Tetris Game. Yes, it is named after that computer/video game of a decade ago, because what is being loaded comprises blocks going into a set volume of space. We've got two types of space as well, Forrest Nissan Pickup Truck and Sydney Subaru Outback the Younger. Sydney Subaru Outback the Elder also served, and provided a lot of learning. Sydney Younger is slightly larger, and that pays off.

In the past three weeks, we've done two weekend art festivals. One of those is a repeat show, with two years in a row now participating. The second is the first time for our participation, with the previous year being an attempt (as in we applied, and did not pass the jury). Life overall this year did impact on doing these two shows, and that is simply the way it is, so other than acknowledging the impact it isn't something to dwell upon and certainly not here. Here I'm going to look at each event in review, provide a brief summary of the event and sales, and discuss the process of showing ones art because that is what discussing with the newcomers covered.

Let us begin with the Micanopy Fall Harvest Festival.

Micanopy is a small community in North Central Florida, located a bit south of Gainesville and a bit more north of Ocala, right in between two major roads, the I-75 and US 441. Settings in Micanopy provided scenes in at least two major cinematic productions, Cross Creek about Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings (who lived nearby while writing her many well known stories), and Doc Hollywood. The folk who live there enjoy the fact the place preserves a lot about a quieter time, and also provide a lot of support to local arts, crafts, and antiques collectors. Each year the community (or at least a lot of members of same) come together to produce the Fall Harvest Festival as a community fundraiser, and all their proceeds go to several different non-profit community agencies. So for us, much like the Windsor Zucchini Festival it's an event we like to participate in both to sell our work and to help provide to local community well being.

This means, sure I want to make back expenses to break even, but I'll keep on applying for this festival if I at least recover some of those expenses.

Micanopy allows for vender set-up on the Friday before the Festival, which runs both Saturday and Sunday. It is a pretty big deal for the town as a whole, even the folks who aren't participating, because it draws a Really Big Crowd. The main drag for the town is the site of the Festival, all traffic for the three days is routed one way (vendors, that is, as the main drag is then closed to general traffic other than by foot). The length of the road here (and calling it main drag is true, but we're talking about a two-lane road, not a highway at all) which is set up for the Festival is a bit longer than half a kilometre, about a third of a mile.

All the properties and routes around this are cordoned in preparation. Designated vendor parking is provided for vendors, and those who want to help provide parking for attending folk are allowed to charge for parking on their property. This probably provides the funds to recover from the amount of traffic involved. Those who don't want to provide parking, their places are cordoned off as Private, No Parking. Don't want to pay for parking? No worries, park on the right of way of US 441 out there, but plan on a short hike to get over to the festival.

Booth spaces are marked on the roads with spray paint, corner markers and booth numbers. Check in, get ones paper packet (includes booth designator sign, and some other bits), drive in to ones space, stop, unload, and drive out to ones designated parking area. Seriously, drive out before setting up or a lot of folks (not just the community residents) are going to be quite upset. Remember, two-lane road, eh.

After parking, walk back to booth space and start setting up. I don't usually bring the artwork with me on setup days, unless that day is also going to be an Opening Day (happens, some events). Setup of the basic pavilion runs like this:

Pavilion Up. Anyone who's gone to some sort of weekend art festival fair or a farmers market will know what the pavilion tent looks like. There are a variety of manufacturers and styles. Some are more rigid and a bit more involved in setup as the legs and roof pieces need assembly. Some are fairly easy, expanding frames. We've used some from several manufacturers over time. The one we're currently using is an EZ-Up® Instant Shelters® (Web site is EZ-Up® Instant Shelters®). We use this one not because we think it's the best (it is pretty good) rather because we got a good price on a new one at one of the major discount box outlet stores. Since there are a lot of them out there, and periodically weather or wind trash one so those folks toss it, we've also been known to grab those abandoned damaged shelters to disassemble for spare parts.

First step is expanding it, then raising it to the first height latch. At this point I've been putting on what I call the Weather Walls (EZ-Up calls them the Sidewalls, eh). These get 'furled' and secured in the up position for now. Next I place the wind weights, because these types of shelters do act as parachutes or sails in even a rather mild breeze. The company provided add-on feet to put weights onto. I use those, but also add a heavy canvas tote bag which holds three jugs of water. Two are repurposed soda water jugs, one is a repurposed liquid laundry detergent jug. Between the three there are eight litres of water, so about eight kilograms of mass. One each is placed at each corner on those add-on feet, then a strap and hook is fastened around the upright at the roof frame for belt and suspenders security.

Mind you, even with this much weight (eight kilos times four bags so 32 kilos) there have been festivals with enough wind that I've acted as an interactive additional ballast weight for the pavilion.

With the Weather Walls on and furled, and the weights on and secured, I hang the Art Walls. There are companies out there that make assorted display walls, rigid and flexible. We use a mesh wall because it is lightweight and folds up rather small (relatively) for storage and transport. Again, there are companies that make these walls and I went shopping for them on-line. And gasped. Needed a stiff drink, because a set of these to display in a 3 by 3 metre pavilion runs about $700 US. So we went shopping. For some time invested, and possessing some skills with sewing machines, we made our walls out of mesh shade fabric for about $20 US per wall. We run grommets along all four sides. Ball bungee cords (looped bungees which close in a ball, eh) through the grommets and around the frame of the pavilion and the Art Wall is in place.

The first year we did this, we also inserted a PVC tube into a sleeve along the top to help distribute the weight of the hanging framed artwork. After that first year, I flipped the curtains over and that tube goes into the same sleeve just along the bottom. The curtain attaches securely enough to the frame of the pavilion (this is one of the benefits to us of the EZ-Up design) that the tube mostly helps the wall keep its shape and the pavilion bears the weight.

With the Art Walls up, it's time to finish raising the pavilion to working height. Sometimes that doesn't happen until the next morning, though, just before hanging artwork and opening.

We've a small assortment of furniture which comes along with us. Two tall directors chairs (folding chairs) because being in the booth for eight hours, one does appreciate being able to sit down. Our first setup for holding the matted artwork (we sell more matted work than framed, another bit for discussion later) involved a folding table and the transport bins. We've since shifted to using two folding canvas racks that hold a portion of the matted work. As pieces sell, we replenish the stock in the rack. These are put inside the pavilion on setup day and left with the kit.

Much of the supplies for this and some other items transport in a hinged-lid tote box. This includes the Booth Banner (currently, and will stay there but the main Booth Banner is a bit different now), a Bag-o-Bags holding shopping bags for those customers that need one when they purchase something, a roll of paper towels, a small tool box with odds and ends in it for the setup, and a nice repurposed teak breakfast tray table. I set the tote into a corner, cover it with a blue cloth, and put the teak table on top of that. Holds a few things on the table, the paper towels and other small bits for ongoing display work go under that on the tote.

On Setup days, it's now time to close up for the night, go home and finish things on the Ranch.
Next morning (day of show usually) on arrival I park whichever vehicle I came in, and unload the framed and matted artwork totes. Framed work is currently being transported in large corrugated board boxes and a few recycled portfolio bags. I like the bags, they're easy to move (comparatively) and rather a bit more weather resistant than the corrugated board boxes. However, the boxes are fairly inexpensive which makes up for it; portfolio bags are not so inexpensive though they do last longer.

Haul this over to the booth pavilion on collapsible hand-trucks, usualyl two to three trips, then it's time for coffee and getting the setup done. Framed art hangs on the mesh walls using drapery hooks. Once that's up, each piece is labeled using a business-card sized pin-on name badge holder. Each framed piece has a corresponding name card which says Studio 318, the Title of the piece, which of us made it, and the price. Simple, easy to print, looks very professional. Once the walls are done, putting matted pieces into those folding racks takes maybe ten minutes.

Add assorted other small signage (“We take the following Debit/Credit Cards”, “Buy Local, Support Local Artists”, and “Artist Blurb(s)” which, that last, I find rather difficult to write up.

By now, it's time to roll up the Weather Walls and Open Up.

Set up, it usually looks something like this:
Micanopy, 1024x )

Come closing time I drop the front wall (We're Closed) which allows me to pack up the matted work, clear the floor slightly by folding those racks and leaning them against our tall directors chairs, and then take down the framed work into those boxes. I don't like leaving the artwork there overnight, it's paper, even with the protection it's vulnerable to damp and wet. So I pack it back out to the vehicle, come back and close up all the weather walls.

The Art Piece Name Tags and drapery hooks stay where they are though, so the next morning setup takes far less time. Pack in the artwork, hang, adjust the matted racks. And Open for Business.

Each show will be slightly different, but not much. Both sides will hold art, and the back wall will vary between being a half-wall, a three-quarter wall or a full wall. Some festivals allow the artist vendor some space behind their booth. Others do not. Sometimes we've either enough space between booths or we're on a corner of some sort, and we hang one or a few pieces on the outside of the Art Wall.

Most festivals inform the accepted vendors that the festival will go on rain or shine, which is one reason the Weather Walls are put on as well. And yes, we've dropped them for rain. Rain often thins the crowd, thin crowds do tend to buy less, so it goes.

The Downtown Art Festival, the setup looked like this:
Downtown Fall Art, 1024x )

At the end of the Festival it's time to strike the set, pack up again and go home. So we're back to the Show Tetris. Forrest Nissan is a bit easier to load into, being a pickup truck. Sometimes though, particularly if we know the weather threatens rain, transport in the Subaru is preferred. Sydney Subaru Outback the Elder could fit most of the kit. With the addition of the chairs though, things got... excessive tight. We'd started thinking about a small trailer, or a roof rack (and in fact, used the roof rack on several occasions with good weather). Sydney Subaru Outback the Younger is as I've mentioned a bit longer, wider, and higher than Sydney Elder. We will still, likely, get to a point that a small trailer is going to be needed.
Here's the Show Tetris into Forrest Nissan after Micanopy:

Nissan Load-up )

Herself remarked when I got home and we started unloading on Monday Morning (left it all under the tarp Sunday night, home safe and protected from wind and other weather, besides, good forecast) that it is all primarily one layer. What's on top of the totes are the two collapsible hand trucks. The directors chairs went onto the middle column of totes before folding over the tarp.

