[Clayart] Art Faires

Snail Scott claywork at flying-snail.com
Sun Jul 30 16:46:44 EDT 2017

Kathi wrote:
> People who like pots like to see lots of pots…

Yeah, audience matters!  If stuff isn’t selling, it might be too expensive 
or badly made, but even the best-made work at excellent prices won’t 
sell if it’s in front of the wrong eyeballs. Sometimes things do sell from 
entirely unexpected places, and to rather unlikely people, but you can’t 
rely on that. 

Being the only artist amongst the organic carrots or import sunglasses 
might seem like a desirable lack of competition, but if people aren’t there 
expecting to see art, then they are less likely to buy, even if they’re the 
same people who might also go to an art fair as active buyers. Small, 
inexpensive items seem to sell OK as impulse buys, but it’s not the place 
for quality to be rewarded by a discerning populace. Even worse is the 
situation described by Deb: plenty of artists attracting buyers, but all 
selling work by hobbyists (or sweatshops) at unsustainably low prices.

I do the local farmers’ market once a year, as the ‘Artist Demonstrator of 
the Week’. It’s fun, I get to meet people in the community and show them 
something they didn’t know about art.  I don’t expect to sell a damn thing, 
as it’s not really the ideal venue for my large, expensive surrealist sculpture.
I do bring along some small experimental pieces and pottery that I made 
as classroom demos. Pricing this stuff is hard, as it’s not my ‘real work’, 
but I’ve realized that regardless, I need to act like it is: price it like I’m 
serious, not like a garage sale (even though I do think of it that way), and 
don’t show anything I wouldn’t want my name on (even if it’s not.) I’ll 
usually work on a portrait bust or a representational figure, because even 
people who only see it partially finished at 9 am can still guess what it might 
look like later. People stop and ask questions: “Do you bake that in an oven?” 
(“Sort of, except it cooks to 2000 degrees”) “Is it solid?” (Nope! Look inside…
if it were thick it would not dry well and might blow up when it gets hot 
enough to make steam.”) "How does it get shiny?” (It won’t, unless I decide 
to coat it with glaze, which melts like glass.) I have pictures of my ‘regular 
work’ out, but I see the day as mainly educational, not marketing. I can’t 
say I haven’t considered it, though…I don’t really want to take up doing 
craft fairs at this point in my life, but gallery sales are not what they were, 
and I think that anymore, a ‘side gig’ may be essential. (Teaching no 
longer makes up the difference, not since the ACA kicked in and caused 
most 3/4-time employees to be cut to half-time or less.) 

The wrong venues are seldom worth the time or effort. Finding the right 
ones can be a challenge, though, and no option is right for everyone.


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