Today was the Chicken Festival. My impression at the moment is that I likely will not participate again, but as always "we'll see."
I got up at 4:30. Arrived at 6:30. It took 2.5 hours to set up. It looked good. A bit cavelike in the dark green tent, but it was nice weather and not too windy and the booth looked nice. I was the only artist there. Lots of crafters with the usual homemade pot-holders and Halloween craft items, and some commercial vendors, food vendors, etc. I didn't get much chance to walk around except beforehand, but upon asking around I found I was correct in noticing the lack of anything really chicken oriented there. I mean sure, there were loads of chicken pot-holders and stuff, but I wanted to see more info, like why are there chickens in Fair Oaks anyway? How bout someone with some info about birds for people who are interested in owning some? (everyone asked me about chickens). I think it was really just a Fair Oaks Festival, and the chicken happened to be part of the city and make a cute logo. It was not a "chicken festival" like I had hoped.
So I had put all this work into making chicken drawings and getting a crapload of new chicken note cards printed up, thinking they'd sell like hotcakes in this chicken-loving crowd. What I found was that most people didn't seem to give a hoot about chickens. Dogs, on the other hand, wow. Not that I sold much dog stuff, but the dog paintings were totally what drew people in, there were loads of dogs being walked around, and I have never had that many people ask about commissions. I gave out 15 brochures and a ton of business cards so hopefully a few will follow through.
I am not crazy about doing outdoor shows, I don't like the work to be out in the sun, the varnish got tacky in the cool of the morning, the ground isn't level, etc. I certainly would not make a habit out of outdoor shows.
Sales were okay, thanks largely in part to a last minute (as I was packing up) sale of "Mr. Grumpypants" (see previous post). Also sold the original painting "Tempura" (cat) and a few small open-edition prints and note cards. Had the painting(s) not sold it would have totally sucked. It was really not a "fine art" crowd though. The hard part about being the artist in a sea of crafters is that my work was WAY expensive compared to other people's knick knacks, and the shoppers were probably more in the craft-fair mode. Whereas at a fine art show, there is certainly some variation in pricing, but it's all (justifiably!) high, and the atmosphere is totally different and the shoppers are much better prepared for this.
The worst part of the day was a woman who came into the booth, looked around, complimented my work, and asked me how much one of the paintings was. Well, they are all quite clearly labeled, so I said "all the paintings that size are three-twenty-five." She looked thoughtful for a moment and then said "okay I'd like to get this for my mother." Sweet! So she brought it up to me and handed me a five dollar bill. And I kept looking at her like "aannd...." and she looked at me like "welllll?" I finally pointed to the price tag and said "I think you misunderstood. This is not three dollars and twenty five cents. This is three hundred and twenty five dollars." (like duh, what the price tag says). She said "WHAT?!?!?!" And I said "this is an original painting." And she said "oh hell no, I am going to buy that, it's not THAT good" and she stormed off muttering to her friend about who the bleepity bleep do I think I am. All I could think was "f#$% you, b*&%$!" but I just smiled and said "sorry for the misunderstanding." Bleepity bleep her. Bleep. That really frosted my cookies, and unfortuately tainted the day. Seriously, a big painting for three bucks? I don't think so.
It's that mentality that sometimes makes me hate this business. People just see the price tag, the final cumulative number of hours and expenses that go into a piece, and they think "that's a lot" without stopping to consider the time that went into it. Like art doesn't just happen *poof* I have to create it, whether that's hours or days or weeks or months. People don't see the breakdown when they see the pricetag, they just see it as a big number all that once.
But it all just reinforces how much I am looking forward to getting away from this a little bit and really delving into the scrimshaw. I have gotten so much positive feedback from people who are BIG in that art form, once I get through these art shows and the craziness that is September, I'm really diving in head first and spending a whole lot more time at the scope. Of course I am still taking fine art commissions too. But no more little shows. If it's not an "art show" I don't want to mess around with it. Then again if some commissions come through then maybe that's a reason to do shows that non-art-show people attend. Obviously I'm too tired to be making conclusions tonight.
I did meet a lot of neat people, I know I am sounding way negative right now, but it wasn't all bad! I'm just zonked.
Words cannot express how much I am not looking forward to getting up at 5:30am and taking birds to auction tomorrow. It'll be all about the nap when I get home!
Anyway here's the booth:
It is a real shame to hear that things didn't go as planned. But don't worry I think all us artists are in the same boat. I did a country fair a while back, most of the comments I got were that my stuff 'looks expensive', people didn't even stop to look at the price tag!! Or they ask if you've got that picture in a different size/shape/colour....like you're a homeware store. I know how hard it is to smile when you're going 'arghhhh' inside! Keep smiling though, all your work is great.
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