That middle column of totes are 32 Litre Really Useful Boxes® (Web site Really Useful Boxes Inc. Really Useful Boxes) and we're using more and more of them. They are tough, lightweight, weather resistant boxes with a good positive lid seal. The one on the end holds the Art Walls, because I learned after pulling the pavilion tote out to prep for the fall season that over the summer, palmetto bugs got into the blue tote. Needed to clean the Art Walls of (ahem) nasty dirt. The matted work is in the other two.

The long blue tote across the back on the left of the truck is the pavilion tote. In front of that is another tote, don't recall the company, holds framed artwork up to 11x14 frames (so 8x10 prints, or smaller). The corrugated boxes behind the cab hold the larger framed pieces. The pavilion shelter itself is in the long black bag to the right. Weight bags behind each wheel well. The grey roll in front of the matted totes are two foam shop floor pads. They make being on pavement in the booth (a common situation) easier on the feet and legs.

Because we did get some rain, overnight Saturday to Sunday for the Gainesville Downtown Art Festival, I drove Sydney Subaru Outback in on Sunday. I'd taken everything into town on Saturday Morning for setup. Part of the Festival is set up in City Hall parking lot, and City Hall didn't want to close for business on Friday for vendors to set up. Well, actually, since five to six city blocks hosted all the vendors for the Festival, that would tie up traffic pretty much. Plus, the Friday Night Kickoff included a live band in the Bo Didley Plaza. At any rate, Setup took place Saturday morning and I took it all in the Nissan pickup.
So coming home with the kit, the concern was would it all fit. We thought it would, but Herself did text and ask should she come help. I felt confident and told her no. The first time Tetris game went pretty well, considering loading after dark albeit with street light illumination. And...

Subaru Load-up, Rear )

It did, as you can see, all fit in. The corrugated boxes sat behind the front seats.

Subaru Load-up, Driver Rear )

The Weather Walls up to this time we packed into a pocket on the EZ-Up pavilion bag. However, I didn't pack them this time, being concerned they still felt damp from the previous night rain.

Subaru Load-up, Passenger Rear )

They now live in another of those Really Useful Boxes. It may ad to the layering, we shall see. The pocket on the big bag will still be used, for other items which the pavilion will need periodically. The kit came with two short metal tubes which support a sun shade we sometimes put across the front, and we are building supports for the back wall to stretch it out during the day as another shade source for the 'back room' of the booth when we can.

There is always something going on. I expect the Studio 318 Booth itself may be considered a Work In Progress. There's more to discuss, even, since one of the visitors to the booth on Sunday is half of a young couple looking to start showing their own photographic artwork. This led to some thinking and recollection about those who helped us as we started gearing up. There are folk out there who proved not too forthcoming with us. Others proved very helpful. I remember them with fondness, and did my best to answer the questions asked. So another State of the Artist is going to look at the process of setting up ones business as an artist showing at weekend art festivals.

Tonight, though, it's time for beer. G'night.
madshutterbug: (c) 2011 by Myself: Zone VI 8x10 view camera (View Camera)
Been thinking I need to get one of these done for a while, and I keep running into things which … seem more important. Work on the Ranch. Work at Hospital. Something else comes along. And no writing about the State of the Artist.

This is both good and frustrating. Good, because things are being accomplished. There is a goodly amount of cleanup happening around the Ranch. We are changing up on some of the regular things we do, getting things ready to go to (we hope) better manage this small corner of the Universe we call home. And some of that is cleanup, literally, gathering up a huge quantity of empty feed bags from delivery for example, and preparing to move that along to, well, The Dump. The paper bags, those we recycle and repurpose pretty much overall. However, at least half our feed comes in white plastic-y woven type bags, and those aren't quite as recyclable. We'd like to, haven't found a manner for it yet. So they've accumulated, and they need to go away. Cleanup time.

Chicken tillers, and if you don't know what those are Google is your friend, we use them a lot. Brief definition, an open wire fabric enclosure, fairly small and easily portable. Ours are made to hold from three to a half dozen or so hens and a rooster. Every few days to a week or so, we then move them along by their length or width onto fresh ground. Meanwhile, the birds withing stir up the ground as they look for more food (they do get fed by us as well) and woe betide any flying or crawling insect that wanders within (remember, open wire fabric, eh). Chickens are omnivores, and watching them hunt reminds us of the velociraptors, at least as depicted in the Jurassic Park movies. We've been making and adding some of these to the Ranch, since our egg sales at Farmers Markets are one of our most popular products. This includes refurbishing a couple which friends who were keeping urban chickens opted out of that pastime and gave us their back yard enclosures.

Hospital... hm. Well. 32 years and counting. Enough said.

As for Art, well off and on I've been working on a few different projects, and perhaps struggling a tad in keeping organised in both that and in maintaining inventory for the Studio 318 art festival booth. Plus, we just concluded the 2013-14 Weekend Festival Season with the Windsor Zucchini Festival (insert link as found). The last four festivals we've done then (Micanopy in October, Blue Oven Kitchens in November, GFAA Winter Fine Arts at Tioga in March, and now the Zucchini) have been, well, not total washes. We've sold art, though we've not made expenses. As a business, this isn't great, however it does all go onto the books and helps. That we've sold art at all tells me the overall economy, and peoples feelings about it, is doing well enough. That we've not made expenses tells me people are still feeling somewhat conservative about 'fun money' and how much they've got.

Staying organised with inventory is part of conducting a business in selling photographic art (or any art, really). It tells the business owner how much money is tied up in inventory (the goal is something like, oh, 'Just Enough' to be able to satisfy a demand quickly but not so much as to be sitting there idle), and which items sell the most frequently. I count something as In Inventory when I've finished matting and mounting it, with a label and then a transparent sleeve to protect it from most of the elements. Then it is a salable item, I can put a price on it, so it's in inventory.

I don't count the items which are printed, but waiting for me to mount, mat, label and sleeve. On the one hand, such prints are money expended and waiting to be recovered. On the other hand, they aren't salable in that status. And I'm doing fairly well in keeping those down to a minimum. It helps, getting better with Mr. Printy (tm Ursula Vernon, thx). This allows me to print up to 8x10 or 8x11 ish sized items, including prints and art greeting cards, here and not at the printing lab I use for large items. Saves me a bit of money though do not ever think that printing those bits of art you may be thinking about buying is free to the artist. Costs time and materials, eh. Simply, smaller items able to do close to home saves production costs.

There are less than a half-dozen really big prints waiting for mats, mounts, frames or sleeves. And I've sold one recently, which is nice. I've not added large matted prints to inventory quite yet; transport requires something large enough to do such safely. The largest pieces we routinely take to Festival shows are mat outside sizes in the range of 11x14 to 11x 17 or so. There are a couple dozen smaller prints (print sizes up to 8x10 or 8x12 ish) waiting to be matted sleeved. Not too bad, and one of the things the Summer Hiatus from outdoor festivals here in North Central Baja Jorja is good to accomplish. I can and do this work indoors, in air conditioning.

We had big hopes for the sale of Art Greeting Cards and did OK around the holidays, but not great. This could be related to display/marketing. That's something to work on during the Summer Hiatus as well.

And this fellow, behind the cut because I still think about bandwidth (viewing on smartphones or tablets that may not be connected to wireless burns the data plans, eh), this fellow is who helped keep the Zucchini Festival from being a total wash. Anecdotal response on my part says he is one of our most frequent sales, but my current inventory system isn't keeping really good track of sales so pulling that out takes a bit of time. Time I didn't spend yesterday evening after striking setup on site, getting home, unloading Forrest Nissan Pickup and helping with some of the Evening Rounds before cleanup and dinner. So getting the bloody inventory into a good, functional database is also on the agenda for the Summer Hiatus. Artist as Businessperson. Yah, that's one of my favourite things to do.

Still, yes, one of our more popular based on sales items:

Peek-a-Boo, image is a link, feel free to follow for larger viewing pleasure )

And, because it't that day, Happy Mothers Day to all who are, and to those who are not by choice or otherwise, Happy To You Too Day. Personally, I must admit it's been a while since I thought much about my own mother, being that it's been nigh on 18 years since she shuffled off this mortal coil. Not forgotten, not often in my thoughts. Recently, though, yes. Mom, thank you for all you did, when you did it, and for being you.
madshutterbug: (c) 2011 by Myself: Zone VI 8x10 view camera (View Camera)
I did attend this event some time in the past, though I don't remember exactly when. Long enough ago that the Eagles were a featured entertainment group, being relatively local back then. Over 25 years ago, though, on that I'm rather sure. I recall it being big then, and it's not gotten smaller. Don't know any attendance numbers, can tell you the crowd started early (before 'Opening Time' both days) if small, and then gradually escalated in size. There would be gaps in the crowd, and other times so full that it made it difficult to see the opposite side of the road. The occasional gap in the crowd happened, often when the live entertainment happened on either or both the two stages set up.

Our booth was quite near one of those two stages, situated such that the speakers pointed away from our booth. So I could hear the entertainment and not be overpowered by the sound. If I sat in the chair I kept just out the back side of the booth (the Red Chair, nominally Herself's Chair) I could also watch some of it. All of it proved good, some quite good.

Saturday morning seems like the largest number of people who actually came in to look at photos on that day, with the sales in late morning shortly before noon. Sunday somewhat the opposite, the early morning crowd wasn't interested in photography and the single sale for Sunday in the afternoon.

Business wise, we made half our booth fee, so financially not a total wash and yet a bit of a write-off. Still, I'll apply for this festival again next year. The folks in Micanopy come together as a community to pull this off, and it is a community fund-raiser to help out a number of local non-profit concerns. This includes a local animal hospital (large and small vet), several youth organisations (yes, some affiliated with community churches, and I still support that even if not my belief structure), and more.

It's obvious from the get-go they plan on the huge crowd. Vendors are brought in by a certain route for check-in and setup, the traffic flow is designated as one-way for vehicles during the days of setup and festival. Vendors are told, pull up to your space, unload, then go park before setup. This is enforced; vendors who do not comply are not invited back. Vehicles are not allowed on the street by an hour before show time, and vendor parking is provided (and fairly secure) within easy walking distance of ones booths. They colour-code the areas for setup and for parking. So there isn't a lot of reason not to comply.

