Booth photos…arghhh

7 05 2009

The room sounded like it was full of pirates. Another booth photo had come up on the screen and jurors groaned…..arghhh.

Artists understand what I am about to talk about, for my non-artist readers, an explanation is due. When we artists want to be in a show we just can’t add our names to the list. We must apply and be juried in. The application process usually involves answering a few questions, sending images of one’s work, and a booth photo of how one’s booth looks. Once the applications are all in a jury will review and score them. The highest scoring artists are accepted in the show.

It sounds so simple, but continues to mystify us artists as we apply to shows with our great work and don’t get it. WHY!? is always the question. Part of the answer is Booth Photo!


Jurying circa 2008

I recently had the opportunity to sit through a jurying for a show. I was not a juror but an observer.

What struck me and everyone else in the room was the poor quality of many of the booth photos. Many artists booth photos were just plain awful. Why did they waste their application fee by using such a poor quality booth image?

Well, actually many of us know.

Booth photos are a pain to get. We artists realize we need one in the dead of winter, as we are starting to fill out applications. Our booths are packed away and we try to figure out if we even took a photo of our booth last summer. Or do we have a decent shot from a few year’s ago, hopefully after we changed to our new work or redesigned our booth. Yeah, I have one….I remembered to take one….now where is it?

This wasn’t a fussy jury. A simple shot of the booth as it would look at this show was all they wanted. It didn’t have to be professionally shot. For emerging artists or non-show artists images of their work as a grouping was acceptable.

Artists without a good booth image had handicapped themselves and their application. As artists we never want to give the jury a reason to say NO to our application. In many cases the artists had done just that with their poor booth image.

The Don’ts: Images that did not show the artist’s work in situ. Booth images shot with camera phones, shot with the sun coming directly into the camera lens, out of focus, with a turned over coffee cup and other debris in the booth. Images of booths with art work totally unrelated to the work the artist was jurying. (What would they show up with if accepted or is that even their booth?) Booths with the side walls pulled back so only the blue porta potties show, not the artwork. A particular irritant to this group of jurors was the booth images with the names of the artists on the booth, despite the show’s prospectus asking that NO names be visible. Images with people in them, more often then not the artist, happily selling his/her work. Or so many people that one can’t see the booth. The jury saw one side of a booths, a partial corner, the grass and roof of the booth, while the artwork was hard to discern. Heavily photoshopped booth images, were commented on, and disparaged a bit for being too overworked. A screen capture of the home page of a website with an explanation to the jury why no booth photo, was not well-received. Neither were scanned images of photographs or slides, that looked dirty, dusty, and out of focus.

The Do’s: The booth had been cleaned up of misc debris, people, signage, names. The shot was clear, in focus, correctly exposed, and showed the jury how the artist’s work would present at the show. The photos shot at a shows were just as well received as those shot in a photog studio. The jury saw no need to set-up a special shot in a studio setting. The best ones showed similar work in the booth as was being juried.

Moral of this story:
We artists need to be out there shooting our booths all summer long to get the best booth image we can for next year’s round of applications. It is must, so juries can say YES to our applications.

Click for more info on booth photos from Larry Berman:




Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

27 04 2009

Shooting my jewelry, at Gary's studio.

There are many kinds of artists. Some feel once one is an artist in any media, one can take on any other media….be it photography,  graphic design, or web design. I have found that being creative in one area does not necessarily translate to another.

My jewelry photog, Gary and I, struggled yesterday to get a shot of a pair of earrings just right. Actually I struggled. He had done his job, mine was to “style” the earrings into a pleasing arrangement. He took the photos, we evaluated each shot on his monitor and I continued to tweak, as he adjusted the lights.

I am often asked if I take my own photos. I always snort “No!” But why not? My father was a photographer, I learned at his knee. I have a friend who is a professional commercial photographer who willingly shares his tricks. I’ve seen Gary shoot my work many times.  I can certainly get a camera that has the capacity to take the images. But as I “styled” my jewelry and Gary rearranged his lights, I knew without a doubt that I shouldn’t be photographing my work. Its not within my creative suite. Its not within my studio set up, I don’t have the years of working in the field.

