Thursday, September 8, 2011

Booth Upgrade, Step 2: A New Display Canopy!

So.. I published step one of my booth upgrade last April with the intentions of moving on with step two the following week. That was about 5 months ago. Pathetic, I know.. but, hey! I've been busy; what can I say? But I do know how to stick with a topic, no matter how long it takes. So, without further ado...

Art Booth Upgrade- Step Two: A New Display Canopy!

When I started doing art shows in 2009, I needed a tent to use. After shopping around, I purchased one of the nicer EZ-Up tents. Not the kind with the colored top and the legs that sprawl outward from the top, but a white one with zippered walls that you can roll up and fasten at the top when you're not using them. I was so pleased with it. It even had an awning that stuck out above the front entrance.

Here's a photo of the tent in action, at my very first show.

Not too shabby, eh? So it wasn't the best setup ever, but it was a start. And I continued to use that tent very happily for the next two years. The only real complaint I had about it was that the roof would puddle and sag when it rained very much, and it could cause the water to drip through. But this could be fixed by using some pool noodles to prop it up at the corners.

So why did I need a new tent? I found out last April. I was doing my first outdoor show of the year in Charlotte, NC, and there had been a storm overnight and through the early morning. We set up late because of the nasty weather. My husband, John, and I had just finished placing the last of the merchandise. Then, all of a sudden, a big gust of wind came along. The wind caught the underside of the EZ-Up's roof, and I saw one leg of the tent begin to lift up in the air. I immediately grabbed the leg and held it down to the ground. The gust of wind passed, but it was too late. The tent had knocked into my ProPanel display walls and sent them tumbling to the ground like dominoes. It was a horrific scene. Artwork and panels were lying everywhere, and matted prints and bookmarks were blowing down the sidewalk. Thankfully many of our neighbors came to help (Thank you, neighbors!!), and we were able to pack up and remove our things with very little damage. The Pro Panels are not very heavy, and covered in carpet, and they seemed to cushion the fall for the framed artwork, because none of the glass broke.

However, we did learn a lesson. We didn't trust our EZ-Up anymore. So for the rest of the weekend John researched all the choices available, and we decided to purchase a Trimline Canopy from Flourish. It is a superior canopy to any other that I have seen, and the company was so helpful. They knew we had another show that weekend, and shipped it out right away so that we had it before our next show. Apparently they get a lot of Monday morning calls from artists who have lost their display to bad weather and feeble tents, and are happy to be the ones to the rescue.

Here is a photo of the Trimline in action:

The new canopy does take a lot longer to set up. It comes in pieces that you assemble, rather than a pop-up sort of design, but that 's why it's so strong. It is also made of much thicker, stronger materials, has far better zippers, and the wind/heat vents on the gable ends are really helpful. Even the awning is far better. The old one would sag, especially in the rain, but not the Trimline awning! They have tons of optional accessories, too. We chose the frosty top and awning to let more light in, and added a stay-bar kit to help stabilize the legs. You can also order extra awnings for the sides and back, and lots of other great stuff. It's all on the Flourish website at

Questions? Comments? I want to hear them!!

And when you're through, would you mind stopping by my facebook page and "liking" it? Gracias, Amigos! :D

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Booth Upgrade Step One- Pro Panels!!

If you follow my facebook page, you may already be aware that my art show booth has undergone some major changes over the past few months. First I bought Pro Panels in February. That was enough to really improve the the appearance of my display, but I didn't stop there. Last week I also purchased a new canopy, and it feels like a new booth! It is a new booth! The difference it has made has been tremendous, and I'm so pleased with the choices that I made, that I wanted to share them with you.

The photo on the above shows my booth last October with my old grid walls.

I've wanted Pro Panels for a long time. As soon as my husband, John, and I started participating in art shows with my watercolors, we noticed that the really professional-looking artists had "those carpet-covered walls". If you don't already know, you can probably guess that they are not cheap. They're totally worth the price, if you ask me... but weren't in my budget yet. As a beginning artist I purchased black metal "grid walls", and I stuck with them for a couple of years. They work fine, and are sturdy, but not so attractive or lightweight as Pro Panels.

