FINDING YOUR TRIBE

Today’s post, Finding Your Tribe, originally appeared on Fine Art Views, a daily art marketing blog for Fine Art Studios Online

 Unfortunately, artists are people, too.

 I remember the first time I did a major fine craft show.  It was amazing!

 Oh, sure there were the expected (and unexpected) obstacles to overcome. These shows are incredibly expensive to do—booth fees, meals, transportation, marketing. The realization that your track lighting issues are going to get even worse. The nerve-wracking experience of packing, set-up, break-down, and everything in between.

But then there is the wonderful side, and that’s all about the people. Gallery owners who really love your work. Show coordinators who eventually become good friends.

And finding your tribe.

At one event, a major national wholesale show, I met people I previously only knew through our conversations on a professional discussion forum. (Remember those? I miss them. Sort of. Keep reading!) I distinctly remember thinking, “I’ve found my tribe!”

 For the first time in my life, I was surrounded by people who were creative makers, like me. People who took their work seriously. People who were true professionals (for the most part) about getting their art into the world.  People who focused on doing excellent work, who worked at their craft daily, who sent their kids to college and paid their mortgage doing the work of their heart. People who laughed, shared information readily, supported other artists.

It was a magical year.

After a year or so, though, a few chinks appeared.

There were people who took shortcuts in their process, making it all about the money.

There were people who copied, diligently.

There were people who resented “newbies”, angry about people who “hadn’t paid their dues,” people who were envious of newcomers who won accolades and awards so “easily”.

There were people who were envious. People who were intensely annoying. People with obvious mental health issues. People with egos so big, they took all the air out of any room they enterted.

I tend to accrue a lot of information when I try something new, and I love to share it. (In fairness, tru dat.) So a few people let me know I was an upstart know-it-all with a big head.

And a very few people went out of their way to be obnoxious, to the point of bullying.

Where was my tribe?? I felt broken-hearted.

It took me years to come to terms with this unpleasant knowledge. (I still struggle, I admit that freely.) And now I know this to be true:

Artists are people, too.

In fact, some of the factors that make for a successful (however we define “successful”) artist can make for a difficult human being.

We have to make your art a priority. We have to believe in ourselves, especially when times are hard. We have to trust our process, sometimes to the exclusion of everyone else’s process. We (sometimes) have to fight work hard for our place in the world.

Sometimes this means: We believe we are always Number One. We believe no one else’s opinions matter. We believe our way is the only way. We believe when someone else gets a bigger piece of the pie, we won’t get our own piece.

One summer, after a particularly grueling interaction with someone who was making my professional (and personal) life miserable, another artist finally said, “We can’t all be the Buddha.” “Hah!” I thought resentfully. “I’m just asking her to leave me alone!”

Unfortunately, we really can’t be the Buddha. And in my case, the Buddha would probably be, “Quit trying to fix/change/out-argue those people! You can’t win!”

Because life is filled with difficult people, and creative people are no exception. If anything, we get judged harsher because we are creative people, because we’re supposed to be happier, more fulfilled, livin’ the dream.

And so, instead, I try to see them as, not a problem to be fixed, but an obstacle to get around.

It’s hard. I want to be friends with everyone. (Don’t say it, I know. I know. I KNOW!!!) I have an open heart, and I keep forgetting to put up big effin’ fences when I need to. I consider myself a student of life, and pursuing my art has enriched me on all levels—especially the learning part!

So when it feels like you’ve been voted off the island, consider the source.

Do the people I know and trust support me? Or do they gently suggest I still have some growin’ to do?

Do these people really block my path? Or are they just an inconvenient moment in my life I have to get through?

Can I learn to truly see the good in people who kinda suck are not perfect? (Note: Please do not excuse or make up a story about people with extreme malignant narcissism/sociopathy. Just get away.)

And most important, when the weight of personalities lie heavy on me, I can always go to the sacred creative space of my studio, and get back to making the work of my heart.

Do you have a good story about how you dealt with a difficult person in your art career? Enquiring minds want to know!!

 

 

 

FULTON CROSSING OPEN STUDIO this Friday, 2/17 from 5-8pm

I’M STILL HERE!

You know you’ve reached a seminal point in your writing career when readers worry about you…. (in a good way!)

