Friday, 26 August 2011

Paint Party Friday...Fair's fair...

So, the Style Fair.  Well, it was interesting and it was a definite learning experience.  What it wasn't, unfortunately, was a roaring success as far as sales go. I did make back the cost of taking a stall plus a bit besides, so I wasn't out of pocket and now anything I didn't sell (which was most of it!) has gone on sale in my Etsy shop so it wasn't a waste of time. 

The things I learnt:

  1. Style Fair's mainly attract folk who want to buy clothes. Therefore, next time I will take a stall at a fair specifically for arts & crafts.
  2. Lots of folk will compliment your work, pick it up and ooh and aah over it, then just walk off without buying anything.
  3. People don't necessarily want to 'engage' with the stall holder - many folk just like to be left alone to browse (I am one of those people - nothing puts me off more than a pushy sales pitch).
  4. It is very difficult not to engage with folk whilst simultaneously being engaging. You don't want to sit reading or talking to S in case it appears rude to folk who may want to engage but equally you don't want to sit staring at them willing them to look at you. Very off-putting, I imagine.
  5. Subsequently it is very difficult to adopt a smiley, happy expression so you don't look like a grump at the same time as not making eye contact.  The result is sort of staring into the middle distance with an inane grin.
  6. It is best to have a float of loose coins to bring with you as folk never seem to have the right change.
  7. It is best not to browse round the other stalls whilst leaving S in charge as it is likely all the money you do make will be spent on lovely things you just have to have before someone else snaps them up.
  8. See No. 7 above - I bought a lovely scarf (which is for a present so doesn't count!) and resisted buying a lovely sweater, a lovely necklace and some lovely cushion covers!
  9. It is necessary to have or very quickly develop a thick skin - folk seem oblivious to the fact that you are standing right there when they are making derogatory comments about the stuff on your stall!!
  10. The items you think will be popular may in fact be the things that don't sell, whilst the things you brought just to bulk up your stock may actually sell out - different strokes for different folks.

Funny story to illustrate point 9 above - I only sold one Twisty Town (ironically the first one I did so I could maybe not have bothered with the other 14!) The lady who bought it came to my stall and stood for ages deliberating about which one - she was lovely and said she thought they were great and would definitely be back to get one.  Her mum stood beside her with her face screwed up and said 'You aren't seriously going to get one of those are you?' I'm standing there with that inane grin on my chops thinking, 'I'm standing RIGHT HERE! I can HEAR YOU!'.  

Off they went, but sure enough the lady came back later and eventually selected the one she wanted.  Her mum was looking at me with an incredulous expression on her face while her daughter tried to decide.  She then kept looking at her daughter, back to me then back to the Twisty Towns as if she just couldn't believe she was going to part with her cash until eventually her daughter said, 'Mum, that's the artist you're doing that to, don't be so rude!' I just keep on smiling inanely. Still, at least I sold one!

I genuinely thought that the note cards with the Walkies and Purrfect Nostalgia series on would be more popular.  However, it turned out to be a card that I almost brought as an afterthought that sold the most that day. I put out 5 of each design and all 5 of this one sold (I even had a couple of spares which sold too). It just shows that different things appeal to different people. It was this one:

On the upside, I did meet a lovely lady who is a stylist and has a style studio.  She is a huge dog lover and said that she would be interested in stocking my greeting cards in her studio.  She took my business card so fingers crossed something might come from that.   

I also met a woman who was interested in commissioning me to do a Twisty Town on a much larger canvas.  She said it would go perfectly in her newly decorated living room but she would have to run it by her husband first.  Hopefully, he'll agree and I'll hear back from her.

Anyway, I know this isn't strictly me bringing a work in progress to Paint Party Friday but I thought you might like some feedback from the fair and also I decided to have a week off from art after working so hard getting all the Twisty Towns finished.  So, this week we have mostly been painting our bedroom and our living room. Not art but it has inspired me to work on some new things to hang on the walls. I've started something for our bedroom which, if it works, could look really nice.  It's something I've never tried before so equally it could go horribly wrong! Stay tuned for the results!


  1. I love hearing this stuff. I learn so much. :) I have done some stalls for a charity and I know how it goes. The comments kill me and it's not even my work that I was selling it was for charity. But people are always looking for a good deal.

