Jun
13

Trouble and Joy at The Old Town Art Fair

Early this morning my husband and I drove downtown from the lake to be one of the first through the gate to attend the Old Town Art Fair. I love this fair because they often have many new artists exhibiting each year, and the fair is in one of my favorite parts of Chicago.  We spent the better half of the day wandering around from booth to booth. Much to my surprise, out of maybe 70 booths we poked around in, and perhaps 40 that we actually spent significant time in, only 2 artists took the time to come and speak to us.  ONLY 2!!!! Simply shocking. How can you sell something as personal as your art and not even try to make a connection with your potential audience? Many of the artists were reading books, or talking to their booth mate instead of their potential clients. They were right there and not investing in their audience at all…

While the artists featured in the 2010 Old Town Art Fair are chosen by an independent jury of professional artists, gallery owners and museum curators, who looks at their professionalism and how they interact with the public?  I think the answer is no one because it’s art right? It should sell itself, right?  I can also tell you there were far too many booths that offered no artist statement, or ONLY offered a hand written statement on a scrap of paper that was pinned to their booth… I kid you not.  Even worse many had no story about them or their artwork woven into their display. There was no “Why” to latch on to… And the really sick part was that the majority of the art at the fair was indeed pretty good. But yet, no one was inside these faceless art filled booths could tell their potential customers a compelling story about why they do what they do. NO wonder everyone walked right by them and instead mobbed those that could.

Out of the roughly 20 artists Chuck and I were seriously interest in, less than 1/2 of them had functioning websites. The common excuse was it was being updated or had only been down for a short period of time for some reason or another. In fact, one artist proudly told me she had been featured in “the” ceramic magazine and had 6 galleries representing her and did not need a website because all anyone ever did was go and look at “the pretty pictures”. This particular artist even won a prize at this years fair which was juried for the first time.  Her work indeed was good but clearly she does not care to be connected to her audience or know who they really are- I found this, and her attitude, totally scary. I know another visual artists just like her who has had a great deal of success selling the same way- until the bottom fell out on the economy and now she has no idea who her clients are because she directly sells to so few of them…And what about trusting your brand to a gallery? While they may represent your work do you really want to leave your image and “brand” up to them? Yikes.  How do you build Why? with no direct connection to your tribe?  No wonder there are SO MANY STARVING ARTISTS!!

But what is THE MOST troubling about this experience today is this is a well established, higher end fair. Most of the art is at least a couple of hundred dollars and a significant portion of it falls in the $2000 to $8000 range.  It costs $500 to $575 for a 10X12 and is considered 37th out of 200 best art fairs around the country.

Our newest addition: JOY

But, my husband and I went to enjoy our day and indeed we did. My 46th birthday was yesterday and in celebration we bought “Joy” from clay sculpture artist Steven Olszewski from Pinckney, MI. (734.878.6439  clayart@cac.net)  When I entered Steve’s booth his sculptures really spoke to me through their serenity. Steve was, coincidentally, indeed, one of the two artists who also was quick to speak to me and also quick to tell me he needed to sell some of his work and if I liked it he would make me a deal. He was sincere and not pushy in the least. Of course I took him up on his offer for a discount, but truthfully if he had not offered first, I would have paid full price.

Steve’s booth did not tell me Why? at all. His sculptures did with their serenity, peace and joy written all over their faces and poses, but there was no story in his booth had I needed more encouragement to connect to his work. Steve does not have a website and also readily admitted he needed help with his marketing and connectivity to his market. He even said he wanted to come to Boost Camp, which of course made me feel a little more Joy.

This peace filled man is another one of Steve's sculptures. Chuck and I really liked him but he, and a slightly smaller one like him, were both out of our price range. I did however help Steve sell the smaller one to another couple while I was in Steve's booth.

Ironically, when I first saw Joy I said to him, ” Her name must be Joy because she looks full of it..”  and ironically and magically it turns out indeed it is her name.

  • Great post, Lisa. I simply can’t understand why an artist would choose to participate in an art fair and not want to engage with the public. Perhaps it’s the mindset that somehow people will magically “discover” you without any outreach or effort. I think, though, that artists will find that telling their stories and reaching out to their “tribes” can, ultimately, elevate their work.

  • Thanks so much Lisa, for this excellent blog posting. Old Town is indeed one of the top art fairs in the country as you noted the quality of the work — but I am distressed about the lack of interaction from the artists. A true believer in the credo that an artist’s job is half creative and half marketing, this is sad to hear.