This morning I’m settled in to write my column for Fine Art Views (LINK). But of course, I had to check my email first (insert here the sound of precious time draining into the eternal bathtub of life in the internet age…)

And found a lovely note from a reader who wonders why I haven’t written anything for awhile. She’s worried about me!

I started to write a long reply and realized, hey!!! This would make a good blog post!

So Fairy Godmother, this is for you!

Our Big Move to California is the reason. Because we’re STILL in the process of settling in.

First there was The Call, that moment where we realized we both wanted to reboot our lives. Then there was the interminable stage of packing up our life, our possessions, and all our critters. Then there was the dreamy stage, where everything seemed to fall into place–everything happening just as we needed it to happen.

And now, the next stage. This past year has been the “…and then she woke up and it was all a dream” stage.

This is where the realities of life show up. Where we realize that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Where we realize that no matter where you go, there YOU are. That a life reboot is empowering, exciting, refreshing, inspirational. But also frustrating, exhausting, and more of the same.

Part of it is the political climate. (No matter what your politics, there are simply a lot of scary things going on around the world, let alone our country.)

Part of it is, literally, the climate climate–the near-Biblical rains and floods this California winter has brought. OK, yes, it’s not ice and snow and blizzards and sub-zero temps. But it’s rained almost every damn day since OCTOBER–44 inches of rain, and about 7 sunny days. Flooding (indoor flooding!), mudslides, highways and roads closed for weeks. Millions of treeas, especially redwood trees, with root systems compromised by the lack of rain, now standing for months on end in water-logged soil, now falling across roads, even houses, and killing people. The extremes of a vicious 3-year drought coupled with record rainfall has wrought ongoing havoc on the California landscape. (No, grapevines are not really aquatic plants.) Even I am now officially “Under The Weather”.

And part of it is our social climate. Both my spouse and I are going through some puzzling social issues, at work and in our private lives, that feel overwhelming. Even when people are being difficult, there’s something I can learn from the situation. And I’ve had some astonishing clarity about this lately. ButI’m not at a point where I can write or share them easily. I usually wait until things are settled, so no one in my personal life can say with certainty, “Hey, she’s writing about ME!!!”)

But the biggest factor for me personally is the overwhelming confusion that comes from having….THREE STUDIOS.

Please don’t judge. In my entire life as an artist, I have always only had one studio, either inside or outside my home.

Now I have 1) a studio in our basement that is in no way accessible to the public.

I have 2) a studio in the

studio door

My studio at South A Street.

SOFA arts district. In addition to my actual rent, I have other expenses associated with it, which add up quickly. It’s a sweet space, with a display window and good light. When things go right, it has the serendipity of people who happen to walk by, who go on to become wonderful customers.

But it is off the beaten path from the rest of the artists, and I’m here by myself down an alley (a dark, dark alley in the evenings.) And it has its own complicated social scene.

I have 3) a friend with a fantastic studio at Fulton Crossing, an up-and-coming artist collective, who is now sharing her DISPLAY space with me.

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I get wall space!

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LOTS of wall space!

It has the added benefit of am excellent salesperson who works the three galleries on the weekends. There are no “passer-bys” during the week, but many people drop in during the weekends. My work can be shown–and sold–even if I’m not there.

But it’s not my working space, and it’s not MY space. I’m a paying guest. I’m on the wait list, but it may be awhile before the right spot opens up.

Remember, I’m the person who had 23 pairs of scissors in ONE studio, because I kept losing them, right?

What do you think my life as a creative is like now??!!

Every morning I make my “to-do” list. Every morning I collect stuff from home, load it into my car, go to SOFA, unload, get stuff from there, load up, go to Fulton Crossing (LINK), unload…and realize I left this, that, and the other thing at home, or at SOFA. Or the thing I need for SOFA was at Fulton Crossing, or vice versa, or whatever. As in OH-MY-GOD-I-AM-LOSING-MY-MIND

AND, yes, there’s a sudden demand for my work with a few area galleries–and for the first time in several years, I HAVE TO MAKE MORE STUFF!! Which is a good thing, of course. :^)

Except…when I go to “make”, I’m usually missing something. Which could be at studio 1, or studio 2, or studio 3, when I’m at studio 2 or 3, or 1 or 3, or 1 or 2. OR IT’S RIGHT WHERE I AM, BUT I STILL CAN’T FIND IT!!!!

So it’s all good. But a lit-tul overwhelming. No, we don’t regret moving to California. It’s been an astonishing thing all around. Good for our souls, good for everything.

