I used to do a ton of shows each year. In the beginning, back in Seattle, I started with farmers markets and small craft fairs. I quickly made a "no schools or churches" rule for myself, and moved on to juried craft fairs. There were a couple of summers that I did 12 shows over a three month period. Talk about exhausting... but it was the best way to get myself and my work out there. I finally realized that there were actual bead shows. Shows that weren't juried, and attracted people who knew something about beads, and wanted beads, and were even slightly crazy about beads. That was like finding Home. I did those for several years, until I got kind of tired, and had built up a nice little following and mailing list. That's when I started to concentrate on my website, and gradually stopped doing shows...
A lot of people think my website happened overnight, and want to know how I achieved my instant success. Ha! One day I'll write a book called The Ten Year Plan For Instant Success. I know I make it look pretty easy, but the truth is, it took a really long time to be able to make a living on my website alone. My quickest advice is for everyone to start a website right now, and then just dink around with it, and nurture it for a few years... and definitely keep your day job. Instant is fine for soup, but not for art.
Anyway, I'm down to only one show a year now. I do the ISGB Gathering, which is really a beadmaker's conference with a one-day bazaar. It's great for me because I get to meet people, see old friends, sell a few beads, and see a new city each year. This year it was Kansas City, next year it will be Minneapolis... places I probably wouldn't go otherwise. But sometimes... only sometimes... I miss the shows. I was looking through the new issue of Beadwork magazine this morning, and found myself lingering over the list of classes being offered at the Bead Expo coming up in April. Although I never even consider selling at the big shows anymore, I'm starting to think it would be fun to just go and hang out and take a class or two. Not beadmaking though! I'd take things like Susan Lewis's PMC class,
or Mary Tafoya's "Beaded Artist Trading Cards",
or Susan Lenart Kazmer's "Getting Attached: Prayer Box Series".
Maybe someday... in my free time... that illusive point in the future when the kids are done with school, I get a sabatical, write that book I keep thinking about, and travel around learning things that just happen to interest me... Meanwhile, if you live in the Bay Area, go to Bead Expo and tell me all about the classes you take. I want to know which ones are good when I finally get around to doing it myself!