Archive for August, 2009

In case your doing the math, I have only been doing artfairs as a major part of my income for the past 10 years or so. But before that I usually did 1 or 2 a year for you know . . . like . . . fun. Actually I grew up doing a similar type event with my mother so it’s probably closer to 30 years of doing them. But let’s not quibble over reality, shall we.

As is my want I am breaking this up into two parts. The first is about people and selling. The following post will deal with travel and tents.

People and Selling

  • 1. People Lie. Well maybe not “lie” exactly, but don’t get your hopes up when someone says “I’ll be back.” Unlike Arnie, once someone utters those three little words there is a 99.9725% chance they won’t. That’s not to say they don’t mean well. I’ve come to the conclusion it is a combination of guilt (over not buying) and wanting to show they really do like what you do without giving you money.

    Similarly, Beware of too much praise. The more gushing praise a person gives you is in direct relation to the likelihood of them not buying something.

  • 2. People are generally honest. (Okay, I just couldn’t help myself there.) What I mean is most people aren’t looking to steal from you (some jewelers may disagree with me on this one.) In all the thousands of checks I’ve taken in the past decade or so, I’ve only had one bad one.
  • 3. Be nice to your neighbors A weekend is a long time to be pissed at someone you can’t walk away from for the next couple of days. Similarly be courteous during load-in and load-out. That’s the real measure of how nice a person you are.
  • 4. Be gracious and grateful to everyone. Treat your $20 sales like you would your $200 or $2000 sales. Often times it’s the multitude of small sales that will get you to your goal. Also relationships with patrons are sometimes built from smaller sales first.
  • 5. The S Rule Shiny (urm . . .)”Stuff” Sells. When doing an indoor event use lots of lighting. Pay the electrical fee and bring lots and lots of lights. It makes a huge difference. Trust me on this.
  • 6. Be Attentive. If your sitting in a low chair and someone asks you a question, stand up. (A tall directors chair is helpful also) look them in the eye and smile.
  • 7. Be Agreeable. Being affirmative is a sales technique that at first I had to think about but now is just part of how I relate with people naturally. This means that when talking with people I often nod my head in subtle agreement. This builds repore.

    Also, if the time comes when someone says some thing you painted (or whatever) is wrong. Arguing with them is a losing proposition. If your wrong (and they know it or they think that they know it) trying to convince them otherwise, will only make them think less of you. And if your right, you will make them look bad (or feel stupid) and they’ll still not like you. Listen to them, say nothing, and smile.

  • 8. Don’t Hover. Customers are wiley prey and they don’t like to feel trapped into talking with you or worse yet, buying something. If possible don’t stand in or at the front of your booth. Just outside near the opening is good. At the events we do often we sit outside at the back. They can find me easily and yet I’m not in their personal space.
  • 9. The key to Selling is to ask questions about you patron and then listen. You might be surprised how few people want to know about your work and your process despite them having asked you something about it.
  • 10.The key to Sales is variety. Variety of images and price points
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    We Turned 19 Today

    Well we didn’t turn 19. The marriage did. Wow how time flies.

    So we are working today, as the photos indicate since they were taken at the gallery. The plan was to go out for dinner and a movie tonight. But we couldn’t wait (we’re worse than children before Christmas) and went out last night instead. Mike calls it Anniversary Observed.

    The problem with running around shopping, going to movies and eating out is it gets addictive. It took all my self control today to stay at work and not run off. Had we not closed Saturday and played hookie, I might have done just that.

    I’m the hard ass when it comes to work ethic. Mike’s a push over. All I need to do is say “let’s go.” And there’s this whoosh of air and next thing he’s in the van, grinning.

    Seriously, it’s really nice to have him always say “You should get it’ every time I indicate I want something. (Ummm . . .You should have expected me to go on about how great a guy my husband is on our anniversary, yes?)

    So in honor of all the wedded bliss (well mostly wedded bliss, there were a few times it was . . . not so much) no real blog post for today.

