Art Fair Etiquette Part Two

This post was suppose to go up Saturday, but it’s going up today, Tuesday.

Customers can be jerks, but so can artists. Let’s take a look.

I’ve heard artists say snide comments like this. It didn’t take ten years, don’t be a jerk. Most people who like your work, really like your work. If they didn’t they wouldn’t say they did or worse they would exclaim that they hated it. Sometimes, customers like your work, but don’t know what to say. Another common comment is “Did you make all of this!?” The customer is serious. You make things all day and are jaded. Your customer thinks that is awesome. Don’t ruin it for them. Let them keep that romantic notion.

Do you like being an artist? More importantly, do you like eating? Then quit ignoring your customers and try to be a little more accommodating. It could be true that you don’t make such-and-such in blue, but you can show a little enthusiasm.

Not only can artist be rude to customers, they can be really rude to other artists. First, I want to say that I have met the nicest artists while doing art fairs. We watch each others booths, listen to stories, and make lasting friendships. One year, when I doing the Fountain Square Art Fair in Evanston, IL I was placed in between 2 jewelers. On my right was a nice couple from Alabama and on my left was some nut from Kansas. This guy would stand in front of my booth and tell passing customers to come into my booth because I just bought a new kiln and my prices were going to go up, so shop now. What? The real kicker was when he came into my booth and told me I should wear makeup. Serioulsy. Uh, thanks dude.

Another peach, was at the Krasl Art Fair in St. Joe, MI, where my neighbor starting yelling at me because I went over the line. I don’t appreciate being yelling at and told her to calm down. I acknowledged my mistake and started moving my booth.  Then she told me not to bother.  I didn’t mind moving. It’s not a big deal, really. She complained the whole show. I felt really bad for her because she seemed like such an unhappy person.

My last example comes from the East Lansing Art Fair(ELAF) in East Lansing, MI. Again, one neighbor was really sweet, one was unstable. The typical protocol for loading up after a show is that artists have to tear down their whole booth and then go get their vehicle. Well, my neighbor didn’t want to do that. She wanted to break down her tent and put it directly in her van. Most shows don’t allow that to keep open traffic lanes and to keep traffic flowing. The ELAF has gotten smart and won’t allow vehicles to go to their booth unless they have a load-out pass and you can only get a load-out pass when your booth has been broken down and a volunteer checks your area. Well, sunshine wasn’t having it and ended up yelling at the volunteer. This poor kid had to be about 19 and didn’t know what to do. I went up and talked to her and apologized I behalf of the grumpy jerk.

It is important to understand that art fairs are very stressful for artists. They have to pack up all their work, display, set it up rain or shine, and sell work, but even with all of that it doesn’t give you license to be rude. It may be time to practice your 3-part breath.

What are your artist horror stories?

4 Responses to Art Fair Etiquette Part Two

  1. melissa November 20, 2012 at 10:59 am #

    “I used to make that. Did you copy me?”
    I really try to stick to myself and my knitting when I’m not interacting with customers at shows. I’m shy(ish) and it seems like I get stuck next to the crazies 90% of the time.

    • admin November 20, 2012 at 11:31 am #

      Oh geeze!

  2. Susan McHenry November 20, 2012 at 11:13 am #

    Heidi, You’re hilarious! I love this! On another side to the “how many years did this take to make,” the poet Stanley Kunitz, when he was in his 80s, was once asked how long it took him to write his poem “The Layers,” and after stopping to think for a few moments, replied, “My entire life.” It was very poignant, and in many ways, true! I know, it’s a different scenario than you’re talking about. Love this post!

    • admin November 20, 2012 at 11:32 am #

      Thanks Susan. It is based on 30 years of experience (or whatever) but say that, and explain the craftpersonship. 🙂

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