My many many thanks to the people of RAW: Natural Born Artists. A magnificent organization dedicated to local indie-artists and promoting their work. I am honored to now be considered a member of such a great family of creatives.
This past October 23rd, I had the honor of showcasing my work for the local appetite of the art community. It was an amazing evening and if you have followed my blog for the better part of the last 2 months, then you know about the event already. If not, head on over Here for more information.
Now that the big day has come and gone, I wanted to give a quick summary and report on my experiences.
A neat benefit to being showcased, is the opportunity to be interviewed and have a video edited for marketing myself as a RAW Artist. I had a call time of 4:35pm, but apparently things got a little chaotic and some people were not meeting their call times and I got approached to get mine out of the way earlier than scheduled. I am always game for some chatting and off I went with the interviewer. This was one hell of a fun experience and I only had to take one cut away. I’ll take that. One thing is for sure, watching myself, however uncomfortable I find doing this is, really clarifies why so many people out here in the bay ask where I am from. My accent is thick and much more so than it sounds in my head. I am definitely midwestern born with a southern twang. Truthfully, I couldn’t be prouder. Its rather exotic out here and I find that hilarious and that’s for true.
RAW Showcase Interview
Video footage shot by [& featured image above]: KEVIN JONES
For more information about RAW: www.rawartists.org
Coming up on the event, I found myself really grasping to wrap up last minute preparations. This being none to uncommon for a procrastinator like myself. But I find I work better under pressure. Nothing like an incentive like being bare for a showcase to get the blood pumping.
I had already ordered my first batch of prints to be on display. But a quick dive into my old equipment spurred my inspiration to supply a portfolio book to flip through more work and purchase prints on location. So I found myself in need of a good number more prints. So back to MPix I went and ordered another 20 prints.
This final order was certainly last minute and arrived only 48 hours prior to the event. Seems like a good amount of time, but when shipping is involved, one can never be to sure of an items arrival. This had my belly turning up until I saw that lovely tracking switch over to “Out for Delivery”.
I had a nice frame in house to use for my “Old Man” image, but had to head out and pick up a couple new ones for the 12 x 18 prints of “Lady in Sunglasses” and “Ship on the Ocean”. I went with silver, for whatever reason I had in my head at the time and the juxtaposition with the black frame I had actually went along pretty well. Using “Old Man” as a center focal image between my secondary flagship street image and a personal favorite color landscape piece.
I did in fact learn that the space I was to set up on was 6′ x 6′, instead of the 8′ x 6′ area I had anticipated. Frankly, this posed a benefit and I was pleased to find out about the change during the initial walk through. I had also chosen a different room than I was eventually placed in, but that too was a benefit and I will speak more on it shortly.
Now that I have my prints, I realize that I do not have a sign and no time what so ever to get a proper print of a design I had in my head. After this realization, I found myself harnessing my roots and picking up a pencil and Sharpie to do some manual work. On one of the many pieces of foam core I chose not to use, I began recreating by hand my logo and appropriate text for web links and pricing information.
This took me about 2-3 good hours to get it just right and fix inevitable mistakes. But in the end, I was rather pleased with the result. Also, the mistakes that occurred, or rather some last minute decisions turned out to be very nice features of the sign. I got all the way to the end and in attempting to add my www.m43street.com link… I stepped back and realized I had written www.m43steet.com, completely omitting the “r”… Wonderful! So I cut off the bottom of the section I misspelled and cut a narrow piece of equal width to the sign and rewrote the link, pasted it below the logo (which was wide enough because I had inadvertently given a wider gap between it and the text below than I anticipated). I also chose to use various squares of pre-written pricing to simply adhere as the night carried later and later toward the end. This all turned out to work perfectly and better than I initially planned.
Another last minute creation was an upright base for the iPad I decided to use as a portfolio slideshow to display even more pieces of art that I had not ordered in print form. Mostly Chicago and Vegas work that I did not want to be the focus of my SF showcase.