But the three-studio thing, I hope I get some insight into that, SOON.

Thank you for asking, Lori. And please send up a few prayers to the Goddess of Clarity, that She make take pity on me and make Her presence known.

In the meantime, here is my new studio sign, for open studio events.

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I’m ready for everything!

Note how I’m using the studio door color of South A Street. But no address.

I’m ready for anything!

(Thanks to Dennis Bolt, who designs my postcards and my new A-frame sidewalk sign!)

 

YOUR NEXT STUDIO

I wrote this article for Fine Art Views, an online art marketing newsletter for Fine Art Studios Online, a host for artist websites where my own site now lives. I reprint it here, with their generous permission. Enjoy!

YOUR NEXT STUDIO

 The curse and blessings of many moves is, each studio is a life lesson.

A friend here in Santa Rosa has moved her tiny jewelry studio almost five times in the year I’ve known her. Last night, we moved her “best studio” into a delightfully bigger space, with a large display area. Armed with hand carts and three mighty men (husbands and friends), we moved all her stuff in two hours. (A little over the estimated “fifteen minutes”, but we all knew better anyway.)

I’ve had many studios in my time.

In our tiny Baltimore apartment, I filled a small hallway with my knitting yarn. In our Boston apartment, our bedroom was filled with shelves of….not clothing, not bedding, but quilting fabric. Our “dining room” had what bemused visitors called “a wall o’ yarn”, dozens hundreds of skeins of yarn hanging from several dozens of those expandable wall coat/mug racks.

Fortunately, because of my tendency to arrange everything by color, my Dear Hubby found the shelves “cool-looking” and visitors found the yarn display “artistic”. (I still have a tendency to sort everything—paints, beads, thread, buttons, artifacts, beach stones, shells, nails, mat board (er….am I revealing too much here??) by color color color, shape, and size. In hindsight, maybe I could have become an installation artist….??)

It was when we moved our small family to our first home in New Hampshire that I stepped up to the plate as an artist. I had the insight, inspired by my kids, that inside me was an artist screaming to be let out. It was the first time I realized I needed, not just dedicated storage space, but a dedicated workspace. Fortunately, my DH, again, also stepped up to the plate. We worked to figure out how to get me a studio.

My first “real” studio workspace was in our attic. It worked beautifully, for a few years. But then we needed the space for the kids when they couldn’t share a bunk bed anymore. Then a rented room downtown, in a building due for development and renovation. Then another rented suite in another such building, a former dentist’s office.

Each space got bigger and bigger, and the better each situation got, the more I worried about losing it. How could anyone ever improve on a dentist’s office?! I had four tiny rooms and windows overlooking Main Street! It even had a darkroom.

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My wall-o’-fabric is always with me!

This fear, the idea that I would never have anything “better”, and the knowledge that someday, the building would be developed and sold, gripped me. My mentor visited me and listened to my fears. And as I rattled on about “this studio” being my “best studio”, she corrected me with the words, “Your NEXT studio.”

It wasn’t til several more years passed that I got it. Her point, I mean.

I did indeed “lose” that space, less than two years later. Which led to no studio for a year, as we bought a house with an entire two-story barn for my studio.  The best studio in the world.

When we moved to California, I had the same fears: In an area rife with sky-high home prices and rents, where on earth would I find my next studio?

But I did find one. Several, in fact.

Our home has a basement, rare in California, and I set up a studio there. But the ceiling is way too low for visitors (and I have the forehead bruises to prove it), and the layout doesn’t allow for them to “free range”, something I love to offer visitors.

I found a studio with public access, and moved in.  Too small. Less than a year later, I moved into the space next door, with twice the space and a display window. Perfect! But it’s too isolated, and has other issues. Now what?

Once again, another opportunity is in the works. I’ll be moving again. Again!

There is a blessing in having a studio space that “stays put”. The time spent packing, moving, unpacking, is spent on actually making art. It’s easier to set up a routine that works, and stick to it. Everything is in its best possible place, and stays there. And you don’t have to put tiny new address stickers on your business cards and postcards. People know where you are.

But there are blessings to “many moves”, too. Mine were big/small/big/big/really big/small and now in multiple locations. (Which one has the frames and mats? Which one has the modeling supplies? Where the heck are all my seam rippers???)