    But I’ll be back tomorrow with Part 1 of the 20 Things I’ve Learned From 20 Years of Doing Art Fairs. Now had I been a more clever blogger I would have made 20 posts instead of two. But who really wants that much information on the subject anyway.

    PS We tried to include Budda in some photos but he kept having those weird glowy evil cat eyes.

    PPS Anniversary juju is the best. I spilled Diet Coke all over the computer keyboard at home this morning and he just smiled at me. Ain’t love grand.

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    Bear Painting in Oil Pastel (still a WIP)

    10 1/2 x 13
    Oil Pastel on Handmade Paper (work in progress)

    I think she’s more yellow than I want so will be adding more reds to her today.

    She is actually an Alaskan Brown Bear, but if I remember correctly from my Bear Country days the only difference between the Grizzly and the Alaskan Brown Bear is location. They are genetically the same species. Grizzlies are coastal (and tend to get bigger because of the fish diet) and Browns are inland bears.

    Spray Me! Spray Meeeeee!
    You may remember that at one time I worked in a small wildlife park/zoo. (That was back in the day that I actually used my degree in regards to earning my living.) While there I had the daily experience of being hands-on with all sorts of North America’s finest predatory animals. Bears, Wolves, Mt. lions and Badgers.

    But do you know the critter than struck the most fear in my heart? Racoons (um hum . . . thaaaat’s right) followed closely by Pronghorn antelope.

    Walking into a pack of hungry wolves holds no comparison to entering a mob of coons that have zero fear of me. They climbed me like a tree, pulled my hair out, scratched me, squabbled amongst themselves while dangling from my clothes and put their tiny little hands into places they shouldn’t.

    As for the pronghorns, they also had no fear of people. And if the male caught sight of you, he came at you full tilt. In case you aren’t familiar they are one of the worlds fastest land animals, (second only to the cheetah.) And there’s nothing I’d want less than being speared in the butt (they’re kinda compact creatures so that’s where they’d hit you) at 40 mph. More than once I just closed the gate as he bounced off the chain link fence behind me.

    My secret weapon against the raging, scary, vicious, out for blood antelope? The common garden hose. That little length of green plastic kept me from dangling by my keister off that nasty little critters horns more than once. (Also worked really well with the mountain lions.)

    Unfortunately the racoons thought it was great fun. They were all like “Hey over here, Spray me! Spray meeeeee!” Though I would think “truly” wild racoons might fear it.

    It seems most wild critters hate to be sprayed with a hose as much as domestic dogs, cats, horses and . . . well . . . husbands. Who knew?

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    (For Real).
    Now in case you’re all wondering, but because I made you all pinkie-swear that you wouldn’t ask, my rooster painting did not go down (or is it up) in flames. (at least not yet) It is coming along. But truthfully it’s not coming along easily. Which is no big deal except I really wanted to do this bear painting.

    But I was all like “I’ll just knock this rooster painting out quickly, and then I can do my bear painting.” First of all that is a huge failure of logic on my part for a couple of reasons.

    1. Since I have already tried to do my rooster and failed, the belief that I could just “knock it out” is kinda ludicrous. I mean really.

    2. Um . . . Okay so maybe there is only one reason. but it is a really good one.

    So as it is Sunday I have the whole day to work on my art uninterrupted (yes even the husband is forbidden to come in.) I think I’ll just “knock this bear painting out” and then I can get on to my rooster painting.

    Uh huh.

    Yes I’m still in a mood. I think it’s because I’m not doing an art fair for like 21 days or something. And the lack of pressure is making me giddy.

    And now for something totally unrelated
    At 3am yesterday morning my husband starts shouting at me from the kitchen. It seems the water softner was backing up and spilling like a geyser (maybe more like a waterfall) out of the kitchen sink. Long story short we worked for over an hour cleaning up upteen gallons of water.

