A couple of weeks ago, I was privileged to be a vendor in the Jackalope Art Fair, a top-notch, three-city art and craft fair. Having attended the event last year and being impressed with the talent of the artists and the quality of the vendors, I thought it would be a great opportunity to test out my craft beer sketchbooks and see how the general public reacted to them.
As it was a hot day after a disastrously-windy setup, I had a ton of foot traffic into my booth, and it was people recognized the labels of their favorite craft beer. Somewhat disappointed that I wasn’t offering the cool liquid refreshment usually associated with that image, most stayed to chit chat about the books, replaying their mental beer history with me.
Eventually, they would pick up a book, thumb through it, and look at me with a “why are these are blank?” stare, and I would reply with “They’re sketchbooks. Or journals. Or you can take them to meetings and take notes…” and inevitably I was interrupted:
“Oh, I can’t draw.”
This was tough for me, as one of the things I would like to do with these books is reinforce the fact that yes, you can draw. And craft beer boxes seemed like an approachable way to encourage people. Everyone can draw. Remember when you were a kid and a box of crayons and a stack of blank paper was all you needed to occupy an afternoon? Or how your fridge growing up was covered with drawings the contents of which were known only by you?
Yes, yes, yes! You can draw. Not everybody is going to be a great artist, but I can attest, if you sketch or doodle at least a little every day, you will improve.
Even if you have to use a post-it notes or bar napkins, if you want to get better at drawing, just put pencil or pen to paper every day. Practice makes perfect, as they day. Oh, and don’t give up if your vampire ends up with a triangle head and three mouths.
Can we get back to the craft beer boxes?
This isn’t a tirade post about people thinking they can’t draw, it’s about the art and craft show. Which was great. The other vendors were terrific, there wasn’t any sense of competition, and I made all kinds of new contacts and friends.
Since it was my first show, I didn’t feel like I had enough product to fill a whole booth, so I went in on splitting a booth with a terrific local artist. Debbie runs Joshua By Oak and does lino block prints on pillows, bags, note cards, etc., . Having to spend two full days in a hot 10X10 foot square booth with someone the very first time you meet them could have felt like a jail sentence, but it was a great time.
All in all, it was a great experience. I learned a ton about the whole art show experience, how to set realistic expectations, and just how much work goes into those shows. I never realized just how much effort was required to basically set up a storefront one day and man it for two days. Not to mention the work required to then take it down and haul it home.
I may do another show in the future, but hopefully be better prepared for it, and Mother Nature will cooperate the next time around.