The Arts & Crafts Show: Gaslight Holiday Celebration 2014

***This post originally published December 7, 2014***

Yesterday I had the privilege of being a vendor at a local Christmas event!

It was my first arts and crafts show that I’ve sold my art at, and there was a lot of stress, tears, and fun getting prepared for the show. In just a couple short months, I had to design all of my displays, buy supplies for products, and most importantly, make the products! There were a lot of hiccups along the way, such as buying a new printer and having to run out the night before for bags because the ones I ordered are lost in shipping, but I think all the hard work paid off:

I had such a blast doing this show. I got to know some of the other vendors, meet other community members, and visit with customers.

It was an honor to hear that some of my products were being sent to family members for Christmas. One woman and her daughters picked out a few things to send to another sister who lives out of state. This is her first Christmas away from them, and they chose a handful of my things to send to her as a Christmas care package!

Another woman bought a set of my Reindeer note cards. Her sister or daughter (I talked to so many people it’s hard to keep all the stories straight…) is very picky about what Christmas card she is sent. She likes home made, original cards. The woman saw the Reindeer cards and was so happy to have finally found something to send! She was thrilled that they were blank on the inside as it meant more room to write a personal note.

I’m really happy with how the show went. I made a bunch of sales (including four custom orders!) and made some great contacts. My husband and I are seriously considering having me do a handful of shows a year, but right now I need to concentrate on getting some other projects finished up before I sign up for shows next year. The vendor next to me lives in town and offered to let me set up to sell at a big event our town has every fall, free of charge!

If I continue doing shows, I have some things I want to change, as well as a lot more to learn about how to sell successfully at events. I think that for starting out, this show was the perfect way to go!

Thank you all for your support and prayers while I was preparing; I couldn’t do this without my support system!

What is your favorite arts and crafts show to attend?

Attica Founders Day Booth and Update

Hey everyone!

Yesterday was my first outdoor festival, and I’m really happy with how everything turned out. The bumps in the road that I experienced all last week worked out in the end, the weather was absolutely perfect, my booth looked great, and I made some new contacts.

Before I get into any more detail about how the show went, I know a lot of you have been anxious to see the finished booth!

Remember my initial design sketch?

I think I came pretty close to creating that:

The jewelry displays turned out perfectly! They hung on chains that were anchored to the ground, and although there was a little bit of a breeze, when there were gusts of wind we didn’t have to worry about the boards going anywhere! The mirror was a great addition; a lot of customers appreciated being able to see how certain earrings or necklaces looked.

We had to do some tweaking with this back wall after awhile. The table was supposed to be farther left, but because of the extra oil painting display, there wasn’t room for both chairs on the right of the table. The print display ended up blocking the sign, so we moved it over to the right side of the back wall, and it looked much better there 🙂

The hanging displays for the originals worked out great! We’ll be doing some tweaking to them to make them better (especially for windy days), but for yesterday they were perfect.

Highlights of the day:

– One of my customers works in the framing department at the local Michael’s, and he really liked my work. He sees a lot of different things, so it was a huge compliment that he liked what I did!

– Meeting a lot of new people, and putting faces to names! Thank you to everyone who took the time to come visit, check out my booth, and chat with us!

– We were getting ready to pack up, and a woman came back who had visited earlier. She really wanted a necklace and was afraid she was going to miss getting back to us! That really encouraged me 🙂

– So many compliments on the booth, the art, and all the little details! So many people loved the cut outs on the jewelry and then the free gift boxes as well. Someone even commented that they loved how the purple shopping bags I had for carrying purchases matched the booth colors.

Hard parts of the day:

– This wasn’t during the day, but getting those note cards done was so stressful! My ink arrived early afternoon Friday, and I still didn’t know if the printer would work with the computer. During the kid’s rest time, I redid some of the note card designs on the computer, thinking maybe the files had corrupted or something along those lines. That afternoon, I went to work on printing, and not only did the note cards I redid print out beautifully, but all the other ones I had saved from before did too! We’re still not sure what the problem was, but hey, it’s working now and that’s all that matters!

