[Clayart] Art Faires

Dannon Rhudy dannon at ccrtc.com
Sun Jul 30 18:56:54 EDT 2017

Important points, Snail.  Well said.


Dannon Rhudy

Snail said: 

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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