I got home from the Buyer's Market of American Craft on Tuesday and am still exhausted. I had a great time and a great show. Although traffic was certainly slower than usual, we were busy most of the weekend and ran out of goody bags (which we give out with each order) on the second day of the show! I had great neighbors; Watchcraft, Mark Poulin, Big Dipper Waxworks
just to name a few. It was an upbeat group and we had a great time. Fantastic meals at Dimitri's and Palace at the Ben, and our favorite yummy millet muffins from The Reading Terminal Market.
In every aisle any time of any day there were little clusters of artists in the aisles comparing numbers. Several buyers commented on walking by and seeing those groups, or seeing artists sitting in their booths arms crossed, looking glum - 'doom & gloom depressed' was one buyer's description. One buyer said she didn't want to even walk in to those booths because it would get the artist's hopes up and if she left without ordering she'd feel terrible. I heard several versions of this from other buyers, as well. So while it was totally understandable that reality was hitting people hard, the problem is that if they let it show it made things even worse. A show is one of the few opportunities artists have to commiserate and support each other and that always happens. But as much as we need to talk and know we're not alone, it's really better saved until after show hours.
Believe me, I know how hard it is to act like all is well when you're worrying about paying your mortgage. I remember a show in San Francisco where I sat under the table and cried while my assistant stood next to me talking to buyers pretending my tears weren't falling on her shoes.
For the past several years (even before the economic downturn) I've made a vow before every show to not participate in any negative fear-based conversations. It just doesn't help me in any way. At this show Loren and I promised each other to create 'a bubble of good energy' around the booth and keep each other up and in good spirits no matter how it went.
Now of course, I can't say that's what made my show successful and I know it was easier to keep that vow because things went well. But there is nothing we can do to change the economy, so my philosophy is to choose to live in joy, not focus on what is going on, turn off the news, avoid even seeing the newspaper. Fear and worry never made my life any better. Whether at a show or freezing my buns off at my booth in Seattle, I remind myself every day that I am safe, doing what I love, well fed and have great friends. The rest is gravy.