Monday, 14 April 2014

A pop-up shopping list

So, after the last post I thought it might be useful to all of you all to see what I brought to the event. This list of things grew and grew as the RHS show approached, and rather like my packing, it was fairly organic. My way of packing is to put things in the corner of the room as I think of them. By Monday the pile was a bit disturbing and looked like it might actually turn into some sort of life form, so I tidied it up and packed it all into cases ready for Thursday.

Here is the list!

  • Foam board for packing duplicate prints and to stick my demo painting to
  • Masking tape - very useful
  • Scissors - very useful
  • Paper bags for post cards
  • Collapsible print cradle
  • Collapsible easels for framed work
  • A postcard rack
  • Plant material
  • Postcards in protective box to keep them clean and safe
  • Business cards also in their protective boxes
  • Table cloth
  • Paints - well that would be handy wouldn't it?!!
  • Brushes - ditto
  • Magic easer
  • Burnisher - nice starting point for conservation at the demo
  • Jeweller's Loop - ditto
  • My tablet complete with a photograph taken in the morning so I could identify where to put in the shadows
  • An example of a framed piece of work
  • Fine art prints, as many as you like
  • Invoice book
  • Change - mainly 50p, £1 & £5. Don't under estimate how hard it is to get hold of change these days! Banks like to charge...
  • Clip board with crib sheet for information like postage costs
  • A table light- it attracts people
  • Collapsible chairs - wasn't sure if the RHS were supplying them and if they would be at the right height.
  • Parcel tape - useful for securing boxes after the show finished
  • Plastic carrier bags - for prints
  • Stiffy bags for wrapping large prints and framed piece
  • A card machine
  • Chargers for the tablet, mobiles and card machine and a four way
  • Sticky labels-you never know when you need them - I did, despite printing it all out before hand.
  • Two pens
  • Money belt
  • A camera - to update your online audience on how the event is progressing
  • Visitors book - useful to get emails from
  • Tissue paper for prints
  • Flask of tea - essential really
  • Kitchen roll - ditto, especially when sitting in a pollen-filled hall. I used more for my nose than paint.
  • Pot for water - I forgot to pack this.
  • Suitcase to contain packing materials and framed work
  • Rucksacks so you can carry more with your hands - handy!
  • Portfolio for large prints

I managed to save a bit with the costs by using postcard racks and a table cloth from Kew and a print cradle and easel from my friend Piers Ottey (thanks guys!). I bought my prints and foam board in batches of 10 as it's cheaper that way, and got my cellophane wrapping on eBay. I was also very lucky in that my step dad designed all my cards for free and that I was able to update my website myself as it's on a WordPress template. However the costs of undertaking such a venture can still stack up. For example, I had to get a taxi to the venue. I had hoped to do it on the underground, but getting on a tube at rush hour on a Friday with an A0 portfolio is NOT fun! So... last bit of info:

Board - £72.00
Visitors Book - £3.83
Invoice book - £3.93
Orchid to paint - £14.40
Taxi - £40.00
Prints - £997.50
Postcards - £166.00
Tea on day one £8.00
Meal out on Friday night (Henry's wages) £67.00
Paypal machine £99.00
Saunders Waterford 420gsm HP paper to paint Odette on £7.00

TOTAL: £1478.66 ouch!

Things I got for free:

  • Acrylic shop signs - borrowed from Kew, but you can get them from Muji
  • Bags re-used from older ones. I had been saving all my big bags over the last year
  • Stiffy bags (I reused the outer ones used to package the ones Kew uses for Rory prints)
  • Easels, table cloth and prints rack (borrowed)
  • Business cards (a birthday present)
So there you have it. Not easy to compute all that money... but I consider it an investment. Some folk like to go on big holidays, or buy a car or a nice dress or make up. I don't. I have have made to decision to have my hair cut once a year, to use make up samples for my make up (or birthday presents) and buy cheap holiday deals. This year Henry and I are going to California to see some friends and we can't wait. We bought the tickets using his air miles during the sale and plan to camp over the two and a half weeks. It's going to be fun, fun, fun and hopefully cheaper, cheaper, cheaper! Yes, I am a martyr for my art, but aren't we all?!


