Monday, October 27, 2008

Another Great Opportunity for Artists!

Good Morning!
As a new Artist and one who doesn't feel comfortable with the Gallery scene, I am always looking for new opportunities to promote my work and get it in front of the public. While in Maine and searching the net I found a wonderful website for Artists, Galleries and Collectors alike that offers a terrific opportunity for Artists to promote themselves and best of all, it's Free! The website is called Fine Art America and by clicking this link you will be brought to my personal file on the site but can also navigate away from it to check it out. You will find that it is very user friendly and the only difficulty I have had with it was while adding photos of my work to the site. It offers a number of "artist specialties" to classify your work in, and gives the impression that you can choose more than one and although I did that, I can not really see that all of the pieces ended up in all categories. This may be user error on my part or I just am not familiar enough yet with the site to be able to find them all. Regardless of this little frustration the site seems very worthwhile.

Each Artist has a profile page, can download as many as 50 photos of their work, can list events they will participate in which will show up on the website calendar, can list Galleries that you are associated with, and of special interest to the business part of me, the site gathers information about the photos that web visitors have viewed and sends you emails regarding any comments visitors might make about your work. In addition you can create a blog connected with this site. Since I already have one, I have instead created a link to this one. For anyone who sells prints of their work, the site offers a paid membership for prints on demand where buyers can purchase direct from the site. They do not at this time offer the purchase of original artwork but you can list your artwork for sale with prices and photos in your gallery and buyers can then contact you directly if they are interested in your work.

After being a member for just a few days I was totally amazed at how many hits I have had of the different pieces I have downloaded. I realize it has been less than a week since I joined and that they feature new artists that join each day. Perhaps my hits will go down after the initial push, but I still got more hits than I would have elsewhere and look forward to seeing how it all progresses.

I recommend Fine Art America to any artists looking for more exposure. It will only cost a bit of time and you never know where it will lead....

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Fryeburg Fair Fiber Center 2008 - personal report

Fryeburg Fair 2008 was very successful for me this year! I went into the fair with concern for the state of the economy. Not only has gasoline and fuel oil been running at an all time high, the real estate, stock market and financial industry have landed a blow that will take us all years to overcome!
The weather during the first two days of the fair created a pretty dismal fair opening with attendance being way down. It was unclear during those first days how the economy was affecting traffic and sales but by the end of monday, I was certain that fair week would not match those of the past years.
To my amazement, as the week progressed traffic flow picked up and days that historically were slow reached record and near record numbers. People were coming and people were spending! I can only speak for myself in this however from what I experienced during the week, it seemed that people were willing to spend money on practical purchases. Sales for wearable items and gift items as well as gloves, mittens, hats & scarves on the cold days sold very well and beyond my prediction given the economic situation.
I did experience a slow down in two of my most expensive items that I historically sell out of. Based on comments and body language, I believe that those sales were affected by their price. Though they are great values and less than they can be purchased for elsewhere, they are items that retail for over $100 and in spite of their popularity and people taking notice of them, I did not sell out as usual.
The other bright spot for me was Hairlock Painting sales! As the guest artist last year, I did not have the luxury of being with or near the work to experience peoples comments about it. This year I added a display that allowed me to show my work in my space allowing interaction with fairgoers and being able to hear and see their reactions to my work. That was very rewarding! I continually hear comments such as "I've never seen anything like it before.... This is beautiful work... How do you do this, it's amazing!" All music to an artists ears :-)
Rumor in the Fiber Center was that Art sales were not up to par this year. I believe that is because people are reigning in their expenditures and purchasing fewer luxuries and fringe items than they have in other years. Though I did not sell as many art pieces as I did last year, I was very happy with the sales I did have especially knowing that the people who bought them absolutely love them!
Additionally, I experimented with Wire & Fiber earrings that I have been creating. My space is very small for the amount of merchandies that I show there but I managed to find a hole and brought a small quantity to test the waters with. I was very please with the results. I had a number of different styles and was surprised that two of my favorites did not sell at all but I had a total of six styles and sold out of several of them. I priced them very modestly at $12US a pair for two reasons. First, this is all new for me and I really wanted to get some sales activity as a test for design purposes. Secondly, again because this is new for me, I did not want to invest in Sterling or fine metals at this stage. I had no idea if they would be well received and did not want to invest too much in materials that may never be used or be wasted while creating. It turns out that I wasted little. This is good because one of my pet peeves is waste and I am a great recycler, reuser, and thrift store shopper. I hate to waste anything! SoI learned alot and am encouraged by the results as well!

