Tuesday, February 7, 2012

An Artist's View of Tucson

It's always exciting going to Tucson. The drive across the desert is so beautiful in winter. It is an easy 7 hours from San Diego. My favorite thing about Tucson is staying with Kate McKinnon. She has a beautiful, creative environment. The house is filled with other artists. We share great conversations, strong coffee, good food, visual delights and lots of laughter. Beading together in the evening is always so inspiring. The support we offer each other is invaluable.
Susan & AJ Beading across from Gail, Kate and Miss Fish

Our watchful supervisor, Miss Fish

One highlight of my stay is that I get to stay in the "Barbie Dream Coach" out in the "Back Forty."

Being an Artist/Vendor in these times:

Kate's recent blog about Herd mentality was very timely. I know lots of wonderful and supportive and generous people. Then there are some who are not.

Being a self supporting artist is getting rather difficult these days. We artists have many discussions about what we will do to keep going on our paths to support ourselves with our art. I know many artists who are now looking for jobs. Some will stop going to shows with their wares. The economy is still quite tough, show promoters continue to raise booth prices each year. Hotels raise their room rates during the shows which adds to the high cost of doing business. This really puzzles me. While working at my show, I heard many people say they hadn't made their expenses and were even deeper in debt after the show due to all the expenses involved. I barely made my expenses this year and did not sign up for a booth for next year. I would have lost a great deal of money if it weren't for the gracious hospitality of Kate.

Our promoter offered to keep the prices the same if we would commit to two more years! Why not just keep the price the same anyway? Or even offer a bit of a discount for coming back? Loyalty... I know of one show promoter who was charging $2800 for an 8' table! Most vendors quit that show last year when they heard about this increase, more will not go back next year. Why not create a win/win for everyone? Wouldn't it be smarter to keep the price of booths reasonable while still profiting? We are all working to earn a living. Show promoters are working very hard and should get paid, but the greed of some is killing the shows and devastating the vendors. I believe show promoters are shooting themselves in the foot with this more, more, more attitude. People will simply stop renting booth space and the show promoters will get less, less, less. Doesn't make sense to me. If we are all successful, we will support each other for many years to come.

I love the show life for the most part. The hours can be long, setting up and tearing down and travel is difficult. But once in my booth, I have a great time! I love my customers. My fellow artists & vendors are a great bunch of people. If you stop and listen, you hear laughter coming from most every booth. Even when worrying about making expenses, people are helpful and generous with each other. We share our lunches and snacks, give each other breaks, offer each other discounts or gifts of our work, help each other with set up and tear down. Marianne Kasparian of Maku Studio for example, gave me the two pieces of her work that I had set aside. Her work is amazing. I am honored to be given these fabulous pieces.
The gorgeous Marianne and me at To Bead True Blue, Tucson
Edgy Hearts by Martianne
The good does outweigh the negative. The latter get more press. I want to switch that around. Good getting more press will promote an attitude of kindness and generosity, I believe. Of course, I want  to go on with this lifestyle! Let's think long term and help each other create successful lives. Yes, for all of us in every facet of the community. It's really not that hard to do.


  1. Not sure why something that makes so much sense is so hard. The shows may never be what they once were if we can't support one another. So glad that Kate provided an answer for so many this year. Love the Maku pieces!

  2. Wonderful post! I love the intimacy of your photographs...and your conclusion that "the good does outweigh the negative." ;)

  3. I'm sorry that booth prices were so unreasonable and that things continue to get tough for artists. Anyone who wants to make a comfortable living doing art deserves to, in my opinion.

    Sounds like you have a lot of wonderful friends, though, and a very supportive community overall! I'm glad -- we creative types need to stick together. :)

  4. Awww, I love all these pictures. I like how we're all so engrossed in our beadwork. Except for Miss Fish, of course, because cats don't have thumbs.

    $2800 for a booth is insane. How can anyone hope to make that back, let alone the expensive flights/driving and hotel?

    Anyway, I am glad that I got to see you and bead with you! Hopefully I will make it out your way soon-ish :)