Consider when Michael Jordan left basketball to play baseball he had a short and unstellar career. Joaquin Phoenix is a great actor, but it remains to be seen if he can be a great singer. We’ve all designed or seen designed the MSWord business cards and/or brochures, that could be titled “Fun with Fonts.” I’ve certainly designed my share of bad over-done graphics. But I learned my lessons the hard way & I don’t do graphics nor am I designing my website.

I recently, had the opportunity to observe a jurying for an art show. There are some wonderful artists out there, its damn exciting to see their work. But not all artists are photographers. And as the jury commented several times, “What were they thinking?” What indeed. They didn’t further their own carefully crafted work, with their poor photography.

As my photog sez, it’s not what camera you use….that’s just the recording device. In photography it’s about the lighting. And I am convinced, that is a skill that must be developed over years. As a jeweler I can tell you its not the metal and the bling, its how its put together. The fact that I am a creative person doesn’t mean I should take on ALL creative projects that come my way.

I am best at being a jeweler. I’m at home there. I am a poor photographer, a font frolicking graphic designer, and a clueless web geek.

I don’t always have the time or money for it but I have learned to hire, barter, beg, pay over-time, whatever it takes to get the right creative professional for the job I need done. In the long run it is cheaper and saves more time.

This blog entry is for my Photog, WebGuy, & GraphicPeop. Thank you for being so good at what you do, so I don’t have to.

Coming soon: Thoughts on jury & booth images. The good, bad, and the GAWD AWFUL.


HANG ON! Here they come.

19 04 2009

We giggled as we headed south. Reading from the 2008 La Quinta Arts Festival info, I had come to the page-long set of directions on how we were to stake our canopy. Good grief, what retired engineer did they turn loose on the staking directions? Usually all the info artists are told is to stake or weight your tent appropriately. But La Quinta told us that we MUST HAVE, 3 foot rebar no smaller then 1/2\” in diameter, pounded 30\” or more into the ground, tape or pipe clamped or roped (with cotton rope, not plastic rope) to our canopy legs. Good grief, talk about overkill. But once there, we did as directed, pounding away and measuring to be sure we got our rebar deep enough. And still we giggled, in our know-it-all smugness.

Then came the high winds as only a desert can know. Oh man! They weren\’t a woofin\’ about high winds. Large paintings flew through the air off of panels, trash cans twirled  and the trash redistributed itself around the show. Artists scrambled to secure art and displays, festival goers alternately ducked the flying debris, or helped artists retrieved flying displays, art, and hold on. But the canopies stayed put! Not one went tumbling through the air to take out another canopy, a festival patron, or undefended pottery.

Dave & I looked at each other as the wind chaos flowed around us. We both offered an apology and thanks to whoever devised the staking rules for La Quinta. It was brilliant.

As the summer went on we had a chance to look back at La Quinta\’s staking instructions with fondness. Our 2008 trip to the Des Moines Art Festival fell just after their 2008 floods, torrential rains, and HIGH winds. The winds were still fierce and our well-weighted canopy swayed as it tried to break free of the 40 lb weights plus! sandbags that sat on each corner. On asphalt our rebar stakes were useless, so we watched our canopy scutch (a derivative of scoot) along the ground with each heavy gust, and we dutifully moved it back into place.  The show even evacuated the public for a couple of hours while winds blasted through it. Artists were told to button up and hang on.

And so the show season of 2008 went. Heavy winds, flying art, more weights added to canopy legs, one slightly damaged tent…. Summer weather, what a bother.

We hoped for calmer weather in 2009. So far its not been auspicious. The winds found us again at Scottsdale. But we were on asphalt again, no place to pound in stakes, and we knew our 160 lbs of weights might not be enough.

Before the winds came, one kind-clever artist spent much time with his power drill, and kneepads,  screwing his fellow artists\’ canopy legs into the asphalt.

Walking the show on Sunday morn I was amazed at the inventiveness of artists in tying down their tents. When in danger invent!

Enjoy photos of ingenious methods of keeping things in place.


Yeah, I’m going marry it

13 04 2009

When small, my son would ask his sister, when she said she loved something, if she was going to marry it. Three years younger, he thought he had devised the bestest of snarky remarks with which to bug his sister.

This month I have found something I want to marry. I’m not often in LOVE with technology but a new point and shoot camera has totally won me over. It started with me wanting an inexpensive “pocket” camera. A quick glance at camera reviews led me to Costco and just before we left for 2 shows, I bought one.

