Sunday, November 25, 2007

Sunday and It's Not Sunny

Coffee in the Denver skyline mug, the whisper of air from the furnace blowing up through the vents for music. It is really quiet this morning. Jessie had a sleepover at a friend's house and Gramma is still asleep. This is what it will feel like everyday when it's just Dave and me and the laptops... And then the dogs come in from outdoors and chaos reigns anew. For a Spaniel, Baxter is such a hound!

I began the day by limbering up my fingers knitting a few rows on the coat I am making for Jessie. Now they fly over the keyboard as I do this post--the warm-up for writing two articles and class descriptions. For the latter I think I'll start with the how-to's of mica, my version of pot melts, screen melts, variations on pattern bars, working thick with frit and chunk, and maybe pulling kiln stringer.

But the articles are for the spring issues of magazines, and spring seems so far away. The classes offerings are for next year too, next year summer and fall most likely. Of immediate, pressing, right-now interest are the changes I am going to make to my display for the One of a Kind Show that is, oh, Next Week!

This is a retail show, the only one I still do, so most of my planning has to be completely different than it is for a wholesale show. Sure, big wholesale (order) shows and retail shows have some things in common, but they are more different than alike. The one thing I can count on for every show is that my display needs to grab the attention of the passers-by in the 18 seconds or so that I will get from them before they look on to the next booth. For this show especially, if I haven't caught them in that amount of time I won't get them all. It's a huge show packed with other artists with eye-catching, gorgeous displays and there just isn't time for people to walk the floor twice (i.e., come back).

The wholesale shows are even bigger, but the buyers who attend them are, in some sense, professional shoppers. I think they train for the shows like runners train for a marathon. It takes real endurance to walk a show floor and evaluate the work of some 1500 artists. At the BMAC it's common for someone stop by the booth, look around, say they'll be back to place an order, and actually come back and order. At the One of a Kind Show last year (when the number of artists displaying jumped dramatically), I would hear "I'll be back", and I'd know I wasn't talking to Arnold Schwarzenegger. The average retail shopper just doesn't have the stamina or the ability to resist being completely overwhelmed by the sensory input so get them the first time by or don't get them at all.

So lots of light, open space (a strong body of work is good, clutter is bad), bright colors, check. That's the easy part. I winnowed down the numbers of both the series and the colorways within the series that I am taking this year. In previous years I've taken Morceaux de Verre, Pop Art, Frit Painting, Morceaux de Verre, and boxes--a little bit of everything. But this year I am going to focus on the bell curve, the 80/20 of it all, to maximize sales. Sure, there'll be someone who comes up and asks where are the boxes or the Pop Art pieces--he saw one last year and really wants to buy it now--whatever.

At a wholesale show it's good to have one of everything you do (though last year I still cut all the series except Morceaux de Verre for those too) because buyers see the one piece and place orders. At a retail show I actually want all the pieces I take there to sell there so I really need to take the most popular pieces and lots of each of them. Figuring out which pieces to take was the angst of a week ago.

This week's angst is how to store all the back-ups in the booth so they are readily accessible and the booth remains uncluttered. Oh yes, and the display doesn't weigh too much or take up too much space in the min-van. I am thinking the plastic utility shelving at Home Depot is the answer. Last year I did the wire-rack shelving I use in the studio. It's great for size, but it's really, really heavy and I think it's overkill for a four-day show.

I also have to figure out packaging. I started many years ago with recycled grocery bags, then moved up to purchased paper shopping bags, then frosted plastic shopping bags and bubble wrap, and this year I think I need to add cardboard boxes for the pieces on stands. Storing all of the packing materials takes space too (and the fire marshal frowns on flammables in the booth). Oh yes, and the wall pieces (lattice and tree) all have their own wooden boxes. Those I am going to have to put in the back-stock area as I just can't see having room for them in the booth.

But the day is awasting (and the child is home). Guess I'll keep mulling it over as I put in three more kiln loads (and then get writing!).


Bill Paley said...

Are you bringing your assistant to this show? Or will your assistant be back in the shop, making more for you?

Brenda Griffith said...

My assistant for this show is my Mom. The main reason she is visiting us now is because I begged her to come to Chicago with me again this year to be my assistant for this show. And no, while I'm gone Stacy won't be making more work for me. We talked a bit about that very topic last week and for the foreseeable future I will continue to make all of my work myself. For me that's what handmade by the artist means. I can't see ever being a Dale Chihuly (in so many ways!).