Monday, January 21, 2013

Work Wear

I love heels, no question. But when it's time to get out of the studio and exhibit at a festival, comfortable shoes are necessary. Working an art show is so much more than standing in your tent, on asphalt (or more rarely, grass) for 8+ hours (with no lunch break) to sell your creations.

It's also setting up, which can be cold - or alternatively, brutally hot - messy, and dirty. Set up can happen the day before at 2 p.m on a sweltering summer afternoon, or the day of (which means you might have to set up in the dark at 6 a.m.). And you might not get to park and unload your vehicle right next to your space, which means hauling heavy stuff (tent, weights, tables, etc) for some distance.

Then there are two to five days (most shows aren't five days, but there are a few, and many are three days) of selling your work (standing) for 8+ hours. And just because the show opens at 10 a.m. doesn't mean that's when you get'll be there a bit earlier. Especially if you are a jewelry maker, because you take your jewelry home with you each night and put it all back out the next morning (it's too easy to steal, so you never leave it in your booth overnight). Plus artist parking is typically not that close to the show. Sometimes it's so far away that you have to take a shuttle to and from, so you have to allow time for that.

And then there's tear down, reversing the set up process. Except that EVERYBODY tears down at once. No matter how good (or not good) a show has been for any of the artists, WE WANT TO GO HOME AS SOON AS IT'S OVER. So it gets a little crazy. And yeah, you might not get to park and load up your vehicle anywhere near your spot. Almost every festival artist I know has invested in a hand truck.

Plus it's not uncommon to have rain...see the story about the Matisse boots below. You're outside for long stretches of time over several enough shows over time, and you may very well get wet - sometimes more often than not. 

"Fun heels" and fancy shoes are not going to cut it.  :)

What gets me through in warm weather festivals:

They're not the prettiest shoes, but not the ugliest either...and these Yellow Box flips have saved my feet more times than I can count. I order a pair every spring and they get me through the spring and summer shows. Usually by the end of a festival run they've walked so many miles that the cushioning is shot and I just order new ones the next year.

I don't know why they are SO comfortable, but my feet don't hurt at the end of a long day of festival work. And that says a lot. Asphalt especially is so hard on your feet and legs (and back!). These shoes are the work BOMB.  

Tiny photo from DSW - all I could find, since these are no longer available anywhere, it seems. I have a pair in pewter and in brown. They're not as fabulous as the Yellow Box sandals, but they're pretty good for a switch-out on day two, or day three, of a festival.

And - don't laugh - but these:

Minnetonka. I think these have been steadily produced since the 1970's. They're a little old-school, but I don't really care when it comes to working art shows. They're not quite as good as the Yellow Box, but they're close. And kind of subtle. And a little Western-inspired, which, being a girl from the West, I don't mind.  :)  I bought them at a DSW and they were so good I went back and bought a second pair. Never underestimate the power of comfortable working shoes! 
They come in a variety of colors, but I like the brown the best. 

Colder weather calls for jeans and boots, usually. Right now I have one pair of hard-core, workhorse boots that I can't remember how I lived without:

DSW and their small images!! Anyhoo, these are the boots that I wear to many, many, many festivals. I happened across them at a DSW in Birmingham, AL during a festival...a festival that had been shut down on the middle day (of three) due to a tornado warning. Yes, my work IS glamorous and not scary at all...the show shut us down for safety and I couldn't go home, I'd still  have to exhibit the next day, so I went to the movies. And shopping. What else is a girl going to do when she's out of town and can't work?  :)
And that tornado? It ended up touching down just a few miles away from us that night. Several artists lost their entire tents (these things are not built to withstand tornado-force winds). I was fortunate and mine survived. It's not all fun and games out there...fortunately, it's not typically severe weather conditions either.
So I found the Matisse boots. I think they were about $100, and I literally don't know what I wore before I owned them. I wear them just as much for travel and personal time as I do for work. 

They're a great deep gray-ish brown which works with whatever I'm wearing, and if I could find another pair that I liked as much (for a reasonable price - they are exceptional quality for $100 boots!), I'd snap them up. I'd like to have a black pair, but so far nothing else measures up. 

One of these days, I'll have a pair of these though:

Frye. Beautiful. And you know they'd only get better with age :)
And eventually I'll add something like this to the work shoe wardrobe:
Another little tribute to my Western roots.  :)  But for now, the Matisse are the fall workhorses, intermixed with rain boots and a pair of slightly taller-heeled ankle boots, for when I'm feeling reckless.  :)

Also on the list:

Slihgtly taller heel, but they're Frye and so they've got to be comfortable...if my other three pairs of Frye heels are, right?  I'd really like a pair in black but the top stitching bothers me in the black so the brown will do. These would work wonderfully with the dresses I wear at early spring shows and the jeans I wear at the fall events.

So now you've seen a glimpse behind the curtain of my glamorous travel and festival work. Makes you want to be self-employed, doesn't it?  :)

No comments:

Post a Comment