Wednesday, May 23, 2012

:: nss, a year later ::

i got back yesterday from NSS, which officially ended today. as i said on my facebook page, attending was in many ways very like those scenes in tv shows when characters are being brainwashed: intense visual stimulation, unending interaction, a constant thrumming pulse. i had a new idea with each passing minute. i scribbled notes and put reminders in my phone. i met all kinds of awesome and wonderful people.

then last night i conked out right in the middle of an episode of lost where one of my least favorite characters was about to not die again. that is how tired i was. but i digress.

being that i was walking the show this year after having debuted there last year as an exhibitor, pretty much everyone i spoke to wanted to know two things: was i happy to be walking instead of exhibiting (an enthusiastic yes! qualified by a bit of wistfulness brought on by just how awesome everysinglebooth there was), and did i think exhibiting last year was worth it.

strangely, up until even a few weeks ago i wouldn't have known how to answer the latter question. i would have said something about how i simultaneously learned a lot and felt a lot of resentment about going last year, and how i'm glad i didn't feel obligated to go again this year.

but when someone asked me this question on sunday i was surprised to say that even though it took an entire year to realize it, exhibiting last year was completely worth it. even financially, in the long run.

i think somewhere here on the blog i once figured out that during the 2011 show, i made in sales about 20% of what i had spent on exhibiting, which, as first-time attendance goes, is supposedly decent. unfortunately, i never did make much more than that as a result of the show.

but the certain kind of righteous i was about that financial fiasco (i know the spiel about how you can't look at it that way and it's not about recuperating all of your investment immediately, etc., but to me that seems like, um, crap) led directly to my crazy september experiment which in turn led directly to the sudden realization that i reallyreallyreally needed to start a fine-art short-run print shop.

and here i am a year later with 200% growth for 2012 ytd versus the same time period last year. and all of that only happened because i went to nss. i only had the knowledge to do it, and the confidence, and the contacts, because i'd been serious enough about my business to exhibit. i only heard the things i heard from buyers about my fantastic print quality because i exhibited. i only realized who my ideal customer was because i exhibited. my growth and the new direction things've taken are completely a result of doing nss last year.

and it only took me twelve months to figure that out.