At about 2pm I began my journey to 1015 Folsom. On the way, I stopped by Target here on the island, to get a simple picture frame stand. Unfortunately such an item (when needed) poses to be impossible to find, even with the aid of the kind employees walking the aisles. In my defeat, I decided to run back to the house and slice up three more stripes of foam core for an on the floor project and made my way across the Bay Bridge. While there I visualized and constructed the device you see below. Its crude, its ugly, but it was functional, cheap and easy to make quickly. In situations like this (especially when its not seen), functional and quick matters above all.
Upon my arrival to the venue, I had to find parking first of all. Which in San Francisco is pretty much a cold-hearted bitch of a process, but there was a kickass (though rather shady looking) parking yard across from the club and they informed me they would allow me to park till midnight. Even though they generally are open until 7pm only. I had my reservations about leaving the old girl there, but this turned out to be $12 bucks well spent.
After passing over some currency, I lugged my setup bag, frames, prints, tables and chair in only a couple trips… then began setting up my booth. We were given between 3:30 and 7 (opening time) to get everything ready. I got to start around 4 or so, once the backdrop gates (structures for set up) were put in place. I also discovered at my time of arrival, that my placement was changed from the entry room to the main floor. Directly adjacent the runway. At first I was a bit worried about the noise, but as I got ready I found this to be one of the best damn seats in the house. High traffic, main space and only feet from the fashion show. Win/Win all around.
One tip I would like to give here, to anyone out there doing a RAW event in the future. Get the following items and make absolute sure they are in your “setup bag”.
- Canvas shopping bag (see: Trader Joes, Whole Foods, etc…)
- Masking Tape
- Spool of wire
- Spool of nylon string
- GOOD Scissors
- Multitool; with sharp knife, pliers/wire cutters, screwdriver head +
- Dark Hued, Black Out Curtain (for backdrop)
- Numerous strips and scrapes of foam core. Seriously, this stuff is handy
- Clamps/Clips – Small and Large
These are essential to set up. You may not use it all, but I assure you that a good number of the items above will come in VERY handy, if not coming down to the very item that saves your ass in a pinch. A couple of these saved mine and I was very thankful for my setup bag.
While setting up, I had the pleasure of chatting with a couple of artists whose placement were in my section. Don, a local Bay area landscape photographer and “AEGL“, a fine art painter with a great vision for the abstract. Two really cool cats whose company I enjoyed during the three hours of establishing my little space in the club.
After it was all finished (relatively speaking), I was rather impressed with what I came up with. The images below will give you a good idea of how the prints were laid out on my fence and how I set up the little displays. My booth sign also came out pretty damn neat as well, I must say. I ended up moving it around quite a bit. Never really could find a place that it would fit without being countered by the above A/C or being to low for my preference. In the first image, I had it on a random table that was left by the event workers, but I conceded this area to the artist next door so she could get up a few more pieces. Her canvases were pretty big.
The biggest nuisance came down to the strung up loose prints. The paper clips I used were great, the string even worked well. But I shot myself in the foot by tying them down statically at the ends, without conducting an adjustment knot. I eventually used some wire and stretched them out a bit more to get rid of that droop in the middle section. It kept bugging the hell out of me and I couldn’t leave it be till it was resolved. Sadly by the time I did tighten it up, the crowd was already buzzing and I had no mind to take any more pictures.
Once the show was underway, there was little time to chat. The flood gates lifted and the rush of people came washing into the venue. During our initial walk through, I was informed an expectation of over 600 people were to be attending the event throughout the evening and I was kindly reminded of this early on.
The magnificent CEO of my company was even wanting to come and by a beautiful gesture attempted to do so. However, she sadly arrived about an hour too late and by such point, parking was impossible and the line to get past the rope was wrapping around the block. So she decided (not unlike myself in similar circumstance) to send her regards electronically and congratulate me on my honor of being showcased.
Now, the line out the door and down the street was not something I expected and when informed by her of this, I must admit, my chest immediately bumped up a level in pride.
