On the table, I set out a big bowl of fortune cookies---images of them appear in almost every painting in this series, so I thought it would be fun to offer them to the partygoers. I didn't guess how enthusiastic people would be at the opportunity to eat as many fortune cookies as they wanted----all were cracked open and eaten in the first hour!
Rather than set out a comment book----usually a blank book where visitors can write things----I set out a three ring binder with my artist resume, artist statement on the series of paintings, pictures of my studio and 'action shots' of working on various paintings. Also, I include a lot of very good photos of past work with dimensions, materials and prices. (If any paintings sold from being seen in this book whilst in the gallery, I would give the gallery 10%.)
The reason for this is that comment books, in my experience, are generally useless. The party is too hectic for anyone to write anything meaningful. Usually, one gets comments like, "Good show!" and a scrawled, illegible name. When I go see an exhibit, I wonder about the artist: who are they, why do they do this work, how do they do it and where? I think the binder is a good form of advertising, however subtle. Also, with this exhibit I put out my newly minted business cards so that more folks might visit my website (http://www.eeroarts.com/, by the way....).
It was interesting to collect a different kind of comment/review from people, now that my work has changed so much. My fellow artists that visited said a lot of the same things: they like the work, they like something specific, and then we talk shop for awhile---technical issues, tools, etc. The comments/reviews from 'non-artists' were much different that in the past. I attribute this to the appearance of representational imagery in the new work. Non-artists had something more to 'grab onto,' I think. They commented in more detail, asked more questions and seemed much more enthusiastic.
And the final result?
I'm starting a new analysis project, which I hope to do after each exhibit. In this analysis, which I did yesterday morning (slightly hung-over) I listed the materials expenses for the 15 paintings, the gas expenses and mileage to/from the gallery, estimated revenue lost from taking time off work to finish the show, etc. Also, I wrote notes on what I did that worked in preparation for this show, as well as what I hope to do differently next time. (Next time is in 2 months, by the way---a solo show at the Bunnell Street Gallery in Homer, AK.) In addition, I made a note of the possible revenue if every single painting from the show sold.
I like quantifying things this way. I enjoy getting a sense of the expense of a project, the potential revenue as well as the actual revenue. I DON'T base the success of an exhibit solely on sales! However, I am seeing my work as a potential source of income, and like understanding how much of a positive or negative impact my art life has on my financial life. Just with the three small paintings sold, I am already in the black, however slight a margin it is. Yay!
I am going to give my sweetie road bike Sheila a bath and get her ready for commuting to work, starting tomorrow. It's almost +50 outside (double Yay!), and the snow is melting fast.