Friday, June 29, 2007

C & C - Comments & Criticism (or Cackling and Cawing)

"The Novelist" - 11 x 14" colored pencil on board
Copyright 2007 Maggie Stiefvater.
Crummy after dark photograph - better one in the morning.

As I finished up this months-in-the-making still life tonight and got ready to shoot off a crummy photo of it on my desk to my support group Fine Line Artists, I started thinking about how lost I would be without their artistic input. Without their heckling and guidance, I would still be an artistic tadpole with both legs and tail. So I wanted to point any artists who were still looking for a support group to where I found mine:

This is a great but huge forum where every medium and subject matter is discussed in subforums. They number thousands of artistic members, all tightly moderated so there are no rabid foaming at the mouth discussions or commentary on people's private parts, etc. I really encourage any beginning or intermediate artists to head over there and do what I did: lurk and read the forums until you find one that interests you, then make some friends. I still post over there (my ID is piper2) but when I want the down-and-dirty commentary, the tell it as it is, I ask my Fine Line friends, because they'll give it to me like it is. I have someone similar for my writing.

This is really crucial for an artist, writer, or musician that are still finding their feet. Family are just too damn nice to tell you what you need to hear.

So find yourselves a buddy, folks, and watch yourself improve. And please, let me have C & C on my latest, "The Novelist." It's gotten wildly mixed reviews from the very beginning and I'd love to hear what you had to say.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Wonderful World of Copyright, Continued

One of my devoted readers brought up some copyright issues in the comments section while I was gone and rather than type out another copyright post, I thought I'd just post the link to my last one. (You might be interested to know that when I was searching for that post, I realized straight away that I couldn't search for "copyright" as I use that phrase in every post where I show artwork. My sister cunningly pointed out that I had mentioned Kirstie Alley in it and my husband said, "Oh yeah, with the body of the whale." And just like that, I had all I needed to find the post!)

Monday, June 25, 2007

Trouble with the Cops and a Terrier

"License & Registration?" 2.5 x 3.5" colored pencil on paper.
Copyright 2007 Maggie Stiefvater.
Click here to bid.

"Not the Coat Sort" 2.5 x 3.5" colored pencil on paper.
Copyright 2007 Maggie Stiefvater
Click here to bid.

Sit Pretty

For those of you who are planning on doing art shows or horse shows or any venue where you show your art, listen up. Booth set-up is important. It can be the difference between a major sale and no sales at all. I know, I know, y'all think I'm being melodramatic. But in the few short years I've been doing shows, I've not only learned a lot by tinkering with my set up, I've also learned a lot from watching what other folks do right or wrong. Indoor shows are the most difficult, in my opinion, because people will give you a lot more leeway as far as ugliness and functionality in the great outdoors. Inside, you've got no excuses to keep you from looking pretty.

1. displaying wares flat on tables
2. leaving table legs exposed
3. mismatched table covers
4. exposed walls
5. wildly mismatched framing styles
6. wildly mismatched products in the same tent
7. no name tags for your work or for your booth
8. overcrowded
9. handwritten signs
10. clutter
11. packaging material exposed to view
12. messy dress
13. offensive, pushy selling techniques
14. mousy, lack of selling technique
15. bad lighting
16. lack of krispy kreme donuts within booth

1. nice covers for walls
2. matched frames
3. multi-level displays for small objects like jewelry
4. booklets for available prints, portfolio
5. tidy dress
6. potted plants or flowers
7. floorcloths if floor is ugly
8. good lighting
9. cohesive set up
10. good supply of krispy kreme and sweet tea

I would say, use your common sense, but it took me forever to get to my current booth set up even using my common sense. Do your research, though. Hit some fine arts and crafts shows and see which ones appeal to you. Why do they appeal to you? In my experience, the best booths are those that look like either a small store or a small living room. You forget it's a booth set up, because it looks like it's been there forever. The walls are beautifully lit with clamp lights or strip lighting, the floor has a nice rug on it, there's a floor lamp next to a potted plant, and the walls are hung tastefully with art of similar style and framing. It's as if you walked into a fine gallery - you notice nothing but the art and you're left with the feeling that this artist is professional and takes their art seriously.

Lesson number one: people are shallow. Everybody is. Including me. We're all subconsciously influenced by the way a booth looks. I saw vendors at Roanoke Valley selling similar wares. One vendor had a very professional set up and she was constantly tweaking as she sold to fill holes and keep the space looking full and tidy. The other vendor was cluttered, with items sitting on the floor and flat on a table with an old looking tablecloth. Can I tell you which one was always full? The other vendor complained that people walked right by her booth on the way from the tidy booth to mine - but I wasn't surprised. People are shallow. They want to window shop in an attractive store.

Lesson number two: be flexible. Indoor booths often have to change shapes according to support poles or other vendors. And you will have to accomodate for spaces that open up in your set up as you sell things. Have replacements.

Lesson number three: remember that you're a brand. Your booth - your storefront - should reflect the character of your brand.

Go get 'em, tiger.

Oh, and remember to check out Casey Klahn's art fair blog for more tips.

A Week in the Life of a Vendor

I'm baaaaaccck! After six days of peddling my wares at the Roanoke Valley Horse Show, I have returned weary, triumphant, and a couple of pounds lighter (hmm . . . sounds as if I was a participant in fat camp instead of a vendor at a horse show). If you learn nothing else from this blog, know this: show food sucks.

