Comparing battle wounds
with a neighbor artist at a show, we laughed and said in unison, “I'll get it x-rayed when I get home.” Funny, but true.
No artist I know would leave a show because of an injury unless they were carried out on a stretcher. You are there to make money, and that isn't going to happen in the emergency room. Best to stay healthy.
Accidents happen. At an outdoor show one September, I stepped in a hole, and rolled my foot. Ouch, but no biggie! It was my left foot, and I could still drive. I hobbled around in pain for the rest of the show. My neighbors' beefy boyfriend helped take down my booth at the end. The x-ray (at home) confirmed it was broken. I did the rest of the fall season in an attractive grey boot. Now if the terrain is uneven, I wear high-top, waterproof hiking boots. My feet and ankles are supported and stay nice and dry.
First-aid kits are a must. Mine contains the basics including all kinds of bandages and antiseptics. It's so easy to get a bad cut, I have, and I'm not going to Urgent Care to get stitches. Multiple butterfly bandages usually do the trick. A gallon or two of water is good for cleaning up especially at outdoor shows with few water sources. Shims are very handy. You can use them to level your display on uneven ground or splint a hand. Who hasn't slammed their hand in a car door?
A good pair of work gloves will usually keep your hands safe. I always wear them when loading-in or out, and setting up heavy pieces like grid walls. Of course, I learned that the hard way.
Many people get hurt on ladders. I'm short, and can't live without one. Always make sure it is fully extended and standing on flat stable ground before stepping on it. Also, look behind you. If you fall, you don't want to land on anything nasty. A friend lost her balance, fell backwards and hit her wrist on a rock. The show was over for her. She broke her wrist in two places.
Staying healthy also means not getting sick. Be very careful what you eat at shows. I've heard over and over, “Well, it only smelled and tasted a little off.” The late Queen Elizabeth apparently never ate shellfish on tour. I ate seafood paella once at a show and ended up in the hospital overnight. Never again. If you have to think twice don't eat it.
What about things you can't control? We've all heard reports about germs in hotel rooms. Have you ever considered the air conditioner/heater? I'm talking about the type that doesn't have much of a thermostat and just spews air (and who knows what) until you turn it off. I've gotten laryngitis and sore throats from those things any number of times.
How about illness? Before 2020 it was common to go to a show sick unless you were really bad off. You had no choice. There was too much money to lose. Back in the 90's I did a wholesale show with the flu. I was miserable with a fever, but ambulatory. I tried to stay away from people, but no one seemed to mind. It wasn't the first or last time. Now, after Covid, no one I know would ever consider exhibiting sick.
If you get sick or injured right before a show and cancel, the promoters might refund some of your booth fee, usually not. At least your sick at home and not in a hotel room.
Artists commonly say, “Doing shows is a crap-shoot.” Sure is! Most of the time everything works out fine...But best be prepared when it doesn't. Have you gotten sick or hurt on a business trip or vacation? What happened?
Stay healthy and safe,
August 1, 2023