Conventions: My Takeawayby Lisbeth Stull on 03/02/19
Today we returned home from a wonderful week attending Creative Painting. A gathering to feed the spirit as well as learn new skills and techniques. It is a truly wonderful gathering of creative artists that have decorative painting in common. There were attendees that were interested in knowing more and masterful teachers that have directly influenced our industry’s growth over time. The community is strong, despite the fact it is smaller than ever. It is a special group of people who are interesting, supportive, talented, and creative. Hugs abound, energy is palpable, and all have gathered to share an event that we cling to in effort to grow and sustain the art we all love.
I shared space with Jamie Mills-Price, Between the Vines, and Don Lute, Valhalla Laser Designs, on the trade floor. So many painting vendors were all in one place! Products, new and favorites, were available to shoppers. You could see the passion in the shoppers, feel their excitement, watched as they crossed items from their lists, and revel in the rare chance to chat with painting friends, both new and established! I choose to hold on to that aspect of the week and fill my cup! So special to hear the kind words and comments about my designs, listen carefully to the wise words of other designers who support and guide me. For all those reasons I thank you all!
At the same time my heart is broken. During the last day of the show someone took my original painted piece of Holiday Whooligan. While many may think it is the material loss that I am hurt by, but that is not necessarily the reason I write these words. The bottom line is that my feelings are crushed not only for the piece that I created that is gone, but the fact that someone would steal from an artist, especially in this special space to fill our creative fuel tank to get us to the next painting destination. They took my faith in this community and gave me cause to doubt it. They missed the whole purpose behind a convention and missed the larger purpose of gathering with a common purpose. They missed the reuniting with old friends, and the opportunity to make new ones piece. Serving only themselves, they took something that I cannot replace. Sure, I can repaint my Holiday Whooligan and nobody will be the wiser, but I will always wonder why they would disregard my time, effort, creativity, and take the item.
I spoke with other vendors, after realizing it was missing, to ask for their eyes and ears to look for the piece in the crowd. Most had a story to tell about “the time it happened” to them. WHAT?! Are you kidding me?! Those are not the painters I know. I wanted to think it was an isolated event, but it is definitely not. I, like many of the designers out there, are a one-person business. Replacing the time to create a new original is time that could be spent in a million other ways, making revenue to support myself in this industry.
The hurt is something that I needed to leave behind in Las Vegas this time. There is nothing that I can do that I have not done already. Hotel security and hotel staff are in charge at this point. My question is, “How can we protect each other from this happening over and over to the people that create new designs, sell supplies, and are desperately trying to keep things thriving and growing?”. The problem belongs to us all and it is each of our jobs to look for scenarios that are “not quite right”, and step up when we can to become advocates for one another and the industry in general. Thank you in advance for any effort you make to help this from happening over and over. Preserve and hold dear the community we have left that sustains us in the art we love.