They close off certain roads during the show, designate areas for public parking including handicapped areas close by. Individuals may open their yards for public parking if they so choose and may charge for that, others do not or churches put up signs specifying parking for say their church so that they can get their congregation in on Sunday morning. One lot, quite close to the Festival road, put up a sign asking for $50(US) to park. I don't know how many people paid them that amount, as once the show opened, I got not very far from the booth since I worked it solo this year (Herself took care of the Ranch, delivered goat milk to regular customers, and continued planting Farmer Market crop in her garden). Rather the usual answer to the question 'How much of the Festival did you see?' 'Oh, about 9 square metres (*100 square feet*).'

The Booth Photo )

Cut just because, it's not a huge image. I do a booth photo on all of these types of events for several reasons. Documenting each setup to compare with recollection or notes on crowd/flow, because many of these festivals that are juried want a photo of the booth setup to show a professional appearance, and just for myself.

Overall I liked this setup. You can see if you look close there is a steep bit of slope at the front of the booth; we were set up in the parking lane for this part of the road and it also serves for rain run-off drainage. Booth neighbors on either side used tables, and brought blocks with them to help level those tables. I thought about it, and likely will add such to the Physical Plant tote crate for future. This is the first time I've dealt with this much slope, nearly all the sites for anything else proved fairly level or not so much sloped to need major adjustment.

I am also planning to make signage to include in the 'Office Box', one for each side, with notices to 'Watch Your Step: Uneven Ground' for future use, because if it happens once, it will happen again. Same reason I'm thinking about adding some blocks that I've got (they live in Studio as that's where I tend to use them).

So, yes. Enjoyed myself. Willing to repeat at least once.
madshutterbug: (c) 2011 by Myself: Zone VI 8x10 view camera (View Camera)
Up bright (no, not actually) dark and early yesterday, loaded truck and on the road by 06:30, and about an hour to get to Windsor. Wee bit of grumpiness early, it passed. Probably shouldn't even have grumped then, oh well. Long day, and as far as Studio 318 is concerned no sales. However, the Ranch half of the booth did exceeding well with sales of goat milk fudge and goat milk soaps.

A light steady rain for a short period came along around 15:00, and whump vendors started packing up to go home despite another two hours to the festival. We stayed put; I dropped the outer walls on the two sides with art, and moved the jewelry display under the roof. Ditto for the soaps, and we weathered things fine. I saw several other vendors who obviously do weekend festivals a lot, and come with that underlying philosophy (often stated outright on the application forms) that it's rain or shine the show goes on. You paid your booth fee, you stay.
And while the crowd thinned down some from the rain, sales continued, particularly of the fudge, up to and after the end of the show. Now, by the 17:00 time slot, probably half the vendors had left already.

So we packed up, and covered the back of the pickup with a tarp and put the corrugated board boxes with framed artwork into the Subaru. Herself arrived shortly after the rain, so between 15:30 and 16:00.Good thing, too, because on the drive home we drove into the serious rain, which the forecast said would get to us around 19:00 and it arrived maybe an hour early.

We all went to Las Aviñas in Archer for dinner, not a big decision really since we all live to one side or the other of Archer and so we all were going there anyway. Good dinner, then home, left the truck covered for the more rain through the night and did a hot tub soak and crashed. Hard. Didn't wake until nearly 07:00 this morning.


Now, the Windsor Zucchini Festival is several things. Primarily it is a fundraiser for the community of Windsor to fund their volunteer fire department; besides the vendor booth space sales, they also sell chicken dinners and lunches, all involving a zucchini dish of some sort, and zucchini bread, and there are the Cook-a-Zucch contests, and of course Miss Zucchini. For these reasons alone, being a vendor (very specifically, the fact that it helps this community fund their fire department) is on the list of Things To Do again next year. Even if, again, Studio 318 doesn't make any sales. We did last year, so there.

It is also the last even we've been doing before the Summer Hiatus. Last year we did a brief stint at Bronson's first ever Fourth of July Festival; we may set up the Ranch booth this year if there is a repeat, I won't be setting up the Studio however. There is a reason for the Summer Hiatus here, and that is the combination of heat and humidity. Given time and research and experience, there may be some summer festivals we'll try our Studio booth at. Those are very likely going to be on the coast, where sea breezes help with the heat and humidity.

Here in North Central Baja Jorja, though, it's time to settle in to a more relaxed pace. There are still things to do, and get done, and outdoors, just... slower.

It's time to get moving on a couple bigger projects here on the Ranch. The back deck of Studio 318 needs to be re-planked, and the roof enlarged. That's one of them.

It's also time to review all the lessons learned in nearly two years of setting up the Studio Pavilion at weekend (and some week-day) festivals, and tune things up. During today's drying time, I made measurements of the pavilion for revamping the support system on the Art Display Walls. The walls themselves are made from shade netting fabric, purchased at Lowe's. They're holding up well enough, showing some signs of their use, and we've thought of a couple things to improve them for the next go-around. (That is, if we don't decide we are bringing in enough funds to justify purchasing the commercially available net style display walls... though I'm leaning towards the Do It Yourself variation again.)

The two side walls get the most art anyway, as that is what is most visible when people walk by. The current method of a single schedule 40 PVC tube as the weight distribution member across the top, with the primary anchors being loop and ball bungee cords, will continue to serve. However, the nearly two years of service on the current PVC tubes show a couple small problems.

The tubes are two parts, half the length of the side, so they will break down for transport inside the Subaru. Been using the slip fit which came with the tubing; this works, but it's stiff (supposed to be when using the tubing for plumbing, its primary purpose) and as the tubes aged, one broke. So I'm going to re-do these, still half the length, only with a male/female threaded coupling at the half-way point so they will thread together. Should be easier to both put together and break down for both of us, primarily Herself.

The back wall needs a revision. We knew other artists used a partial wall on the back side of their pavilions, and now from the three bigger art festivals we did we agree. Need that 'back door' to get out that side, as the place where most the extra stock and our lounging area is. So that wall will get a frame to tension the wall onto, rather than going to the poles of the pavilion itself as it has been. The tension is necessary because that's an important part of the weight distribution in our hanging display system.

I may also look at that experiment as a means to provide our own free-standing walls if we need them. So the frame will be something heavier than the 19mm (3/4”) PVC we're using for the top bar. This piece may not break down, or not the same way, so it's going to take a bit of thought. To convert it to a free-standing wall, I plan on using the same male/female threaded coupling to attach the feet.

Along with the redesign of the back wall art display, we're also figuring a means to support the back weather wall as a shade fly when we're set up at festivals. Get some rain and overnight, things move inside the main cover and the back wall comes down as the weather wall again; most of the time, however, it can provide shade for us sitting out back as needed.

Most festivals stipulate that the booth space is it, and the artists displays need to fit within the space. A lot of them, though, provide enough space behind booths for a bit of stretch. When we need to live within the space, we'll have a full wall. When we can stretch a bit, we shall.

If I call my Festival Year starting in September after the Summer Hiatus, and counting the con art shows, we've done seven shows, and sales at five of them. Counting just from New Years, we've done five shows, and sales at three. Two of those shows we made expenses, one we also made some profit, and one we didn't make expenses even with the sale. If we figure how well the Ranch Booth half of the show did at Windsor, than we made expenses and some profit at two, expenses at three, and et cetera. Not too bad, overall.

There is still a stack of prints which need mounting and matting, however tomorrow I should be clearing the decks in Studio for a session. After that session I will re-set for matting until I get that stack done. Meanwhile, in between all this I'll continue working up the greeting card ideas. May be able to offer those as a test via the blog, if anyone is interested.

Now, it's getting on evening here. Evening Rounds are done. The Bros got a flea bath today, which they tolerated because hey, it also involved several rounds of Hose! Chase the Wet! Amazing how inexpensively one may entertain themselves with a couple of Border Collies. Also useful to use their pleasure at playing a game where they chase the water coming out of a hose to tire them out.
madshutterbug: (c) 2011 by Myself: Zone VI 8x10 view camera (View Camera)
The 44th Annual Santa Fe Spring Arts Festival started for me on Friday past, when I went over to the site to set up the Booth Pavilion. I transported only the 'physical plant' as it were consisting of Pavilion and Weather Walls, Art Sidewalls, the folding matted work stands, a folding chair and a bar stool I usually use in Studio as a posing stool. All of this fit into the back of Sydney Subaru Outback easily. Check-in and Setup took a total of two hours, no worries.

Saturday the show started at 09:00 so the day started early. I needed to be there at least two hours before opening to hang selected framed pieces and set out the matted stock. Plus, given how late I got back to the Ranch on Friday and evening chores, Saturday morning involved loading Sydney up with the stock and with the lunch cooler and Office. No worries, though, as it all timed out well. Even with more and larger framed stock, moving the items into the booth and getting set up accomplished with a quarter hour to spare before Opening.

Sunday the show starts at noon, so that several churches located on the street which becomes the Festival may conduct their services without the crowd there. I still went over fairly early to gain close in parking, then walked over to my friends A & K's place for morning coffee and a visit. Once again, I still got all our stock moved back in and set up in plenty of time to sit and eat my lunch before opening. This even given that rather a good number of people either didn't read the publicity about the Festival opening at noon, or didn't care and came early (by maybe a half hour or so).

I made notes on two old and retired Framed Piece Cards via pen, so as to conserve battery on the iPhone. Saturday this truly proved a good idea, as at least two sales on Saturday used the card reader. Sunday all sales transactions involved cash. I could well have used the phone for other things a bit more such as making notes. I'm not disappointed in what I did, however, and do now have two days data of such usage with the new phone, plus the various incidentals I did conduct for how much charge I'm likely to use.

The notes covered things about the Booth itself and the variations put into effect this show, for continued quality improvement shall we say. I also kept quick notes as it were of the people I know that stopped by the booth, at least to say hello. Based on those notes, 19 people I know (plus associates) on Saturday and 23 plus associates on Sunday. I don't know the overall attendance figures for the show yet. The press release estimated a potential 100,000 and based on previous years, that's a safe call. People come from the entire North Central Florida region for this festival. The crowd proved pretty steady and full both days, with some slower periods, and based on prior experience with other Festivals and Ren Faires, a good turnout.

