The days following shows are hard. Actually shows are just hard in general, but I find the recovery from them especially exhausting. I just returned from Dallas, Texas, where I did my first out of state show. It was a decent show, I sold my favorite piece to a lovely couple from the area, which made the trip down there worth it. I also, learned a lot in my first experience traveling a decent distance to a show. Like a twelve hour drive is really hard, especially after busting your butt for four consecutive days, and especially when driving in the snow and wind of Northern Texas….
What makes recovery do hard is that you are still so PUMPED UP, but you are also completely and totally exhausted, that it makes it difficult to work, and nearly impossible to rest. Day one I typically unload all of the artwork, tent, walls etc, then go get the car cleaned. This time they washed it twice- that’s how dirty my car gets after spending 27 hours in it…
Then I’ll come home and make a long list of things that I know I need to improve upon at the next show. Sometimes this involves general presentation of the work, like I need to get a lighting system and an easier way to hang the heavy 3d pieces. I reflect on my sales techniques, which I know leave a lot to be desired, and reflect on some ways that I can improve. I’ll do a quick profit and loss from the show, and order new prints for the following show. I’ll reach out to people who were interested in wholesale, people from galleries etc. I also spend a lot of time eating, and rubbing Tiger Balm on my sore muscles…
Notice how none of that involved making art? So much of being an artist is about running a business. Everyone tells you that in college. All the time. But I don’t think you really understand it til your in the midst of it.
Now that I got this first travel show out of the way, it’s time to open up the calendar and look at upcoming shows. I have a list of about 17 shows that I’d like to apply to next year. I spent yesterday morning looking at deadlines and notification dates, and booth fees. Some shows run back to back, and I wonder if I’ll be able to do 3 shows in a month and not want to kill people. Some shows I really want to do, but I know my chances of getting in are slim so I need to apply to a back-up here in Denver.
I was wait-listed for a very competitive show in Ft. Worth. Which means I’ll apply to Bayou City, which is just a few weeks before the Ft. Worth show. I already applied to two other shows in Texas the two weeks after the Ft. Worth show. Which means that if I end up getting into Bayou City, Fiesta and Southlake, then pulled off the wait list for Ft. Worth that I would be booked for five weeks in Texas this Spring. Or I could only get into none of them and end up having to find some sort of temp job this Spring.
It’s a lot like gambling, this art fair business… and equally addictive.
Right before I left for Dallas, the district sent me my intent letter for the upcoming school year. These are my choices: Say I’m not going back to teaching and get $500. Say I’m going back at the start of the 2019 school year. Extend my leave of absence for another year, and get $0.
I decided not to go back a long time ago. But the letter makes it official and I started to waver on my decision. So, holding the letter in my hand, I closed my eyes, and tried to imagine walking through the school doors. I could not see it. I can’t see myself sitting through one more staff meeting. I cannot envision ever having to say the words, “class, class” ever again or having some ten year old call me a bitch under his breath.
So I filled out my paperwork this morning. They ask for all sorts of information and feedback, which I gleefully filled out. Reason why I’m leaving? I discovered that I can make just as much money making art as I can teaching art, without all the stress and anxiety. One thing that could magically change that would make me not want to leave the district? Um, how about a budget? An effective school wide discipline plan? A not quite so crazy principal? Smaller class sizes? A projection of how much money I’ll make in the next ten years? Or even just a guarantee that “art teacher” will still even be a position in another ten years?
After I finished my commentary, I signed it, then realized that there is a blank spot, where I need to have my principal sign as well. Part of me wants to shred it and start anew, afraid of the retaliation that might come if I ever need her to provide a recommendation. But most of the does not care what she thinks anymore…