  1. Oh well done Jess - that's such a useful list! I'm going to highlight it on my Facebook Page.

    Try redoing the numbers on the basis of:
    * Fixed costs - kit for doing demonstrations which can be shared out over how ever many demos/similar events you do
    * variable costs for prints/cards/whatever which carries on as merchandising stock after the demo and can be sold via your website
    * variable costs directly related to the event
    and then see what it looks like

    For example, if you did one of these at another event, what would be the net additional cost?

    It's an exercise worth doing because it's the answer to your "Do I or Don't I?" question

  2. Just did the numbers - I think the variable costs entirely attributable to this show total £221 - plus the cost of prints and postcards sold and foam core used.

    The rest is fixed assets and stock. Can you tell what I qualified as?

    I love the recycling element BTW - very wise girl!

    I've posted this on my Facebook page - I hope you get some visitors.... :)

    1. I am really glad you liked this post Katherine and agree about the other fixed asset list. I guess I figured that the readers would work it out depending on their needs and desires - yep - I am so lazy! But yes, it is about £221 for the card machine, wages/meal, taxi, paper, tea and taxi. Where they your calculations?

      It's great I can re-use the permanent stuff like the card machine and as time ticks along I will slowly claim back my costs through print sales. They way I look at it, is it's just over a months salary which makes it look far more reasonable :S!

      Anyway - I am glad that you found this informative - thanks for sharing it on FB. Much appreciated. Oh, and thank you for posting so many informative pages yourself there Katherine - amazing reads as usual!

  3. So upset with myself for forgetting about the event! It would have been a beautiful and such useful experience to meet you and see you at work. The orchid looks amazing!
    Thank you for sharing all of this.

    1. Oh no!! That's sad :( You must be gutted. Well, at least you know there is next year and the RHS have lots of botanical art on show at their other events. Plus you have the Society of Botanical Artists on show in May. Lovely! I hope that one day we will meet. Thanks for your kind comments about Odette the Orchid. She likes you too.

  4. That was so interesting and informative, Jess. Congratulations to you on such a successful day and the orchids do look amazing :)

    1. Thanks Lorraine - I am really glad that you like Odette and found this post useful. It's really nice to know that it helps people, it really is. I hope your painting is going well and that I will see you soon.

  5. Useful post, I like the bit about your pile of things for packing looking like it might turn into some sort of life form! I agree flask of tea essential and in my case plenty to eat!

    1. LOL! Yes it was a bit of a pile it has to be said! It was amazing once I packed it all down though - it really reduced in size quite remarkably. I guess the flask of tea was forgotten with all the confusion of the morning. Something that wasn't in the pile because it was a morning thing... to be made fresh. Next time though, I am lobbing it into that life form of a pile so I don't forget!

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  8. Congratulations on the successful demo booth! All of your planning paid off--thanks for sharing so much about the experience with us. I think the demo booths are a brilliant addition to the RHS show.

    1. Thanks Janene - I am really pleased you liked the post and found it useful. I think the RHS pop-up thing went down really well with so many people that they might do it again. In which case I thought I ought to do this post so that if more artists get involved they can be really prepared. Thanks for your kind comments - always a pleasure.

  9. I came via Katherine's FB. Very interesting - thank you for posting!

    1. Hi Sue - Welcome to Inky Leaves! - Great to see you here. I am glad you liked the post and found it informative and helpful. Thanks for your comments, it's always nice to know what people think and if you are hitting the mark so to speak.

  10. Hi Jess. Lovely to meet you even if we were busy 'doing our own thing' most of the time. It's interesting to see a breakdown of your costs. Did you sell much tin the way of cards and prints? And was the Paypal machine useful? Julia

  11. Hi Julia - thanks for your comments. Always nice to have comments on the blog. Oh yes, sadly there wasn't much time for a catch up was there? If I had come a bit earlier on the first day then I would have had a chance to mingle more. I blame my dad for that... late night in the pub! Whoopsy! I am also really bad at being a good socialite. I can do it, but then work goes out of the window... I seem to be only good at doing one thing at a time, so alas I choose work. How did your smaller studies go on the Sunday? You seemed to have a lot of peope around your studio which I was really pleased to see.

    I feel that the Paypal machine was useful. I sold 4 prints thanks to it and a few large batches of postcards (like more than 10 in one sale), so I am happy that I got it and I can see it being useful for future events too. I guess it is just the way things are going now cheques are becoming a relic of a bygone era.

    Are you doing the RHS secret garden events on Sundays?