  2. Sounds like your fair went like one I did with a friend 2 years back, so many rude people! But at least you made a lot of new experiences - not all good ones! and can see it with humour. Hope something comes out of the contacts for you! Your work is great, original and fun, and it's not your fault if some folks can't see it! Have a nice weekend, Valerie

  3. Firstly what a rude women that was, secondly she has NO taste, and thirdly im so glad her daughter bought a Twisty Town painting. I am gobsmacked that only ONE sold, I know its all down to personal taste but you are an extremely talented artist - I just dont understand it! You handled it very well, I would have been hurt, so good on you xx

  4. What a great experience and what a great read. I did markets for years. That thing about ooh and aah - and in my case tasting all my food samples - and then not buying anything. I know that well.

    These days I do a little accountability coaching on the side. Its essentially all about staying on track with your goals. So this is an accountability question!
    Did you get names and numbers or cards back from the people who wanted to sell your stuff or commission you? If not, next time. Its only fair, I think, to do half the work in an exchange like that so it's fine to phone them a couple of weeks down the track from the first contact to ask them if they are still interested. That's all you are doing, you aren't hassling or being salesy, honest! And they could well be grateful for the reminder.

    And, be pleased that for your first outing in this climate you covered your costs and made a little bit. It's a good, if not startling start.

    Very enjoyable post. Love Rosie

  5. Your work is marvelous ~ People are people ~ LOL ~ and some of them you could do without ~ Done a few craft shows ~ so I understand ~ Keep creating ! And may the commission come through and the cards go into the woman's studio and sell big time!
    namaste, Carol Happy PPF (Share the Creative Journey)

  6. Your piece is so interesting and has really opened my eyes. I visit a lot of arts and craft fairs with a view to buy (never had a stall myself as I would be so upset if people didn't like my work). Great news on the commission of cards and the hope of a larger Twisty town. Am sure the large size will have great impact. A lot of artist stalls I have visited the artist who is quietly sketching away at her stall seems to generate the most interest. Am sure you will do well at your next one. Have a great weekend, Annette xx

  7. Interesting feedback. I never know whether to chat to people or not and like you am always surprised when the thing you just slung in at the last minute sells whereas those you are most proud of sit there like they are invisible!!
    Thanks for sharing your experience.

  8. First off, your display looks fantastic! Secondly, maybe the sales were off since the economy is still in a tizzy. Holidays bring more sales I think. I love your twisty town paintings, they are so different and unique, colorful and fun and I am frankly surprised that you didn't sell every last one! :-)

  9. Oh, girl, I have had every one of those experiences. I would rather take a beating than have a booth at a any kind of fair like that. Thank God for the internet where I can sell my work without having to stand there feeling like a monkey in a zoo all day.
    For me, the sales always come after the show. Don't know why, but people call or email me later and want to know if I will sell them a piece they saw months ago. If I do a show now, I take a lot more postcards and business cards than merchandise.
    Hope all the future sales and commissions come through for you.

  10. I've never heard of a Style Fair before. I found your points to be highly amusing though! I'm sure only good will come out of it and at least you are putting yourself out there :0)

  11. Hi Nicola. Oh what a wonderful experience. It's wonderful that you took notes so to speak on the experience. You've learned from it, plus you may have a commission on the Twisty's and even your cards may be stocked in a shop. How great is that!! High hopes to you. Great post, loved it. Have a wonderful weekend.

  12. interesting feedback from the fair, sorry it didn't turn out as well as you hoped, live and learn!

  13. yes, fairs don't always turn out the way you expect. & some people are just plain funny? Your table looked beautiful! xo therea

  14. I adore your cards! We always learn something from events like this and I have had many disappointments re sales but found that I benefited in some way. Art is hard to sell now and people are very choosy about spending their $.
    Loved seeing your set up!!!

  15. Congratulations on your first fair - I'm so glad you've shared this with us :) I think your paintings and cards are wonderful and that your booth looked great!!!

    This post was wonderful - so informative (and I love the humor you have in it)!

    It sounds like you've learned a lot and that you've made some connections that could lead to very fun and exciting things! Hooray!!!


