Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Seize the Day, or, The advantages of keeping those boring ducks in a row. . .

A little story:   I belong to a couple local tapestry groups, one based in Albuquerque and one in Santa Fe, New Mexico.  They often get together to mount exhibits.  Recently one of our exhibit venues, the Open Space Visitor Center in Albuquerque, put out the word to the groups that there was space available on the walls for any tapestry weaver who might want to put up their work for a few months, February - May 2022.  

clockwise from top left:  Molly Elkind, SkyGrass Textures, SkyGrass, and SkyGramaGrass

I thought, Sure, what the heck, and I sent a few website links to the person charge there, with an explanation about what was available and how it might be grouped.  Et voilà, I was soon informed that I could bring in thirteen pieces of my work to be installed immediately.  I was surprised to learn that I was the only one who applied for this opportunity.  So my work has been out meeting the public for going on three months now.  

clockwise from top left: Molly Elkind, Open Warp Vistas Big Sky, Ridge, and Roots & Rain;
and Crosswinds wedge weaves

left to right:  Molly Elkind, Mixed Message, Monsoon 2, Peachtree Boogie Woogie

My message to you today, my dears, is that it was easy for me to respond quickly because I am completely compulsive about keeping the necessary photos and files handy on my computer desktop.  It's perhaps the most boring thing associated with the making of tapestry--getting photos made, stored, keeping records of dimensions and materials and titles etc etc--but it is absolutely essential if you want to take advantage of these pop-up opportunities!  It also makes applying for juried shows easier.  

Here's a checklist of info you can start to develop so you can be ready.  (I  have written before in more detail about the importance of documentation:  here and here.)  

1.  A website, preferably (or a blog, Facebook or Instagram page with lots of photos of your work).  Artspan and Squarespace are just two places that host easy-to-setup-and-maintain websites for artists.  You may not get a lot of sales through your website, but it is a vital portfolio to have available for those who are interested and it indicates you take yourself seriously as an artist.  Referring inquiries to a website link is a lot easier than uploading a bunch of images to an email in response to every query.  Also, keep that site up to date!  If there's nothing new there since 2016, people may well wonder if you are still working as an artist.  

2.  High-quality images of your work (on your website, preferably).  No shadows, no floors or toes or fingers visible, no weird angles.  If you can't shoot these photos yourself, it's well worth the money to pay a professional for images that will make your work look fantastic.  Trust me on that. 

3.  An inventory list of your work.  I make one in a table in Word, with a tiny thumbnail image, title, dimensions, materials, price and date of completion for each piece.  (You can also buy commercial software for this.)  Remember to take into account any commission on sales that the venue may levy when setting your prices.  I keep a master inventory document as well as smaller inventories organized by series or body of work.  For a show like this one with several of my pieces, I cut and paste the relevant work into a new document that pertains to the particular exhibit.  That then becomes a checklist that the receiving gallery manager can initial to show they received each piece, as a kind of receipt.  

4.  A statement about your work.  Just a few sentences that helps the viewer understand how to look at your pieces--not your life story or a recap of your CV, but a short paragraph explaining how and why you came to make these particular works, what the viewer should look for.  

Picture your name and info here!

If you have all this stuff ready to hand, it's easy to apply to opportunities when they come along, rather than being a huge chore that you don't have time or energy for.  Get your work out there!