Jeff Kuhlman

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Going on the road full time

Posted by on October 9, 2018 at 2:00 PM

I am not sure where to begin, so I will just start. I slowly progressed as a self taught film photographer to the point where I now do this full time. I travel to arts festivals and fairs about 35 weeks a year and my living comes from those sales. When I decided to pursue this as a full time career I made a lot of lists and tried to prepare as best as I could. There is no rule book or how to that exists as far as I know. I definitely made some mistakes in the beginning and I want to share them with you. If you are considering doing art shows in any medium full time I hope this will help you to avoid some of the mistakes that I made. 

First mistake was not realizing how important a booth photo is. It is very important, so important that it is valued as much as your work! Seriously, I did not have a proper booth photo for the first 6 months I was applying to competitive shows, and I did not get into any of them. Not a single one, I did however have one jury reach out to me and asked if I had a different booth photo and that the one submitted was not acceptable.  I really appreciated that person reaching out, if not I would probably thought my work was not good enough to this day. To see some examples of what your booth should look like, go to my places and booth page of this website and take a look. 

The second mistake is closely related to the first, and that was not purchasing a proper canopy. This is represented in your booth photo and is a really big deal. Although in certain shows that I have done, I have seen some pop ups, ez-ups, ect with propanels inside them and they were considered acceptable. Not sure what the artists booth photo looks like, but it is a gamble in my experience to try and go that route. The canopies are very expensive and that is why I had not purchased one. My plan was to purchase one as soon as I got into competitive shows. That never happened, until I purchased the canopy and took a new booth photo, after that I have been inivited to most shows that I have applied to since. It really was like flipping on the light switch, as soon as I had that booth photo with the right canopy I started getting accepted. My canopy is a showoff canopy, but there are a couple others out there of equal quality. Trimline is a big one and lightdome. Each one is very similar and costs about $2000.00 dollars, I will say having one now, I can not imagine not having one. The setup time is much easier and you travel with less gear for presentation than using tables and grid walls. However if you go the propanel route, those will cost about $1500 and a base canopy is about $900. You will need to have an appropriate vehichle to travel with all that setup, it is a lot. 

The third mistake that I made starting out is not realizing that I would be applying and paying for shows up to 6 months in adavance. And that mistake has almost taken me off the road. I did not save enough money starting out to pay for all that. It has totalled up to about $10,000 dollars. I have resorted to using credit cards to make up for it and hope to catch up to it in the next year. 

I hope this helps in your journey to make a living as an artist. If you value this information you can support me and my journey through at Jeff Kuhlman. 

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