This little jewel is AMAZING!  First it was cheap. Under $200. It of course shoots great photos, plus it keeps voice memo’s-so you remember why you took some random photo, it rotates the images as I review them, it chirps when I turn it on, and WOOFS when I snap a pic. The woof tickles the heck outta me. Drives my photog friend Tom, crazy.

But best of all, this deckofcards piece of technology takes movies! And not bad movies at that. No more will I try to capture a series of photos to get the sense of something too big for a 4″ x 6″ picture. Now I can just slide the button over to movie mode and off I go.

Vermilion Cliffs-Northern Arizona, on a VERY windy day

The dot sez I’ve reached a new level of dorkiness. The son sez, “No, I don’t need a new camera, I have a REAL video camera, Mom.” Well, yeah, but not one he can slip in his shirt pocket.

If you need a new camera, get this one. Canon PowerShot SD790IS. Itsa hoot. AND yeah, you’ll wanna MARRY it.


We’ve been Burgled!

2 04 2009

My friend Jan left my house laughing. I had delighted her. She was sent in to retrieve a piece of equipment we had left behind and ship it to us at a show. Our house was tossed, tumbled, destroyed!messy-house

She immediately called us as we drove south to the show, to tell us how much she enjoyed plowing her way through the our getting-ready-for-the-show house mess. She felt so much better about her housekeeping once she’d seen the mine.

My inner Oscar smiled at her amusement. I do what I can to make my friends happy. My hubby’s inner Felix, sighed. After a long marriage he’s given up trying to keep order in every day of our lives. Sometimes, more often then not, mess happens.

As Jan & I hung up, I observed….”Well at least if the burglars break in they will take nothing….they’ll figure someone else got there before them.” Felix/Dave, smiled, rolled his eyes, and drove on.


Remind me again, why am I here?

30 03 2009

Art Shows/Festivals are the inevitable end to months of production for art show artists. Some artists love ’em, some hate ’em. I love doing shows. I can’t help myself. Hubby Dave has accused me of thinking each show is my personal block party, put on just for me to have fun with people.

Dave working, me gone visiting.....

Dave working, me gone visiting.....

I routinely disappear during set-up to greet friends, catch-up, laugh. While he is relatively tolerant of me waltzing off to visit instead of helping, he does ask I touch back in periodically to help.

But what’s to love about shows?

Art shows are hard work, usually following weeks of long days in our studios. Shows are a strenuous 3 days of standing in all sorts of weather from blazing heat, to winter snow (it happened in Scottsdale, AZ), high winds-that can lift one’s canopy and send it flying, torrential rains, bugs, dust, fumes, loud music, kettle corn smoke, etc are all to be endured.

Artists must pack up their precious work to get it safely to the show + they must also bring with them all the display apparatus, canopy, weights, stakes, credit card machines, packing materials, ground cover, nice clothes, food, and more. This gets stuffed into small vans, large vans, vans with trailers, trucks, trucks with trailers.

Time to set up.

Time to set up.

Upon arrival at a show artists spend hours setting up their 10′ x 10′ retail space, setting out their art, arranging it. This requires schlepping all this from a van or truck, lifting, reaching, tugging, pulling, pounding, screwing, and sometimes painting….

Set-up in rain & wind at Des Moines 2008.

Set-up in rain & wind at Des Moines 2008.

And then after long hours in the studio, a long drive, a long set-up we artists retire to a motel room to rest and get ready for day 1. We’re exhausted.

But on show days we dress up in our clean clothes, slick our hair into shape, and try to remember how to be a salesperson, instead of a solitary artist.

We endure silly questions & comments, “Did you make this yourself?” “My niece does work just like this” “Its awful expensive, could you tell me where you get your supplies?,” “What is it?” and try to smile and remember why we’re here.

We get hungry, eat too much festival food, must use endless porta potties, our feet hurt, our backs hurt, we’re tired, and often grouchy. This is no way to sell art, we think.

Then someone walks into our booth and starts talking about our work. Our head’s rise and we realize this person “gets it.” They understand what we are doing with our art, they love it, and they want to buy it.

A connection is made. I never know my end buyer when I create a new pair of earrings, but they are ever on my mind as I work. I consider how the earrings will hang in their ears, the comfort of a ring, how a bracelet will fit. And finally at the show, I get to meet these people, who I have had a silent dialog with as I create my jewelry.

