Half the year is gone and with it the time for loafing around in your studio. If you haven’t made a start on your holiday production, now is the time.
Fall, when the leaves turn and the days grow short and the air takes on a chill makes me a little lazy. I have Fall Fever.
Living in Texas for most of my life Fall was always a time for celebrating, the State Fair, Texas/OU Weekend, Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas, but most of all surviving another summer.
The Five Months of Misery marks the time between the last day of May and the first day of November when if you are lucky the temp drops down to a chilly ninety-five and you can break out the sweaters and the jackets.
For the five months in-between there is nothing but blazing sun, heat, sun, drought, sun, sweat, and heat. You know the weather has changed when the twenty-something bikini bunnies start to sweat. Now I know your mother told you women do not sweat, they glow, but your mama never spent a summer in Texas. If you weigh over a hundred pounds you sweat.
Way back in 1986 I was an extra in the film Robocop. I did a lot of extra work in those days, I was working first watch with the police department and so long as I didn’t mind not sleeping I could go and do an extra gig, make half a day’s pay and be back in time for role call.
Some location scout convinced a film crew that they should film the start-up sequence in the basement of Crozier Tech High School in Dallas, in Texas, in August. I guess if you looked at it in December or January when the temp was sixty-five, it looked ideal. The building was a turn of the last century, pre-WPA, detention center chic concrete slab which had been abandoned by the Dallas Independent School District somewhere around nineteen-seventy cause it had no ducting for air conditioning and the radiators couldn’t heat the rooms past fifty degrees if the outside temp was lower than sixty.
Perfect for a mad scientist's lair, but come summer that basement became an oven with no circulation and no ventilation and a coupla hundred studio lights and five cameras and three dozen extras and Peter Weller in that plastic body-suit and people were dropping like flies. The temp must have been around 120. It got so bad that the AD, that’s assistant director to you non-actor types, had to urge the extras to keep moving cause if you stopped for a second you left a sweat stain on the bare concrete floor. Ah the life of a film star!
So just living to get to fall is the hope and dream of all of the non-sun people.
Sun people, they move to Texas or they grow up there and they live for the sun. They can’t wait for the first warm, that’s stiflingly hot to you not familiar with Texas, day, shuck off all of their clothes and go play in the sun. The skin cancer rate in Texas is among the highest in the nation and the people there are proud of it.
And when fall comes the sane part of the population heaves a collective sigh of relief and heads out from under the air conditioning where they have been hiding since May and do the things the rest of the country gets to do all year long, like shop, play tennis or golf.
So I always believed that life got better after the fall fell.
But with fall comes the round of holidays, family gatherings and gifting and cooking, which you cannot do when it is 110 and the AC is struggling to keep the house at eighty-five. So if you haven’t made plans you are in deep trouble.
Plans for what, I hard you ask? Plans for the holidays, that’s right you have to make your plans five to six months ahead so that when the time comes you actually have something done which you can then offer the hoards of shoppers desperately waving cash in the air.
I know that you go to your studio every day and work at your art because you are a consummate professional and know that inspiration is the excuse of choice for the amateur. You know that like any skill you have to use it, preferably on a daily basis to keep it sharp and ready and that waiting around for inspiration is a good way to wake up in December with nothing but a smile and an empty studio.
So in addition to working on that new and brilliant idea you had the other night while watching MacGuyver build a proton accelerator from a used Dixie cup, two rubber bands and a firecracker or flare from the emergency kit in the trunk, you have been focusing your energies on making up a selection of items, linked to the holidays which you can build up a stock of and then sell away when the time is right.
You think it is just a coincidence that Linus spent all those Halloweens sitting in the pumpkin patch waiting on the arrival of the Great Pumpkin? No silly, it was Sparky, Charles Shultz creating an opportunity to market Peanuts characters at Halloween.
There are pretty girls everywhere in California, throw a rock in any direction and you’ll hit a few, but there is only one completely associated with Halloween, Cassandra Peterson, Elvira Mistress of the Dark and you can bet Ms Peterson, when she hangs up her corset and fright wig, will have a neat nest egg cause she has been working that venue for all it is worth.
Norman Rockwell created the Thanksgiving we all think we know and never really experienced. Come-on, the last time all of my folks were in one place at one time the UN had to send in a Peace Keeping Team and they got the hell out as fast as they could. Thanksgiving as we know it is Norman’s thumb in the eye of all of the art critics who laughed at his art.
Remember Santa, the jolly ole elf, created by…Haddon Sundblom in 1931 for, Coca-Cola. Yeppers even the jolly ole fat man is a marketing icon and if that doesn’t tell you something you just aren’t listening.
So what are you planning for the holiday push? Have you got your back stock lined up, those Giclees printed, the holiday-themed paintings, the cards carefully priced and attractively packaged so that you can market them in time to get a piece of the Currier and Ives market?
Those Silver bells are ringing and remember no one needs art. You have to sell art, and sell it again and again and make it easy for the average shopper to see and buy. So if you don’t want to wind up with coal in your stocking, you’d better not let fall fall on your head.