We use some medium size PVC tubing to help support the Art Walls across the top, and we've been thinking this needs some modification. The 'back' wall will be the first we try this on, since this time around I didn't secure that wall to both sides of the pavilion. This provided our back door, and extra stock plus the folding chair sat out there. However, the lack of tension on both edges affected how well that wall could support hanging artwork, so we'll try a couple things here. Using the larger framed pieces as display we could easily add 2 more folding mat bins or the racks for the Greeting Cards, Magnets, Calendars that we're contemplating. Or even on those shows where we can bring Herselfs jewelry, that rack. Depending on which, the back wall even as we set it could do.

I do need to add a Pole Rig to lift the back wall as the sun fly. Do not need to add any more materials, other than the rigging.

We changed up how we do our framed piece title cards. The biggest problem we've had with the other style, post-card sized cards taped to the pieces, is that even light breezes can flap those around enough to fatigue and tear the tape. This time we used business card stock, and put those cards into pin-on holders we purchased at our local business supplies store. Worked very nicely, looked professional and consistent. During the show, though, I thought to print on the back side of the Art Piece Title Cards our Studio Info - Both our names, web site URL, e-mail, though maybe not phone number. PO Box address yes. Then when a framed piece sells, the card goes with the piece. (Possibly print two cards for each piece, the second with Sold/Date on it and that card stays with us.)

On the business side, this weekend we made enough sales to cover Jury Fee, Booth Fee, Petrol to and from (2 vehicles, since Herself also helped our friends and partners with the dairy goat herd while B was off showing most of the dairy goats in a major show – she did really well too!), and while I've not figured out the total sales tax due the Tax Man, that too... and some on top of that. Not a lot, and yet it is profit! Woohoo! Perhaps this means the economy really is turning around (not holding my breath) since (at least this past weekend) people felt like they could dispense some Fun Money on Fun Things (Art). At the very least, we covered expenses.
Granted, with the Festival being a local one our overall expenses are a tad lower (no Lodging, no Food since we are close enough to spend the night in our own home). It is still nice to contemplate a show where for the second time we made expenses, and for the first time a wee bit more.

Herself got to wander through the Festival more than I did, which friends who work any sort of weekend festival or con show will understand. I may have been able to do more wandering if we didn't also provide the support to our friends and partners, and I am happy with how things turned out. After all, I pretty much ran the place solo on Sunday and at least half the day on Saturday. I did make use of a 'booth-sitter' on Saturday. Booth-sitters are a nice concept I've now seen twice in weekend art festivals, where volunteers working with the agency putting on the show are available at reserved times to sit in ones booth while one then gets a biological break, or lunch, or just walk about the Festival. I figured I'd use the second booth-sitter pass on Sunday, but didn't get a chance to turn it in and no one came by to pick up.

Summarising then, the Business side qualifies as a Very Successful Weekend, we enjoyed meeting some more artists & artisans who were our neighbors in the Festival, a good turn-out for the attendance. Enough slow time during the Festival to look at the Booth setup (now a full year in working mode) and evaluate what is working well, what is working and could be done better, and note some ideas how.

And a goal accomplished. I remember well, arriving here early in 1977 and being taken to the Santa Fe Spring Arts Festival by new friends, looking at the show then thinking the quality of the show and art to be really good. Also thinking, one year I will be one of these Exhibiting Artists. Now I am.
madshutterbug: (c) 2011 by Myself: Zone VI 8x10 view camera (View Camera)
Because This Got Long - Framing and Packing )

On the Subject of iPhones )

And we'll see how that goes.
madshutterbug: (c) 2011 by Myself: Zone VI 8x10 view camera (View Camera)
I've been thinking, in the back of my mind, based on previous experience with my earlier Epson ink-jet printer that printing our photographs would take some learning time on the new Mr. Printy (name stolen shamelessly from Ursula Vernon, known as ursulav over on LJ. Stolen because hey, I like that name.)

Three copies printed, didn't take long, spent time after starting to print getting the Border Collies dinner ready... probably done printing long before I fed them. The last one I sat here while it printed. This is from the Open Office Presentation program, since I put text onto the page as a flyer. I still want and need to try printing from, say Gimp. To see what the difference may be. However, as I said, that was easy.

So yes. I am going to need to acquire more paper. Only down side, this won't print big prints. However, on the other hand, some of the Epson paper (the paper I'm working with now) might work for the greeting cards, sized and oriented appropriately for the page to allow folding.

In other news, we felt the Big House shake briefly yesterday evening, the sort of thing a large explosion or a sonic boom (such as when the Space Shuttle would land, eh) might do. Or, yanno, big thunder, but we didn't hear much, certainly no thunder. Multiple possible explanations on the local news today:
- A sonic boom produced by a meteorological phenomenon involving the fronts moving thorugh
- A sonic boom possibly generated by military aircraft conducting maneuvers over the Gulf. The local TV channel contacted the military about this, and the answer is yes, no details, classified.
- An astronomer associated with Local University says it may be a meteor breaking up catastrophically, as same astronomer was looking out over the Gulf last night with telescope and did see a flash.

Take your pick. However, today Houdini wants very much to be under my feet as much as possible, and didn't eat all his dinner. Both behaviours are consistent with him feeling an incoming storm. And our weather forecast for the next couple days includes storminess.
madshutterbug: (c) 2011 by Myself: Zone VI 8x10 view camera (View Camera)
Short version: officially a fabulous show.

Winter Fine Arts Fair Report Follows... long-ish eh )
Took a hot tub soak. Went to bed.

Will unpack the Subaru today, do inventory, wrap up that sold framed print for delivery tomorrow, and do that after feeding the Ranch this morning, along with attending to that one hog water point.
madshutterbug: (c) 2011 by Myself: Zone VI 8x10 view camera (View Camera)
Well except for details.

We did the Blue Oven Kitchens Winter Gift Fair yesterday afternoon, and it proved profitable. Like last year, we did this with our friend and partner B Not on Blogoshpere of Caprihaven Dairy Goats. Unlike last year, we did this year as two booths by paying for a double-size space. Despite booth fee thus being twice as much, we made booth fee. On both booths. And then some.

The KP Ranch/Caprihaven booth did a gangbusters business. Goat milk fudge is a hot item, and B creating some interesting ways to promote same. We did of course offer samples, small itty bitty portions in a cupcake cup for free. However, she also created two new variations to sell same besides the nice sized block of fudge; cubes on a stick and spoons dipped. The dipped plastic spoons sell for 50 cents and provide a nice way to taste; a lot of people bought one or another of those, wandered off to other booths, and came back to purchase a larger portion. The cubes are about 3 cm cubic, on the ends of plastic spoons and sell for a bit more than the dipped spoons. Those proved rather popular as the 'came back to buy' items.

Herselfs two mustards that she made using two of my beers as the seed soaking solution sold very well also. We opened up two small jars one each as Sample, with wooden dipping sticks (and a bin to put the used sticks into). One of the most fun things to watch is peoples faces as they tasted those mustards, particularly the 'End of the World Dark Mustard' which … the beer she used is also called End of the World, and part of the ingredients in the beer are “Midnight wheat, chocolate malt and chili pepper”. The beer itself is zingy, and so is the mustard.
Studio 318 sold a print, and as with other shows there are some potential inquiries and such.
Several sales, including the print, made using the card reader which worked flawlessly (not always the case). Just when I started to think it might be time to close that or get another type.

Things that worked, then, on the overall setup: loaded everything into the Subaru Outback,
2 totes matted work, 1 tote framed work, 2 large framed pieces each in separate corrugated board transport, 1 tote Herself jewelry, 1 folding jewelry display, 1 tote Pavilion gear, 1 ez-up pavilion, 1 bag pvc pavilion art wall supports, 1 folding table, 2 'weight bags' (keep pavilion from blowing away), 1 folding hand truck, 2 folding print bins, 1 folding chair, 1 Office Box, 1 very small cooler for noms & drinks...

I've been thinking to keep the load small enough to transport in the Subaru; this load filled the back, with the jewelry tote being a second level, and required me to bring the bin of road supplies (spare oil, air compressor, jumper cables, etc) into the front passenger seat. There were a few other things which came along that actually went for the Ranch related booth and wouldn't necessarily be coming along for Studio work, but that wouldn't make much of a difference in the pack-up.

Subaru does include a roof rack, some lighter items may be strapped to the top. Thing is, then they should also be (somehow) protected from weather/road debris. Also, doing a two-layer load of totes is possible given the size we are using, but then I get concerned about load shifts forward in the event of sudden deceleration.

Thing is, I really like our Subaru Outback. Could get a new(er) Subaru, and could be either a Forrester or another Outback (newer year models than ours appear to be a tad larger). Then we'd also be acquiring a car payment, something we do not currently sport thank you very much.
So we made the nut (booth fee and petrol) plus some, between the two booths.
This wraps up the year for me in terms of shows. Here is the 'to do list' I used.

Title: Goal 2012
Details: 6 Shows (2 lagniappe)
Priority: Medium
Due: Mon Dec 31, 2012
Folder: PhotoRelated
01/12/12 Mars Con ✔
5/12/12 Windsor Zucchini Festival ✔
03/15/12 Kanapaha Spring Garden ✔
07/04/12 Bronson 4th of July Festival (short notice) ✔
10/21/12 Necromicon ✔
12/08/12 Blue Kitchen Winter Show ✔
Another Con
Yulee Railroad Days June (Not Happening)
10/01/12 Williston Peanut Festival (Booth fee $100! Not happening this year. Deadline in Sept)
Autumn Downtown Art Festival submit 5/1 (In October! Not happening)
Chiefland Watermelon Festival (2013 bkmk $75 by May 25+/-)

If they've a check mark, they're done. The others were on the list as probable/possible shows, though they didn't get done for various reasons. Chiefland we learned about this year, after the fact. Pretty much all of them are on the list for 2013 again, with the same game plan. I'm not committing to adding shows, exactly, and at least one is not on the list for next year (Kanapaha. We'll go as attendees. Much better for us that way.)
madshutterbug: (C) 2005 S Grossman (Stalking_Elusive_Photograph)
Herself and I went to the O'Connell Centre Craft Fair yesterday with Herself. This is an annual event held in the big coliseum style building where University hosts a wide variety of athletic events, as well as other venues (music, some stage show). She's been before, though a number of years ago. I consider the trip a reconnaissance, as in how I've looked at other art/craft shows and fairs to decide if I should like to try for space there.

