Post craft-fair analysis

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I’m going to assume this is relevant as all of us will be looking at some point to be slapping a monetary value on our work and presenting it to the public and not all of us will be getting straight into a gallery or having any sort of longevity in one. I decided to try out our village Christmas fair for the experience, knowing what the layout is like, the crammed-in table arrangements, and the tendency of our locals to do a circuit, nod, and leave [yep, that’s been me]. You’ll see from the picture that I was covering a good number of bases there: originals framed, prints mounted, then cards, fridge magnets and *cough* snow-globes. I also took along a couple of copies of my books since I designed the covers and that qualifies as art, right?

I learned four things:

  • People really liked the presentation.
  • They mostly looked along the front of the table, not up at the work on stands.
  • There are physical as well as monetary costs to gigs of this kind – this stock was very heavy indeed to transport and the cases had to be packed and unpacked, lifted into and out of the car, and lugged around multiple times, often in a cramped space.
  • Cats and books again sold better than anything else.

I just about covered my costs if you don’t include sandwiches, and I’m still creaking from the bending and lifting.

Conclusions?

  • If you’re going to do craft fairs, pick your craft fair and your stock to suit.
  • Find different ways to sell – I’ve been fortunate to have some work picked up by Steyning Arts members who own a local gallery and, while their first request has been for, guess what, the cat cards and mounted pictures, there’s the possibility of having paintings in their exhibition room later next year.
  • And still on cats – as a member of Cats Protection and serial adopter of cats, I’m planning on investigating their shop to see if they would like to stock some of my work.
  • Then there’s Etsy or my own website as possibilities but that comes of course with all the hazards of postage, dissatisfied customers and the like.

Am I ready for all that? Well beyond the small matter of not having submitted my first OCA assignment yet, selling would at least make easier the matter of clearing out my house when the time inevitably comes, something my sister is likely to appreciate [and if she doesn’t, am I going to haunt the bejabbers out of her!]

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Meanwhile, Sunday morning BBC 6 Music turned out to be an unlikely source of art education via Maryanne Hobbs’ interview with Maggi Hambling, a fierce and uncompromising woman whose hands seem, in her photographs, always to be occupied by cigarettes and glasses of – well – not water. Her work is also uncompromising; wild, in-your-face, sometimes outraged other times utterly in awe, as with her paintings of the sea. As of now, I want to paint like her but as I’m not her, I’ll need to find what it is that gets an artist inside an image and throws it out onto the canvas.

Maggi Hambling with a painting of the sea
Article by Laura Barnett for The guardian 25/07/11

 

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