So, I'm sure all of you are dying to know what I was doing during my stay in the lovely Roanoke Valley (oh, and it was lovely too - mountains everywhere and all sorts of nooks and crannies where secrets could hide). Well, burn with curiosity no more. Here is a summary of my week:

MONDAY: Arrive early, set up booth, and discover that there is no place on the grounds to acquire sweet tea. Weep bitterly.

TUESDAY: While drooling, watch hunters and jumpers for better part of the day as traffic indoors is slow. Remember, belatedly, that "do not covet" is included in the Catholic rule book. Drive ten miles to get sweet tea.

WEDNESDAY: Cunningly buy sweet tea on the way to the show in the morning. Discover that the food at the show is the worst show food ever invented. Coincedentally discover that a Krispy Kreme is located seven minutes from the show ground.

THURSDAY: Sell lots of stuff. Crave donuts. Try not to pounce on spectators carrying Pepsi products (repeating in my head "I will be strong. I don't need Pepsi. I will be strong. I don't need Pepsi."). Realize I should've brought along more prints as I've sold all I've brought. Weep bitterly.

FRIDAY: Argue with Priceline for three hours on the phone over hotel reservations. Vow to burn Priceline corporate offices. Back at the show, run out of interesting and sincere ways to say "Thank you" when complimented on artistic technique. With other vendors, grow increasingly slap happy.

SATURDAY: Get sweet tea and Krispy Kreme donuts on the way to the show. Eat donuts for three meals. Sell lots of stuff. Get to watch the $50,000 grand prix in the evening and decide that I am truly in some sort of heaven, so God must've forgiven me for coveting the hunters earlier in the week. Realize the irony of finally figuring out a good routine on the last day of the show.

SUNDAY: Get Krispy Kreme donuts for breakfast. Drive four hours home, fall in hubby's arms, and live happily ever after.

Until next time . . . rinse and repeat . . .

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Bonus Content!

Hey, y'all! I know I said I wouldn't be postnigbut I am using my hotel's weird tv internet service. The keboard I'm tping on keeps skipingleters and refusing to type correctly . . . lazy buger. Whops, MEANT bugger - buger sounds rude. Anyway, 'M alive and kicking at the show with four more days to go. You guys wuol be proud of me. No Diet Pepsi yet, and yo know I saw they just came outwith a moer caffeinated version. I've been soooo good . . . only sweet tea for me, though I do stare at people drinking sodas like those dogs that watch you while you're eating.

I am seeing so many gorgeous horses here - you better believ i've bensnapping pics like crazy.

Oh man, I'm qitting while I'm ahead! Just chck out those typos!

So, thank for hewonderful comments and see ou in 4 dys! - oops, I mean days!

Saturday, June 16, 2007


Or, Ta Ta Til Sunday. The Roanoke Valley Horse Show, my next venue, is from Jue 18-24th and if all goes well, I will be there all this week, leaving my house at 4 a.m. on Monday morning (does that still even count as Monday?). So this blog is effectively going dark tomorrow and staying quiet until next Sunday, but for the soft cyber whistling of virtual wind blowing internet tumbleweed through my posts. Y'all are not allowed to forget about me, nor get drunk and swing from curtains while I'm not looking.

Also, if you've had your eye on anything in my store (you can see a lot of it hanging on my indoor booth set up dry run above), I'd nab it now before the 10,000 people who will attend the Roanoke show see it. :D

Bye, y'all!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

My Home Away From Home

Howdy y'all! I'm back and I will be posting daily as before until the next crisis! As requested, above is an example of my simple booth set up for outdoor shows. I should mention that this is only my second year of doing shows, so I'm still tweaking it. But, I've quickly figured out what is and isn't useful.

  • Lightweight
  • Lots of space to display
  • Flexible display
  • Wind passes through it
  • Professional looking
  • Fast set up
  • Solo set up

  • Heavy
  • Comes apart into large pieces
  • Breakable
  • Not Stackable
  • Requires Tape, Nails, Screws, Hardware, Men with Huge Biceps
My booth set up now is an EZ Up Tent (you can find one at your local BJ's or Sam's Club) and mesh walls by Flourish - I love these stinkin' mesh walls! Previously, I was using Gridwall draped with black fabric (which I still use for indoor shows - though I really would like to have propanels) and those suckers were heavy, huge, and had to be hauled on top of my car. I can fit my mesh walls in their bag and my tent in my car, which means I don't care if it rains and I don't have to unload it straightaway after a long day at a show. Also, the whole set up goes up in about 30 minutes, including hanging the art.

Process for hanging the art:

Put S hooks in straight line across mesh walls
Hang artwork on S hooks
Realize you've wired all the pieces slightly differently
Begin small adjustments to even them up
Realize they're now all straight with each other, but the entire line is slanted like a stairway to heaven
Adjust again

I'd love to hear from any other artists - what works and what doesn't work for you. I package my sold artwork in the same custom 16 x 20 x 1 inch boxes I pack them in the car with, eliminating bags, tape, and breakage. The only thing I'm missing dearly is a giant banner that says something like MAGGIE STIEFVATER- PORTRAITS WITH CHARACTER - FUTURE QUEEN OF AMERICA to hang on the front of my tent.