    I am really distressed over the lack of websites and preach this necessity all the time.

    I am linking to your post on my blog at http://www.ArtFairInsiders.com. Thanks for this thorough report. I also love Steve’s work, nice choice!

  • Thank you for posting this, Lisa. I’m an art fair artist who has experienced this very attitude when I attend fairs as a patron. I don’t understand it either.

    I had several friends exhibiting at this fair (I was in Topeka that weekend) and will pass this on.

    While I always greet visitors and have my artist’s statement posted in two places, you have me wondering if I have enough of the “why” in mine. Thanks for the view from the other side of the tent.

    Best,
    Jeane

  • Willie McTell

    i understand that you want the artist to communicate with you, but it seems a little like you are more interested in a marketing “story” than an interaction with the art itself. remember that it will be the art hanging over your sofa, not a website or a marketing brand.

  • Excellent post… as an artists I share your gasp! about other artists not relating folks who visit their booths.

    I choose to market my work via the art show venue because I get to go toe-to-toe with those who express an interested in my work (I love it!). Though there is a balance between interacting and not interacting, I think overall folks want to hear the story behind the art and get to personally know the artist before purchasing. I also agree with you about the website. Cheers! LC

    PS I’m glad to have found your blog.

  • Willie,
    I would highly encourage you to watch the 18 minute video by Simon Sinek. People don’t buy marketing they buy what you believe in. The product is just the take home that hangs on their sofa. I always say to others, about my customers, what they are buying from me is something that will ignite their passionate pursuits. It just so happens to come in a clarinet case. The clarinet inside the case is a bonus that embodies why they bought it from me in the first place- because they believe my clarinets can activate their own passion and voice. And its true, actually. This is what I sell to them. TOTALLY DIFFERENT mindset and way of engaging with your audience. I sell from the inside out. From my passions and beliefs that my customers believe in. This comes from digging down deep and being able to shape your beliefs into a way of being and doing business that others just have to have! I can teach you how to do this if you come to Boost Camp! Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  • You need to exude the “why” in writing, and in person. Your passion and belief in who you are and why you do what you do has to be the driving force for someone to buy if you want to build a steady secure base of income and have everyone buzzing ( or most everyone- you can’t please everyone.) But kudos to you. At least you are thinking about it and I hope it shines through you too!

  • Could not agree with you more Leo about the need for your buyer to know who you are before they make the purchase. The better they do the more likely they are to become more than a single buyer and truly an advocate for your work and what you believe in…

    Glad you found us too!

  • HI Connie. Thanks for linking our post to your site. One of the reasons I am opening a school is to help change the way society views artists. Unfortunately, due to a lack of training, the problems start at a high level and work its way all the way down to the bottom because of the same lack of training. It is going to take a village and a better education to turn this around for the arts. It seems we have this passion in common. Thanks!

  • Hi,
    Did you happen to get to Wells Street Art Festival? I was there selling my digital photo collages. I have a Web site and my friend and I talk to everyone who comes into the booth.

  • Willie McTell

    Lisa: thanks for taking the time to respond to my comments. of course everyone is entitled to their opinion but i do not think my art is just the “product” and they were actually paying for some interaction they had with me. ihave sold numerous paintings to people i never met.
    and yes, i have been generating a very stable income with my art for 15 years.
    but in general i agree with your ideas that artists should make as much contact as they can with potential clients.

  • an artist

    Art is not a business, an artist is not a business man(different breeds). Lisa, you bought Steve’s art becouse you love it, right? Art is about love, not about marketing. As to the “why”…well…we’ve got to leave some things a mystery.

  • To “an artist” *(why the anonimity by the way?) I certainly did love it but it was actually Steve’s personality and our conversation that made my decision to buy from him. There were a number of other pieces I loved but the artist did nothing to help me make up my mind. Steve was the difference. If we leave our lives up to waiting for the chance to fall in love we will spend them heartbroken. Love frequently is cultivated and revealed through relationship building. If you love your art truly than make it your business to teach others how to love what you do and why you do it. If you think otherwise you are likely to remain a Starving Artist and yet I also recognize that may be where you prefer to stay. We all make choices in life. I just see too many artists not achieving what they dream to agree with you. I am too passionate about seeing the arts become something that MORE of society embraces as ESSENTIAL ( not disposable) and vital ( life making) to their personal growth and development. And yet, we, as creators, have to be able to tell our story about why we deserve to be more loved than video games, iphone applications and sports. The market is more fragmented than ever. People are more distracted than ever.

