Relaxing after busy show season

My youngest children are now officially out of school, and yesterday was my last art show of the spring 2014 season here in Canmore. Although I do miss getting regular art time in the summer (being home with the boys), it’s time to celebrate the closing of one busy chapter, and the opening of a quieter schedule with different priorities.

LINDA COTE-Mountain MadeThis spring was unusually busy, which is funny because I typically spend the spring creating and the fall selling. But, there were too many great opportunities to let them pass, so here’s a recap of shows in early 2014.

It all starts with preparation

Art shows are like pop-ups in that they appear magically out of thin air in a couple hours, and shortly after the show, they leave no trace. But, weeks — and sometimes months — of preparation can go into hosting these shows for the public. In the end, it’s a lot of fun to hang out, talk art and sell your pieces. Completely worth the effort, in my opinion.

Here is an inside look at some of the work that goes on ahead of time to pull these shows together (not including making the art!).

My cards, after they are hand-printed, need to be folded, signed, a sticker added on the back, packaged in cello and priced. This is a job I’m always doing at the last minute — usually late at night in front of the TV!

LINDA COTE-signing cards

I also include a description of the printmaking process in the see-through envelope of each of my cards. This card shows my newest hand stamp for the back of the cards…no more printed stickers, and more of a handmade feel, I think.

LINDA COTE-packaging cards

I frame a small selection of limited edition prints for each art sale. I often have people say, “I think I am going to get it framed, and I find it a year later on my desk. I’ll take it framed!” I do all the framing myself. These prints are framed in classic black frames with a white conservation mat. For my prints to last without yellowing, I hand-print on acid-free paper and make sure that the framing material is also all acid-free. (I wrote a blog about the importance of conservation framing.)

LINDA COTE-framing

And, no matter how careful I am, I usually end up at a show with one of my fingers in a bandage — either from a framing incident, a paper cut or a run-in with a carving tool! Can you tell I have kids? No boring bandages allowed!


One last step is always the “dry run” set up in my studio, where I plan out my booth for the space I have rented at the art show. This leaves me with a plan that is easy to execute because we often only have an hour or two to unload and set up our art booths. The less stress at this stage, the better!

LINDA COTE-dry run

Last year, for an outdoor show, I got a new banner printed and made some alterations to fit my outdoor tent. I was pretty sure it would work, but to be sure, I set the 10-foot-by-10-foot tent up in my studio! There wasn’t quite enough room, but enough so I could see the banner would work.

LINDA COTE-tent in studio

Once everything is ready to go, I enlist the help of my husband to carry the many bins, displays and art down the three flights of stairs to the car. (He also helps in the other direction — the harder direction — going UP three flights of stairs. And, many times, he takes me home first for a glass of wine and “packs up” for me. A keeper!)

LINDA COTE-loading

I’ve gotten better with simplifying my booth, and learning what packs best in the car. We just have a small SUV, so I have to be efficient! Everything has its place, and it all somehow fits. Although, I do dream of a funky little pull behind trailer, it is not in the cards yet.

LINDA COTE-The packed car

Now for the art sales that took place between April and June in Banff, Calgary and Canmore (all in my home province of Alberta).

Harmony Lane Suitcase Sale (April 2014)

I love this sale because of its simplicity. Every artist brings a suitcase to sell their creations from. It takes place in the Harmony Lane Mall (click the link for photos) in Banff every few months, and features a great community of artists.

Hand Made Here Spring Art Sale (May 2014)

This artist collective in Calgary that I am a part of typically hold shows once a year before Christmas. This year, we heard from a lot of our followers that we should do a spring sale. So we did! We held the show in the same venue (Triwood Community Hall in NW Calgary) and it was great fun, as always. This photo shows me with my booth.


Among many other artists (26 in total) is my friend, and fellow Canmore artist, Nicole Tremblay with her glass creations. Nicole is part of a wonderful glass collective in Canmore called Fireweed Glass Studio. If you are in town, definitely check them out. They are open most days this summer!


Although I am often too busy to get around to take photos too far from my own booth, this photo shows the metal work of Susanah Windrum of Copper Lizard Studio. For more Hand Made Here artists and artwork, visit the Hand Made Here Facebook page.


And, one more from the show with me behind my booth.


 Mountain Made Artisan Market (May & June 2014)

Mountain Made Chalk BoardI participated in two shows for the Mountain Made Market in Canmore this spring. The art sales take place most long weekends in the lobby Elevation Place, our town’s new recreation center.

This is a lovely venue because there is beautiful natural light, and the climbing wall is not far away, so there is always something going on!

LINDA COTE-Elevation MM3-2

The first weekend in May, the weather wasn’t warm enough to have the patio doors open, so the sale took place inside.

LINDA COTE-Elevation MM3-3

When I looked behind me from my booth, here is what I saw through the windows: the east end of Mount Rundle. Not a bad view!

LINDA COTE-Elevation MM2

For the June show, the promise of good weather meant the organizer wanted to have outdoor vendors on the patio and the big doors open so the show was inside and out. From my booth, you can see the tent behind me on the other side of the glass.

LINDA COTE-Elevation june2Here is a look inside at the other artists setting up.

LINDA COTE-Elevation june

My printmaker friend from Calgary, Heather Smith of Cosmikgoo, came out for the show in June. I love her handmade sign — and her printmaking artwork — which can be found on her website.

LINDA COTE-CosmikgooHer sign has a great sentiment to end on. I love participating in art shows. Though they are work, I always meet great people, learn something about other artists someone wants me to look up, or make future connections. It is the gift that keeps on giving, for sure!


8 responses to “Relaxing after busy show season

    • Thanks, Sue! I know how much I love looking at other artists’ posts about their shows and set ups (like yours) so I thought it would be good to share!

  1. Thanks for shedding some light on all the behind the scenes work that goes into getting ready for a show! As a friend who was helping me push a heavy cart of display stuff late at night through snow to get to a Christmas show said (tongue in cheek), it’s the “dark underbelly” of the art business. Or, as the old saying goes, “It’s not all beer and skittles”! Totally worth it though, to get out and meet people. Thanks again for the great post.

  2. I didn’t get a chance to comment on this when I first read it but have loved joining you for two shows this year! Always so much fun and I learn so much! 🙂 Enjoy your summer!

  3. Hi Linda, like you I also set up a dry set before an art show. Great to see how you talk about it here. You have such a great way of writing about your art practice!

    Enjoy you summer & a hug from Holland 🙂

    • That’s wonderful to know Helga. My big thing is: no surprises. But, there is always some surprise when setting up for a show, yes? Haha. Glad you enjoyed the blog, and sending you a big hug right back to Holland! I still love and wear your necklace the most of anything I own!

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