There are lots of great posts about the “how to” of displaying and selling artwork at outdoor art shows.
This is not one of them.
This post is about what went on inside my head the first time I mustered up the courage to finally show my art for sale at an organized outdoor Event. It is a big step in the life of an artist when they finally decide to take the plunge and try to sell their work in a public setting. It was a big step for me.
This is how it went…
I had heard so often from so many people, “You need to sell your art at Mayfair!!” that I finally heard it. I did some investigation, laid down my fee for a “booth”, and found myself accepted as a participant in the annual big deal fundraiser for the local prep school.
Holy smokes. Now what?
That’s when the inside of my head, my Inner Children, as they like to be called, started going crazy.
“What did we DOOO???” “Why did we DO THAAAT!???” “What are we going to DOOOOOOO????? There was all this running around inside my head, raising of dust and making of noise, screaming, hair pulling (from the inside), rending and recriminations. “We can’t do Mayfair! We’re not good enough !”
My Inner Children are for the most part a loud and unruly bunch. There are one or two, maybe three, that have some sense. Those three, maybe four, had finally had enough of the noise and confusion, and shouted, “Shhhhhhhhh!!!! If you don’t be quiet, Leslie will never be able to Think!”
It got quiet in there, and I began my Planning.
The mechanical aspect of setting up an outdoor art show consisted of lots of busy work. Making pegboard displays that were sturdy, buying lights and extension cords, hand lettering some business cards. The whole crew of Inner Children worked creatively and quietly like good little voices…er…children should.
When it came time to decide what Art to display, things began to break down.
“I like that one! Let’s sell it!”
“No! We like that one. We don’t want to sell it. We want to keep it!”
“How are we supposed to make any money if every time you make art, you like it and don’t want to sell it? The house is already full of art. We don’t need any more. Sell it!”
“No! I’m keeping it.”
“Maybe we can get her to make another one just like it that she won’t like so much, and then she can sell that one instead!”
“Great idea! ~sounds of running feet in side my head, and then tugging on my hair, from the inside~ “Leslie! Make more Art!”
Some folks call those Muses. I call then Muse-ances.
And so it went for the month or so leading up to the show. In the process of keeping the voices Inner Children happy, I made lots of Art, some of which I did keep, but we won’t tell them.
I set up my display in the back yard, and arranged my art the way I thought it looked best. Of course I heard differing opinions, and did lots or re-arranging, until I finally decided on my original good judgement.
The day arrived of My First Outdoor Art Show. Setting up my booth went smoothly, because the Inner Children were kept busy. They really work well together if I have planned for contingencies and keep them on task.
Once I was all set up, and all that remained to do was wait until the show opened, they started bickering.
“I don’t think that picture shows off so well there. Move it”
“No. If you move it, then where are you going to put that other piece?”
“Lean it up against the wall.”
“Yuck! That is wholly unprofessional!”
“Why did you wear blue jeans? All the other artists look like artists in their colorful outfits. You have on jeans and a black shirt. Artists are supposed to be colorful. What were you thinking?”
“Your business cards look amateur. Why didn’t you have some made? Look at hers. They are embossed !”
“No, you can’t have an hors d’oeuvre. You’ll get spinach in your teeth. How would that look? Eeewww.”
“Here come the customers! Stand up straight! Smile!”
“Why is everyone just walking past the booth? Don’t they know how talented you are? They are not even looking! They must not have very good taste.”
“They are walking by because these are the worst pieces of art I have ever seen in my life! I told you we should have tried to sell the one she likes. But, Noooo. You said, ‘Let’s make new ones!’. These are poor excuses for art, and I totally understand why no one is even LOOKING!
“That one is too expensive! No one will pay that price for that!”
“Why did we even agree to do this in the first place? Who does she think she is, anyway? An Artist?”
“Shhhhh. Everybody be quiet! Someone is in the booth….”
A lady was intensely examining one of my detailed pieces. She stopped for a second, then turned to me, “Did you draw these?”
“Yes,” I said, all else in my head becoming suddenly quiet.
“These are gorgeous!” she said. “You are very, very talented!”
The Inner Children all started elbowing one another, nodding and grinning. “I told you so.” “What a smart lady.” “She’s got such good taste.” “I’m so glad we did this!” “Let’s plan on doing it again…”
I think one of us had the presence of mind to say thank you to the lady with the great taste as she wandered off to the next booth of art…