I apologize for neglecting my blog so very much lately- this time of year there are always a million things going on, no?
Here is another bit of art show advice since soon it'll be time to start applying to shows again!
This piece of advice is simple and specifically written for set-up day.
And that advice is:
Put on a happy face.
Set-up day is just the worst. It's such a cluster. But one thing I've learned about art shows is that most artists' personalities from set-up day to show-weekend are night and day. On set up day you may be afraid of your neighbors. They may seem pissed or unfriendly and I know you will think, "Ugh!! I have to spend all weekend next to THIS person!?!? Set up day is bad enough and now my neighbors suck too!!" The truth is they're just as stressed as you are. I've had plenty of shows where I am so intimidated by my neighbors on set-up day, but once the actual show starts they always end up being some of the nicest people I've ever met! You're all there with a common goal, and from my experience, 99% of the other artists there are genuinely interested in helping each other out.
Pretty much every artist is in an awful mood on set-up day. (Um... at least I usually am!) The plus side of set-up day is getting to see familiar faces that you may not have seen since a show the year before. Even if you're like me and are usually running late, can't find a parking spot anywhere near your designated space, and are setting up all alone- seeing your art show friends will always cheer you up!
Every show's layout and set up procedure is different, so you and a hundred or more artists are scrambling to get your stuff to your spot in the most efficient way possible. It can be quite confusing and frustrating, especially if it's the first time you've done a particular show. After a year or two, you're somewhat familiar with the procedure and that does help immensely.
If it's your first time at a show (or your first time doing any show at all!), take a deep breath and try to relax. Then try to find someone who doesn't seem too busy and who looks like they wouldn't mind being interrupted (i.e. it's probably best to avoid the artists who look like they are about to have an aneurysm because an entire set of Pro-Panels is one fastener away from tumbleing down upon them, or are holding up their entire tent with one hand while extending the legs, or have just injured themselves with their tent weights and are uttering strings of obscenities). Just smile and ask someone who seems relaxed (and familiar with the territory) for some parking/set-up advice and they will probably be more than happy to help you out.
And, at every show, I promise you.... there will be that POMPOUS *#$&!# who thinks they are more important than everyone else and will take their gigantic truck with the uterus logo on it (not that everyone with those trucks is a pompous *#$&!#, just some) and their humongous trailer and just barge on through the already convoluted disarray of vehicles, tents, and artists to get right up to THEIR spot. If you're in their way, they'll even start demanding you move. Yeah I've seen it!! Once they've arrived at their spot, of course, they will park their chariot in the middle of traffic flow (because why park it anywhere else and inconvenience themselves?) and remove everything from their uterus-mobile, set everything up, and refuse to move said uterus-towing-giant-trailer until they are completely done for the day and ready to leave the show grounds. Nevermind that the show rules almost always indicate that you park your vehicle as close as you can to your spot, unload as fast as you can (throw your stuff into a pile in your spot), and then have the courtesy to move your vehicle the hell out of the way so others can do the same.
I suggest putting on a happy face on set-up day for your sake and others'. You're going to have a lot going on and you just want it done and over with. It's easy to huff and puff around and snap at everyone who so much as breathes in your general direction, but the fact of the matter is that you're spending the entire weekend with these people and the economy is in the toilet, so you better find a way to enjoy yourself. Otherwise you'll be miserable.
Try to be nice, because the person who may be annoying the #*&@ out of you on set up day may end up being one of the nicest people at the show once everything is up and running!!