(Writer's Note: This is the start of year 15 for The Art of Lax™. I'd just like to thank all my customers, clients and fans, especially those from the very beginning of it all.)
Each January I think back on the annual event of LaxCon, or the US Lacrosse Convention, which is no more. More importantly, it’s about the first LaxCon where The Art of Lax™ was launched and the months leading up to it – building it. It’s very cliché, but everything in this world, either big or small, had to start somewhere.
The pic, above, shows the first set of pen and ink drawings spread out on my dining table in my NYC apartment back in the fall of 2008. Those drawings and handful of paintings became The Art of Lax™. The name of The Art of Lax™, was actually the name given to the Facebook Photo Album where I had these images posted. But the purpose for all those creations was to physically display them to the public at the 2009 US Lacrosse Convention in Baltimore, MD.
My display at the US Lacrosse Convention floor was a simple 6-foot, plastic folding table covered with a black tablecloth. On it were the originals framed in cheap acrylic frames. There was nothing fancy about it - just simple and practical. I didn’t have any signage or a vinyl banner with grommets that commanded any attention. It didn’t look professional, as I didn’t want to spend a lot of money in something that was just a ‘trail version’. Also keep in mind that people’s spending habits, back then, were very different due to the 2008 financial crisis.
The exhibition floor was full of manufacturers, retailers, and league organizations and such, but there were no other artists. I was the only one and felt really out of place, regardless of possessing the athletic skills and knowledge of the sport. About 30 minutes before the crowd was allowed to enter the floor, I went to the bathroom to throw up. I was so f—king nervous. But the show had to go on, as the saying goes.
And the show did go on for two days. In those two days attendees commented about the work and purchased the reproductions, which were priced at $5 per print – a steal for the crowd. They inquired about commissioning originals of their children playing lacrosse. They asked if I had a website, which I did not have, back then. They asked if I was on Twitter, but told them only a Facebook photo album. Retailers asked if I had a catalog, which, again, I did not have, along with my wholesale price, which I did not know what that meant. Event media did short interviews and took photos asking about my background, which made me choke on the spot. And other exhibitors in manufacturing were asking about licensing and/or partnering, which I couldn’t answer, rather my ‘professional’ response was, “take my card.”
The amount of money made from that weekend was just under $600. I know it’s not the amount to run home and brag about, or give your 2-week notice at your job that Monday morning. But it was $600 that people – strangers, really - were willing to spend on your product, rather than on more important things in life. Not every person who stopped at my display table talked to me, or made a purchase, but those who made inquiries became interested people. And those interested people who purchased products became a customer.
The glass is always half full, and the number 1 will always be greater than 0.
I had an idea 15 years ago (!!). When this all started there was more heart, courage and even naivety involved, more than spreadsheets, analysis and forecasting. That it’s perfectly normal not to have all the answers, but then to develop and trust a process so that you can find those answers. I entered LaxCon 2009 with low expectations. I left with a career.
All images ©TheArtofLax™ - by Vincent Ricasio