by Carolyn Edlund
Years ago when I had my studio business, I planned an ambitious schedule of retail shows and fairs. One day I did something I’d never done before.
On a Saturday morning in August, when driving to yet another fair (somewhere in Pennsylvania), I did something I was not particularly proud of. I stared at the field where all the artists were checking in and setting up. I realized just how exhausted I was, then turned my van around and simply drove away.
I spent the weekend with my family instead.
It was my first and only time being a no-show for a promoter without advance cancellation, but it marked a seminal moment in my small business. I had “art show burnout” and had to take stock of what I was doing. I’d scheduled twenty retail fairs that year. What was I thinking?
Since then, I’ve talked with many artists who feel they are constantly on the road, traveling from fair to festival to art show for their living. Making the most of the “high season” and working endlessly. Traveling to a show on Thursday or Friday. Setting up, working the show, breaking down and driving home on Sunday night, to unpack on Monday and then have Tuesday and Wednesday to do studio work before packing it up and doing the same thing all over again. They begin to look for alternatives.
For me, it was a decision to increase my wholesale business and stay in the studio instead. These days, online commerce might be your venue of choice. Perhaps you want to solicit more commissions, license your work, or pursue other avenues.
Creating that balance between working, family, and having a life is essential to our mental and physical health, and thus the health of our businesses. Diversifying your efforts to sell your work not only helps that balance, but it provides other sources of income when weather wrecks a weekend show or you don’t get juried in this time around.
Have you had “art show burnout”? Did you make other choices? What would you recommend to other artists facing this problem?