The fair is a two day event, Saturday and Sunday. We went on Sunday because my Hospital schedule and our Farmers Market schedule required my or our presence on Saturday. Even at that, we went later in the day, needing to get the Ranch squared away. Glad we did on both counts, go, and go later. While feeding the Goats we discovered three new kids, sometime during the night or early morning. The two does that kidded are one of our oldest and one of the youngest, and as such on our list to watch over for potential problems. We are happy to report that so far, no problems. Both mothers doing fine with their kids.

At any rate, we journeyed into Hoggetowne in the afternoon, arriving at the Fair about 13:30-ish giving us a potential three hours to wander through. This year by my count on the site guide sheet 223 vendors showed their various wares and 38 or so of them did 'double spaces'. Call a single booth space as either 9x9 metres/10'x10' or 12'x12' (I'd need to re-examine the information on line for vendor applicants) and a double space then 9x18metres/10x20.

We lingered at a good number of booths, stopped at a double handful. Three booths we stopped at because we knew the people there in some manner. In some manner is the (to me) humourous part. One individual we know because she is most often set up next to our booth at the Haile Plantation Farmers Market. Haile does provide space for craftspeople; we usually set up right at the 'transition' border since Haile now 'segregates' crafts to one end, foods to the other.

Another person I stopped to look at the booth because this one was one of the few I saw featuring photography, and the specifics are a melding of photography and poetry. The person, of two, there that day at that time I recognised from Hospital, not really that small a world here in Hoggetowne. Nor even in Health Care, as a lot of people I know in the field overall are also involved in creative endeavors of one sort or another.

The third we know through mutual friends, that being the common nexus where we met Chico. He gave us some good background info on the fair itself, overall, as he's been showing there for most of the years the Fair existed.

That's the more or less 'personal' side. On the 'professional' side, as mentioned I spotted very few photographers, and overall what I'd call represenational art (drawing, painting, sculpture) constituted maybe a quarter of the show, sculpture type items being the majority of that. If we include textile arts as 'soft sculpture' there could be a lot more. However, most of the textile work we saw would more properly be crafts, as in bags, scarfs, shirts, socks, hats, and such.
Food vendors needed to be selling their wares in such a manner the food within would not be consumed on site. So, nearly all of those vendors produced items in jars or other sealed containers, and based on labeling we read in commercial kitchens rather than under the relatively new Florida “Cottage Kitchen” law that allows individuals or organisations to sell home-made goods with limitations.

The question before us is, then, would this be a venue we should pursue?
madshutterbug: (c) 2011 by Myself: Zone VI 8x10 view camera (View Camera)
One of the tools I acquired, and it is a tool despite the relative 'disembodyment' of software, ia an app for my iPhone: Errands To-Do List, by Yoctoville. In tune with my demonstrated tendencies to be a spendthrift offspring of unmarried parents, this app is offered free. Quite handy, allows for setting up multiple folders for different types of to-do lists, and well, a lot of other handy features. Should a to-do entail several parts, one may even set up the list as a checklist.

Seemed like a clever idea at the time, so I set up a To-Do regarding my goal to do a set number of shows this year, and the list as e-mailed to myself from the app looks like this:
Title: Goal 2012
Details: 6 Shows
Priority: Medium
Due: Mon Dec 31, 2012 (As of Nov 19, 2012), and I added the italicised part after the fact
Folder: PhotoRelated
Notes: 01/12/12 Mars Con ✔
Another Con
03/15/12 Kanapaha Spring Garden ✔
5/12/12 Windsor Zucchini Festival ✔
Yulee Railroad Days June (Not Happening)
07/04/12 Bronson 4th of July Festival (short notice) ✔
10/01/12 Williston Peanut Festival (Booth fee $100! Not happening this year. Deadline in Sept)
Autumn Downtown Art Festival submit 5/1 (In October! Not happening)
10/21/12 Necromicon ✔
12/08/12 Blue Oven Kitchen Winter Show
Chiefland Watermelon Festival (2013 bkmk $75 by May 25+/-)

If there is a check-mark after the item, it is completed and checked off using that checklist feature mentioned. During the course of the year I added certain notes in, specifically related to the Williston Peanut Festival and the Autumn Downtown Art Festival. Those help keep clear in my mind why I didn't complete those portions of the goal. Chiefland Watermelon Festival I added to the list after the fact and discovering it looking through a list of regional festivals in of all things the newsletter published by our rural electric co-operative company, so that I could easily tag it onto the 2013 list.

There are two parts to the October shows I didn't do. Regarding the Downtown Art Festival, run by the City of Gainesville, the city needed to move the date forward this year because the Local Major University scheduled home football games nearly every weekend in November. This being the S.E.C., football isn't a sport, it's a way of life and is so even for those of us who may not be avid fans of local teams. Simply because, evidenced by the City changing dates for a major autumn show originally designed to capitolise on potential holiday gift purchase/sales, we all arrange our lives around dates that the Athletic Department sets.

Looking ahead to planning on going to Williston, and Necronomicon in October and still needing to plan on time-off requests from Hospital, I opted to pass on the Downtown Art Festival at the submission deadline date. Then in September, House roof told us in quite certain terms it leaked, and since I'd not spent the money yet to get into Williston, I chose not to to help control keeping rainwater outside my house. My Necronomicon entry already in the pipeline by that point, we carried on with that show. Well, OK, there are other reasons I like going to Necro as well.

However, I didn't get the 'Another Con' part done, though I did get some research done on what sort of other cons are relatively local to me. One of those (relatively local) is also one of the major Cons of the year, Dragoncon in Atlanta. That one is... on the list, however, not on the 2013 list just yet. There is another one coming up in January at Local Major University, which will be the second year it's occurring. That one is on my list for 'reconnaissance' i.e. I'm planning on going and scoping it out. After all, the site is just up the hill from Hospital, so it is rather ridiculously local at that. It's called Swampcon, and if you are close enough you should also come check it out.

Yulee Railroad Days did not happen, at all. The folks that organise the local events took this year off. In fact, for a while the web site took a rest as well. It's back, now, and sounds hopeful for this event in 2013. We'll see.

That's it for the 'Didn't Happen' part of the list. For the rest, fun, educational, items to do again, and the whole process somewhat more facilitated in the upcoming year with this Errands To-Do bit. One of the things I learned this year, and I mean really learned as opposed to learned by reading others write about it, is that shows require lead time. When is the application due? How much is the fee? What is the general subject? Which, of course, means which images do I put into a show/festival, which ones not so much.

All of them, as we move along, get their own to-do list which is helping to keep things on track. Six shows isn't a lot; it is twice the original goal and keeping things straight last year occasionally got interesting. So I'm keeping to six shows for this year even given the high probability I'll meet the goal (that Blue Oven Kitchen Winter Show is coming up in a couple two-three weeks, in the works now), with the added sub-goal of getting better on managing the business of getting into shows better.

Which shows, then? Well, MarsCon is in the works again. Things learned, it is easy, actually, to send along artwork to a distant show via shipping or postal service, and folks at the other end are there to help. Sales, not so much this year. However, sales not so much the first two years I put pieces into Necronomicon either, thus allow exposure time.

Kanapaha Spring Garden Festival. Hmm, well, I've been thinking maybe not so much this coming year, in part because we made absolutely no sales from our showing this year. Learned a lot, yes. Booth setup, weather resistance, details about booth setup (led to confirming the decision to get some folding racks for matted/sleeved artwork, rather than hauling, setting up, breaking down tables with bins on them) all came out of this show. However, only so much funding available for shows, overall, and there is another one coming up I am looking to get into. If I can. So ... maybe. Probably not.

I do believe we'll show again at the Windsor Zucchini Festival. Not only did we have fun, and Herself entered food art into their Cook-a-Zucch contest (and received ribbons!), we also made booth fee on our first showing there. Always an encouragement.

Yulee Railroad Days is on the list, pending the event actually takes place. As is the Bronson July 4th Festival, which this year is/was the first year so we'll see if it happens again. We made sales at the previous year Yulee Railroad Days, though not at Bronson this year, but we'll go again.

Chiefland's Watermelon Festival is on the list; watching their web site for the dates and the current application forms. Williston Peanut Festival, ditto, because again very local, and good idea to get better known in the community. Hopefully, no surprise expenses in the lead-up time.

Necronomicon, yes, deity willing and the creek don't rise. Yes.

The Autumn Downtown Festival is on the list as well, again pending dates. If the local football schedule pushes that festival too forward in the year, maybe not. After all, Blue Oven Kitchen will likely do their Winter Gift Festival again, we made booth fee plus last year and we're in it again this year, so that's on the list.

So that's Seven on the list with one Potential extra. Curiously enough, there's the other I mentioned I'm going to try for, though I'm not putting a lot of info down now. That's a juried show meaning I need to apply to maybe get in depending on if the jury likes my art. We'll see.

Another Con is still on the list; I've got one in mind. More later on that.

And, with involvement in the Gainseville Fine Arts Association there are some additional shows I may be able to get into as well. GFAA does two juried shows every year. So, those will go on the list.

That provides some 'padding' as it were. Seven definite shows now towards a goal of six, with some extras. One reason for those extras is that a lesson this year is some shows won't happen, for a variety of reasons. Build in alternates from the beginning to help meet the basic goal.
madshutterbug: (c) 2011 by Myself: Zone VI 8x10 view camera (View Camera)
Interesting getting back into a swing of things, and trying to do so with a balance to all the other activities and events going on in life just now. It's a case of make time for art, and for the business of art, and for the Ranch, and, and, and. Everything competes for time, our only real nonrenewable resource. Yes, yes, I know, there are natural resources which are rare, thus precious, and yet those are either recyclable, or somehow renewable even if not rapidly. Time, however, moves along with no going back and (despite sometimes wanting to) no hurrying on.

