Art Fair Insiders

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

A cereal box inspired me to change my attitude...

Nature's Path cereals are great... several weeks ago, I picked up a box to pour a bowl and read their slogan on the back..."We're so happy our paths have crossed."

For some reason, it made me think of my attitude about art festivals, and how frustrated I have been - and how obnoxious my silent stream of conciousness had become. I cut back on shows completely.

I know I probably picked a lot of bad shows during the last few years, didn't do the research, etc... But that slogan hit me where it hurt.

I do think, on a consistent basis, that my art is great...but it's not for everyone. Not everyone can afford it. Not everyone has wall space. Years ago, I was one of those people who walked every big art festival and hardly ever bought anything.

Most of the time, people walk into my booth and say WOW. No one walks in says...you've gotta be kidding, that's not art...no one says...you're a fraud... no one says...you have no talent. What was wrong with me?

So I decided to change my attitude. I would smile at everyone who walked in my booth. I would happily answer every [dumb] question. I would let people touch my work, I would not bark at people taking photos of my work, but hand them my card and say - everything is on my web site. I would cheerfully accept all compliments, and not expect them to turn into sales. I did try to encourage people who truly seemed interested to take my work home, but no pressure.

I recognize faces I've seen before, and talked with everyone who's purchased from me before... they are my fans, how cool is that?

I smiled ALL day, both days. I thanked every buyer sincerely. I did not care how well or poorly my neighbors did. They don't make my work - we're not in competition. I did pretty well this past weekend, not gangbusters...but I got a lot of good feedback, and gave out hundreds of business cards. For me, I actually make MORE money AFTER some shows doing custom work, or selling something they saw, but wanted to buy at another time.

Now...I have to say, I have a benefactor - a spouse with a JOB. He doesn't pay for the travel, the hotel, the booth fees, etc... I do. But, he does put a roof over our heads and pay all the household bills JUST SO I can do what I love. I know we don't all have that luxury. I am grateful.

I gotta go make some tea, take my morning pills and have some cereal.

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Comment by Ernie Komarek on September 26, 2014 at 12:34pm

Great post! I was lucky to read it at a time when I was have my first doubts about my paintings. I'm a newby and have gotten off to an excellent start with great compliments from prominent artists, art buyers and collectors and much more sales than I expected. I came back with several commission projects and a couple exhibition invites and my art work started to decline. It was because I had to perform and meet deadlines. I was painting for commercial reasons and not just cuz it was fun. After reading your post, I've decided to have fun painting today. Screw the deadlines and pressure. Just create and enjoy. The rest should fall in place.

Comment by Paul Flack on September 26, 2014 at 10:42am

PS, Nature's Path is not owned by a mega food company and they are a small(isn) business connecting with...well people like you...look what they did!

Comment by Paul Flack on September 26, 2014 at 10:39am

Wow, its like your are reading my mind. I think one phenomena is that people who were on the edge purchasing art have disappeared. We are still immersed in a recession, I don't care what media says.

To that end, what have you done, what are you doing that works??? How can you amp that up. Yes, I t-totally agree that a change in attitude from "help me, please throw me a life preserver to validate my efforts and help my creditors" to "welcome fan" is essential. The soul searching might become, what have I done that works and why. 

They are fans, they do love you..."why?"  Give them more of that. 

Great post.

Comment by Peggy Crago on September 17, 2014 at 4:46pm

Thanks, Sandhi.  I decided the same thing a few years ago, to stop letting the discouragement get to me.  I realized there's a lot of work I love but don't or can't buy; so, when I've had a day of raves & compliments with no sales, it doesn't mean people are insincere, and I try to respond to each compliment as if that's not the only "payment" I've received all day.

Comment by Cindy Welch on September 17, 2014 at 11:22am

Thanks for this post Sandhi.  I needed some encouragement for my upcoming shows and this hit home about me and what I expect out of shows & the (potential) customers who walk in our booth.

Comment by Christina L. Towell on September 17, 2014 at 9:34am

Thanks, Sandhi...this is not only good advice for art fairs but for every day, you said it beautifully.

Comment by Gloria Isackson on September 17, 2014 at 9:12am
Thank you! I think I needed your post today as I prepare for the Holiday Season, which I admit, I don't go into as the jolliest of folk!
Comment by Dave Piper on September 15, 2014 at 2:03pm

Sandhi,

Thank you.  I love what you wrote and will emulate your attitude as best I can.  Your post should be read by all.  World Class Advice.

Comment by Heather Jordan on September 15, 2014 at 11:03am

Amen great post! Sounds like your glass is now half full. Good for you.


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