Thursday, August 6, 2009

Mosaic business and recycled art

A couple of weeks ago, I was a vendor at Cracked Pots Recycled Garden Art Festival, which takes place at The Edgefield in Troutdale, OR each summer. The grounds are filled with about 80 artists working with salvaged materials, and all items must be weatherproof. Last year was my first year, and I was shocked at how enthusiastic the crowd was. They came in droves, on two weekdays, and spent good money. I was excited to keep going each year, also because The Edgefield is a great place to stay, so it allows us to have a family vacation (though I am working most of the time.)

This past year, my time was absorbed by two large commissions, and I finished the major one in June, so I had little time to create smaller, affordable items for this festival. However, I did manage to pump out quite a few small things during the prior month, such as small pots, lanterns and garden plaques. These are more "craft" than "art" and are not the best use of my creative energy, but I hoped to come home with a nice deposit.

However, the crowd was much more conservative with their money this year. I sold about half the amount as the year before. People did not even buy many of the $20 items that I expected to sell out. I realized that, while I enjoy the festival, and the sales paid for the trip, I don't want to do more like it. I canceled on another recycled art festival in Eugene coming up later this month. By the time I paid for hotel and gas, I'd probably lose money, and I'd rather spend my time in other ways.

Since coming home, I've been focusing on mosaics that are high quality, with a lot of thought put into the design and execution. They are modest in size, but I am very pleased with the results so far. I'm working on a series titled "Memory of Ice" that will be an homage to the glaciers that sustain our planet, and which are in jeopardy at this time. I'm excited about my new work, and I feel fulfilled by it. So, I hope to find a high-end art festival to apply to, and hoping I will be accepted. It is a big investment. Booth fees are incredible, then there's the booth to put together, and all promo materials. But the pay off could be substantial.

Meanwhile, I have a meeting with a new pediatric office later in the month for an installation. I need to do a better job of self-promotion. It's a huge shortfall for me. I feel redirected right now, and I'm looking forward to getting out to the studio in a bit.