As the evening progressed, I was pleased to see many familiar faces. Some expected, others unexpected. My friends from here in the Bay that I had invited popped in throughout the night; Henry, Rendy, James… even Jimmy, a guy i meet through Henry, appeared at my booth, peering along the images, never even realizing that he knew me. I stood near him a little while, letting him take it in. Even recommending him to flip through the portfolio book I had on the table. As he leaned down, I couldn’t help myself and just blurted out, “So, yeah, hows Henry and Rendy doing?”…
He straightened up with a look of confusion on his face and I pointed out to my “Old Man” image and informed him, “you were here when I took this.” He quickly realized who I was and we got to talking about that day we shot through ChinaTown and the images we got that day. In Jimmy’s defense, he had no clue I was even showcasing this night and he has a penchant for photography (being a shutterhead himself) and was draw by the art of my booth, before he realized the actual subjects in the images. It was a damn funny moment and a good memory from the night.
As the night carried on, one of the most enjoyable parts came during my exit and return to my work. Be it to get a drink or relieve that drink, when I returned, a little group would form blocking me from getting back to my seat. This being something I was not at all upset about. I would actually just kinda sit back and watch all the people point out features of the images, or speak to one another about this or that… analyze parts, comment on others. It was truly an inspiring and humbling experience. Something I simply cannot put in words.
An interesting coincidence took place about midway through the night. Something that I always wondered would happen, when showing in the same city I shoot in. Someone recognized one of my subjects. A young lady started laughing out loud and pointing at my “Lady in Sunglasses” image. I asked her what about the image was so funny and she shot back, “Oh my god, thats my neighbor. I know her.”
This is the kind of moment that both excites me and washes me in a wave of intrigue. To see an image of my own impact another in that manner is something that transcends words. This is a big city and while the crowd was large, it was amazing that out of a wave of 600~, a subject of the roughly 835,000 citizens is recognized. I must admit, a small inkling of nervousness arose at that moment too. You also never know what the thoughts of the one recognizing has toward the of the one recognized and some people can steer down the road of TMI quickly. Thankfully this was not one of those situations and the lady in my image was said to have a wicked sense of style and is usually shining just as she’s portrayed by my piece.
It’s what pushes me wherever I go. To freeze little moments of time that encapsulates and shuts down the clock on the urban area I’m documenting.
Another interesting conversation (x2) I had through the night, was a locals outlook on my series. All images displayed on my backdrop, in print, were of San Francisco and one gentleman in particular, had an amazing comment to make while gazing on my prints… “You captured San Francisco! This is my city.” Now THIS, made my night. Its what I strive for. It’s what pushes me wherever I go. To freeze little moments of time that encapsulates and shuts down the clock on the urban area I’m documenting.
The night carried on, chatting with various interesting and highly talented artists and keen eyes for composition. Lords and Ladies of their own little domain. A trait I admire.
Throughout this night, there was a unique performance art piece carried out on stage, two live bands and ending with the fashion show. An impressive and simply neat-ass display of local fashion designers, makeup artists and hair stylists… and I had a front row seat (due to the mix up with the booth locations). I was not complaining. As soon as the lights dropped, the music pitched up and the smoke began to puff, I snatched up my camera, turned to my left and began to snap away. I ended up with a really neat series of images, tailored to my own style of course. A fashion photographer, I am not. But a keen artsy, albeit gritty eye, I do possess and here are a few of those I snagged with my trusty dusty EM5 and 17/1.8.
As the runway cleared, the final bows commenced and the event began its winding down phase. Artists pivoted from their tables and chats to their booths and the clippers were put to the tabs, wires and string holding up works of art. In a much more quickened pace than the afternoon preparations, the lights brightened, the booths were cleared and the surreal evening of artistic vibrations calmed and found itself muted by the lifting of the curtain to my real life fantasy.
My showcase was over and it was time to do the same as my peers and pack my bags, pack my car, fire up the engine and drag my exhausted ass back to home base for some much needed rest. Ironically, no metaphysical dreams were had that night. I had the honor of living my reverie hours earlier and could wake up soundly knowing it all truly took place.
It was a magnificent accomplishment to share with 39 others and I simply cannot wait to do this again soon.
See you soon London and make no mistake, you’re next Sydney.
My name is Casper and I am a RAW Artist.