Some “perfect studios” were inaccessible to visitors. My “perfect” dental office/studio? Inside a building locked at night, and up a massive flight of stairs. Not exactly open-studio friendly. The roof leaked, and destroyed a small roomful of paper supplies. And the FBI agents were quite upset with me during President Clinton’s speech on the town square. (I’d inadvertently avoided the security lines, and opened a window to watch his speech, throwing their security team into a panic.) (They DID think my work was cool, though….)

My friend feels overwhelmed right now. During this busy holiday season, she now has to set up yet another space before she can get back to work. But I noticed how incredibly organized she was, as we moved her stuff. She has a “system” in place, one she’s perfected over the last half-dozen moves. She has firm ideas on what will go where. She will be settled in, in no time.

As I contemplate my own “perfect studio”, I find myself thinking once more about my NEXT studio. There are beautiful things here I will leave behind, but new, future aspects that are already speaking to me. I will miss much of the community I found here, but also relieved about not having to “go along” to “get along” so much. (I hope!)

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One thing I can guarantee: In every studio, my workspace is ALWAYS cluttered.

I’m on a waiting list, which could last a few years—or a few months. Either way, I can deal.

The beauty, the real blessing of many studio moves, is nothing is ever going to hold you back for very long. You learn what to keep, and what you can let go of. You learn to enjoy the gift of each one, of what you gained, and what you can give up. What you need, and what you can go without.

Every studio is a life lesson. And me? I, a dedicated, eternal student of life, can only wonder what I’ll learn next, with open heart and many, many moving boxes.

EXPLODING DOORMAT

If you choose to GO ALONG in order to GET ALONG, only do it long enough to GET AWAY.

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“Rat” in the comic strip Pearls Before Swine by Steven Pastis can be very nasty. But he has a place in the world. People don’t like it when we set boundaries. Too bad. We can’t all be the Buddha.

I wanted this post to be something happy and bright for the holiday season. But other stuff is in my head, and so you get something a little more sobering today.

Some interesting choices are in my path for 2017.

I’m not here today to talk about them, not yet. But it’s interesting to contemplate the insights and “aha!” moments I’m holding as a result of those choices.

The exploding doormat.  People are surprised when I finally blow up at somebody. But it never comes out of “nowhere”. When I first heard the phrase, The Exploding Doormat, I felt like the veil had been lifted from my face.

I still struggle mightily with setting boundaries. But when I do, and it works, it is amazing.

Setting boundaries carries its own hard places, like being accused of being “selfish” and “uncaring” and “a sorry excuse for a human being.” But that’s still a heckuva lot better than trying to scrub shoe prints off my face.

Sitting with uncertainty until clarity presents herself.  I first heard this phrase from an incredible woman with deep life wisdom, Sheri Gaynor. It was profound. Sheri and I crossed paths this year, and our journey was filled with insight and miracles. She has since returned to her beloved Colorado, but I have a feeling our paths will cross again someday.

I’ve noticed that when I decide something has to happen, I waste an inordinate amount of worry, and pushing, and hammering square pegs into round holes–which only exhausts me, frustrates me, and ruins the pegs. This simple phrase reminds me that when I let go, many things fall into place–or don’t, but for very good reasons. It may sound New Age and karma-laden, and the pragmatic side of me complains–but it’s true.

do believe that you can’t just sit still let the universe barge in through your front door, because that rarely happens.

But taking one small step outside your comfort zone–taking a class with a friend, going on vacation, being open to possibility, taking a little chance on some small thing–this is often just enough for something new to cross your path.

Protection through rejection. So many times, the things we desperately want, and don’t get….well, it often turns out to be a good thing. When we look back, we see we narrowly missed walking into a quagmire beyond belief.

Note: This isn’t a reason not to “go” for things. Being afraid to try something new is stifling. But it can help me get on track with “the next thing”, instead of living in the past, and wailing about it. (Some people might say, “Not so much…” but pooh on you. I am getting better.) (A little better.)  (Sometimes.)

Going along to get along.  (See also: Exploding Doormat) Trained from my infancy to “be nice” and “get along”, I am still addicted to this behavior. And it’s led me down some downright scary paths. I’m getting a little better at this, too. But I will always, always, have to actively think about not doing this. My new mantra is, “Go along to get along, until I can get away.” It’s working.