  • Sue, Awesome! I am not sure I did and I also went into few booths like yours. I was more interested in ceramics and sculpture. I hope you had a great show!

  • Hi Lisa, I’m so happy to have found your blog! From what I have looked at already, it seems very informative. I am excited to read more and hopefully become more successful because of it.

    Here’s my question about this topic. Now, I’m an artist that has been in and out of creating hands on things for most of my life but have found this a time that I wish to start creating more and trying to make some income from it. (I was in graphic design with a paying job when not painting or drawing) My question is HOW do I discover what my story is?

    My dad, who is an artist also, has been a big influence on me, unfortunately he is a bit of a pessimist and never bought into the artist statement thing. As I get older, I am seeing with my own eyes that maybe Dad isn’t quite the know all I put him up to be in my mind. So I’ve always just created things without fully knowing my own story. Is that even possible?

    I realize this probably isn’t the right venue to have this rather deep conversation, but maybe you could point me in the right direction as to find and put into words what motivates me. I think that maybe since I’m starting out (at mid-life I might add), I might as well TRY to be successful.

    Thank you for an informative post and it really is great to hear thoughts from the other side of the booth as one said earlier.

  • “Dance for me little artist – dance for me!”

    This is what your article said to me when I read it.

    I do shows all over the midwest almost every weekend during the warmer months and own/operate a gallery all year.

    I do not dance or do tricks for my buyers. I do not provide free entertainment for the unwashed masses that parade past or through my booth at the shows and even in my gallery.

    (Some even stand just outside the perimeter of the booth and peer at a painting on the far wall and loudly declare it to be sooooo cute/ugly/interesting/crap/or just like Cousin Barb’s work that she does back home – you know, ’cause she’s really artistic too!)

    While I try to greet each person that enters my space, some people give a strong “do not speak to me” vibe when they enter the booth. Some even turn and leave the booth if they see me – so many people are afraid of being “sold to” and artists know this all too well. I respect the true patrons unspoken expectations and try to make them feel comfortable. When people ask a question I am there for them and it is relatively easy to determine who is a real customer and one who is going to make the artist that obviously enjoys a stress-free life “pay” for all the stress they have in their own life.

    Some people come in with 20 questions about my work, the style, the materials, where did I get my inspiration, etc. followed by the kiss of death – “Do you have a card?” The only statement that is a more definitive kiss of death is “Do you have a website?” Alas, the supreme insulting kiss of death: “I used to paint, but I never stayed with it.”

    “Yes, here’s my card.”, or “Yes, here’s my website.”, equals “Yes, go ahead and leave my booth without making a purchase – go ahead and leave that’s ok because I’ll be grateful if you go to my website or put my card in your sock drawer.” That’s why so many websites are down when you walked the show – artists are at the show to sell – not drive web traffic!

    (Note to art patrons: “Do you have a card?” is an appropriate question if you are discussing a specific piece and need to think about it or check with a spouse or whatever. “Do you have a card?” is really a “Get Out of My Booth for Free” Card if you walk in and want to leave without looking like a cheapskate. It’s better to simply smile and leave or just leave altogether and come back later if you would like. Similarly – “Do you have a website?” is a nice question if you want to share the work with your significant other or to think about a purchase – but to walk in and announce that you would like to look at the work on the computer while the newest, freshest, best work (and the artist) is right in front of you at the show or the gallery is, well, it’s pretty shallow.)

    Some people want to be entertained. “I’ll buy it for her, but you have to sell it to her. If she says you sold it to her, I’ll buy it for her.” or the infamous “How long did it take for you to do that?” I have never sold to anyone that ever asked how long a painting took to create. I never justify my work to anyone.

    Then there’s my favorite line after spending 20 minutes talking to a prospective buyer: “Thank you sooooo much for bringing your work and sharing it with us!”

    Here’s my point: Artists are at the show to SELL.

    Not to share.

    Not to provide free entertainment.

    Not to teach.

    Not to justify or validate.

    Not to direct people to their website or to hand out free business cards – which are not free by the way.

    They are not in their studios all week working on their artist statement.

    They are making art for they buying public to BUY.

    The artists are not there to hear some non-buying blue hair tell them how “clever” their work is, they are not there to “share” anything.

    They are there to sell.

