Mixed media artist Susan Lenz presents her lovely portfolio. She talks about her process and her business.
ABI: Tell us about your materials and techniques.
SL: My work is made primarily from polyester stretch velvet on recycled, black acrylic felt. I own every color I can find, no matter how seemingly garish. This is combined with heat-activated adhesives and lots of self-directed free-motion machine embroidery.
Finally, I use a soldering iron to poke holes in the design and a heat gun for overall melting. This is a technique I developed and, fortunately, it continues to fascinate me as much as my clients.
ABI: How did you prepare for your first trade show?
SL: Internet research was valuable but not as important as actually talking to artists who use moveable panel booths. So, my husband and I went to a trade show, met a few artists, and finally ordered a perfect booth. We set it up in our living room.
Our cats loved it, but, more importantly, it allowed us to conduct a trial run. As a result, we knew exactly what we were doing, where everything would hang, and gained much needed peace of mind going into our first show. I also participated in the on-line conferences prior to the show. These provided great tips.
ABI: What have you gained from your trade show experience?
SL: I have learned so many new things as a result of the BMAC. First, I had to figure out how to use an on-line shipping service. It was well worth learning as I’ve already had repeat business from these new clients. I’ve also gained the confidence to apply to other shows, something I really couldn’t do until I finally had that needed “booth photo”.
Happily, I’ve been accepted into two prominent shows later this year (The Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show and the Washington Craft Show.) Most importantly, I learned ways to engage a potential gallery owner in conversation leading to a successful, minimum sale.