So in all and in the end, Fryeburg Fair has been another successful story for me! It is also a bittersweet event. I put in hours of work for my own preperation as well as many more for management of the building. Many 12-16 hour days are lived for days before, during and after to see it through. Additionally, I spend many hours thoughout the year organizing and working on the Fiber Center program. I love it and will not be ready to give it up for a while but as much as I love to see it come, I also love to see it go by. So now I take a breath and begin to make the journey for next year!

In the mean time, the Bermuda Fiber Festival which I organize has begun registration and I will be busy seeing that event through in early December!

More later!
Until then...
Thank you for reading :-)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Fryeburg Fiber Center 2008 Exhibition Review

As I prepare to return to Bermuda for the winter, I find myself with a bit of time to create a post with a Fiber Center Fair report! Yeah! This can only mean that I have caught up for a moment.
No worries though, it will not last :-)

Fall of 2008 will go down in history as a challenging time for many people on many levels! Beginning with the state of our country's economy and the questionable weather in the first few days of the fair we began on shaky ground though ended with a good year for most. Good news, all things considered.....

I will focus this post on The Gallery portion of the Fiber center. Watch for subsequent posts regarding my own fair experience soon!

Julie Yarbrough was our Guest Artist for this year and Julie delivered an incredibly diverse body of work that explored a complete spectrum of emotions ranging from her usual whimsy to a more traditional side that I had never seen in the work that she has exhibited at Fryeburg before. Included were needle felted busts and wall hangings of interesting characters with a depth that brought their images to life as her pieces always do but she went beyond with needle felted fish inspired from her teaching Fiber Arts last year at the Bermuda Fiber Festival.

What I was most struck by were her acrylic paintings and the range of expression captured within them. This of course was a Fiber show and keeping true to the form, Julie incorporated fabrics and fibers into her paintings. Subjects were diverse here as well. Though it was evident that the same artist created all pieces, the pieces moved through expressions ranging from a beautiful country roadside scene to abstracts that provoked thought and deeper meaning than what was evident on the surface.

Hanging Julie's work this year prompted some evolution of the Fiber Center's Gallery Exhibit. The quality and breadth of her work along with the availability of works by Susan Mills, Linda Whiting, Janet Goodwin and my own Hairlock Paintings TM, allowed us to raise the bar and required that we re-think our usual display materials. What we had been using in between the good stuff repeatedly for a few years as visual depictions of what the Fiber Center represents and as fillers for the white spaces were no longer acceptable for hanging alongside a professional body of work but more importantly, they were unnecessary. They served their purposes as adequate fillers in the past but we have now managed to foster and see development of the artists who participate in this event to a point of having a selection of Professional Artwork to hang each year. As a result, and given the materials and artwork that we had at hand for this immediate progression, the entire upper Gallery space at the Fiber Center was filled with gallery quality artwork!

We were rewarded with acceptance from our audience as having noticeably improved our appearance. Of course with that always comes the challenge for next year; Who will our 2009 Guest Artist be, and who will provide work to fill the space? It was suggested by Susan Mills, and briefly discussed as to how to proceed, and though no definite policies have been set in place, we are contemplating a rotation allowing the guest artist to exhibit the following year on the rear upper Gallery wall as spontaneously occurred this year with my own work. As the Fiber Artists who have been participating in this most incredible Fiber Event for so many years continue to grow and build their talents, it is my hope that it will reach a point that instead of having a difficult time accumulating quality work to show, that we have reached a point of having to jury, pick and choose from lots of work to put together future shows!

Each year I am amazed at how far we travel together on this journey and though the road sometimes takes it's toll, I remind myself to take a breath and look to the higher good. I believe we are on that path and I ask you to journey with us at the Fiber Center towards the future....