    Most artists drive for literally hours if not days to set up in the heat, wind, cold, rain, snow, tornado watches/warnings, hail, relentless sun or all the above in the early morning or late night night before the show. Most stay in the least expensive hotels alone in strange cities. Most eat alone, work the show alone, and pack up to leave your town whether they made any money or not, whether someone stole their work or not, whether their work or equipment was damaged or not, and either go back to their studios and make more art or they go to the next venue.

    If you find a piece of art that you wish to purchase – fine! That is truly great and admirable. It is what the artist wants to do when he or she got there. It’s what you wanted when you attended.

    While artists should of course be courteous and respectful of all people who enter their space – not everyone enters the space to be a potential customer. Some people have different intentions. If you (by “you” I mean anyone attending an art fair or gallery) are looking to be entertained at someone else’s expense – if you make your decisions on buying art based whether or not the artist statement is polished enough for your liking, if you make your decision based on how quickly he or she says “How high?” when you say “Jump”, if you are making your decisions based on having no idea what the artist just dealt with 1 day/12 hours/6 hours/1 hour/ 1 minute ago, then you are not an arts patron. You are then a person who wants the artist to dance a little jig for you before you decide if he or she earned your money.

    Buy the art because you love the art, not the artist. But if you must engage the artist – then let them know you are interested in a piece. Treat the artist as you would like to be treated. You will be amazed at how well the vast majority of artists will respond – they might even dance a jig for you.

    Let me leave you with this thought: The art will sell, especially good art. I know some real jerks out there that sell very well. I also know some lousy sales people that make beautiful works of art that sell very well. The good stuff will find a home. Please let me stress this point: the good art will sell, patrons will buy outstanding art – it’s simply a question of when will it sell and to whom.

    If a person, any person who is treated politely and professionally in my booth or gallery, wants to tell me that they will make their buying decision based on criteria outside of the work itself or in other words if they want to see me dance for the sale – they will be sadly disappointed.

    “Dance for me little artist, dance for me.”

    Nope.

    When a painting has not sold yet, it means the painting’s real owner hasn’t shown up yet.

  • Ronna Katz

    I’ve really enjoyed your experience at Old Town. And, Steve is one of my artist friends – his work is wonderful and I consider myself to be a ‘future-collector’ of his. And, happy birthday!

    My Thoughts (on artist/collector interaction and on Old Town art show):
    1) I find most viewers need/want time to view. Most of the artists I know (myself included) give viewers a little time (something we sense) to look and then we’ll approach them – IF we pick up on their interest – we don’t want to scare them off. I’ve witnessed what I call “buyer-repellent” for ex; if I try to talk to someone too soon, they leave (do they think they’ll get a ‘hard-sell’?) Artists think that it’s a delicate balance issue – often potential collectors prefer to NOT be talked to until they’ve looked for a while and decided that they like our work. I keep an eye on people and will approach if they have lingered. Or if something just compells me that it’s time to approach. I usually hand the person a business card and start talking to them. We have to balance ‘pushing’ people away.
    2) Some (most?) artists at Old Town are super tired – ESPECIALLY on Saturday. Did you attend on Saturday? or Sunday? I think Old Town is one of the only ‘top national art shows’ that requires set up at 6am on the day of the art show. I know some top artists who will not apply to Old Town for this reason. On Saturday there’s a zombie effect … after a good nights sleep, Sunday the energy is higher (I’ve done Wells Street show about 5 times and have walked the four blocks over to the Old Town show – where my boyfriend was exhibiting – to view the show: There IS a difference Sat vs Sun).
    3) Among many of my artist friends the impression is that there are NOT new artists in the show – many artists are ‘invited’ via on on-site jury which leaves few spots open for new artists. Bottom line, it’s a competitive show.

    My Thoughts (on websites)
    Most of my 3-dimen artist friends seem to have a website: Most of my 2-dimen artist friends do not. I’m 2-d and at this point I don’t have a website but I have bought “Mobile Me” so that I can post images and selectively give people that location to view my images. Some artist do not make reproductions and can’t imagine keeping track of which pieces are sold vs in stock and have done just fine without a website. I’m one of these. Sometimes people give me a hard time about not having a website so I’ve done a bit of market-consumer research and have asked them why they want me to have a web site … I’ve gotten lots of ‘reasons’ (not all good ones) but the best answer I’ve gotten is that their spouse is out of town and they don’t feel comfortable spending money without their spouses input. In that case I give that person a wide variety of my past business cards with a wide variety of images so they can show their spouse. I offer to email images. If they’ve seen the ‘quality’ of my work, they feel more comfortable commissioning me to make a piece for them. I tell them they’re “standing in my website” (I say it with a smile) – and that all the work that I have right now is right here in front of them. Also, I tell them they can google my name and click on images at the top of the page to find my images posted by some of the other ‘better’ art shows which post images of accepted artists.
    2) images can be copied easier with 2-d work – so some of my artist friends just don’t want to ‘put their images out there so vulnerable’ I’m on the fence on this, if someone emails me or calls me to either commission a piece or see if “that x piece” is still available, then I send them some digital images and they either buy or not.

