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I notice some people using the word "vendor" to describe us lately, and also recall seeing this word used to describe us-in materials passed out to me at the art shows from the promoters.

So, yesterday when I was opening my email packet from another show-there is was-

*Instructions for the VENDORS.*

This comes from a been-around-some-time art organization composed primarily of older watercolorists- if anyone doesn't want to use the word VENDOR, it should be them, right?

I was reading another packet this morning for the show I'm doing this week, and this show is referring to me as an EXHIBITOR.  I like that word.

Just some thoughts.

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I'm an artist and own 2 art markets. I LOATHE the word. I correct people all the time and especially artists that refer to themselves as "vendors." Words are powerful and the word vendor will never conjure up a field of artists in my mind - just a variation of flea market.

If I am at a new show and hear the artists referring to themselves as "vendors", my heart sinks. 

I know I am in the wrong kind of show. ;)  I was setting up at Saugatuck 2 weeks ago, and the person right across called herself a jewelry vendor. And that is exactly what she was. 

Ditto hearing them say "Crafter", but that's not AS bad.

If it IS an art fair, I feel we must insist on either artist or exhibitor. I have no problem with exhibitor. Some people seem to want to limit "artist" to 2D people; so they can call me "exhibitor" if they prefer. Though I have called myself an artist all my life, no matter what medium was my latest love: from printmaking, through scientific illustration, through jewelry, through pottery. I hosted a garden walk 2 weeks ago for the first time. I was complimented when a few attendees called me an artist with plants.  

This, to me, perfectly sums up the current state of art festivals.  We are seen as "venders" by the show promoters AND the public.  The whole concept of ART is fading into "venders at craft shows."  Not to disparage crafters at all, but that is the direction all art shows seem to be going.  Collectors for 2D work are getting fewer and fewer.  Attendees see art festivals as free entertainment.  They "ooh and aahh," and then buy a beer.

Also, there are a few show promoters, who shall remain nameless, who treat us all like venders, and yet try to convey the idea that their shows are high class affairs.

There are a handful of shows where everyone is treated like the artists we are, by both the show promoters and the attendees, but these become fewer all the time.  When you do the math and realize the money promoters make from jury fees alone (if it is an established show) to booth fees, you understand that they don't have to care who occupies those spots.  As long as they sell those booths and provide enough entertainment value for their public.....

So if you refer to yourself as a vender, well, that says a lot about your respect for your own work.

yep.  That's a fingernails-on-the-blackboard sort of word, isn't it?

I organize a festival (just finished and i am wooooooped). In all of the correspondence, and when speaking to our participants....everyone is an Artist! We dont allow anything meant for resale. All made by the person in the booth. Some of our newbies were surprised to be called an artisan and made comments about it. It shows respect for our Artisans and patrons hear it as well. We are not a school/church craft show, just filling a space for a fundraiser, we are giving the public awareness of our local artisans. 

in my opinion, a vendor is someone selling products like tupperware, food concession, etc. 

YES!!! I'VE BEEN SAYING THIS FOR 35 YEARS!! I'm not hawking goldfish in a Baggie. I'm not selling crap from the back of my garage! I, together with the rest of us, am/are ARTISTS! Dammit! Refer to us as such!

Ok, OK. enough rant.  But there's a point to make about what I'm reading between the lines here, too... There is still a hint of a prejudice shown here concerning 2D=Artist, others=Exhibitors. Please, we are ALL Artists [with a capital A, BTW]. Was Michelangelo an Artist when he painted but a mere [something else] when he sculpted?

--Chris Fedderson


I agree. I just prefer exhibitor over the word vendor.

I never refer to myself as anything but ARTIST, and I work in clay, making pots. Some functional, but most of what I create are decorative (art) pots. And, like many other non 2-d artists, I was a fine art major in my student years, so I am very comfortable with referring to myself as an artist.

I just hope we are not going in a new direction by leaving off the artist word.

