8 Things I've Learned in 8 Years

Updated: Jul 14, 2020

[Summer 2012] Set up at the Manayunk Art Festival in the emerging artist tent at my first outdoor art show.

On a Blazing Hot Sidestreet in Philly

8 summers ago, I was standing under a large white tent on a side street in Manayunk, so excited to be there I didn't care that it was pushing 100 degrees and we were set up on blacktop. Wilted people trickled in from the main part of the art show to shuffle through the emerging artist tent...some filling in for the shade, others stopping by each artist's booth to browse and chat.

I had never done an outdoor art show before. I had three original paintings...the first paintings I had ever done with a newspaper background. I had prints with me that I had mounted to foam core and wrapped in cellophane that I bought in a roll from Michaels.

I brought a few crooked easels and tangled wire to display my originals, and crafted a display board out of flimsy white pegboard found in my basement that kept falling over in the breeze all weekend. I didn't care though...I was an artist, showing my work, at an art show with other artists. It was exhilarating.

I spent the entire weekend talking about my work with anyone that would listen. Even back then, at my very first show, I had my paints with me so I could work on my art right there in front of visitors...something that I still do today.

Painting outside of my booth at the Longs Park Art Show. [Summer 2019]

On Sunday afternoon, a woman came in and purchased one of my pieces. I remember putting the $400 price tag on the work thinking how far fetched it was to think someone would spend $400 on my painting of The Shoreline Motel. It's hard to describe what it was like to sell that first painting. I felt accepted. I felt understood. It opened up the idea that I could actually do this thing that I had wanted to do for so many years. The possibility of being a professional artist was no longer a long shot...I was doing it.

Now, eight years later, I can look back and see so clearly that my life has changed so much because of that one thought: being a professional artist is possible. I get to make art every day. My closest friends are artists. I am actively involved in my community arts program. My kids get to see me living my dream

My artshow besties. Annie Morris Simcoe on the left, Sandra Sedmak Engel in the Middle, and me on the Right.


8 Things I've Learning in the Last 8 Years...

  1. Sleeping in your van instead of booking a hotel to save money on the road is never a good idea. A good night's sleep is worth the price. 🛌 The shower is a close second.

  2. It's always better to paint the thing that I'm inspired by rather than what I believe people want to buy. The art is waaay better that way.

  3. Always pack your rain boots.... ☔️

  4. Keeping your business expenses separate from personal expenses will save you a shit ton of time during tax season. 😬

  5. Kids love to learn about art. Spending time with kids at shows and teaching them about the work is the way we inspire the future generation of artists.

  6. Zeroing at a show happens...and it happens often. I once drove to Miami for a weekend show, and then had to drive back home without selling a thing questioning myself and my life choices the entire drive. But when I got home, the very first thing I wanted to do was to get back into the studio. 🎨

  7. People buy art because of the way it makes them feel. My art isn't for everyone, and that's ok.

  8. Checklists are boss. ✅ You only have to leave your tent canopy behind once to realize that it's not humanly possible to remember everything you need for an outdoor art show....trust me, I've tried.

🎉Bonus: There are so many variables that are beyond my control. What I can control is how I show up, the thoughts that I have, and my attitude. Staying positive, learning from my mistakes, and continuing to do the work even when it's hard are my superpowers. 🦸🏼‍♀️

xo --Teresa

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