    My Thoughts (on the WHY)
    1) I agree, it’s important – it would be interesting to try at the next art show just ask the artist a question, or ‘linger’ in the booth of the artists who’s work you like – And I re-read you initial post, you said you spent time – could it be that YOU felt like you spent enough time to warrant some contact but to the artist it was just browsing? Some people want to be engaged right away, others don’t want any contact until they’ve ‘decided’ – everyone shops differently. The collectors I’ve dealt with don’t always care about the why – they like my work and they like me and that’s all they care about. “Will they enjoy looking at it in their home”. I actually give them a short overview and ask would do you want me to tell you more about the process, the materials, the inspiration? I find this allows some open ended questions that sometimes they don’t even know that they wanted to know about. I make sure I tell them what I want them to know about me and my work.

    If you’re curious, a little about my background: I’m a second generation art show artist who initially had two past corporate careers (Health Care, then MBA-marketing, brand management) and now I’m a full-time artist. I still feel like I’m an ’emerging’ artist and am enjoying it so very much. Chicago is one of my favorite markets and have 4 shows scheduled there this year.

    Final thought:
    As each new collector is about to walk out of my booth with their new piece I tell them the following: “One more thing, I got a great email from someone who bought a piece which ended with the following sentence – It doesn’t seem quite fair, you’ve probably already spent the money and I get to enjoy your art forever”. I find it nicely reminds both of us that money comes and goes but it’s when we allocate our hard-earned money in exchange for something that we’ll hold precious … that’s what it’s all about and it always gives me a chill.

  • Wow John, you really seem angry. There are a lot of rules for the customer in this post about what you will and won’t do for them, what bugs you, what is the kiss of death. How much of the selling process is about meeting your needs? What does it mean to “sell”? What role does empathy have in sales? Not everyone is as deep as you but that does not mean that because your patrons share with you what their experiences are with art that they are worthless because they want your card. There are a lot of lessons in this post and opportunities to explore others beliefs about how clients should be treated and why. Thanks for taking the time to share it and let it all hang out. I feel your pain, and have lived your pain when it comes to shows- I use to personally attend over 40 selling shows a year around the country so I know the drill well-

  • Jaime, I sent you an email. Lisa

  • Interesting blog post Lisa. Thanks for sharing. I was in Salina Kansas this weekend. I sold the largest piece in my booth to a new collector. That collector went home and read all she could about me. When she returned the following day to pick up her piece she talked about my website, blog and Facebook Fan site. I was thrilled she took the time and found it rewarding that she became this ‘invested’ in me. I was glad she did and am aware that this information helps build the relationship between her and I. It speaks for me when I’m not there. Her decision to buy my work was not based on this, but it reinforced her decision. She said she’ll be commissioning me to do create more work for her.
    I honestly feel I spend as much time marketing myself as I do making my work. It’s todays reality and one I’m willing to accept to continue this life.

    Patricia Hecker
    HeckerDesign.com
    ArtfulSmiles.com
    TattooDreams.blogspot.com

  • I re-read your post about your experience at Old Town.

    I must not have made myself clear enough – the intention was not to show anger or even to intimate a feeling of pain – the intention was to show that after reading your post about what you interpreted from your experience at Old Town, I felt then and feel now that you really made some judgements about the artists at the show with a pollyanna-esque lack of insight into the world of a street artist.

    Making suppositions about the professionalism of artists that have been judged into a show like Old Town because they have a handwritten artist statement or because they do not have their website on a level to your liking – and then withholding your purchase until you found a piece to your liking done by an artist that you approved of during your stroll at the show – really does smack of condescension along with a pronounced if not profound lack of insight.

    Lack of insight leads to weakened credibility. I thought when I read your post about Old Town and again when I read your response to my response, that your credibility – your credentials to critique artists at a recognized street show are damaged if not inherently flawed – in fact, I got the perception that you were irritated if not angry with the artists at the show.