So... I was really excited when John found a large set of Pro Panels and accessories on eBay for an awesome price! They were all the way in Connecticut, 700 miles away, but we both felt like a road trip, and they were such an a great deal, so we decided to drive there and back quickly, with one overnight stay.

Here we go, and boy, am I glad John does all the driving! I get to look out the window and take pictures..

Since we found the panels online, we were a little worried on the way, that they wouldn't be in good shape, or some other problem would occur. But we worried for nothing... the panels were in excellent shape, were a fantastic value, and came with more pieces than we expected! Of course we didn't pay for them until we saw them. I wouldn't recommend anyone make such a purchase sight unseen. If the panels weren't what we expected, at least we would only be out a fun road trip!

Speaking of which... our trip took us through New York City and Philadelphia. We'd never been to either city before, so we took advantage of the situation. We stopped in Philly on the way, and got cheesesteaks from Campo's (oh, they were delicious!!), and we spent the night at the Day's Inn in Queens! (comfy, but we only stayed a few hours, so we would have time to see a few sights!)

We saw Times Square at night, and the next morning we drove around Manhattan, and saw ground zero, and the Empire State Building, and rode the Staten Island Ferry right past the Statue of Liberty, and basically had an awesome time! I even did a little sketch of Manhattan in my travel journal while we were on the ferry.

I've done a few shows since we replaced our grid walls with Pro Panels, and I think they look fantastic. I really think they were worth every penny and I bet that I will find that the improvement in the appearance of my booth will boost my sales, too. I've been getting a lot of compliments from my customers, so I think they agree! What do you think?

The photos below show my booth "before", with grid walls, and "after" with Pro Panels.

After you leave your comments below, check out my facebook page for more photos and info, or visit my website, Thanks!

PS- If you want to see more photos from my trip, click here:
I ♥ NY Photos
Click here to zoom into the future and read my post about making skirts for my Pro Panels.

Monday, February 7, 2011

My new endeavor: A fine art giclee studio in what used to be my guestroom.

So, I'm embarking on a big new endeavor.

I'm going to be printing my own fine art giclées at home. Giclée (pronounced Zhee-clay) is a digital inkjet process using advanced technology to create a lustrous, continuous-tone print that is as good, or usually better, than the quality of traditional lithography or offset printing. They are basically the high-definition prints of the art world. And best of all, you can print them on watercolor paper, giving them a huge benefit when it comes to looking like the real thing.

So I bought new printer with eleven different ink cartridges and a price tag that makes me feel a little faint. It is an Epson Stylus Pro 4900: It is truly state of the art and completely massive. It arrived on a big truck the other day, bigger than the ups or Fedex truck. I bet those guys had never driven down a driveway like mine! (Yes, that photo is my actual driveway.) Delivery people are always shaking their heads a us, so we're used to it.

Continuing on... the box was HUGE!!!! We had tried to prepare ourselves for how large it was going to be, but we did not succeed. Here's my husband, John with the printer still in the box.

Once we got over our astonishment at the size of the box, we opened it up. It was nicely packaged with Styrofoam, but still took up most of the box.

Purchasing this printer has opened up a whole new world to us already, and we haven't even turned it on, yet. To be able to use it to it's capabilities, we have bought a new computer and monitor. We have also been shopping for all sorts of new things like watercolor printing paper, giant ink cartridges, and all sorts of cables and wires for our various new hardware devices.

We also converted our guest room into an office for our printing. We wanted a room that we didn't use for anything else, and where our pets weren't allowed, so that the printer wouldn't be exposed to pet hair or any more dust than necessary. You can see how huge the it is here. We made a nice, sturdy stand for it out of 2 x 4s and 1 x 12s so it wouldn't shake around while it works.

I'll follow up with more articles later, once I fire it up and learn how to use it!

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