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Call for Artists, Making Money at Juried Art Fairs, Craft Shows and Festivals

I am fairly new to festival selling. The last time that I exhibited was 2007 & 2009 as an emerging artist at the Des Moines Art Festival, which is a super festival for sales/attendance. I have to be honest, I got a little spoiled by both the sales and the fact that I really didn't have to do a lot to sell my work. People were just buying.

Now that I am back on the scene here in 2016, I have been to a few smaller festivals (which might be part of the issue), but I am struggling with sales. I get a TON of love your work, so beautiful, wonderful palette, ect. but I can't seem to land the sale.

I did a search for selling techniques here, but I couldn't find anything concrete. The one suggestion that stuck out to me was someone made the comment "Selling isn't Telling" and suggested getting the customer to talk more. Sounded like an AWESOME suggestion, but there were no actual examples of how to do that.

When people come into my booth now, I do start with telling them about the work, but that is not working. Any suggestions on what exactly I might say to get people interacting? Do I say something like "what piece speaks to you" or "what is that piece saying to you" I was hoping someone had some real life suggestions that didn't sound so lame.


Just a few concrete suggestions to get me started would be helpful.

Thank you!

Brandi

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Good point Kim. I am not great at finding the right thing to say either. 

Honestly, I used to be such a social butterfly, but then after I went to art school I started working from home in my studio and being alone 90% of the time. Well, with my husband, but we have been married 21 years so he is easy to talk to. Anyway, being at home has really messed with my social skills and then adding selling to the mix is like OMG. 

Having something immediate to talk about might help me get things started. That is really the awkward part - the start. Once I get started, I am great!

Brandi

Yay! I could see your website this time! Must've been something wrong with our Pony Express connection out here in the Wyoming high plains.

Well, I think you've got it going on with your art, Brandi. Keep doing it. Keep figuring out what works best for art's sake and for your brain's sake. I think I like Practice Faces on the Journal page the most, then Clarity. I'm not as keen on the geometric works involving the figures without identity, but hey. That might be and continue to be your long suit. That might be the psychology worth delving into more deeply.

I'm drawn to your ability to depict gesture and character more than a lack of these, and the attempt to depict a lack of it is illustrative rather than symbolic. So I guess you might be accomplishing what you want to in graphic design and illustration, but less of it in painting. Were you showing and selling the geometric work back in the day when the grass was apparently greener for you at the shows? It's tough braving new territory, but it's always the way to go for me. So keep plugging away at it with the geometric goodies.

Yes, your understanding of color and value is awesome as are your mechanics. Very fine work, indeed. WOOHOO!

Hi Barrie,

So glad you could see the site now! I do have some issues with my domain service, but I haven't been brave enough to change. My site isn't down long, just a short stent here and there. I wanted to be sure it wasn't something worse.

First, let me say that your work is amazing and so detailed. It is truly beautiful work. We learned realism in art school, but then I quickly swayed over to more gestural painting. Some artists are so patient and really enjoy the detail work. I love getting crazy with the brush!

My work has always been geometric or void of identity - even when the grass was greener - the big change here is that I used to use only the palette knife to paint so it was quite a bit further abstract and while the knife strokes were expressive, I don't feel like I was able to capture the expression of the figures as well with the knife. This time around I wanted to go a little bit more expressive and use the brush.

I did have a few pieces before that were like the practice faces, but they didn't sell. The buyers were always focused on WHO the person was, rather than the emotion or story behind the person so I actually changed to palette knife to force myself to loosen up and then I did almost no face at all.

Right now, I feel like I have expressive strokes in the body, but the faces might have went just a little too much geometric, BUT I do want to keep my faces void of identity. SO now I am working toward more of a gestrurally painted faces - like the practice faces - but with the stroke eyes like the current work. This is feeling pretty good. I guess I will see.

I REALLY appreciate you taking the time to talk through this with me and share your expertise and feedback. My friends are mainly illustrators and designers so they don't have a lot of feedback on the fine art side.


The fact is that I love painting more than I have ever loved anything (besides my family) and I would love to be able to make a reasonable living from my work. I have scaled down my life so that I don't need a lot of money, but I could use a little. A girl has to eat and buy more canvas.

The fact is that I am realizing that if I am going to make the festival circuit part of that equation, I need to be able to get into good shows and there is serious competition out there with very few spaces available. With that said, I need to keep my work evolving.

Ok, this post is long - sorry! 

Brandi

Besides the usual hellos; For resort areas: where are you folks from? With parents telling kids don't touch: it's ok, here look at this leather. What do think it is from? The the usual sting ray, gator, hair on, ostrich,beaver tail.......all which the kids can feel. For people staring at all the belts: May I help you find a size? For the person looking at holsters: what gun do you have? If I don't have it here,I can build you a custom one. And last but not least for all the little cowgirls: what is your horse's name?

Brandi, and any one else -- surely hope you'll be listening today (Wed. 5 pm ET) to our podcast where this is THE topic of conversation with a serious expert ... click here to listen: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/artfairs/2016/06/22/selling-art-face-t...

Connie - the podcasts are a struggle for me as they are at a specific time. I hope others can join in. I would love to, but I am not available at that time. Will there be notes somewhere or something? Thanks for letting me know anyway! Brandi

Brandi, they are always available at ArtFairRadio.com -- ALWAYS -- there is a whole library for you to listen to, download, etc. Click on the links for that info.

Connie - that is awesome - I had  no idea that they were there for later listening. Thank you so much! That is so great to know. Brandi

As far as selling... I don't demonstrate. People tend to not want to bother you. I can't see really who's interested and who's not if I'm demonstrating. I have a hard and fast rule... I don't sit in front of the booth, I sit behind where someone can tell that I'm there but they can't see my face, I have a back door. I may sit so that my foot sticks out or my side is apparent...in other words, they can tell there's someone there. I do not go into my booth unless someone has stayed more than 15 seconds and I count. If they are still there after 15 seconds, I do go into my booth taking care NOT to make eye contact. I have a feather duster in my pocket and I begin dusting my paintings and straightening them. The door is open if they would like to ask questions. I do agree that it's best to just strike up a conservation about the weather, anything. Just a thought.

Just my opinion, saying, " how does this piece speak to you"..or something similar
Is offsetting, especially to a man or someone who isn't an artist, just my opinion.

At the 2 shows I did recently I began conversations by asking if they been to that show in the past or if it was their first time.

First time?  Well thank you for coming out.  We love to meet first-timers here.  Thanks for being here.

Been before?  We love knowing that people love the event enough to come back.  Thanks for being here.

Either way they are thanked for coming out and know we appreciate them whether they are a newbie or a regular attender.  It sort of broke the ice without being a sales pitch right off the bat.  Then if they took particular interest in something we could continue conversation about it.

Precisely, Cindy. It is not about you or your work, unless they are asking you about it, but about them -- "what brings you here today ... " asking questions and listening to the answers. The more you talk, the less you will make the sale. If they are talking the relationship gets started. Here is a podcast I did on that topic: Selling Art Face to Face, http://www.blogtalkradio.com/artfairs/2016/06/22/selling-art-face-t...

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