It’s a golden moment.

All the hard work, bad weather, funny food, lost sleep, is forgotten in the joy of connecting with people. Be it customers or fellow artists, I find art shows feed my soul as much as making my art.

Where'd she go this time?

Where'd she go this time?

Holey Moley Cows!

17 11 2007

We live in Oregon’s outback. Our part of Oregon is desert filled with juniper, sage, lizards, coyotes. Its not the soggy wet green zone most people picture when they think of Oregon. We love it. It has sun, huge skies, open spaces. We live far from a town, where no one drops by for a cup of coffee and a chat. Trips to town are planned for maximum efficiency in use of time and gas. Errands-to-do can be an all day event. Daily, as weather permits this time of year, the hubby and I ride our bikes for exercise and the sheer joy of it. We have miles of rural roads to ride populated by horses, cows, piggies, sheep, goats, irrigation canals, sagebrush, &

It is a place designed for peace and quiet, an artist’s dream spot that offers long contemplative time periods for creating art with no interruptions….or so it would seem.

Thursday was a “still good” Fall day and we wanted to get in a ride before winter descends on Oregon’s high desert. The husband-Dave was way ahead of me-so I can ride alone, while we can still do it together. The sky was alternately grey and blue and white, sunny and shady, and I was in my happy place.

As I passed a group of cows all hung together waiting for whatever cows wait for, I heard a metallic thumping. I stopped, remembered to to unclip my feet, and went to investigate. A cow was in a round water trough, totally upside down, head bent to the side, FULLY TURTLED, flailing with her legs. The trough fortunately had very little water in it so she was wet but not in danger of drowning. Good grief! How do cows figure out how to do these things?

Only a man with a tractor was going to unstick this lady and I knew it was far from feeding time. The rancher wouldn’t find his cow until early evening and I didn’t think she’d last that long.

Our area has many small ranches but most of the people who work them also have town jobs to pay the bills. Would I find anyone home to help StuckCow?

Looking at my disappearing husband’s back I turned to find the most likely home of the cow’s owners. I pedaled to a ranch house knocked, yelled, looking for a helpful human. As I looked back to the road I could see Dave had now doubled back and was pedaling like a soul-possessed looking for me. I yelled but he was too far to hear me. I took off after him but realized he was too far gone for me to catch and I returned to the hapless cow.

I needed help and my helper was gone in search of me. I flagged down a pick-up and asked the man to: 1st catch my husband and 2nd go to the little local store and tell them about the cow and hopefully they would know how to reach the owner.

I went to comfort StuckCow and let her know I wouldn’t leave her until her legs pointed down. She flailed her thanks. Dave returned, panting, happy I wasn’t in a ditch with feet still clipped in.

We decided he would continue on trying to find someone home and I would stay with StuckCow. I gave her a pat on one of her upright legs as Dave pedaled off. But I couldn’t just stand there. I flagged down the next pick-up that passed. We again conferred on a solution. He knew the owner and would call.

I went off after Dave. What a fun day of cycling we were having! Dave too, had found the owner and the rancher with tractor was coming to unstick his cow.

Bouncing down a dirt road, with bucket raised the rancher and his tractor made his way into the  pasture. StuckCow stopped flailing and listened. The other cows who had gathered around to offer their support parted to let him get in position. He wrapped a huge chain around StuckCow’s neck hooked it to the bucket on his tractor and yanked her to her feet. Once on her feet she bounded out of the trough, stood long enough for the chain to be removed, and moved quickly away while giving the trough a long dirty look. Problem solved.chargrined-stuck-cow1

How does a cow get turtled in a water tank? Most likely she was going for a drink and some cow friend came up behind her and accidentally bumped her into it. I pictured a cow doing a full somersault landing on her back. It happens the rancher said, but not often. And yes, a full day of laying upside down most likely would have meant “hamburger” for that cow. She now lives to graze some more.

Dave & I pedaled off, happy to have helped SC, and happier to live in such a wonderful place to bike.

Friends ask what I do all day. No one to interrupt my work-we live too far away, no Starbucks, exercise gyms, places to shop. We must have an inordinate amount of time to get things done. But still we’re behind just like everyone else is. Too many things to do, too little time. I dunno why. Life just seems to fill my days up, despite my best of plans.