    And when I woke up the next morning, I stagger bleary eyed out of the bedroom, and say in my best petulant child voice. “I don’t wanna go to work.”
    Mikes like “Okay”
    Me: “I wanna play hookie.”
    Mike nodding like, I understood you the first time babe. “Okay”

    and so we do. We run to Ft. Dodge and I buy clothes that I don’t need and go to a movie. Which is actually the whole point of this post.

    We went to see Julie & Julia and it was simply charming.

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    Vanity Galleries (continued)

    Definition of a Vanity Gallery (A refresher)
    A vanity gallery is one where you (the artist) pay rent for a space (wall, cubby) either on a montly contract or per show. It can be on-line or a brick and mortar building. Quality is less important than filling the space. If you can pay you are in.

    As someone who has “been there” and worked harder than a rented mule to make a business from selling my art, I have a strangely maternal instinct in regards to artists taking the leap of faith by entering the sales arena.

    So where’s the harm.
    The harm is that the vanity gallery often earns it’s keep at the expense of emerging artists. That’s not to say that they can’t actually make some artists money. They can and do. But all too often it is the new artists that are lured into spending money by the promise of sales and exposure.

    Because a gallery of this sort does not have to actively sell their artists, chances are it will be a losing proposition. And nothing crushes the spirit more than paying high prices for a space and selling very little or nothing at all.

    It is also important to know that participating in a vanity gallery is not a resume’ builder. I do not live in a metropolitan place so this may have less consequence here than with those who do. But in places where the arts are . . . vanity galleries are in general looked down upon by the art community as a whole. They are seen as inclusion by purchase, not by skill.

    I wish I could say that I am not interested in the vanity gallery because of my high moral standards. But sadly no. If I believed they could make the sales . . . I’d do it.

    In Closing
    As someone who has “been there” and worked harder than a rented mule to make a business from selling my art, I have a strangely maternal instinct in regards to artists taking the leap of faith by entering the sales arena. As always I wrote this post to provide information that will allow for an informed decision.

    Though this may seem contrary to all that I have just written I am not saying you shouldn’t get involved with a vanity gallery. As previously stated, if I thought it would benefit me I would do it. But looking at the math and what I sell and where the gallery is located. It just isn’t logical for me to invest with them. Your situation may be completely different.

    Note: I want to reiterate that the folks running the gallery from my prior post about vanity galleries, seem very nice and are not devious or dubious in their dealings with artists. In my opinion they just chose the wrong model for their business. They had no experience in the arts prior to opening the gallery (or so I’ve been told) and I’m sure the argument could be made that it only benefits the artists if the gallery remains open and so making sure their bills get paid is a justified priority.

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    So Who's Talking About Me Now

    I had every intention of posting the follow up to vanity galleries today but I got a pleasant surprise and thought I would share. Angela Finney in her new blog recently posted about me and said some of the nicest things.

    Kinda makes me wish I hadn’t done such a silly post yesterday. But I was in a mood. And much like my gallery cat Budda, when I’m in a mood I need to get “a little” of the craziness out of me or I’ll bite someone. And no one wants that.

    Part of being an introvert is my inability to handle too much praise. So I’ll just say Thanks so much Angela. It was all so very kind.

    Next I’ll finish up with Vanity Galleries and then move on to 20 things I’ve Learned From 20 Years Of Doing Art Fairs.

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    Rooster Painting Revisited

    I thought long and hard (actually not too hard or too long for that matter) about posting this rooster WIP.

    But being the warrior princess that I am, (Okay so I’m a little old to be a princess. Warrior Goddess then. Hey that sounds much better anyway.)

    But being the Warrior Goddess that I am, I decided that I had the testicular fortitude (despite the total lack of testies) to put it out there, and say “Yes, I know I have failed at this painting twice. But I believe in it and am going to try again. Though I may crash and burn with it, for all of you to bear witness, I’m doing it anyway.”

    Umm . . . yeah. And . . . well . . . if I never post another WIP of my rooster it means I did crash and burn with it again.

    So promise me if that happens we’ll never speak of it again. Promise?

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