A white Russian made with coffee creamer in a water glass (thanks John :-), the hum of the heating system for my background music. Dee, Todd and John have all gone out for a drink without me. I stayed tucked virtuously up in bed to crunch sales numbers and to post.
Like the front of the new business card shown at right? I designed it during a spare minute in the booth today. The picture (also taken in the booth today) is a detail shot of the new large steel and glass collaborative piece I have with Black Cat ArtWorks. The stand depicts two peacock feathers and it cradles a 20" round glass panel. The glass is the new peacock colorway I created especially for this stand. I think it might be my best colorway yet. The back of the business card has all the contact info in a font large enough to read without reading glasses... Yeah, I'm getting old.
So about the show. In a nutshell, it's a Chinese curse personified: We all find ourselves, indeed, living in interesting times--both short-term and long-term.
The weather has played havoc with exhibitors and buyers alike to the extent that if you're here, you really worked hard to Make It So. A not unexpected outcome of that reality is that there are far fewer buyers than I have ever seen at a February show--you could practically bowl in the aisles. That said, the buyers who are here are writing orders--the aisles are empty because the buyers are not window shopping, they're in the booths buying. In direct contrast to last winter when the glass artists languished uncourted, today when I walked from glass back to inspired interiors, the aisle was empty, but for four booths straight on each side of the aisle there were artists taking orders. I'd trade empty aisles for serious writers any day.
I am also seeing a more traditional customer base in my buyers than I did for either of the BMAC shows last year. By the end of the summer show, I was really concerned that the Buyer's Market was devolving into a regional show from a strong national one. This winter the buyers are lean, mean, and national. They are the survivors and they know it. While I am seeing a few fresh faces filled with the shiny, dewy optimism of new gallery owners, I am seeing far more lined, gaunt, experienced, but determinedly forward-looking visages. They are decisive and strong--and they are good business people. I am confident that they will be reordering because they know their demographic and if they're ordering it's because they are confident of selling--this is not a let-me-try-one-of-these-to-see-if-it-goes market.
The orders I'm getting are also radically different than those of last winter. This show my average order size (admittedly with only two days of data) has doubled from last year bringing it back in line with the 2008 winter figures. The new display is also netting me positive results: sales of my glass (as opposed to joint work--steel, aluminum and blown glass--with Bill and Elaine, Todd and Lee) are up 10% overall--in spite of adding the new joint work with Lee (roll-ups and paperweights). For overall sales totals, I am already within $1,000 of my total sales for winter 2009--and there are still two days of the show left.
I'm interested to see (and hopeful) how the next two days will pan out. Sometimes it's not over till it's over and the 2:55 pm order on Monday saves the show, sometimes it's over after the first flash with Sunday and Monday being empty yawners, and sometimes, just sometimes, it starts as it means to go on and stays steady and true for the duration. Here's hoping for the last option.
In spite of being a show fraught with interesting times--or maybe because of it--it has also been an incredibly fun show. I have schmoozed, eaten and drunk with more artists and buyers than usual and the conversation has been intense, positive, driven--and alive. Is it the triumph over nature and getting here despite the snow, or is it the adrenaline engendered by the proximity of the recent apocalypse in Haiti, or is it maybe just still standing after (during) the on-going economic turmoil that has filled us with a vibrant, electric energy and a surging awareness of being alive. I don't know. Maybe for me it's just that I've had coffee for the past two days and my body has gone into energy overdrive. I don't think so. For me, I think it's a bit of all of the above. As I was packing up and getting on the road on Tuesday, Lee (who has only worked with me since this past summer) looked at me and marveled aloud that I am one of the most resilient people he knows. That's what we all are, those of us who are here.
Let me close by telling you again about the nature of the craft business. The natural condition is one of insurmountable obstacles on the road to imminent disaster. So what do we do? Nothing. Strangely enough, it all turns out well. How? I don't know. It's a mystery.