I started doing art fairs around 1975 when I lived in my home town of Kenosha, Wisconsin. I began with small local shows and expanded to fairs in Chicago and Milwaukee—Kenosha was smack dab between these two large cities. In 1980, my husband, Jim, and I moved to rural Missouri with our daughter, Kate, where we made our living doing art fairs all over the country for the next 15 years, and it was a fun and crazy time. Another daughter, Kory, was born in 1984, and after ten more years of full-time art fair life, I went into teaching art and gifted, while Jim pursued his passion for computer technology. I still did summer art fairs because I just had to!
Today my passion is selling my fiber art at the Portland Saturday Market and at Artistic Portland. I love meeting the people who buy my work and talking to people who love and appreciate fine art and craft. It has never been a chore to me but rather tons of fun….most of the time. I will say that while the vast majority of comments from the public are wonderful to hear, there are always those few comments that make you cringe—“I am going to ask my aunt to make something like this for me” or “Why does this cost so much? I could make that for a lot less.” You have to have a sense of humor when you hear comments like these because smiling and saying nothing is better for you in the long run than giving in to the temptation to punch their faces.
- Keep a smile on your face and show the world you are having a wonderful time. Complain when you get home if you are not.
- Don’t think it because they can hear it. Save those “inner conversations” for later when you can rehash the moment and pretend you said what you REALLY wanted to say!”
- Be prepared with healthy food and snacks
- Be rested and stay in the moment. No daydreaming.
- Why YES you love what you make, and “No, it’s not on sale.”
Keep a smile on your face: People want to buy something that makes them happier than they are now. They don’t just want your art, they want your happiness. Spread that sunshine!
Be prepared with healthy food and snacks: Steady energy and stamina are important to staying positive. It’s hard to be present and positive when you are tired or have low blood sugar. Bring high protein snacks (hard boiled eggs, cheese, nuts) and fruit for some sweets. Don’t forget water! I also must have a small amount of chocolate to keep my mental health at peak performance!
Why YES you love what you make, and “No, it’s not on sale:" You have a passion for your work and no one else is quite like you. Your skills are valuable. Your art is special. This all should not come cheap. If you don’t value your work, how can you expect others to? It is not uncommon for someone to ask for a discount, but you can politely decline with a smile. Don’t get angry or insulted, and let the customer save face. Many artists play the discount game, so you can’t blame them for asking. You don’t have to play this game unless you want to. Just be polite about it.