Artomatic@Frederick 2016 is officially over. As with every show, I go through a variety of emotions afterwards. This year, those emotions are very mixed. Ok, technically they’re mostly bad but I’m try to apply logic & reason so I end up with mixed emotions. Whether good or bad, I always analyze the way I did things because I’m always looking for ways to improve.
This show was my 7th Artomatic event, and my third Artomatic@Frederick. At this show I had 2 walls. My main wall was in building 117, room 22 on the main floor. The second wall was an installation piece in the basement I did on a lark. I had a specific goal for this show.**
How Did I Do?
To be perfectly honest, not well. From my main wall I sold 7 pieces (I had 40 pieces on display) and had one commission. I sold my entire installation piece & have commissions to recreate it two more times. By comparison, I sold 16 pieces in 2013, and 13 in 2011. At both shows my space was smaller so I didn’t have as much art.
Why Did I Do So Poorly?
My space. Normally I think this argument is a cop-out, a big fat excuse. In this case, it really was the space – and not just mine. If you were in building 117, you more than likely had the same problem. The air conditioner broke and the room I was in became unbearable. Literally unbearable. One of my roommates had people comment in her book that they wanted to stay longer but the heat was too much. I was there the last day of the show for the Off the Wall event. It was miserable before the sun hit the windows, but once it did I was drenched in sweat just sitting in a chair (I was not in the sun btw). People came & left our room without even looking at all 6 displays because it was too hot (which they told us, frequently). Extreme heat (or cold) is not good for sales.
I want to be clear on something: this was not Artomatic@Frederick’s fault. They don’t own the building and A/C repair can be insanely costly on a commercial building. Part of the ‘Artomatic Experience’ is dealing with the often sub-optimal buildings the shows are held in. In other words: such is life.
The Plus Side
I received the two awesome comments on the last day of the show. A client who purchased art from AOM 2015 told me the best part of the transaction was the way I packaged her piece. She bought a smaller piece so I wrapped it in tissue paper & placed it in a box tied with string. Attached to the string was a thank you card. She said it was like getting a present and made the experience fun. She also told me that she, her mother, & another friend read my blog posts and took my advice to heart. Each was an exhibiting artist at this year’s show. It was super-motivating to hear!
Also, I sold a total of 8 pieces with 3 commissions. While it wasn’t my best performance, and I brought home a lot more art than I hoped, I’m not going to disparage my sales. I sold art. That is always always always a good thing and something I’m extremely grateful for!
The Quick Guide to Doing A Post-Show Performance Review
Regardless of whether I well or poorly at a show I always analyze my performance. I can’t improve unless I understand where my weaknesses are. If I don’t understand my strengths, I can’t play to them. I realize that not all artists do this & may not know where to begin. Don’t worry, here’s a handy list of some of the things I consider:
1. I review all my communications with my clients (whether they purchased or not).
How awkward was I (answer: very)? Was my tone off (answer: probably)? Did I remember to suggest they sign up for my newsletter (answer: lol, no, dammit)?
2. I review my website stats in Google Analytics (having a real website is vital for a self-produced artist!).
What were my good days? What time(s) were the peak times? How many times did my server go down (a recent issue sadly)? Did anyone share any content from the site? If yes, what did they share? Where did the traffic come from (this is important in differentiating between Artomatic traffic & traffic from other places. Tip: Artomatic traffic is almost always “direct”)?
3. I review my social media performance.
How many followers did I gain on Facebook, Twitter, etc? How could I have engaged with my clients more? What could I have done to get more followers / likes / favorites?
4. Who did I sell to?
Did I only sell to people I know or did I sell to entirely new clients? Were any of them repeat clients?
4. When clients picked up their work, did I present it properly?
Did I make sure to include a business card with the thank you card? Is there anything else I could have done to make the transaction more memorable or better? Was I weirdly awkward during the exchange (answer: probably)?
5. I review the photo I took of my wall / display.
Is there anything I could change? Was the spacing OK (remember, I’m a self-produced artist, not a gallery artist)? Were the labels too big or too small? Was my signage visible? Was the signage too big or too small?
6. Did I notice another artist doing something well?
Did you see a sign style you liked? Did they package their art well? Did they design their space in an innovative way? How did they put their business cards out? There’s no shame in copying a sales technique or strategy. Just don’t make it a carbon-copy.
The point of doing the review is to see where I can improve & to make a plan to do so. Put your plan in writing and post it somewhere you will see it. Artomatic’s don’t happen that often but the lessons learned can apply to many other types of shows. Don’t let lessons slip through your fingers.
For Artomatic@Frederick 2016, I made several changes to my display based on my Artomatic 2015 performance review. One the big changes was to my smaller signage. Normally I have two signs above my table. One outlines how to purchase & the second is my bio. This year I revised the bio to make it much shorter. Then I added links to all my social media accounts, my website, & blog. People could photograph the image & have all my links in one image. Did it help? I’m still sorting through that but given the issues with the room I was in, it will be hard to tell. I’m going to stick with it for the next show since social media is becoming a much larger part of my marketing efforts.
If you aren’t doing post-show reviews, you should. In order to consistently improve your ability to sell art, be it in person or online, you need to understand your strengths & weaknesses. Without a proper review, you’re guessing and you might be guessing wrong. You could be unnecessarily demoralizing yourself when you should be building yourself up. Learning to sell art is a skill that you develop overtime. Without understanding what you’re doing well & what you aren’t, you can’t improve.
** I’m not a typical artist. I’m a self-produced artist, not a gallery artist. I work with a lot of self-imposed constraints. I work with a mission statement (Unique Affordable Art is not just a tag line). My work MUST be under $200. I MUST create work that anyone can replicate relatively easily. This is my ‘thing’ for reasons that would be too long to explain here. However, after 8 years of just ‘playing’ I’ve decided to narrow my focus a bit. I’ve retired several themes / mediums so my plan for Artomatic@Frederick was to sell through the old stuff. I significantly reduced the prices of a lot of my work to encourage people to buy. I was extra careful with my site selection. Best laid plans and all that, as it turned out.