"When you take a flower in your hand, and really look at it, it's your world for the moment. I want to give that world to someone else. Most people in the city rush around so, they have no time to look at a flower. I want them to see it whether they want to or not." Georgia O'Keefe.
A day with flowers.
It is a bit daunting to step up to the plate and enter a show as a first time exhibitor where 50,000-60,000 people are expected to attend. Did I mention that this is the second largest garden show in the country? I have never done anything of this scale and magnitude before.
I should be nervous as the date for the show is fast approaching.
However, I am feeling a sense of controlled calm. I review all the things that are working in my favor.
Since the first of the year, I have been creating new work for this show. Not surprising, the theme of my new work is floral. I am intentionally creating paintings pulsating with color: brilliant yellow calla lilies, vibrant orange tulips, rich chartreuse and cornflower blue forget-me-nots, a rhododendron blossom that jumps off the canvas like a starburst, snow white dahlias swathed in accents of the color spectrum.
I made a short 41-second video featuring a few of my new paintings. I really enjoy making these little videos. I like setting the images to music as a way to express myself through my art.
My new paintings will be represented in artisan products I am creating that include signed prints, colorful totes, stationery. I have finalized my inventory levels and my samples are looking great. This week, I am placing my product orders so that they arrive the week prior to the show. All my product is sourced regionally or nationally: printers, fabric, tote manufacturer, specialized talent. I am filled with a sense of civic and national pride knowing that my business and my dollars are being reinvested in local communities. Like nurturing flowering plants. And the quality is top notch. Win-Win.
Over the past weekend on Saturday, I met with a high school friend who has several years of experience with trade shows as an exhibitor. My friend, (who will be referred to in this post as "The Dude" because he really resembles "The Dude" from the movie "The Big Lebowski" and it is also one of his nicknames) entered my managed chaos of getting ready for my show at just the right time. After mentioning to "The Dude" I am in this show, my friend offered his expertise to help me design a booth that is appealing to the eye, that will attract customers, like a flower attracts a honey bee (I could not resist the flower pun), and will be "shopable"--two elements that are critical to show success.
After spending a few hours over the past week in telephone conversations to discuss ideas and sharing sketches of our ideas via text, we took a working field trip to Lowe's hardware store on Saturday afternoon. We reviewed building materials. We deconstructed each display concept, asking ourselves how the product would be best represented for maximizing the customer's experience.
Two hours later (still at Lowe's), after several iterations of revising the plans, of discussion and drawing out our ideas, we REconstructed the final booth design. All I can share right now is that the solution is BRILLIANT!! and it is cost effective!! Having my booth design come together removes a significant amount of angst from my plate. I will share more pictures of the booth when the show is live. The Dude Abides! I seriously owe "The Dude" an awesome dinner.
One day later on Sunday, I met with another friend, a graphic designer, who I contracted to create my show banner and a few branded items including a commemorative artisan poster of this show I will have available in my booth. I love collaborating!
Each day and week, I keep chunking away at the "to-do" list.
As I continue to challenge myself with new projects like this show, I am reminded about the recent lessons learned from my daily paintings: it's not about getting it all right at first, about being perfectionistic (being overly critical of my work, hindering spontaneity, as well as completing the work in a timely fashion.) It is about starting somewhere and improving.
That "somewhere" begins each day. Essentially, it's about showing up to do what has to be done, while being flexible and nimble, to shift gears when necessary.
Even though there is still a lot of work to do in the next few weeks, I am glad to be ahead of the curve rather than being "behind the 8-ball" as I prepare for my first show as an artist exhibitor at a significantly large trade show. I am holding an attitude that I am giving this my best effort (which is all I can do), to learn from the experience, and to relax and have fun.
It is a freeing feeling to know that I don't have to be perfect, to feel under pressure to do anything but my best. I just have to show up.
In the meantime, I am appreciating the blossoming flower the universe has given me to hold.
Mary Lamery is a lifelong resident and native of the Pacific Northwest. Lamery paints regional landscape in a manner that leans towards 19th century French Impressionism.
Five words that describe me today: reflective, grateful, steady, nimble, energetic.
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