I spent yesterday taking care of some 'activities of daily living' getting the laundry done, and helping with the usual Ranch chores feeding all the critters, plus counting new kids. The Autumn Kidding is started and so far we're at about 18 live kids. This time around we are watching some of our older yet still somewhat adolescent does. Yes, female goats are does, much like deer. And yes, adolescents of any species may experience problems with early pregnancy.

These girls are between a year and a half and two years, so should be good to be moms. And mostly so; one decided that the whole business proved much too traumatic and abandoned her two kids (twins are not common to first time goat mothers, not rare either though). Fortunately one of our older does kidded in near proximity both timewise and geographically; while still labouring with her two, she immediately adopted the two the youngster walked away from. We've gotten close enough to determine that Mom #2 is currently nurturing at least 3 doelings. Young Mom gets another chance at this whole reproduction thing, as it is in our experience their second time they do much better.

There are a few stillborns amongst those adolescents, though, and I'm inclined to wonder about why. Their nutrition is good with the same feed we started last year, and the Winter Kidding proved stupendous. On the other hand, though, these are adolescents, there is a hierarchicy in a goat herd and the youngsters may not of been able to get everything they needed as a consequence. Still and all, things are going quite well with only these few bobbles.

After the Ranch chores and between loads of laundry, I worked on the Goals List for next year 2013. Last year I'd set a goal of three weekend type art shows, while still working full-time at Hospital and on the Ranch. Since I met that goal, I doubled it for this year. While I can't say definitively that all six shows are done and thus the goal met, that's because the last show, the Blue Oven Kitchens Winter Gift Fair takes place just a touch over 30 days from today. DietyOfYourChoice willin' and the creek don't rise, we will be there.

I didn't double the goal again, even though this past year I moved to working part-time at Hospital. I did put 14 different shows onto the list, with the goal set at 8 shows. Deadlines for applications and fees along with some other notes related to specific shows (themes, acceptable subjects, and such). This is part of the Business of Art, since some of those deadlines occur before the turn of the calendar to 2013. We are, I'm happy to say, on schedule for things so far.

May not do one or another of the shows that we did this year, even with them being on the list, simply because that is another of the lessons in the Business of Art. Namely, does that venue match what it is I'm doing, We're doing, and if not the probability gets higher we wouldn't make any sales anyway. One of those shows is still on the list; once we finalise our decision about it, though, I'll either not Not Happening or remove it. This is why there are 14 different shows, to give us some flexibility.

I will add at least one Con, probably 'local' as in here in State. In fact, I'm putting one on the list to attend, even though I'm too late for Art space at that con, simply because it is Very Local. Most of the rest are also fairly local, as in an easy drive from the Ranch to get there and not requiring much in the way of overnight accommodations. That will come, I'd simply like to wait and see what sort of 'following' may be generated first.

Meanwhile, I suppose I should show you a couple pieces that went into the recent Necronomicon show. I'll drop those behind a cut more for bandwidth, partially for subject matter, as some workplaces might object to one or two.

And the Artwork, um, yes, potentially Workplace Not So Safe )

I re-showed Naiad from last year, and a few others which loosely could be called either sci-fi or fantasy because their subject matter could be either future on a colony world or in a fantasy world or such.
madshutterbug: (c) 2011 by Myself: Zone VI 8x10 view camera (View Camera)
It's been a bit since I've done this, and from the point of view of an artist trying to maintain a blog related to artistic undertakings, this is... not so productive. An art blog need not be updated daily (though some of the artists I know do update theirs daily), yet it should indeed be updated on a regular schedule of some sort. This predictability, consistency is important to build a relationship with those who read it, who are interested in the art.

I could plead I've been busy making art, or making 'product' (prints, matted and sleeved or matted and framed), or simply with life and the Day Job. Could be true, could be false, and in any event is no excuse for the lack of an entry. After all, again, that's the purpose of the blog, to keep people interested in the art, the artistic endeavours, involved with a regularly posted description of how busy the Art Work, the Day Job, or Life is. Some sort of balance between the three is part of it. A bit of Life makes the artist a real person. The Day Job pays the bills and granted it is nice if the Art Work is what pays the bills, in reality there is usually a more consistently paying Day Job other than the Art Work.


Day Job involves Hospital and the Ranch. Both are 'day jobs' for me. Hospital takes up a bit less of my time these days, what with completing that Magic 30 Years and starting the Confused Years of Hospital pays me to Go There, and also pays me Not To Go There. It's that second part that allows the decrease in the amount of time I sell to Hospital these days. One of the benefits of selling them a minimum of 40 hours each week for 30 years. Regular readers will know I don't often go into a lot of details about Hospital (including the Name of Hospital) because, well, Patient Confidentiality as a professional attribute got pounded into me long before any sort of legal aspect (H.I.P.P.A.) came along. Even telling you Name of Hospital could potentially compromise confidentiality. So... I'm still selling 30 hours a week to Hospital, more or less, and it is nice to not be commuting that distance more days out of a week than doing so.

The Ranch, now, while being a Day Job involves both less commuting (usually) and less pay. We're bringing in more funding through things we generate here on the Ranch these days, and that's primarily due to Herself and her perseverance going to two different Farmers Markets each week. I've found using other Social Media more beneficial there. Facebook (for example) provides a quicker means to connect to people who are actively supporting us by purchasing meat, goat milk, goat milk cheese, free range eggs, garden produce in season, and such.

I did take some time recently to do some concentrated Ranch work. In my sick and twisted humour outlook, several of our livestock 'retired' recently. It is a cold retirement, sub-zero in fact, by most measures. Tasty, however, for those who consume meat. And there occurred some fence repairs, and a few other chores needing doing that waited for some concentrated Not Going To Hospital time.


On the Art Front, we've been pursuing the increased Goal. Last year, cycling up on the long term plan of getting my Art out there into the world, I set a goal of Three Shows. Do Three Shows, with or without (preferably with) sales, and see what I learned about doing them as well as did any income head my way as a result. We squeezed in the three shows sort of just barely by the fact that the third show took place last year December. And, delightfully, I did make a sale at each show. Even more delightfully, I made another sale as a result, but not at, one of those shows. Less delightfully, those four sales hardly paid for the year. Lesson: Not Time to Quit the Day Job Yet.

I decided early last year, though, that if the Goal of Three Shows were to be met, then the goal needed to be increased. So, with the start of 2012 I set a Goal of Six Shows (doubled) with potential Two More Lagniappe. Now, this isn't really a true use of that word, there, lagniappe. Technically, lagniappe is something given to a customer, a wee bit extra when things are purchased. As in, Herself tosses in an extra green pepper, or some herbs fresh from the garden, when someone purchases our produce. Or, maybe, I toss in a bookmark, say, when someone purchases a print.

So telling myself that if I complete six shows, an extra two shows would be lagniappe isn't really quite the term. But it's the one I used, so I use it here as well.

At this point in the year, we've (because Herself came along to a few, selling her jewelry and her photographic prints) completed:

MarsCon in Williamsburg, VA. I sent along eight prints. None sold. Good practice, figuring out how to ship art and seeing what happens, and the old saw that if I didn't send anything there's no way I could sell anything applies.

Kanapaha Spring Garden Festival, Kanapaha Botanical Gardens, Gainesville, FL. Two day show, set up the booth, survived some inclement weather, received a lot of comments, figured out some things weren't working as well as could and others working quite well. No sales. Expensive lesson, considering booth fees.

Annual Zucchini Festival, Windsor, FL. A one day show, set up the booth, really nice weather, co-worked the festival with our friends not on Blogs Meg & Bry. They are our partners in some of the Farmers Markets as well, since Meg raises the dairy goats that provide the goat milk, and the same milk that Herself makes into cheese and also, so does Meg now. At any rate, between the two of us (Herself and I) we made the Studio 318 booth fee for this event, and Herself and Meg both received ribbon awards in the zucchini cook-off for some interesting items made using zucchini. The event helps the community of Windsor fund their volunteer fire department. Good cause. We figure we'll get into this one next year, eh.

Did not do the Yulee Days event in Archer, FL this year because the folks who organised it chose not to do so this year. Oh well.

Did do the First Annual (well, we'll see about that part next year) Bronson FL Fourth of July Festival. One day event, on July Fourth, found out about it only a few weeks beforehand. Set up the booth(s) for both Studio 318 and Kumas Playpen Ranch (included Meg and Caprihaven Dairy Goats). No sales, a good bit of publicity. Free fireworks at the end of the show, for those who stayed. I'd adjourned to the Ranch after going over to do the setup. Border Collie Bros do not like fireworks.

What with discovering a Leak in the Roof, and deciding to start conserving ready cash until said Leak gets fixed, we opted not to get space in the Williston Peanut Festival early in October. Couple of reasons for that, conserving cash being the primary and it being a one-day show being another. However, that one-day show also asked a fairly steep booth fee, particularly compared to Windsor's festival and the other show I did do in October. So, this one goes on the list for potential in 2013, yes, and we'll see.

Necronomicon Sci-fi and Fantasy Con took place this past weekend, and that I sent in the Art Show fees back in June so off I went. Even with the Leak in the Roof, this one stayed on the agenda partially because a good portion of the expenses already got spent, and partially because, well, this show is the first one I started doing once I decided the time came along to get into shows.

I mean, here I am, a science fiction fan from childhood and I'd been to Necro's before I went back in '08 for my 'reconnaissance' of the Art Show. I walked through that display thinking several things. First, yes, I'd seen the Art Show in earlier Necros attended. Second, not a lot of photographers yet some, and well I can do at least that good. Lastly, why the hell haven't I thought about making science-fiction or fantasy related artwork before? It fits a lot of my other general work as is.

Reconnaissance in '08 led to Reconnaissance in Force in '09 with the purchase of a single panel, and hanging artwork in much the same way most of the artists do (fill the Whole Bloody Panel). A friend of mine, Tinne in the Blog-o-Sphere, also showed that year and I watched them set up. Solid colour cloth drape, and a selection of framed prints hung at eye level is all Tinne put up. I put that concept together with another artist I'd seen at the Spring Arts Festival in Gainesville and decided future displays would be different. Got a critique of my work as well, and from all that the Reconnaissance in Force proved quite successful.

