WE DID IT!
Kim Lewis and I packed the car last Thursday for PRINTFEST 2010 in preparation for driving down to the South Lake District - Ulverston to be precise - very early on Friday morning. The boot was packed with EVERYTHING, the kitchen sink may have even made it's way in. Having never done this before and not being sure what we would need to make the most of the space we would be given we took A LOT of stuff!
We departed Hexham at 7am sharp and headed off over via Alston (the highest village/town in the UK) to Penrith where we joined the M6. It was a beautiful spring morning, the views over the moors and over to the Lakes from Hartside were stunning, the roads were really quiet so we made very good time. So good in fact that we pulled off the M6 for a coffee and bacon sanny and we still arrived in Ulverston by 10.15.
Parking and unloading was somewhat tricky because there IS NO PARKING, just a side alley (a cul de sac) down the side of The Coronation Hall into which one had to queue to get in and unload and then back out into traffic when unloaded, trying to ensure we didn't scrape the side of our car and those of other printmakers.
Inside we had a great position, right under the stage, along it's whole length. Kim was fantastic, I could never have done it without her. It took us 'til 4.30 to put our show up but when we were finished, even if I say so myself, we did ourselves and the work proud. We could hold our head up high in the room packed to the rafters with some really excellent printmakers.
We dashed out clutching discount vouchers courtesy of PRINTFEST's organisers for The Mill pub/restaurant where we grabbed a quick bite to eat before heading off to The White Hart Inn in Bouth for a quick shower and change then returning to The Coronation Hall for the preview.
The preview was manic, absolutely packed, difficult to know where to stand because we always seemed to be in the way. No sales but I comforted myself with the thought that quite often at previews if it is really busy people come back when it isn't so manic and they can see the work properly. Nevertheless we had lots of interest. You can look here if you want to see some photographs of the event. Kim took some too of our stand and more, which she is going to bring in to the studio tomorrow so I can upload to the blog.
The following two days went really well, kicked off with two print sales of mine before lunch on Saturday. A huge relief I can tell you as, having decided to do it, I was relieved to know that those two sales meant the cost of my stand was covered. Saturday was very different to Sunday. It was much busier and frenetic, our cards and handmade notebooks made from recycling old prints sold like hotcakes. I thought we would run out before Sunday. (We did run out of Rebecca's cards and notebooks by the middle of Sunday).
By the end of the day it was clear to me that one should never under estimate the value of items in the £2.50 - £10 range. Visitors may not have £50 plus to buy a print but they can always spare a couple of quid. A steady stream of those kinds of sales and before long you can cover your overheads if you are not lucky enough to sell a higher priced framed or unframed print. AND ... if you have cards of the work on the walls people often buy them to persuade their other half at home before making that purchase or to remind themselves of the work at some later date when they do have the readies to pay for it. I had to argue the case for the cards and notebooks - the proof was in the pudding!
Some artists/printmakers are reluctant to 'dilute' the interest in their work by offering such things thinking people will buy cards instead of the print. Personally I think if you don't have the money you simply aren't going to buy a print. BUT you might want to buy something to remind you of the work you really liked. And let's face it, if the buyer then sends the card on to someone else they think will like it that's another person who gets to see your work who might become a future purchaser. You just never know do you?
There were no further print sales on Saturday but that all changed on Sunday when we sold a further 10 prints. There did not seem to be as many people coming through but those that were clearly came with a purpose and there was a different mood in the hall. Cards and notebooks, whilst still selling, were selling more slowly though steadily ... very strange ... but very satisfying all the same. Still, what we wanted was to keep the print wrapping station very busy and that was what we did.