Call for Artists, Making Money at Juried Art Fairs, Craft Shows and Festivals
So, it was Chautauqua weekend and I have nattered on about what an awesome show it is in the past, so I won't bore you with superlatives. This is about an opening sale the likes of which I'll never see again.
I am a book artist, but with the economy the way it is, I had wandered into "trinket" territory, using my scraps to make collage cards and magnets which sold very well but made me depressed when I made them. It also rankled when customer after customer would wander in, exclaim about my wonderful creations and then leave with a five dollar card. After about a bazillion of them told me they were going to frame them, I had one of those wowza moments and thought that if they were going to frame them, so could I.
With some encouragement and advice from the fine folks here, I started making "real" collage and framing them. I also bagged a bunch of matted ones. They started to sell. I love making them. As Chautauqua rolled around, I made the leap and put away the card and magnet making paraphernalia and focused on "real" collage. This took courage because those trinkets pay my expenses. But, you know, if I wanted to spend my time doing something I hate, I would have stayed in the government job.
So, I had a lot of collage. (what is he plural of collage anyway?) They hung on the back wall and the sides and I had a come-hither set up with a few in the very front. I had about 30 unframed. (I am not charging a fortune for these things. $30 and $40 for the matted ones, 60-80 framed. They cost me pennies to make and I enjoy it)
OK, so here is what happened. Around 10:30 a gentleman in tennis whites strolled in, looked at all the framed pieces and told me he really liked them. I thanked him. Then he perused the unframed, smiling and nodding. And then, with a huge grin, he said "I'll take everything" I laughed. He asked if he got a discount if he bought them all and I laughed and said "sure, if you buy them all!". I was still laughing. This went on for a bit until he started to take the pieces down and hand them to me. He truly wanted to buy them all.
Turns out he is a doctor practicing Chinese medicine who is opening a new facility in New York and he thought the collage with their inspirational and amusing quotes would be a great decorating theme. Russell helped him carry the pieces to his condo on the grounds and they had a great discussion about herbs and ancient medicine and acupuncture. He missed a couple of pieces I had hung on the front wall, so I moved them to the back and re-did the display.
He came back a few hours later with his wife to show her some things in the next booth he thought she might like for their home and he stopped in to say Hi. Noticed the pieces he missed. Bought them. I spent the rest of the weekend studying the one framed and one unframed he didn't buy, wondering what was wrong with them. I know you understand. Both of the eventually sold.
You know the best part? Word of this spread through the show and other artisans either came in to congratulate me or stopped me on the grounds to say "way to go" Some wanted me to touch them for good luck.
I doubt I will ever sell 2 grand in the opening moments of a show again, but the memory of that morning in Chautauqua will make me smile for a really long time.