A good number of people told me that year that the Necro show is hard for photographers, and I've been told the same each year since. I've increased the number of panels each year to the maximum of four, and draped the panels because that hides the distraction of the backsides of the pieces the artist getting the opposite sides of the panels hangs. It's a small shared benefit that those same drapes eliminate the distraction of the backsides of my pieces to their displays as well.

And, for the past two years now, I've received an award in the Black and White division. Hard on photographers, sure. Not big awards, eh. Still, nice to receive.

Now we're unpacked, and it's time to inventory, prepare and see what we can do at the next show. We're already on line for that one, on December Eighth in Downtown Gainesville. Well, need to get the registration form in however, it's ready to go. This is also the same as last years third show to meet last years Goal, and it will make the sixth show this year. No extras, oh well, and I'll take that into consideration when I set next years Goal. Will I increase the number of shows, or not, and I think I'll look hard at which ones I did do and see about changing some things around anyway.

Meanwhile, one of the Day Jobs is calling as the evening hours roll in. Time to go gather up the Border Collie Bros and do evening rounds here on the Ranch.
madshutterbug: (c)2009 by Myself (Houdini&I)
Moon Day

Sold some kids on Monday. Specifically 13 doelings from our herd, and 1 buckling at 4 months from B's herd. The refurbished holding pen worked OK, though still a bit big and we wound up trapping the doelings in the corner opposite the gate. On the other hand, as small as they are this worked OK to snag and hand-carry them into his trailer. Also, we both are convinced we counted at least 14 doelings in there when we moved them on Sunday; however, small as some may have been one could have slipped between a gap in panels. The buckling loaded up without much fuss at all; people there, two doelings already in the trailer, he'd just been in a trailer, he may have seen other goats getting into trailers. No worries, no matter what. So he only came to stay with us for 2-3 days max.

Ranch chores and a run into Williston to Sparr for ranch related equipment before that. I got a second hose to put out by the buck pen so we can stop driving over the other hose, plus a wye to help with that. Plus a light chain to be the latch on the west end buckling pen gate, and a couple clips to hold the gate on the holding pen (now not immediately needed but will free up the lighter clips there). And a roll of 2x4 wire fabric to be the tops and bottoms of Dirty Yardbird Tillers, since we've got chicks hatching both here and at Beth's, and other birds that need containment to keep the Garden safe. Herself didn't go to Tioga Market yesterday for the combination of working on cages and then the kid roundup. She also gave me $100 back from the kid sales to cover the tiller supplies purchases. I've tucked that into Studio money. Shameless of me, I know. Vicarious as well. It really needs to be deposited into the Ranch checking account. Later.

Got started on the matting and mounting in the afternoon, after Ranch chores and interrupted by the Roundup. I figured Monday to be primarily setup and organisation day and this proved to be mostly true. Big table set up, by the window, mat cutter laid out on it. Counted up all the prints on hand needing mounts and mats, measured to help determine mat size. Three prints of my work with small white margins top and bottom worked nicely in a pre-cut double-mat, so those are now mounted and matted though not sleeved yet. Working on the matting will give me indications what I need to help with this process.

Then another run to Williston for very light groceries (wound up at Winn Dixie though initially planned on Hitchcock's) and pizza for dinner.

Sun Day

On Sunday I fired up Picasa (Google's 'free' image organisation/editing/uploading software) as I'm checking it out to see how well it suits my needs for organisation. One of the features is that Picasa will scan through the designated photograph library and apply facial recognition algorithms to 'suggest' names. The package prefers to go to on-line contact lists, but will take manual entry. I opted for the latter.

In the library I apparently am able to claim something along the order of 50-60 thousand recognisable faces. Recognisable is a relative term on two counts. There are some blurry pics in there (either the primary subjects themselves, or in the background) which make it hard for me to identify who they are, and faces in sculptures as well. George and teh Boys, my Bro-in-Law's reference for Mount Rushmore, for example provided George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, and there are some other sculptures in my library as well as people wearing masks.

Once the names are listed, while continuing to work Picasa will then provide a batch of suggestions: Is this George Washington? Sometimes yes, sometimes no, and the latter are occasionally humourous.

One thing I will be extremely cautious about is the batch upload feature. Since there are more than a few people who've modeled for me that wish to retain anonymity, or who commissioned me for private works (that are still within my library, as part of my portfolio since I retain the right to use those private works in reference display for other private commissions), there are photographs I do not want uploaded.

In short, the jury is still out on Picasa as an image file management tool.


Apr. 16th, 2012 07:50 am
madshutterbug: (c) 2011 by Myself: Zone VI 8x10 view camera (View Camera)
I've spent this morning finding the websites of the handful or so of artists whose cards I snagged yesterday. It's networking. What? It is. I'm doing this on the 'net so it's networking. No, SRSLY! I mean, now I've got an idea how to bundle and price a set of greeting or note cards, eh?

Of course, I need to make such cards first. So much to do. Time, time, time, that's always the end of the line on questions. I've known this for years, because for those same years I've said I sell my time to Hospital, and that's how I make a living, and while knowledge and skills are valuable, they are so in part because that is what makes our time valuable to sell.

It's no surprise to me (continuing in this vein of selling time as it were) that the income, whatever amount, from Herself taking our Ranch produce of various and sundry to Farmers Markets is more consistently bringing in income than either of our artworks do. And she is an artist, not only photography also beadwork and semi-precious stone jewelry. She packs that along betimes to Farmers Markets as well, though less than once she did. With the Ranch Produce, we compete for the Grocery Money. That always comes before spending the Fun Money, because first we need to eat to even have fun.

Meanwhile, back at The Ranch...

It's a bit of a sideline thought here. I've pretty much kept things like employers, geographical references, and even our names under a layer of 'privacy' in public. This is fine in one sense, counterproductive in another when one is starting to promote ones artwork. At least, promoting the viewing and (hopefully) sale of such in Physical Space rather than Ethernet Space.

Employer, Hospital, will remain such. There are a lot of reasons why and only one is the whole fracas, if you're not familiar with it, of people posting things about their employers or fellow employees on social networking sites that results in their being dismissed from employment. I find it marvelously ironically humourous that Hospital on the one hand tells employees to remove Hospital's name from their 'Works At' field on Facebook, yet maintains several Facebook accounts of its own to communicate with employees.

The Ranch, now, and Baja Jorja, and all, that's a different thing. The Ranch is Kuma's Playpen Ranch. Seems a silly name, sometimes, and so sometimes I call it KP Ranch. Kuma the Rottweiler is the namesake; I mean, doesn't everyone buy some land in the country so their dog finds room to run? So we made the place his Playpen for running and playing and yes, even some working because Rottweilers are Herd Dogs, if you didn't know. Cattle herders, they are, descendants of cattle herding dogs the Roman Legions brought with them to bring the fresh meat the Legionaires would need.

Kuma's Playpen is located in rural North Central Baja Jorja, and thank you to my friend Bet Noir for that one; she knows how accurate a description 'Southern Georgia' is for this part of North Central Florida. Distintive traits, yes, and yet a strong blending with a lot of the characteristics of the next state due north of us. After all, hop into a car and drive north from Kuma's Playpen and in about an hour, hour and a half you'll be crossing the Florida-Georgia border.

The Internet, which by definition is net-working and the source of the whole concept of people working together to accomplish goals, can make it possible for someone located geographically in Rural North Central Baja Jorja (OK, Fine, I Just Like Saying Baja Jorja) able to provide certain products or services even internationally. So yes, looking up web sites that other artists established is networking.

Meanwhile, back at the Ranch, the morning coffee is pretty much consumed and the Horses, Goats, Hogs and Dirty Yard Birds (Chickens) are waiting for breakfast noms. Time to get dressed and go network with the livestock.
madshutterbug: (c) 2011 by Myself: Zone VI 8x10 view camera (View Camera)
Wrapped up feeding the Ranch around 09:30 – 10:00 and we hit the road to the Festival about 11:00 or so. Didn't check arrival time specifically however knowing the travel time to that part of town, we arrived around 11:45. According to the publicity the show opened on Sunday at 10:00, and yet we walked past more than several booths not open by the time we got there. Met D & B there, while walking about and as expected following a phone call earlier while feeding the birds. Actually saw rather a few other people we (or I) know as well, no surprises at all.

My primary purpose was to look at Display. Both the manner of presenting the artwork itself, and the pavilion booth shelters. To the latter, we saw a fair amount of EZUp, and a lot of LightDome, plus a smattering of others. We made notes on a couple of those, and I've followed up looking for one of them. Site is book-marked, company is Undercover, and their setup is very intriguing.

Many of the artists are using the rigid styles of display. The carpet covered ones are common. Mesh walls are next most common, and the LightDome company sells walls. LightDome is interesting because they are in Ocala, so local. There is a change (one artist mentioned this) they may rent pavilions if someone is interested in trying them out. Quite a few artists made their own displays. These ranged from folding louvered doors to hard flats from 2x2 covered in luann door-skin ply. Most artists are using some type of rigid bin for matted work display/sale. Possibly a dozen used the folding racks of some style.

Interestingly enough, nearly all the pavilions at this show are set up very similar to what we did at Kanapaha Spring Garden Festival. To whit, open to the street, with some variation of both side walls and the back wall set up for display of hanging art. A lot of the back walls had openings, and back awnings on their pavilions for shade and a place for the artist to store additional stock as needed. We've known for quite some time we need something like this for showing in Baja Jorja. While it wasn't extraordinarily hot today, it did get hot (temps when we left Hoggetowne 30-ish C high 80's F). Hot enough, in fact, that contributed to our fatigue. Needed more fluid intake, we did. Bad us.

Notably, perhaps as much as 14% of the Santa Fe Show booth space (call it 100 of 700 possible booth spaces) were empty. This, for one of the major Southeast and definitely one of the major Florida shows, and I don't remember ever going before and seeing this many empty spaces. I stipulate it's been about five years or more since I've gone. And while we did see some people walking about with bags holding purchases, we did not see a lot of them.

We didn't buy anything other than lunch ourselves. Bad us. What we did see, often, were card sets made by the artists with their own work. I think you know what I'm referring to; mailing cards, thank you cards, thinking about you cards, those things. Something we've been thinking to make as well. For, say, $5 one gets a sample of the piece one admired, plus perhaps some others, and in something potentially 'useful' as in more than looking at and enjoying.

