The show is over and, to answer the question I have been asked often in the last week, it was good.
What does the question mean, “How was your show?” Well, you reading this, what do you think? I would really like to know. Does it mean, “Did people show up?” Does it mean “Did people buy your pottery?” Does it mean, “Did you enjoy the experience?” Does it mean “Did you make money?” Help me interpret.
My usually reply to “How was your show?” is, “Good.” A vague question, a general answer. Sometimes there’s a further question: “Did people buy your work?” I respond to that, “Yes, they did.” To the further question- and I wonder if you agree that this is pretty nosy? “Did you make money?” I want to say, “How is your salary lately?” but I don’t. I just say, “It was a good show,” and I smile, which people can read any way they like. People don’t mean to pry, they were just, um, curious. I just realize some people (not you, of course!) are kind of clueless about making pots; feel free to lead the uninformed to this blog! Call it public service to potters... Explain about the hobby versus work thing, OK?
So this is a nice time to point out that pricing, labeling, writing up inventory, packing, hauling, unpacking, setting up show furniture and pottery, and manning my booth is just the laborious bump at the end of months of making & firing cycles in the studio. What I have invested in a show began long before the show. It is not a hobby, it is not a game, it is not “How lovely, so relaxing” as is one’s experience at paint-your-own shops. (It's true; I'm a bit tired of hearing "How relaxing.") Shows are one facet of a studio and retail website program.
Being a potter is a creative, exciting, heavy-lifting, muscle-using, dirty, messy, visceral experience that wraps up design ideas, powers of observation and active, continuing education, physical ability and tenacity. I do love to make pottery. It is work. I am trying to make it pay better. Sometimes it does.
Having said that, it was a good show. We had various booths, made up of 18 varied painters, four jewelers of different sorts, one local chocolatier, and me. The crowd was heavy for our one-day event, which had been widely advertised in large mailings, emails, posters, and newspaper items. I made money for me, for the gallery’s cut, and the 15% donation for the social service organization that benefited from this event. I enjoyed working with gallery and service organization people. That, in my opinion, is good.
Shows, additionally, are not just about money (though heck, I can only put this plainly, I want the people to buy). This show was good both because of the reasons above, and because I got to talk to people.
Talking to people about the work at a show is illuminating for me, not just them. The people make me think! People wonder about utility. They wonder about why I designed a piece a certain way and not another. Couldn’t that goblet use a plate under it? Shouldn’t the creamer be a bit larger, with a wider mouth? How did I get this beautiful color, this interesting texture? Would I make mustache cups? Salt shakers? Smaller oval serving bowls? Would I lower the price on this? Alternatively- Why are my prices so low? (I even got a kiss for the affordability of a certain vase! And a discussion with a dear friend about how high the price was on another vase, and why I believe it is justified. Go figure.) Then I assess my work based on what people have said.
Feedback! One of the best reasons for doing a show, after sales!
I came home and made a list the next day of items to modify or try next. That's GOOD. Thanks for feedback as well as sales, people.
It also made me happy to have so many comments about how my work has changed or grown in the last 25 years. (Yes, I know that is a no-brainer. Experience changes the work all the time. Still, if I don’t come out of the basement periodically and show the work, who will know it’s nicer now?)
And that's how the show was. It was "Good."