This past weekend my husband Ryan and I invested our time in selling Slatterys Creations fine art at another new art show. We drove to Columbus to display it at the Winterfair Art Exhibition, hosted on the Ohio State Fair Grounds. The show kicked off like any other, but was also accompanied by the first major snow storm of the year in central Ohio. This made for a long first day with very few customers stopping by to purchase on Friday and folks a little hesitant to leave their homes throughout the weekend.
Although I attempt to stay positive at art shows and patient that the right customer may come along to make the show financially worth it, it’s a tough pill to swallow when things don’t go well. As the weekend proceeded along, my initial feeling that we were attending more of a craft show, than a fine art show was confirmed. The small crowd that attended glanced by, with a few taking the time to compliment the work and occasionally to buy. In the end, we covered our expenses to attend the show and drive to Columbus. However, this wasn’t exactly the objective. The hope was to connect with new customers and make a decent profit.
What we did gain through this experience was more knowledge about what works for us and what doesn’t. Additionally, we built deeper friendships with artists and met a few new people who were more than happy to provide inspiration to us to continue our journey in the art world. One conversation that particularly stays in my mind was that with Roland Paronish, the founder of Roland Metal Art. Roland has been selling his art in shows, galleries and stores for over twenty years, the adage he shared was “to always keep inventing and never give up.” I’ve heard this before, but this time it really resonated with me. When building a business or investing your time in any new endeavor you must continue to be flexible in changing your tactics and open to inventing entirely new concepts when you hit brick walls that aren’t profitable for you. You will get beaten down, work a lot without getting a return and often feel like you are lost along the path, but you cannot give up if your heart is still in it.
Taking a chance on endeavors that aren’t guaranteed to work or provide a return on investment is a strong act of faith and courage. It’s really challenging to put in a ton of effort designing and creating something, finding the right location to sell it in and then waiting to identify the right customer for what you are offering. I believe this is why so many people work in organized communities of corporations. You do your part and feel secure in that there are many other experts in your community who will figure out their part to ensure that your product meets the needs of the right consumer set. It’s exciting to think we can go out and do it on our own, empowering as well. However, it takes more strategizing, hustling, and brawn than you may have anticipated, to determine how to create something new and profitable that people want to hand over their hard earned money for.
Ultimately, I have learned what my husband has been trying to persuade me to grasp for years, you must learn through trial and error at times. Yes, there are many roads that have well beaten paths and formulas of success. There are many folks to gather advice from, allowing you to continually course correct to avoid their mistakes. Yet, you can’t plan for everything and sometimes the road you want to venture down no one else has experience with. In that place you must be inventive and often fall flat in the face of failure. Trial and error is one of the best teachers, as long as your don’t let the errors define you. The benefit is that the lessons will shape your character into something completely new, allowing you to go to places you never thought possible before. Yes this may come at the cost of hard work without return, missed Sunday football games or Christmas trees that fail to make it up. Nevertheless, it serves you in providing better direction to reach your goals.