After a brutal workweek (not dwelling), I returned to sell at the Rust Belt Market yesterday. Using the "sell" term loosely, as it wound up being one of a couple times I did not even break even. I think I have signed up again as much for the experience, exposure and connections as for the sales.
For exchanges like this: a young couple came through toward the end of the (long) day. "Ohhh, here are the prints we liked," the girl-woman said to her guy. I balanced between being attentive and present and unobtrusive. The three of us start talking. They have both just begun doing lino cuts. They have discovered they are not very good. They are chagrined to find they can't draw. "We thought we would be good." They realize the humor in this. They are maybe freshly out of college, clear-skinned and sparkly. Well, I told them. I can't draw. I am confronted with that every time I make a new design. In your head it's so much better. "YES!!!" says the woman. She's demonstrative, as we women often are. I tell them to keep going. I have been doing this for 12 years. Their eyes rake over the table. They nod. Okay, that makes sense. They'll let me know how it goes. They won't. But how refreshing to be on the other end of this exchange. I am so used to seeking out my mentors, looking for encouragement or reassurance, not this other way around. Nice.
And for exchanges like this: This happened throughout the day. Sometimes I wearied of it. I never knew when it would happen next, but it happened somewhat frequently, sprinkled across the hours. Remarks mysteriously uttered as if they were part of a conversation that only I knew had interruptions to it. My table neighbor was an older woman who I have spoken with in passing a few times. She once bought a small woodblock card and sent it to her mother in Australia, who loved it. On that occasion she deliberated over it, came back maybe three times, before settling on a small bird card (the bird cards are also my Mom's favorites). She has a quiet voice, with Aussie highlights to it, casually upswept blond hair and flawlessly done--not overdone -- makeup. She is given to pronouncements.
"Oh, your Mother is proud of you." She has never talked to my Mom and we were not speaking about her. Well, yes she is. She has been saying that lately. Ahh, yes, she nods.
"You moved here for school."
"Your sister is married, with two kids."
"Hmm. That's what I saw." I fall short of shrugging.
"But she's younger."
-- No, five years older.
"Your Mom wants grandkids."
-- Well, yeah. There's less chance of that happening at this point... [This is not my favorite line of questioning-through-statement. Seriously? Can we stop this? I return to my letter, where I am ranting about how someone else is vexing the hell out of me. This endeavor is more fun: it has the prospect of release anyway, plus a sympathetic ear. I think of the letter recipient, who is already fully aware of my family's dynamics, will most likely lambast the vexer and will not tell me who I am, because she already knows, very well. And her replies will be witty and lyrical.]
Midway through the day, she comes across new information.
"You are going on a big trip next year, I feel it very strongly. That is something for you to be excited about."
I choose to let this soak in, because I would like it to be true. I tell her I just got my first passport earlier this year, but haven't used it yet. For the rest of the day, she pops over with trip-focused snippets.
"So where do you think you'll be going?"
--Europe probably. Maybe Sweden, I have friends in Sweden. I have been meaning to visit them.
"Oh, yes and maybe you'll meet someone there. Maybe you'll move there."
-- Well, I don't know.
"You'll save money if you can ship your bags over in advance. Because you have quite enough time before your trip."
--Right, I say. Yes, true.
"You should go home tonight and start looking at flights."
-- Mmm, you know, I just can't plan that right now.
"But at least look. Then you'll know how much money you need to figure on"
"Oh, you're going to have SO MUCH fun. This will be great for you."
I try teasing her: You could move it up to this year if you want.
She peers at me. "No, there's too much, you've got too much right now. It's next year: March or April.You're going to have so much fun."
Later on, she is examining my signature on a few hanging rogue prints.
"Oh, you're a bit shy! I didn't realize that. But you are, aren't you?" She says this affectionately. I feel caught out.
--Sometimes. I mean, I CAN be really outgoing. But other times, it seems like too much. I'm kind of a mix.
She looks at another. "Oh, but here's a nicer signature, you're stronger over here." I feel relieved, because the latter is closer to my usual signature. "Yes, you were more settled into it there. You must have been tired when you signed the other one."
Maybe so. On that note, I need to throw on some studio clothes and head over to Maestra's printing press. I have nailed down most of the designs for the hospital show and want to include a Cakeasaurus print that I have yet to edition. Fingers crossed for a productive printmaking day. I see an ink-filled afternoon. I feel it very strongly.