To enhance the public's appreciation of etching we have staged many demonstrations. In 1996 we took our press to eleven events from Ohio to Maryland, printing our etchings in front of thousands of people. 1997 will see us demonstrate at The Washington International Print Fair and ten other shows.
Through our demonstrations, many people begin to connect the print to the fine metal work in etching. They enjoy learning to look at the topography of etching, the metal's subtle clues of process and of the artist's decision-making process. The metal work which must be mastered to execute an etching makes the etching a formal marriage of
Denise demonstrating, Blossom Arts Festival, 1996 Art and Craft. I get really absorbed in the plate-making, often imagining the plate is a detail on a piece of armor when the process was first discovered. I imagine the conditions of the studios of the first etchers, the stress of their lives, and the excitement of exploring the technique. Our demonstrations help customers to appreciate the physical and spiritual connection to the metal that is one of etching's most rewarding parts.
We often discuss the Oculus Press customer. Sometimes, we try to create a profile of our potential customer. We discuss what has inspired some patrons to become collectors. It seems that we are getting more and more customers who are collectors.
The images sell themselves. Representing our own work to customers and collectors I consider to be icing on the cake! Most of the time at shows we simply stand with our works to enhance them more than to explain them. We try to connect with each potential customer to reinforce their experience. When we are successful, they leave with more than just an object to enjoy; our customers leave with a vital memory of their experience of beginning a dialogue with the piece, their feelings for it, and the artist.
I often get the feeling of family when our work has touched someone. We hear comments that express respect, pride, and joy. Recently, one person said, "Denise you are magic!" It is a joy to receive appreciative mail. It is a compliment to have our customers seek us out time and time again, year after year, sometimes buying, sometimes not, but always enthused to see our new work. We can be pleased that the works are treasured. We feel a source of pride when we hear that our etchings were chosen to be given as gifts. More than once, we have found out that a piece has captivated someone for a long time. The image stayed with them until they "just had to have it." Some people have even come to buy with their own audience for their purchase! It is very rewarding to maintain this personal and vital connection with our customers. It also gives us the confidence to enter competitions, join selective artist's guilds, and seek the interest of galleries and museums.
Chris, being the showman that he is, has become the best publicity agent that we could have. He has learned about lead times, presenting an effective press pack, and other publicity details which attract coverage. This helps to bring us new customers.
We find that the people who are drawn to our work are always interesting. Customers write us nice letters, send us photos of how their house looks with our piece in place. After Denise's "Lucky Stones" appeared in Yankee Magazine as their print award winner, one woman sent Denise a photo of her rock garden, filled with striped lucky stones. People have even invited us to their homes to show us where our work hangs in their collection.
It is a great honor when people tell us that they have given one of our works as a wedding present, anniversary gift, birthday gift, or Christmas present for the people closest to them.
Collectors of our work have gained some patience for the slow pace of the production of etchings. A whole year's effort may result in only ten new works. Interest and support has been expressed in projects like my animal series celebrating the protection of the Ragged Mountain wilderness.