– Packing the van so everything we’d need right away was up front and things we’d need last was farther behind. We didn’t know if we’d be able to park right by the tent or would have to walk far for unloading, so packing was something we took extra time to figure out in the morning. Everything fit, and it was super easy to unload, especially as we were able to park right behind tent 🙂

– This is a really really silly hard part, but it was definitely a struggle! We were situated behind the pulled pork guy, the reuben sandwich guy, AND the kettle corn guy! Anyone who knows me well enough knows that those three things are huge weaknesses for me. It was so hard to not go buy from them all day, but we had brought our own food, and didn’t want to spend our hard earned money from the festival on food. We ended up not purchasing food at the festival, but having the breeze blow the smells into the tent all day was almost torture!

Things I’ve learned or have to change for next time:

– Have more things at different price points. I hadn’t thought about this too much because at the last show I had the gift tags which were a nice low price. I didn’t have anything like that this time, so I’m not sure if that affected sales or not.

– Have a sale/discount. My husband volunteered his entire Saturday to come help me, and halfway to through the day he said next time maybe do something like get a necklace and earrings as a set for a certain price, or buy two prints get $5 off. I had thought about that before, but it slipped my mind.

– Have my giveaway sign be clearer, easier to read, and standing up! If I hadn’t been mentioning it, I don’t know if anyone would have really entered.

– Figure out how to anchor the original print displays for wind. They were blowing pretty good, and we were afraid the originals might fall off and break if the wind was any stronger. We’ll be replacing the nails with small L hooks as well so the pieces will be better secured.

Fun tidbits:

This festival was only my second show, but first outdoor show. It fell exactly six months after my first show! My displays have changed so much since then, and we’ll see how things change from here on out!

Questions:

When is your next show? Are you going to do AppleUmpkin?

I don’t know, and I don’t know. I need a break from shows right now to concentrate on some projects that have been held up while I’ve been prepping for Founders Day. I would love to do AppleUmpkin (our village/town’s big festival), and I had been offered a space from someone who lives just off the main road of the festival for free, and I need to touch base with her. If that is no longer an option, I need to get moving on getting an official application in as it’s due by the end of the month, if I decide to do it. It’s a bigger fee, more work for the application, and it’s two days instead of just one. As soon as I know my next event, I will let you all know 🙂

Thank you all for your support and encouragement the past couple of months while I was getting this all together, and for those of you that stopped by to see me yesterday! I can’t wait to get started on other projects tomorrow, so be looking for sneak peeks within the next few days over on Facebook!

It’s Crunch Time!

24 hours.

In just 24 short hours, I will be arriving in Attica to start setting up my booth for the festival on Saturday.

Am I ready?

Yes and no!

I’m getting really really excited about it. I’m very anxious and nervous that something will go wrong, but seeing all the months and hours of planning and designing and hard work come together is really awesome.

What we’ve gotten done since the last update:

– Booth tests are about complete! Everything is coming together nicely, and it looks AMAZING! Here’s a sneak peek:

– All the displays are built, even the one I decided I needed at the last minute.

Originally I was only going to have the two wooden displays hooked together for all the originals and just replace ones that sell with back up ones. However, I thought the oil painting overwhelmed the watercolors and didn’t flow nicely:

I quickly designed a new display, and we went out and grabbed supplies, and now we have an oil painting display!

– Necklaces are complete! Woo hoo!

– The tent is waterproofed (which is perfect as there’s a slight chance of rain on Saturday) and the tent weights are made. My boys and husband made them for me, and they’re perfect!

What is left to do:

– Finish up prints and note cards. I was able to make some prints last week, and they turned out great!

However, this week my computer and printer decided to stop playing nicely, all my settings have been changed (and are still off), and we’re waiting on one last ink tank to arrive today (cutting it too close, eek!) in hopes that I can get these done before Saturday morning. If I can’t, it will be okay, but the note cards are my biggest seller, and I’d love to have them available tomorrow.

– SLEEP! I’m having a hard time sleeping this week for various reasons, and I don’t want to go into Saturday exhausted.