Suffice to say, this year has been baffling and puzzling, with strange, frightening behaviors in some people who I thought were friends, a lot of pompous posturings from same, many micro-aggressions. (One tip: If someone gets upset and starts making pointed and repeated remarks about “rape” in your presence, that person is no friend of mine. Or yours.)

The last insight has many permutations. This ain’t your first rodeo, you don’t have to be the clown. (Thank you, Melinda LaBarge!) You don’t have to do stupid stuff to be part of the group.)  Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys. You don’t have to take on other people’s issues if you don’t want to. And someday, take half an hour to read The Nibble Theory by Kaleel Jamison. You won’t regret it. (Explains why some people behave the way they do, in simple, beautiful, enlightening prose.)

And my absolute favorite, from Dr. Maya Angelou::

When people SHOW you who they are, believe them.  

It is astonishing how much bad behavior we accept from others, and the incredible stories we make up to explain it away.

Don’t do it anymore. You are just prolonging the agony. Every single time we look back on our interactions with toxic people, we realized we had willingly overlooked all the ‘tells’.

We’re getting better at this, too.

I really do hope your holidays are filled with love and joy and family and friends. But remember, sometimes you just have to add a lot more rum to that eggnog.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE WAITING GAME

No one is ever 100% productive. No one is ever 100% efficient. No one has 100% of their time to spend on their art. And anyone who says they are either has a rich partner, or a support team who takes care of everything else, or is lying through their teeth speaking metaphorically.

Even if we are amazingly focused and disciplined about making our art, life happens. The kids get sick, the dog gets sick, we get sick. People (and dogs) die. The power goes out. (Yes, even here in “sunny California”, where we’ve had 15″ of rain, including a whopper storm that just left, and yes, some people did lose power.) Heck, sometimes we just run out of paint/clay/paperclips.

Today on Fine Art Views, a writer shared how they maximize their creative time in the studio. They maximize their time spent on other tasks, su as that 30 minute wait at the doctor’s office, and that 4-hour airplane trip.

And so, here are a few of mine.

The most basic tool I’ve found for time management is some sort of daily planner. I used to use those expensive fancy ones, until I kept losing them and having to fall back on my old standby: The lowly composition book.

composition-books

I really need to not use just black-and-white books. Too confusing! And WOW, September was a busy month!!

This actually works better for me, because the task list for some days are very brief (nothin’ much on the page after your colonoscopy exam  health procedures. And other days, there is so much to do, so much information to record, so many things to keep track of, I need more than one page. With a composition book, I can use as many or as few pages as I need, and I can tape or staple important notes, business cards, or sales flyers in there, too.

But even more important than a place to write and plan is this helpful little question to ask myself before starting anything:

What needs to happen before that?

I learned this concept years ago, and wrote about it here. It really helps to sort out your “next step”.

And the reason this can maximize your time in the studio is, so many times we get to the studio to “work”–and realize we’ve left that one critical thing we need at home. Or we’ve forgotten to get that critical little task completed, or forgot to order that crucial supply.

There I am, at the studio, as planned, and I can’t finish the one thing I’d established as the priority of the day.

Here’s a perfect example: I’m back on track with my fiber collage work. I’ve got half a dozen works in progress. I have a couple pieces ready to frame. I have great new ideas for the next projects.

I arrived at my studio, ready to get to work. But when I went to frame one fragment, I realized I was missing a backing board. And everything ground to a halt.

Easily fixed. When I got back home, I put together what I need for the next couple projects. I realized I was out of other sizes and colors of mats. I researched sources, and found a great local mat source. I placed an order, and can pick it up today.

And realized that all this happened because I hadn’t followed my own rule:

Write down ALL the steps that have to happen before a task can be considered completed.

Who has time to do that?? you may well ask.

Well….that 30 minutes in the waiting room? That’s a good time.

That four-hour flight? That’s a great time to layout your goals for the next month. Or even the rest of the year. (Er…just in case that was one of your New Year’s resolutions that never actually made it into reality.) (Not me, of course.) (WHY ARE YOU LOOKING AT ME LIKE THAT AND SNIGGERING???)

And here’s the last tip that really works for me, when I remember to do it:

When you stop for the day, leave your work at a place where you can easily pick it up again the next time.

It’s so much easier to get right down to work if you can easily see what your next step is.

Or, if you’ve completely finished your current project, set up for your next one before you leave. This is also a good way to know if you have everything you need to get started. If you don’t, well, you know what to do once you get home. (Or, if your friendly art supply store is still open, pick it up on your way home!)

