Art Fair Insiders

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

Preaching to the Choir, or how Customers should behave

Belleville, IL, hosts one of the finest art shows in the country, the Art Fair in the Square.  Seems like they are out there prepping their audience all year. Here's an article from the etiquette writer of the Belleville News-Democrat, Dianne Isbell, including such ideas as:

(Disclaimer -- she calls the exhibitors vendors, not artists -- still this all applies)

1. Do not take pictures

2. Ask permission first and ask for assistance as necessary if you want to try on something

3. Do not eat food of any kind in a vendor’s area

4. Do not place a stroller in a position that blocks other potential customers from viewing the vendors’ products.

5. MY FAVORITE:  Do not demean a vendor by attempting to haggle with them regarding the price of an item you wish to purchase.

6. Many, many more ...

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Comment by Connie Mettler on October 20, 2016 at 11:56am

I think I know that man ...

Comment by Larry Schneider on October 18, 2016 at 9:04pm

ignorant, stupid, uneducated, people do go to art/craft events. They are however not really rude.  They just don't know any better.  They are Harmless.   This summer I had a man yell loudly to his wife a few booths away...... " Edna....get your fat as# over here and look at this shi#."    What do you say?  What do you think?  I just shake my head in sympathy.

Comment by Cindy Welch on October 14, 2016 at 9:57pm

I enjoyed the article.  I only wish she would have admonished customers not stand in the booth and remark to themselves or a friend, "I (You) could make this" or "So and so can make this for me (us)", clearly loud enough to be heard by the artist.  Rude is as rude does I suppose.

Comment by Kate McKeough on October 12, 2016 at 1:33pm

Just finished International Balloon Fiesta here in Albuquerque - hundreds of people.  My booth was next to one of the entrances/exits.  I learned this strategy long ago: when groups congregate around my booth gabbing or waiting for their party or whatever, but not interested in my work, I walk over and politely “excuse me” into “their” aka “my” space, and straighten my display, etc.  More often than not, they get the point and move away.  One elderly woman was in a flimsy wheelchair and her friend had parked her right in front of my booth.  Since she was in danger of getting run over when the crowds arrived en masse, I politely suggested that she be moved out of the way so she didn’t get hurt.  Helped me, helped her because she truly was in the path of the stampede. 

In another instance, a young girl was trying to make up her mind about a piece and her family seemed to block everyone else so the ones she was considering didn’t get swooped up.  I didn’t realize this until I attempted to move them out of the way.  In that group, the girl made her choice and the Dad wanted to know if I offered military discounts.  I don’t.  He said, ok, he just needed to ask.  I responded that I didn’t mind him asking, as long as he didn’t mind my saying ‘no.’   They bought the piece.

Comment by Greg Little on October 12, 2016 at 11:15am

I have no problem whatsoever with speaking my mind and saying something to people in my booth that are doing stupid things or acting inappropriately. I am there to sell my artwork and really do not want to put up with people that have no respect for what we artists do.

No where in the show application does it say we must put up with peoples bad manners and ignorance. If we do not say something then we will not get our point across.

At my last show we chased 3 little kids out of our booth because they were grabbing everything like it were their toys at home...and their parents were not saying anything. I won't tolerate that and told the kids to leave. Parents, if you don't llike anyone else discipling your kids then do it yourself...they are your kids..but if you don't and they are in my booth acting up I most certainly will.

As far as strollers, eating while in my booth or anything else goes ... if I feel it is going to be an issue I will say something because it is affecting my business and the time I paid dearly for to be at each show.

Art and Craft shows are no different than anywhere else ...there will be a mixture of sensible people we all enjoy meeting and having in our booth ... and people that just just the opposite.

I really enjoy meeting and talking to people and most people are sensible and have common sense at a show...some do not. When we speak our mind and talk common sense people will respect it moreso than someone that lets people get away with rudeness... 

Comment by Barry Bernstein on October 12, 2016 at 7:14am

I think she was referring mostly to the low end trinket events, not the Belleville Art Fair, so, it would be ok to use the term "vendor." On the other hand, those suggestions apply to any art fair patron. My favorite was the one about controlling your purse, having had a woman swing her purse around and break a couple of pieces, once. She left out the suggestion to not go into someones booth after having too many drinks, which too often can lead to a tragedy. 

I have no patience for rudeness. Sometime this past summer, at an unnamed art fair, some guy picked up a piece incorrectly and without permission. When I politely took the piece out of his hands and tried to show him the correct way to handle the work, he gave me a look like how dare I. I proceeded to call him an a-hole and told him to leave. He asked me for a card so he could complain to the director who was a personal friend of his. I gladly gave him a card because I wouldn't return to that show even if I was given a free booth space. I only recommend this behavior in the most extreme circumstances and make sure you will never go back to that show, at least for the next two years. I've found that in most cases, incidences are forgotten after a few years. 

Comment by Christina L. Towell on October 11, 2016 at 8:40am

Enjoyed reading the article and I agree with everything she says.  Sometimes I think we live in a society that merits the title "the end of civility"...these are all things that everyone should know and practice daily, how did we get to be so rude, careless and inconsiderate?  

Comment by Richard L. Sherer on October 10, 2016 at 12:42pm

I find parents always telling kids not to touch my leather. My response is it is OK, and then proceed to show the kids different leathers like 'gator, ostrich, stingray, hair calf, springbok, beaver tail, snake etc etc. to educate them. It generates sales as mom and dad get interested too.

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