– Pack up! I have to finish gathering the supplies (like tape, hammer, etc) and putting everything into plastic totes. After we drop the kids off in the morning with their grandparents, we can pack everything into the van. I hope it all fits! 🙂

Bumps along the way:

– A literal bump (and bruise!) would be my leg. The first day we did tent testing, the wind was CRAZY. It was shaking the tent sides so much that it caused the table to crash over into my leg not once but twice.

I decided the tables needed to be anchored not only for stability reasons but safety reasons as well, and they’re not going anywhere now!

– Technology. I have no idea what happened to my computer, and neither does my super smart husband. I have to print out of the Windows operating system (which we normally don’t use), so we’re not sure if it’s a bad Windows version or what. It makes me appreciate Linux (the operating system we do use) so much more! Note: next time buy a printer that doesn’t need Windows….

– The weather. Over the course of the week, the weather prediction has been all over the place. Originally it was going to be 85 with 80% chance of thunderstorms. The latest prediction is 67 and no rain, and I like that a lot better! We’ve made as many changes to the booth in anticipation for any kinds of weather, so we should be set no matter what happens.

Questions I’m getting:

Are you ready for this to be over?

Yes, but not in the way you’d think!

I’m looking forward to it being over so I can have my dining room back. Normally I store my art things in the basement, either in my office or studio, but as I’m testing the booth on a regular basis, I really don’t feel like carrying everything up and down the stairs a bunch of times. Maybe I’m lazy, but I don’t want my shoulder or back injuries to flare up before the show.

I’m also looking forward to working on the new projects I have lined up. They’re a combination of geek, epic and awesome, and I can’t wait to share them with you. Boathouse Mouse illustrations are also screaming my name, and I can’t wait to get back to working on them again!

If you’re in the area tomorrow, stop by and see me! The festival is from 11 am  – 5 pm at the Attica Veteran’s Memorial Park on Exchange Street. We’d love to see you!

Outdoor Booth Progress Update

It’s hard to believe that my first outdoor festival is less than a month away! I’ve been really busy the past couple of weeks researching how I wanted to display everything, ordering the supplies, and finally starting to put things together.

Here’s what I have managed to complete:

I bought all the fabrics for my signs, displays, and table runners. I happened to find all the fabric I needed/wanted either on the clearance table or on sale, and then had a coupon that covered all the fabric!

I ordered the tables for my booth. I went back and forth about what size I wanted, and ended up going with three 4 foot long ones. I wanted my booth to feel as spacious as possible and be able to rearrange my booth as needed. Because I am hanging a lot of my products on the walls, I was able to get away with the smaller tables. Finding them on sale was a huge bonus, and then having them fold in half for easy storage was even better! They can be adjusted in height; I think I’m going to use the counter top height for the booth.

My cat claimed the table boxes; he was very upset with me when I eventually unpacked them:

And my youngest loved using them as a fort to play with while I was deciding which height I liked best:

I ordered tablecloths. I was planning on making these as the wrinkle resistant ones were so expensive. However, I found some on Amazon for a great price! They just came today and although they’re wrinkled from the packaging, I think they’ll be perfect. They’re a bit bigger than I thought, so if I decide I need a bigger table at any point, I should be okay with the tablecloths I have now.

I’ve started making the jewelry displays. I knew I wanted them to hang on ribbon inside of a frame, but couldn’t find any frames I liked in the size I wanted within my budget. I decided to go buy moulding and make my own, but I found great sized bulletin boards at our church’s garage sale!

Thankfullly I found a tutorial on Pinterest that helped me figure out how to take the frames off of the corkboard, because man, these frames were put together very well and took forever to take apart.

I found some white sparkly fabric that I thought would be a great backdrop for the jewelry and painted the frames black. I think they look fantastic! Now to make more earrings as my inventory is quickly disappearing!

What I still have left to do:

Make my original art work display board. I finally decided on what I’m going to do for those, and we just bought the supplies this past weekend. My hubby will be cutting the boards to size for me this weekend, and then I can get moving on getting those finished!

