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the Art fair

April 13, 2012

The room is different this year – it’s the lack of the smell of pizza, but there’s also a buzzing in the room. They’ve always invited the public, but this year, it seems the public came. The room is nearly full. Chairs face every which direction because there’s a screen on every wall in this tech- savvy classroom- unlike the library from last year where the internet failed to work and we were left with a rain-check on viewing images. (Not that I didn’t get to view the images last year, no, the Prez herself invited me to her house so I could get the full effect, and I happily partook). Yes, the vibe is indeed different, but I’m happy to be here.

This year the 4th Street Festival Public Screening of Images took place in the Informatics Building on IU campus, and I was there, I am here, right now, watching images of art scan by me as I type (so forgive the typos, because I’m not watching my screen) and listening to the almost absent, but still slightly there, running commentary on the beautiful, one of a kind, sometimes stunning, other times outrageous art that the world has to offer. Yes, the world, because people from ALL over apply to this show- this amazing show that’s in the heart of the place that I get to call home.

Thus far we’ve viewed wood (spoons, bowls, cutting boards, furniture and the occasional box), surface decoration (on clothing, plates, and mosaics), sculpture (that is so far beyond my knowledge I can’t nutshell it) and we’re now onto photography (are largest category yet at 54 applicants – just wait folks, we haven’t hit jewelry or pottery – both of which have two separate categories.

It’s interesting what I’ve learned so far. Last year my main goal was to see my competition (I didn’t get in, so they obviously ‘won’) and this year it’s more about learning – how to take a photo, how to set up my booth shot, what photos to submit, etc etc. This art show thing is just so different from both the indie craft circuit and Etsy (where my online shop is of course) that in order to do it well you have to think of it in a whole different way.

For instance – photos. For Etsy, my photos are all on stark white backgrounds and that works for me. It works for Etsy. That’s how I manage to make it to the front page and I’m included in a few treasuries here and there. Etsy likes there modern white backgrounds. But art shows? No, not really. And I know why. Or at least partially why. When viewing these images on a large hi-def screen those with white backgrounds hurt your eyes, the white glares at you and takes away from the object itself. Instead, most artists use either a gray gradient background (most potters) or a textured background of color. While there are a few artists that use the stark white, I think for next year I need to take the extra step and photograph four pieces with a gradient background. Or at least try it out. It couldn’t hurt right?

Secondly, the all-important booth shot. I’m not entirely sure how important the booth shot is, but I imagine it has some influence. If you have a crappy booth they aren’t going to want you littering their pretty show with it. It has to fit in. There has to be some cohesion. I don’t see them allowing many artists in that simply have a covered table. I’ve been to the fair- most of the artists have grid walls or side walls of some sort and barely any have silly old tables. Whereas, at an indie craft fair it’s all tables and shelves; there are no sidewalls, there are no mass-produced grid walls that the guy next to you has. What there are are original methods of display that range from dangling earrings from pussy willow to using vintage suitcases to upcyling old letterpress drawers into display boxes. But you have to play the game. And so I will. I’ll play that game. But that means setting up a whole new booth with only leather, with a colored backdrop because the white tent walls are awful, and perhaps a floor covering as well. That means tables need to be questioned, but as a book maker tables seem necessary, so, I have a year to rethink this and what it means for me. I think the booth shot could be the deciding factor in the end- between two similar artists – a booth shot could be what makes you or breaks you if you think about it. It’s all about how you package yourself, how it all flows together, and a booth shot illustrates that exact point . . .

And so we’re onto watercolor, and the beauty just continues. It’s a shame we don’t know who the artists are because I’d certainly Love to look up a few of them – especially the printmakers. I can’t wait then, instead, to visit the Fair this year and see who made it in from what I’ve seen, and who didn’t.

While I really hoped I would get into the show this year, I’m holding no expectations because I know I still have so much more to learn and grow, but I appreciate the opportunity  to view these images and grow from them, and meet and socialize with the people on the committee that help to run the show. Maybe someday I’ll be sitting behind a table jurying myself, or helping  to organize the show – you just never know. But someday, someday I will have a tent on 4th Street on Labor Day weekend and I’ll be selling my wares with the rest of them.

One Comment leave one →
  1. April 13, 2012 3:02 pm

    I am so ticked that I missed this! I’ve been fishing around for a “what next” move. My price points are too high for most of the shows that I do and I had my eye on 4th St…and I missed the deadline. Someday…..

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