These tips work really well for me, when I remember to do them! Which reminds me….

Where’s my notebook?? I need to write this down….

 

THOSE DAMN ART FAIRS

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Before I did this show, I’d never thought of simply hanging this collaborative piece on my booth walls. (They were part of a luminary piece, and the frame broke during The Big Move.)

A reader wrote to me recently. They are an artist, a creative person who is just starting to explore the art show circus route. They’ve aced their first show, and wrote to thank me for my series on doing shows, and creating an attractive, functional booth.
This time, they wrote to ask me about a clusterf…. a show lacking any sense of professional organization some detail in the show guidelines. Here’s what I wrote back.
LOL, Oh, dear, excuse my laugh.
I feel your pain.
Shows are as different as….well, people.
No, what happened to you is not professional, and I would have torn the rest of my hair out.
Sadly, though, it’s not an isolated case.
It helps to realize that people organize and manage shows for a lot of reasons.
The best ones is, they enjoy it. They are good at it. And they truly love using their skills and expertise to help artists get their work out into the world. Artists and craftspeople owe much to the people who work to make this happen. Don’t forget to thank them whenever you can.
They may be the good kind of “shadow artist” (a phrase coined by Julia Cameron in “The Artist’s Way”.) They wish they were artists, too, or they ARE an artist, but haven’t gotten to the point where they ‘grow it’. But they sublimate that desire into helping others who are further along their path.
The worst reason is….well, that’s where the “lot” comes in.
They may be pompous er…idiots, who use the prestige of being the official ‘face’ of the show to bolster their own self-esteem.
They may be artists in their own right, who are jealous of other, more talented artists.
People who have not recognized the ‘lizard brain’ in their actions and act accordingly. (We all have a lizard brain that’s easily angered, always jealous, always afraid. Our spiritual growth means KNOWING this, and to choose to think–and act–in spite of it.)
They may be the passive-aggressive shadow artists, who are not putting their whole heart into their own art, and they are secretly jealous of those who do. There will be a million tiny cuts that turn you into a bloody pulp if you don’t recognize them and protect yourself.
They may have mental health issues.
They are simply NOT good at what they do, but it’s fun, and it pays well. (Okay, not likely, but it sure feels like it sometimes.)
They have been put on earth solely to try your patience and test your intentions.
Add your own speculation to the list.
The good news is, everything you’ll need to deal with this kind of behavior in the future, you will gain by going through this experience.
The next time you find yourself waiting more than a day for a promised email, you’ll be calling the organizers to make sure they have the right email address for you. You’ll find the person in the organization is IS organized, and professional, who will fill you in. You’ll contact a few artists who have been doing that show awhile, who will give you the information you need. Or, sadly, if you discover ALL the artists are brand-new, you’ll realize this is a show seasoned artists either don’t do, or don’t return to. Big clue, and one I miss a lot myself by not doing my homework.
And of course, the next time you run into a roadblock, it will be something entirely different.
I’ve NEVER gotten to the point where I took any show, large or small, for granted. Something always goes wrong. Sometimes it’s big. Sometimes it turns out to be pretty minor. Sometimes it makes me rethink something that needs to be rethought.
And sometimes it forces you out of your comfort zone, and creates something that works even better. Your best strategy is to learn, to be flexible, to be prepared for everything. And not panic when something new gets added to the “everything” that’s gone wrong before.
You’ll learn what works, and what doesn’t. Your booth set-up will get streamlined and efficient. You’ll learn wonderful new uses for all your tools and materials. (Duct tape/Gaffers tape, cable ties, etc.) Your best resources will be your fellow fair artists, who will be full of suggestions, remedies, and a great source for the tool you left at home.
And you will persevere. You’ll eventually have a battery of venues that work for you, and eliminate the ones that never do. That’s when you’ll add a new show or venue from time to time, to test the waters and explore a new audience.
Or you may realize, as I have, that most shows, especially small shows, don’t work so well for you. Although, for me, even “unsuccessful” shows are incredible for life learning experience, amazing connections, and the next opportunity for me to explore. Although, from your previous correspondence, it sounds like shows are going to be a great way to sell your work and grow your audience.
I hope this helps. What should help is recognizing the issues that aren’t yours vs. the things you can get better at. There is no grand signal from the universe telling you not to keep making your art. Especially just because someone else is being an idiot.