Waterproof my tent. This isn’t completely necessary as my tent is water resistant, but I don’t want to take a chance on ruining my products!

Make tent weights. I could have ordered these, but they really are expensive. We’re making them instead, and once the PVC pipe is cut to size, I’ll be able to get those made up in an afternoon.

Make more products! Paper for prints and ink for my printer are arriving today/Monday, so I’ll get those made up quick. I have to make note cards and more earrings still. I also have an original piece that is so close to completion, and I want to try and get that finished up if at all possible.

Finally finish the necklaces. If you follow me on Facebook, you know I’ve been having trouble with them. The first chains I bought tarnished within a day or two of being out of their packaging. The next chains I bought were too big and bulky for the pendants. They look fine in this picture, but in person, they really detract from the pendants:

We just bought new chain, but now the clasps I have for making them into necklaces are too big for the chain. I’ll be grabbing those this weekend sometime, and hope to have them finished for good early next week.

Finish buying supplies. I don’t think I need that much, just a chair for sitting during the festival, a dolly/hand cart for carting things back and forth for set up and take down, waterproof spray for the tent, and bungee cords. I’m sure I’m missing a bunch of things, but I won’t know for sure until I do the first test run of getting the tent set up, which will hopefully happen sometime this week.

Make my signs for the booth. I’m making a banner for the front of the tent, and then a big one for the back wall of the booth. I was going to have them made for me, but they were just too far out of my budget to justify it.

Things I’m learning:

Doing outdoor festivals is not cheap. I’m making sure that I am sticking to a budget and trying to get sales or use coupons whenever possible, but it’s definitely more expensive than I thought.

Be flexible knowing that things will probably change with booth designs and displays. I know this is going to be a learning process and that I’ll be changing my displays regularly, but I want to make sure that what I have now can be used in multiple different ways and looks great while I’m figuring this all out. Being on a budget makes it harder, but I refuse to go into debt for this!

All of this work is mostly a one time thing. For my next outdoor show, I’ll just have to tweak designs and make sure I have enough products as I’ll already have my tent, tables, and displays. The frustration and stress I’m dealing with now is almost over, and shouldn’t be this bad again.

I’ll be updating more once things get farther into completion. June 6th is coming up waaaaay too quick!

Designing A Booth

My canopy for doing art and craft fairs will arrive this week! It was supposed to arrive yesterday, but during it’s long journey from Tennessee, it encountered two storms over the past week, which delayed the delivery.

Now I really need to get serious about designing my booth and figuring out layout, displays, color schemes, product placement….there’s so much to do!

Here is my super quick design so far:

Here’s what I definitely need:

– Tables

In my research, someone recommended these from Target. I was thinking about two of them for now, one for the newsletter sign up, business cards, giveaway, and portfolio to sit on underneath the framed art, and the other one to go towards the back of the tent for the prints, note cards, and check out. I’ll also need table space for when the Boathouse Mouse books are available (YAY!), so the tables need to be big enough for flexibility with my products.

I’d also like a smaller one to go under the jewelry display. I haven’t decided if all of the jewelry will hang, if the mirror will hang, or if anything will be on display racks on the table. I’ve seen collapsible bookcases, so maybe one of those with a tablecloth on it would work for this. I also have a white table about the size I’m looking for that our piano keyboard sits on…it’d need some repainting, but it would work great for this!

– Tablecloths

I definitely want a nice gray color; nothing too dark like charcoal, but a nice medium color, maybe like graphite. I found a tutorial making them out of bedsheets, and even found sheets at Wal-Mart that would work, but I’m afraid they’d still look like bedsheets once I sew them up. I don’t want to buy them pre-made as they’re so expensive, and sewing them really doesn’t take a lot of time or effort.

I’m planning on getting more fabric that matches the runner I used for the show I did in December (you can see a little bit of it below in the jewelry display section). It’s a great mixture of purple, blue and gray, all colors I use for my business. I hope I can still find it!