    Hammer or twist away at what I said about business cards, or clients, or whatever else you want to pick out – the bottom line is artists at street shows large and small deal with all kinds of people in their booths. There are people like I described in my first response to your post, there are people like me, and there are people like you that parade in and out and by the booths all day every weekend in every major city throughout the warmer months – I sell to them. I put beautiful paintings into their homes and offices and send them out of my booth smiling. Some people are not my customers and never will be. I don’t pre-judge my buyers and then make a business decision based on how professional they may appear and I have no reason to believe that my collectors are concerned with my website or my artist statement or if I gave them a Wal-Mart greeting when they fall in love with one of my paintings.

    Art is more than a widget or a good or a service – it’s deeper than that. Real artists, genuine critics, and knowledgeable, genuine patrons already know that without making judgements on fluffy side issues to push their own agendas.

  • John, your words feel hostile and judging. You read into my words language that is not there which reflects clearly on your own thoughts. Your ability to transfer your emotions onto someone or someplace else, obviously makes you a good painter– but not someone I would be very comfortable wanting to get close to or getting to know based on how you have responded to me. Now maybe you don’t care about that. Or maybe you go through the world this way and perfectly love the way it makes others react. But most of us don’t like it.

    I HAD A MARVELOUS time at THE OLD TIME ART FAIR! How could I not? ..”I got the perception that you were irritated if not angry with the artists at the show…” your projection entirely. Not a drop.

    What I was trying to articulate is that if art all walks and talks the same, and even if it all looks different but acts the same, nothing stands out to the buyer to bring to their attention. While of course, despite how your booth looks, or if you have a website, or a hand written artist statement, we, the buyers, MOST CERTAINLY will like some of the art we see better than others all by ourselves with no more information. But what we seek in art to find is meaning– peace, joy, solice, passion.. the list goes on. It helps us, buyers, connect to ourselves more quickly and find it when the artists is engaged and can help us see into ourselves more quickly through their work. Of course the artist has to be able to clearly point us in the right direction of where we will be able to unleash their works meaning which means they have to be able to clearly articulate “WHY? do I do what I do? What drives me?” More connectivity means more buyers. Less connectivity means fewer buyers. Steve’s booth had BEAUTIFUL sculptures. But he was begging me to buy his work because no one was in his booth. They should have been! He is a GREAT artist. But there is no way to establish his connectivity easily as his work is not as daring in appearance or odd as some to naturally draw the eye. It is far more subtle.

    Our uniqueness has to stand tall and our reasons for being creative need to not only shine through our work but also through our actions and words-our humanness- our being. This is so much deeper than skin deep. But it is hard to get past skin deep with you and really connect without hostility because you simply don’t want to allow it. You remind me of my mother- no low blow intended. However, your ability to grow as a human being and an artist would make you not like her. The choice is yours.

    By the way, I am glad your customers smile and leave happy. But what could you do to bring them closer to you and sustain the love after the sale so they tell more people about YOU the wonderful human being with a vision and passion to share as an artist?

    Peace

  • I left a reply – are you going to allow it to post?

  • burnley hayes

    I discovered Steve Olszewski at the Art Festival in Cocoa Beach, Florida, over Thanksgiving, and had much the same reaction, and experience with Steve, as yours. I failed however to overcome my reluctance to spend as much money as my favorite work required. Now i am regretful, but glad to see that his work is noticed and appreciated.

  • Bob

    I understand your critique of the way art is sold, but having been on both sides of this one, I see why artists are low key when people come into the booth: we want to give people a chance to bond with the work. if they do, then we say ‘if you have any questions please feel free to ask’ and if they seem like they want to chat, then we start a conversation. The issue is that many (most?) people wander around an art fair in a dreamy art-filled state and an artist barging in with even the most pleasant ‘sales pitch’ can be an unwelcome distraction. The focus quickly turns to the artist and his or her personality and presence, and the art is now ignored. I know it’s a fine line, but this is what I have come to feel after a long time doing this gig. And if people do want a piece they will almost surely ask.

    Also many successful artists are told not to have websites as it undermines their galleries, and yes, there is little or no way for an artist to keep close to their collectors if the gallery makes the sales and chooses not to share that info with the artist. Not sure any way around this one. Glad you bought such a lovely piece though! And helping him sell yet another almost gets you to “Angel” status!

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