I attended the Art Market at the Houston Vineyard in December 2016

Firstly, big thank you to the Houston Vineyard for putting this together, lots of artists in the area had booths, which was great, and the atmosphere was very nice, well decorated, good snacks, pastries, and hot cider, coffee, hot chocolate, etc. The live nativity was cute, some church members filling in the roles, including a baby as the baby Jesus. There were three goats and a donkey there and they handled the bright lights and music and guests well, though one of the goats was apparently a bit rambunctious and kept messing with the guy playing Joseph. The main issue here was, I think, the lack of local promotion beyond the obvious laminated banners at the building itself. Simply put, visitors were sparse, and many of the ones who were there were already church members. I think there were more vendors than visitors in the art market, at all times, only at most six or seven people browsing at any one point and most of those not interested in buying anything. I cannot say anything about foot traffic with confidence, of course, as my booth was in a dead-end section of hallway leading to a door to the main area of the church (off limits to most everyone during the event) and I didn’t notice every single person who walked into the venue. However, even though there weren’t many people looking at the arts/crafts the few who did show up at my table were awesome. Everyone commented on the art on display, many people were impressed by the Southwestern piece I did specifically for the show, and there were also many other items that drew attention. Ann Armstrong and some other local artists walked by when the pace slowed down and we chatted. Ultimately, I sold three items. One was a small pastel work on paper, of a dog, one was the NYC skyline artwork, which has been pulled off of my Etsy shop because of this event, and won’t be activated there again. The third was the Southwest oil pastel mentioned earlier, which I fortunately was able to photograph before selling it. Southwest Artwork, oil pastel I also had some people really impressed by the video reel (vfx reel and short films) that I was playing on a cheap Android tablet on the table. There was a lot of enthusiasm as there often is when people actually see my video work. I still want to get hours of that content online in the next year, and if things go well enough business wise that should be feasible. I have had a former cast member, Bradley Wallace, once say, “One day we’ll look back and say, we knew Matthew years before he became famous”. That’s something he said that I still remember, and although I’m hardly ‘famous’ and my work is still very cheap (“You’re undercharging”, say my uncle and other family members) it is sometimes valued higher later simply because it’s so cheap to start off with. A decade ago I sold a triptych (three paintings) for $90, which was later appraised at $150. That was at another crafts fair way back in the old Redeemer days. My work is *still* quite affordable, obviously, which you’ll realize once you learn that the image above was of a 36″x54″ oil pastel item, which I sold for just $45.00. I’ve probably put a total of around 6-7 hours into it, so I made more per hour with this than with the vast majority of the work I do. (My usual going rate is around $3.50-$5/hour in practice.) People say I undercharge, but in my experience this is how much my work is valued by the art market; if I aim anywhere above $5/hr the stuff usually won’t sell. (Art valuation is really screwed up, BTW, and I feel much of the modern art out there is grossly overvalued simply because the artist has a ‘name’, but maybe that’s just me.) $4/hr or so, instead, seems to be the sweet spot right now. It used to be $2-3 per hour but business has been really good lately and now it’s up to $4. And really, I’m very happy with $4/hr, even if most others wouldn’t be. It’s a type of work I love doing, and if I can line up 7 1/2 hours of work per day at that rate that’s $30/day which is not at all bad, IMO. At $30/day, if I can do that consistently, I’ll make $10,500 in the next year… enough to pay bills and recurring baseline costs, pay a bit in rent to my parents, and with an extra 4-5 hours a day free to work on my own personal projects! I could get several game productions and a couple dozen videos released online next year if this goes as well as I’m hoping. Maybe some of that will be lucrative in its own right, which would be phenomenally awesome. (By lucrative, I don’t mean I’m trapping that content behind a paywall. It will all be free but with some ads and also DVD editions available on this shop.)