On Shows, and Selling Books

Just one corner of the Fantasy in the Forest

It has been a week now since Holly and I set up at the Fantasy in the Forest Show. As mentioned before, this annual show is probably our favourite, set up as it is on the shores of an idyllic lake, and accessible via a single lane trail that snakes its way from the highway some kilometres distant. Visitors to the show must take a shuttle in from a parking area, and many feel it adds to the “brigadoon” quality of the experience.

Organizer Jamie Brick and his wife are planning to move the show away from the lake to a piece of land closer to the main road. It’s a good plan for many reasons, not the least being easier access for both vendors and customers, but we’ll miss the lakeside venue.

This year, we set up in Jamie’s old space, he taking over the nearly completed “chapel” that we had used for the last couple of shows. Being indoors rather than under tent makes a difference when you are displaying books and paper. It can get rather humid out-of-doors, on a lake. this year, however, it was warm and dry with cool breezes coming in off the lake.

Display of prints, framed and unframed, in my half of the room.

One view of Holly’s side, overlooking the lake.

We both had a great show this year. I sold some prints and a large framed type sampler and three books, which was a pleasant surprise. Holly sold some paintings. One never knows what will come from exhibiting; we’ve experienced every extreme. A booth show, where paintings or prints must be hung, are hard work beginning with loading the van or truck to unpacking back into the studio. (Book arts shows are easier, having just a table or two to cover). Thankfully, for the Fantasy in the Forest, it was just a couple of MINI Cooper loads, but it still took me until yesterday to get everything put away, freeing the press area for work again. We took the balance of Monday off, then played catch-up during the rest of the week.

Book display, framed wood engravings and the framed type sampler hanging from the door.

Obviously sales are important when doing these shows; we have to pay for the booth, gas to get us there and back (repeatedly this year), food and sometimes accommodation, although for this show that is not a cost. But it is also an opportunity to engage with people, to talk about the work, get feedback, and new ideas – to reacquaint with familiar collectors and hopefully meet new ones. My book sales fell into that category: a copy of Kubla Khan went to an English teacher and Coleridge enthusiast who summers on the lake; a copy of Graven Images went to a dear friend with whom we have recently reconnected – she saw the book when we visited her recently. Lastly, I was startled last year at this same show when a young teenaged girl picked up the Vampire & the Seventh Daughter and paid for it herself, from gift money. She came again this year, and bought Tenebrismo.  She came back again the following day, and we had a very articulate conversation about Kera’s poetry. It always feels good to sell limited edition hand-printed books; they are such oddities in the retail world, and only a few people understand their value, and thus their cost. A fair bit of my time at shows is spent trying to articulate this sensibility, with some success. But to meet someone so young and so enthusiastic about books and literature, well, that’s just really, really cool!

With five editions still in print, it creates a nice little display. Left to right: Graven Images, Kubla Khan, Tintern Abbey (on lectern), Tenebrismo and Vampire & the Seventh Daughter. Some framed engraving proofs from Tintern Abbey are on the wall.

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One Comment on “On Shows, and Selling Books”

  1. It was a fantastic show and your work is always fabulous!

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