Considering this show, a juried show with a reputation for being one of the best, as mentioned, in the Southeast, and Florida in particular, to be that empty... quite a sign of the times. People aren't buying art, they're buying groceries (justifiable – I've said before I know I'm competing for the 'beer money' not the grocery money or the housing money). Thing is, I've had it in my head that this show is a challenge to get into, and I walked away from this year thinking, hey, could-a should-a. However, no regrets, as I'm not of a mind that I'm truly ready for such a show, if only for the amount of inventory to be able to set up and (potentially) sell. However, I am now thinking that next year will be the time to make my first attempt at getting into this show.

Thur Sday

Apr. 12th, 2012 07:55 pm
madshutterbug: (c)2009 by Myself (Houdini&I)
Slept In

Not sure I intended to, and I do remember waking early enough it was at least 06:00 possibly 05:00. However, simply rolled over and did go back to sleep. Bits and pieces of a dream, pocket knife going into a shirt pocket of scrubs at Hospital and my thinking I needed to call the CN to get it back out of laundry. In reality, once it's into laundry, not much for getting it back.
Photographically, this morning work is to assign dates to file names of Herself's pieces ready to print, then move them along to PrintReady folders.

Note Made to Google Plus
Ah, G Plus, why do you slow so down when I tap the 'plus sign' to tag or add someone to a post? I mean, like glacially.

Photographically Speaking

Running through image files, adding the file data as to who made which photographs while looking more or less specifically for ones Herself made. They are 'Print-ready' under her name. Found a few, appropriately dated them in the Print-ready folder. Now, to relocate them to the appropriate Print Ready folders on the appropriate dates.

Rest of the Day

Today the Accomplished List includes feed delivery, feed storage, and then replacing the tail light fixtures and one front turn signal fixture on Forrest Nissan Pickup. While I do not claim to be an internal combustion mechanic, this problem is Smoke and Wires, also known as electrical and that I do know. Overall the project took about two and a half hours. However, part of that is a trip into Archer to purchase replacement hardware. The original mounting screws, metric hex-head, very rusty and one, in fact, broke on removal. Actual work time probably an hour and fifty minutes for all three fixtures.

Then the Bros and I walked evening rounds, feeding cows, feeding horses, collecting eggs and then feeding the Bros. I'm waiting just a wee bit before feeding me, as Herself is off to Canton Meeting (SCA). Might not wait for her to get home, though. We'll see.
madshutterbug: (c) 2011 by Myself: Zone VI 8x10 view camera (View Camera)
Friday Afternoon:

About 14:30, we loaded the truck with the Booth gear. Included easy-erect First Up ® pavilion, inclement weather walls (Easy-Up ® so different company from the roof & frame which occasionally makes me wonder), two folding tables, two folding chairs, the tote crate with the art walls, PVC support tubes for the art walls, four weight bags and straps, four dog screw tie-downs, and two banners one for Studio 318 and one for Kuma's Playpen Ranch. Also one blue cube cooler. Set-up took about two hours including travel time to and from. We put the pavilion up and applied the tie-down straps using the dog screws, it being an outdoor show. Then the art walls which required fussing a bit with the tie-down straps, and lastly the inclement weather walls.

These are designed to zip together at the corners of the pavilion, only we couldn't do that because of the tie-down straps and the way we applied them, to the outside. I think I shall want to play with these a bit, see if there is a way to set them up so that they can zip down. However, I'm not majorly worried about that just now. Overall, this worked, even in the face of inclement weather that included rain and wind. The specific location assigned us at Kanapaha Botanical Gardens is fairly sheltered from the wind, so that helped. And while it did rain, not so much to hazard the roof. More on that as the story progresses.

Last bit of setup before we left involved hanging the Kuma's Playpen banner outside of the west wall. Must be honest with myself, don't recall if we hung the Studio 318 banner or I waited to do that next morning. The two tables we set in a T shape, with a walking space between them, the theory being people could walk in and around the front table, looking at the artwork hanging or the jewelry set out, and then at the matted pieces. Or vice-versa. We briefly discussed dropping the pavilion roof to half-height (rain in the forecast) and opted not to do so, based on the site description above.

Saturday Morning And Now It Gets Long... )
Saturday, Gates Open )
Sunday )

The Business Side:
Frankly, a bust. We didn't sell a single item.

We did, however, gain the experience and the knowledge that our plans for inclement weather work, the packing works, the setup works to support the weight, and the display looks good to start. We will want to start studying the tune-up for individual shows, something else that comes with experience. Additionally, today at Tioga we are supposed to deliver a print to someone who's been looking at this specific print, as a matted purchase, and might of bought it yesterday except... I'd put the only currently in inventory copy into one of the frames.
Mind you, it looks Really Good in that frame. I'll put it out today and put it back into a sleeve, as we promised to do that.

Also, I've a potential portrait session out of the weekend. The potential is fairly strong, as one of the two parties already tagged me via electronic communication.

If it were not a local show, meaning minimal petrol expense, no housing expenses since we slept at home, then I'd be disappointed. As is, I consider the booth fee to be 'tuition' of a sort for the process of learning, verifying setup, planning, appearance, and such. Yet it remains, we didn't sell a single item, and so we are down the booth fee for the weekend.

Excerpts from Texts:
Me: Here early enough is a line of vehicles out onto Archer Rd!
Herself: Oh my!! Everyone wanting to get in early to make sure things are okay after the evening storms
Me: Yup or just to finish setup.
Herself: So you have a 15-20 minute wait
Me: Looks like. Am in line. Thinking oh I did ask myself brink something to read? Line started moving 06:50 am now off Archer Rd in line
Me: Thx Pavilion in good shape. 2 carry in trips. Walls up now ready to set up.
Herself: How wet is the spot?
Me: Not. Damp. Setup takes longer hanging 14 frames. Finished 20 min after Open
Herself: At least you can leave the hooks in for tomorrows set up
Me: Yes
Herself: Were there many people in the gate? Or were you all set up before you say the first of the lookers?
Me: Set up before lookers, some walking by not a lot. Crowd much bigger now
Herself: Last call! Getting ready to leave
Me: Can't think of anything
Herself: Make the calendar April 14-15, Santa Fe Art Show and the Santa Fe Zoo open house
Me OK.

Me: Booth OK walls & roof wet. Some water accumulation front. Front walls at least set up clean off & dry tomorrow. All walls shook off. Sides & back still down to dry. Setup mostly done. Fine tuning only.
Herself: Glad to here the little pavilion held up! I looked at that yesterday that we may have some water/wet in or in front of booth looking at the ground
Me: A bit, yes. Still can see the wet-dry demarcation line.
Herself: Main gate open Squirl felt it was an open invite for a face to face with the dogs across the street! He did come when called
Me: Good. Sorry. Left it open when I doubled back.
Me: Going to be a better day. The Morris Dancers are here!
Herself: Cool
madshutterbug: (c) 2011 by Myself: Zone VI 8x10 view camera (View Camera)
Sunday and Monday did some work getting ready for the show. More on Monday than on Sunday. Hand-cutting backboards for pieces on Monday, and a lot of work, keeping straight edge lined up, marking accurately. Herself kept suggesting using the small mat cutter we'd purchased, but that only cuts the bevel. Sore finger on the drive in to work on Tuesday, and I kept thinking it's time to at least check on the big mat cutter Mother Mary gave us. Thought in my head all these years, because I'd unscrewed it from where it was mounted in the shed at the Big House in Deltona, that it needed to be mounted securely.

Decided to haul it out, look at it, and decide. Helped that I got off early on Tuesday due to finishing the Peds schedule.

Turns out, it doesn't need to be firmly mounted down. Do need to put some sort of padding underneath it, as the screws which hold the one edge guide extend through the base. Herself says the 'rubber feet' are missing, and there are six spots where some sort of foot may of been mounted. However, with a bit of cleanup and two new blades (most of the cleanup associated with removing & replacing those blades) in the span of two hours I finished cutting all the backing boards still needing to be cut, as well as three 10 x 10 inch pieces, two of which I cut 5 x 5 inch openings for Portrait of Squrrl, thus matting two more prints. As I texted to Herself towards the end of the working period:

I. Like. This. Thing.

Wednesday I got home from work closer to the Usual Time. No additional work on anything other than the usual Ranch chores. Yesterday, however, I'd requested as a day off Hospital and so after morning Ranch chores, finished up with the matting, mounting, tagging and bagging plus inventory of items on hand. In the process, decided to make a quick skim of stock frames on hand, and learned there are only two left with glass to take an 11x14 sized mat. Took two of the new pieces and framed them, instead of bagging to provide some extra there. Once I completed all that I set up the mat cutter again and worked on a few more pieces, for practice and potentially to add to inventory.

Yes, I definitely like the mat cutter. If you are interested in this, do a search for "The Logan Cutter". The closest equivalent I see on their site (keep in mind, the one Mother Mary gave us is, as mentioned, seven years old to us, and older than that though we don't know how long ago the original owner acquired it) is the Logan 650-1, 655-1, 660-1: Framer's Edge Elite. Ours doesn't sport the fancy additions for lining up a mat or angles; we can cut right angles only (easily) with ours. The cutter head and track assembly is closest to this model. I suspect (from looking at their "Discontinued" page) that it is the Logan 600 Supreme Mat Cutter, which they discontinued in 1994. In any event, if one is going to be cutting a lot of mats (and I plan to be) and not wanting to pay someone else to do so (I will continue to do so for special order, at least until I get better at this), this is a Great Tool.

Now, the site states the company doesn't sell direct, so there are no prices listed. I did determine there are five places 'local' to us (as in within 25-35 kilometres). I can tell you, though, don't need to know the price to tell you Mother Mary's gift is Very Significant.

Now, time to go Feed the Ranch then load up to go set up the Studio 318 Booth Pavilion. If y'all are within driving distance of Kanapaha Botanical Gardens, come on over tomorrow or Sunday March 24-25 and enjoy the Spring Garden Festival. Oh, and look us up at Booth 138. Studio 318.

September 2015

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