– A sign with the business name on it

Goodness, there are so many opinions on this one: do you just put one outside the tent along the top? Just inside on the back wall? Both places?

I definitely need at least one sign. Banners are expensive, so I’m thinking about making my own. I definitely want one on the inside, and was thinking about having it be on white or light gray fabric or board in a black frame with blue fabric draped behind it similar to this:

For outside the booth, I’m not sure exactly what I’m thinking, other than it would have to be long and narrow. I think I might have one professionally made so it will stand up to wind and rain as needed.

– Jewelry displays

For the show in December, I used fabric covered cork board in a frame with straight pins to hang the earring papers on, and also had other earrings in a bin:

I didn’t really care for the display, but it was quick and easy to do at the last minute. I really like the idea of having frames echo along each wall as I’m an artist, so doing a couple big frames with ribbon like this might be nice:

Or I could do smaller ones on the table and have a framed mirror hanging above them. I should definitely get a mirror though; either a framed one for hanging on the wall or a tabletop one. Thoughts?

– Displays for my framed originals

I really really liked these:

They’re priced great, looked sturdy, and if necessary I could attach them to posts or the top of my tent for extra stability. However, the shipping is ridiculously expensive and more than doubled the cost of them.

Then I found a tutorial for making something similar. I’m not sure about the fabric covering them; I’d spray paint the metal wire white, but am afraid it would look cheap. Jury’s still out on what exactly I’ll do for display racks, but I definitely want them on the wall instead of table top.

Things that would be fun but not necessary:

– A tall camping chair or collapsible stool

Everything has to fit in the back of my fan, so portability is a must. Some of these fairs are all day events, so I’m going to want to sit at times. I do have a tall stool with a back that I could bring, but it is bulky. I have camping chairs that I can borrow, but they’re so low. I want to be able to see customers and look approachable, so hiding behind a table isn’t always the best option.

– An indoor/outdoor rug

Apparently it’s been found that if you have a rug in your booth, it’s more homey and people tend to spend more time in your booth, causing sales to go up. Who woulda thunk it?

I’m totally in love with this one, but the price is waaaay out of my budget:

I’ve found cheaper ones (for less than $20!) in a dark gray, and I could always paint a design on them similar to the one above. That would also be a nice option because if it gets ruined on a really muddy day, I won’t mind quite as much if it doesn’t get clean and I have to replace it. However, this isn’t a necessity, just something else that makes the booth feel pretty.

– A hand truck or dolly

This may have to go to the need list. If I have to park far away from where my tent is, there is no way I’m going to want to have to carry everything, especially with my bad back and in the summer heat.

Am I missing anything? Any suggestions for improvements to the booth?

Q&A: Special Orders

***This was first posted on my website, http://www.backtothedrawingboardart.com on December 31, 2014. We are in the process of getting this blog and the website blog synced, so please bear with us as we get the bugs worked out!

Hey everyone! I’m kicking off a new series today, answering some of the many questions I’m asked on a regular basis. Today’s topic is special orders…

What is the difference between a special order and a commission? Aren’t they the same thing?

A special order would be when someone likes one of my pieces, but would like it either in a different size or as a different product. For example, at the art show, someone loved my Nativity print and asked if they could get it as note cards. Another person asked if they could get my Cardinal print as gift tags. These may turn into regular products eventually, but for right now they’re just requests. A commission is when you have an idea in mind that you’d like drawn/painted, and then commission me to make it into a piece of art. Commissions are the next Q&A topic, so look for more specific answers on those in the next week or two 🙂

Does it cost any extra for a special order?

There is no additional fee for a special order. You only pay for the cost of the product!

How do I request a special order?

Email me at shawnaapps@gmail.com or message me on Facebook at any time!

Can anything be made into another product?

At this time, no. There are a couple prints that aren’t working very well as note cards. However, I’m working on on editing them so they transfer over nicely, and hope to eventually have any piece be available as any product that I currently stock.

Thank you to everyone who’ve been asking questions; it’s helping me to fine tune and make things easier and better for you!

Do you have any questions for me? Upcoming topics include commissions and new upcoming products!