I have given over this week to recovering and unpacking from Art in Action, my biggest art event of the year. That’s four days in a (very big) tent with eight other printmakers, twenty four thousand or so visitors, ten to twelve complete copies of my Japanese woodblock print demonstrated and explained for every day of the show, questions answered, deals struck and pictures sold. All I really planned for today was to lie face down within reach of cake, but I have had a few thoughts about the benefits of doing such a show beyond the obvious financial and business ones…
Spending time with other printmakers is always great. I’d say we’re a sociable and sharing lot; I so seldom come across a printer who is secretive about their techniques. Maybe we can afford to be in such a process-led environment where skills are won over years of practice and each printmaker worth their salt finds a unique path and method? Either way, a show is a great way of meeting up with other printers and comparing notes, ideas and materials as well as a few wry grins at some of the comments (hand cut, hand pulled prints so seldom come ‘the same, but a bit narrower and in blue’).
Printmaker party apart, a huge benefit for me was to meet up with some of you people who follow me here or on Facebook. This kind of support is so enormously important to artists who, on average, spend more time with the spiders in our studios than we do with other humans. I find what I do to sometimes be so odd and tenuous (squashing ink into paper in the hope someone will buy the result does not a business plan make…) that I get a bit wobbly. To find that all this tapping on the computer keys, posted photos from my phone and comments on Facebook leads to real people who are genuinely interested: interested enough to comment, like, or fight through the crowded tent at a festival to say hello and be supportive is half the battle of my confidence.
So, for all of you out there, a big thank you for taking the trouble, in cyberspace or on land – you’re all supporters of the arts in the best possible sense of the phrase and I really appreciate it.