We have seen other changes through the years, such as the need for a booth shot now and how that has changed the emphasis on presentation- or just call it marketing. Presentation matters to the judges, and not just the quality of our work. 


I hear what you are saying- that is also my concern.

Let me start with the word "exhibitor" first.  What comes to mind is someone showing or displaying something but it's not necessarily for sale, but could be for sale.

Now, "vendor".  Technically a vendor is someone who is selling something.  Are we not, in fact, selling something when we attend these shows?  I do not attend shows just to sit there and display my work.  I am there to sell  it.  Otherwise I would stay home.  Sure, I prefer artist, craftsperson, etc.  Really what I do isn't either one in the truest sense.  I am a picker and an upcycler of most everything I have in my booth.  I use paint, wax, and other supplies but it's no on canvas, paper, or any other traditional medium.  I don't throw pottery but I have some in my booth that I have upcycled.  I don't blow glass but, again I have some upcycled glass pieces in my booth.  I don't soter (sp?) metal but I have upcycled metal pieces in my booth.  Same for wood furniture, resin, etc.  

I could get bent out of shape if I wanted to because someone refers to me as an artist/crafter or a vendor.  Yes, there are techniques of both in what I do but it's not the full story.  Do I quit shows because they refer me to me as something that others deem "less than"?  No.  With all the technology we have to communicate ideas, it should make getting this point across easier right?  Well, it just goes to show that people are communicating but not getting their idea across.

Down here in all the shows I've done, we are all referred to as "vendors".  I have done everything from very small shows at churches and schools (not anymore but in the beginning) up to shows at the historic Oak Alley Plantation in Vacherie, LA.  There is some beautiful work out there and I'll end with.... "a rose by any other name is still a rose."

Hello Cindy,

Yes, it is always less stressful to acquiesce to whatever someone wants to refer to you as, knowing inside what you really are.  But this whole issue is about Titles, Badges of Honor, Terms of Respect, etc. The title "Artist" conveys credit, credibility, expertise, subject matter knowledge, proficiency, above average insight, a unique perspective, and a million additional kudos that "vendor" just can't approach... in fact, "vendor" actually goes just as far in the opposite direction.

As an example: a certain ficticious person I just invented does not want to be refered to as a mere "Care Provider", this person wants to be known as Jane Doe, multiple medical doctorate holder, head surgeon at XX best medical facility in the world, Chief of Cardiology, Pulmonology, Oncology, and Neuro Surgery, etc., etc., etc.

Sort of a ludicrous extreme, but the point is: we want credit --and respect-- for what we are and what we do. "Artist" does this; "Vendor" does not.

[On a side note: craftsMAN, too, is outdated. How about "craftsPERSON" or "craftsPEOPLE"...?]

--Chris Fedderson

Chris, I certainly appreciate what you're saying.  I am trying to spend less time caring and worrying about what other people call me or think of me and more time loving what I do and just doing it.  :D


Hello, again, Cindy,

I agree with you and actually feel the same way. I generally have an air of: “if you don’t like what you see here, then go somewhere else”. And this works well for me in my own social vacuum; inside my studio, while I’m running my daily errands, etc. The glitch happens when I want/NEED people to like “what they see here” — at an art show where I’m trying to get them to part with their cash. 

Here I need them to view me and my work with respect, admiration, esteem, value, etc. And the first step in this starts long before they have even laid eyes on me or my work. It starts with the show promoters and their “gut” feelings about us and how those attitudes are conveyed in all their advertising, their artist/promoter relations, and their various communiqués and interactions with the public. And this starts with how we portray ourselves to the promoters

We need to command [and demand] recognition for who and what we are, and for what we do and have accomplished. A Title does this. Artist [etc.] does this. Vendor does not. 

Cindy, what do you think…? 

—Chris Fedderson

Well said, Chris.  Public perception begins with advertising and how the show is presented to the public.  And that begins with how the show promoters see us:  as valued exhibitors presenting fine and artistically created art or as purveyors of a product.


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