Art Fair Insiders

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

Let's do it as a top ten: My number 1 is


"Did j'all make this"?

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Two very odd ones:

-One guy came charging into my booth as if on a mission. He went right up to me and said "have you seen the ceramics that so-and-so has, amazing huh? You need to go check it out, you have some stiff competition!" Didn't know what to say to that.

-After checking out my pottery for a while this guy started chatting me up. He stared complimenting me on my work, then asking me how I did some of it.

  There is a turquoise glaze that I do that is very popular, it is two glazes layered, and depending on application the look can change a lot. On one body of work  I spray it on and it has a very even look. On other pieces I do were I have smaller areas I brush it on and it has a mottled look. Both look nice, and a lot of people like the mottled look more.

  He started to ask me about the turquoise glaze, and how I applied it. He then started to insist very urgently that I need to start spraying it on all my pieces, or find another method to achieve that result, because the mottled look didn't look good. I explained to him I liked it, and so did a lot of other people. He wouldn't hear it. And got to the point were it was almost like he wanted me to promise him that I would change haw I made my work. Eventually I just had to smile and nod and say "I will think about it", so he would leave. he was a little "different."

I get that "Do you make all this yourself?" pretty often. When I say yes, they sometimes ask "where did you get the pendant?" They almost don't believe me when I say I make all the pieces including the pendants. Guess they have been to Hobby Lobby and saw the beads and figured that's where all hand made jewelry comes from.

Robin Ragsdale

When someone gets confused when using "pottery" and "ceramics" are different things.  ("My <friend/relative> only makes pottery, these are real ceramics.")  Throw in terms like porcelain and stoneware and other clay bdy terms and watch their eyes roll back in their heads.  Start to talk about glazing and firing techniques and a little trickle of blood falls from their ears just before the skull collapses.

Or my favorite: "How did you paint that?" (meaning my glazing, especially on metallic raku works).

and the most popular, "For this price, I can get a whole set of these at Target."  I kindly give them directions to the nearest store.

I have run into the "ceramics" and "pottery" thing too. I did a show when I was just starting out that was real crafty, and my booth is labeled "gregg rasmusson ceramics", and apparently to a lot of middle aged ladies "ceramics" means the stuff from molds that you go over to your friends basement and paint. I had to explain to a lot of people that it was thrown on a potters wheel and I made it myself. I was confused as hell when the first lady asked me "is this pottery or ceramics?", of course she was even more confused when I said "ummm, both"

After 16 months of discussions, 470 comments, and 12,000 views; we have another comment to add: Last weekend we were at Francisco's farm. A prospective customer came into the booth and admired the large boat dish, similar to the one pictured in the photo album on our page. It is 26 inches wide and sells for $346. Jim struck up a conversation with her, telling her that you it was functional as well as decorative, and asking where she might place it in her home. She replied "Oh, no, I just started taking a pottery class, I will make my own "!

I've had the "I can make that myself" line a few times, too.  The most galling was last fall I had a multi-artist art sale in my home.  About half of the artists were other potters I know, many through the studio of the art center many of us work out of.  This one woman who is a perennial pottery student at the art center came in, spent ages pawing through the works, sucking up free wine and snacks, being generally obnoxious and condescending.  At the end as she was leaving, she told me she wasn't buying anything.  She sees these people's work in the studio all the time.  If she wants, she can make her own with the artists' works as models/inspiration.  I've seen the woman's work.  No she can't.  I know the artists she was sniffing around and know what it takes to make their work.  No she can't.  The capper to it all was she started her little wine-soaked exit speech with, "No offense, but..."  Sorry, there was offence.

Back to the subject of state names. I'm from Maryland and so the initials are MD. More than a few times I've heard something along the lines of: "Oh, he's a doctor, too!" Yes, art is my vocation but I do a little thoracic surgery on the weekends to relax. 

In certain cases a frontal lobotomy when sales are slow. Lol. I could not resist that.

Good one, Jack.

One of my favorite art fair stories is that a fair number of years ago we were next to a man who made beautiful dulcimers (yep, used to see those regularly at the art fairs) at Milwaukee Lakefront and we'd known each other for some time and he said this was his last show as he was starting Medical School in the fall. Fast forward maybe 5-8 years, lo and behold, the now MD was exhibiting across from us at Broad Ripple, said he missed the business and still wanted to make dulcimers! But, contrary to you, Jack (never knew you were an MD), he was doing the "art" on the side.

As a photographer, one that I have to rate in mytop 10 is:

What kind of camera did you use?

A common answer is. Verizon or t-mobile,

Did my first festival ever last weekend (abysmal btw) and an old man came in my booth, of course looking for another artist, and when I asked what her name was so i could look it up for him, he said "I dont remember... it is something similar to a female douche brand..." When I told him I wasn't familiar with many douching products, he pressed me for the brand I used to see if it was the same!!! I told him I hadn't quite started douching yet, so I was sorry I couldn't help him... THANK GOD he came back later to tell me he had remembered the woman's name... the douche name... and NOW could I please tell him where (last name) McIntyre's booth was??? McIntyre. I just wish she had actually been at the show so I could relay this story... 

This was one of the funniest yet.  Sorry you had such a terrible show (been there) but I found this hysterical.  I didn't know women still douched.  I thought it's not good for you - upsets the normal ....wait, I'll stop now - too much information.  Ann

PS had to mention with MD (Maryland thing), we're from New Jersey and at least four or five times EVERY show people feel compelled to say "oh I'm sorry about that" or "you have my sympathy."  Anyone have a good answer?


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