A few months ago we did our spring show tour and traveled 10,000+ miles in order to participate in four outdoor art festivals. Without these shows we would have to change many parts of our business in order to make art for a living. These art festival tours are an integral part in the bottom line of our business and we have to travel to them. We could choose to live in an area closer to more festivals thus mitigating the many miles we drive in a year but we have chosen a place far from everything, Montana. A perk of having a really long commute to work is that we get to choose where we want to live instead of it choosing us.
We have made a living doing these types of festivals for almost twenty years now. We have done them from the back of our bronco, from the bed of a pickup truck, towed a utility trailer, and eventually settled on pulling a tiny house with us for comfort and fun. Many people have romanticized what we do and think of our travels as vacations. Of course traveling for work is a two sided coin, we do have fun, but not without long hours of hard work selling our art and long days of driving. The road can test your patience and your pocket book. We are often asked why our art costs what it does, we dismiss silly questions like that, but think "If you only added up the countless hours in the studio and on the road, not to mention the cost in driving to a show, you might get an idea of the cost of doing business as an artist."
(our tiny house at Lake Travis in Texas)
We take a lot of risk to make these trips happen. Just to give you an idea, we broke down in the middle of Island Park last year with forty feet of vehicle and no chance for repair. This spring we white knuckled it through West Yellowstone after five days of heavy snow and drove through eight foot walls of ice on either side of the road just to get to Arizona for a show. A few years ago there was a windshield breaking hail storm we avoided by driving two hundred miles out of our way after a show in Des Moines. There was also the time a softball size rock hit our windshield on the drivers side just outside of Salt Lake City. There have also been so many close calls over the years that we've been lucky to avoid due to other drivers not paying attention to the road. We often lament that it sure would be easier if we stayed home for work.
(leaving Montana for a spring show in Arizona)
There are also great paybacks to being on the road. We have watched countless beautiful skies and landscapes tick by as we cross this great country. We meet amazing people along the way that we look forward to connecting with again. We have discovered special spots that we love to visit over and over again, and watching them change over the years has been an amazing part of our journey. One such spot is Lake Travis and Pace Bend County Park in Texas. We started going there 10 years ago on our way to shows (you can almost forget you are commuting to work with fun side trips). We loved going there because of the great mountain biking and the beautiful oak trees we camped under. The lake was always a little disappointing though. We wondered why there was a resort on a cliff wall hundreds of feet above the muddy waters of the lake. After almost 6 years of going there Texas finally got the rain it needed and that lake came up 200+ feet. It was amazing to see that area come back to life once the drought gave way and we finally understood why they built that resort there. The mountain biking is still great, the oak trees are even happier, and the lake is no longer a muddy pit. It's beautiful and we never tire of our trips there.
(Stopping at one of our favorite spots in Utah)
Ultimately the challenges and adventures of the road are part of who we are and what we do. It is one of the hardest parts of the job, but we're not sure we'd want to do this job without it. The soul of the road is in the jewelry and artwork we create, it feeds our creativity and gives life to the path we have chosen to live. It's a Joyride and we most definitely enjoy it!