  16. Thanks for the (insane ;)) smile I had on my face the entire time I was reading your post. Every time I do one of those shows, I always swear I'll never do it again- I usually end up making just enough to cover my expenses but not my time! And they are fun to do but can be discouraging as person after person seems to like your work, but not enough to buy it.....
    I so agree that the things you think will sell rarely are, while the "fillers" go like crazy! I an AMAZED that only one of the twisty towns sold- simply amazed!
    PPF Hugs,
    P.S. Good luck on the potential commissions- that would be wonderful!

  17. This was a great post! I just did my first show this summer. So I know what you are talking about. Keep on going. You do have to have a bit of a thick skin!! Your Twisty Houses are wonderful!!! I love everthing you do. So don't let one bad egg get under your skin!

  18. thanks I love to hear of your experience. I am thinking about do in fairs next spring. I am such a mild, quiet person... I hope it wouldn't kill me..I know I would have been very sad if someone did n't like my art and was rude to me. I love your art and I hope you have much success

  19. Oh my gosh I'm laughing and crying at the same time at how familiar your post is! You said everything EXACTLY how it IS!!!!!!The only thing worse than doing these shows is walking cold into stores trying to sell your art! At least at the shows the people come up to your stall ( or they don't, lol!) and so you don't get that pit in your stomach as you try to figure out what to say walking into a store. I'm so bad I usually leave my stuff in the car and scope out the store first and try to start a conversation with the owner, ugh, its the pits, lol!Thats why I still work my day job cuz I just can't get into the selling part.The few shows I do now I just tell myself its just a fun shopping day for me. I go around to all the other vendors and buy things and share ideas and make friends. That way I don't get depressed if I don't sell anything, at least I had fun!The commission sounds wonderful!Thats a big plus for your first show!!!!And you are so right, the type of show can make all the difference! If it had been a fine art show your twisty towns would have made a killing!!! Deb

  20. What an adventure! Thanks for the feedback. Loved the description of the perfect stall hostess. :)

  21. I love your twisty houses...they are so darling! I think it is wonderful that you learned so much - gets you ready for the next. I loved reading it too - love the humor. looking forward to hearing about another fair. :)

  22. Inane smile ha ha I have been to so many shows and I have even done one or two as well. (not with my art) but I know exactly what you mean. Some times I go to craft shows with little money and see something I love but can't afford. so be comforted bu people liking your work. others just go for a day out and something to do (not buy necessarily) Not helpful I know but i loved your experience and would say do it again I am sure but think more about the kind of show you goto. I am off to the esty shop to see what every one missed out on keep your chin up hun Dxx ;0)

  23. People can be so oblivious to everything except themselves. And if my grandmother is any indication, old ladies are just rude on general principal. Sorry you didn't sell more but it sounds like you got a couple of good leads!

  24. I so enjoyed this post. I remember the times when I would take a table or stall at a fair and then have to sit and listen to the conversations of people who would pick up my stuff and then discuss with their friend how they could do the same thing. Ugh. And then there's the whole do I smile at them, talk to them, read a book.

    Shopping at other stalls defeats the purpose since one is spending money and not making it at one's own stall!

    All that being said, your table looks beautiful as does all your art and cards and had I been there I would have been a paying customer!

    So there.

  25. Thank you so much for sharing the experience. I wish you would have made more sales but what you learned helps us your fellow artists yet to do a public function and of course you for NEXT TIME! Because you will go back out and you will make more sales each time out! I just know it! HAPPY PPF!

  26. Hi Nicola, I'm always interested to find out the experience an artist has from such shows. If your leads pan out, maybe the style show might not be bad after all. Perhaps you could plan for next time to have drawings that are style oriented, like dress forms, shoes, hats etc. I see art like that up in shops here and hair shops too. You kinda have to remember who the would be client is and plan accordingly, I've found in my experiences.

    But, I have all but sworn off shows do to my disappointment with them. I think a lot has to do with the economy where I live. (hopefully!)

    Chin up dear, your work is fabulous. I love how you are displaying your work on your table, did you make the wooden stands? Looks great :)

  27. Thanks for the tips on selling at a fair! I'll be at my first three in Germany this fall/winter and I'm already nervous and really want to back out ;). But on the up-side, maybe if the Germans say rude things about my art, I won't be able to understand it all! Ha!

    Your artwork is so wonderful! I'm glad to have found your blog and I thank you for your kind comments on mine this weekend!

  28. Sounds like the same kind of experience I had at Fan Expo just this past weekend. But its an experience right?


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