Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Walking Down Memory Lane....

We all have to start somewhere, right? As it's a new year, I have been sifting through old files and transferring masses of CD images to an external drive for safe keeping. Who knows how long these thin little plasma discs will last anyway. Of course, my curiosity has slowed my progress a bit as it's always interesting to peek at the past and relive events that had an impact on life. I came across a disc titled "PA 2004." Immediately, I popped it in, and memories began to flood back of my first professional exhibition, if you could call it that! It was 6 years ago and the dawning of a new year and a new career path for myself. I had left my Art Directing job in TV News graphics for something sweeter and more creative. When 2004 rolled around, I had just learned that I was accepted into the Gallery of American Craftsmen, and the 3 day exhibit would be in Pennsylvania!.........

Johanna-&-Table-GoAC

This was my BIG break I thought to myself! The show promoters were excited about my unique "look" and wanted to feature a couple of my folk art pieces in their Preview Guide! I had no clue what this guide was nor had I seen one, but my wild visions of this market publication made me out to be a super star! Haha! So, I spent many long days and nights building a collection of originals that I would offer to the Gallery buyers at wholesale prices. I went as far as illustrating each item and creating a special price sheet for buyers to keep. We xeroxed stacks upon stacks of these papers and printed a mass of order forms. I had BIG expectations.... JP and I built a portable screen to display my hanging pieces, and I attached codes next to each item for folks to place their orders at ease.

JPD-Gallery-of-American-Craftsmen

Some of my made-to-order pieces were flat papier mache shapes with my illustrations baked into them ~ a unique look indeed that seemed to interest some while puzzling others. Alongside those, I offered a few dimensional items that I had "attempted" to sculpt, each wearing a hat adorned with my illustrations. Go figure that my "conical cat" pictured above received the most attention! I look at him now however, and think, how crude! He was lumpy and bumpy and sharp to the touch, but I was on the right track at least.......

Johanna-exhausted-GoAC

When opening preview night commenced, JP and I were ready for the rush! With clipboards and calculators in hand, we were prepared to write as many orders as we possibly could. Suddenly the doors opened, and the isles filled with a frenzy of buyers. Oddly enough, most passed us by. Surely, this couldn't be as "I" was featured in the market guide! But sure enough, they weren't looking for me.... I tried to smile and keep my chin up, but my dreams were certainly not living up to the visions I had expected. The evening dragged on and on not to mention the two full days to follow...

Johanna-display-GoAC

As inexperienced as I was, I didn't realize that the buyers would possibly want to buy my pieces right then and there. Sure, "cash & carry" was an option, but there was certainly no way I could have created trunk loads of pieces in time for this event (Plus, I'm not convinced they would have bought them anyway!!) Settling on an order-writing only booth seemed satisfactory at the time, but in reality, didn't work. I honestly felt a bit defeated by the end of the weekend as I recall writing about 6 orders in total! So much for those stacks and stacks of order forms! Makes me chuckle now, but then, it was enough to make my stomach turn.....

Like I said at the beginning of this post, we all have to start somewhere. If I had allowed this defeat to stop me, I wouldn't be here today laughing about it with you, my cherished collector friends, artist comrades, and supporters...Life is certainly a journey, and I quickly realized that my aspirations would take time and work. Six years later, I feel blessed and am so glad that I didn't throw in the towel in 2004! :) Don't give up.... try try again...... And then have a little fun walking down memory lane when the grass does become greener!

Cheers,
~ Johanna
PS: I tell this story and many others in my Artist Interview with Sally Evans.... It's a fun and hopefully inspirational listen for you to enjoy.....

13 comments:

Len said...

Thank-you for keeping it real Johanna.

Marie Patterson Studio said...

You ARE an inspiration to all! Thanks for sharing your story.

Faerie Moon Creations said...

Hi Johanna,
I am most certainly happy that you didn't give up - I ADORE your work so very much! I'm just 4 months into my craft business, and sometimes I have wanted to give up. But then something happens to make me smile and realize that perhaps I am truly on the right path. Thanks for giving me a glimpse into your past and for reminding me that although there will be bumps along the way, the path is still worth the journey!

Jennifer MacNeill-Traylor said...

What an inspiration you are!
Thank you:)

Corey Schjoth said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Monkey-Cats Studio said...

Great story Johanna!!! I'm thrilled to hear and see Jack is well, and wish you and your's a prosperous and joyous New Year!!

Laurie

Johanna Parker said...

Hi All....

Thank you for taking the time to comment :) I always appreciate that!! It is such a pleasure to offer inspiration to others. When I saw those old photos of us out in PA at my first official showing, I remembered the feelings of disappointment I had and all the questions that surfaced in my head as to whether or not I was doing the right thing. Now looking back, it's clear that the experience helped me define by path better, and I choosing to focus on one of a kind art versus making the same thing over and over again for wholesale just wasn't my calling ~ yet I was willing to try it. I'm relieved that I didn't go that route as I think it would have burnt me out! :)

Like I said, keep trying and working toward those dreams. There will always be kinks in the road, but I think they are there for a reason!

And best of luck to you Corey on your creative path. Thanks so much for sharing your story. I see great potential in your photography biz!! Keep at it one and all... ( and Theresa, don't give up!!.... Let your talents shine! )

~ Johanna

Rue said...

A great lesson in perserverance! Thanks for sharing - and your early pieces were great too!

Melissa Fischer said...

Loved your post- I had to laugh because it reminded me of my first shows! Your right- we all have to start some where and find our own path! Disappointment and all!

Jessica Cangiano said...

Good morning Johanna,

What a delightful treat to receive your comment. I've been a fan of your work since discovering it several months ago and am honoured that you popped by to visit me at Chronically Vintage.

I really hope that your year is off to a sparklingly fantastic start, and that each the days that follows will continually be even more amazing for you than the last!

Big hugs & endless joyful wishes for 2010,
♥ Jessica

Chicken Lips said...

Been there, done that...LOL! I remember the first show I did was an absolute bust! I had such visions of grandeur..boy was I disappointed.

Thanks for sharing!

Nancy Lee Malay said...

That's what I love about you, Johanna...you are so open and honest!
I can totally identify with your story of disappointment. It's bittersweet sometimes to look back and reminisce, but I swear the bad times make the good ones all that much better!

Happy New Year!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info ,believe it or not it helps us who are trying and wanting to get our work out there.So glad you didn't give up!! Love your honesty & how real you are.Hope Jack feels better real soon too..He has alot of work ahead of him as well.. Thanks so much!