The Good, the Bad, and the Snarky: How to Speak Arts Festival

24 09 2014

I’ve seen this list – 10 Things Not to Say to an Artist or Crafter – being shared around Facebook by quite a few artisans and artists (although none I know would ever refer to themselves as “crafters.” – blechhhh!) It concerns me that some of us might think we are owed more courtesy than we display; so, I respectfully offer you the list, with some responses that might cross our show-addled minds and some gentler and possibly more productive replies:

 10.“I’ll just get my friend to make me one of those.”


Clearly, you are too boorish to HAVE friends, much less talented ones.


Oh, you have a friend who’s familiar with (insert your medium or technique here)? Who is he/she? I’ll bet we might know each other!

 9. “You know what you should make . . . ”


Yes, a sign that says “Don’t tell my muse what to think.”


Well, I have had great success and I get immense satisfaction out of making (insert your art/craft here), but I’m always open to an on-the-fly idea . . . you never know what might spark my muse.

 8. “Do I get a price break if I buy two?”


Did you get lost on your way to the garage sale?


My show prices are non-negotiable. I will, on occasion, offer special pricing to my collector clients, as a way of thanking them. I’d be delighted to add you to my mailing list.

 7. “I can make that myself.”


Can you make yourself pipe down?


I’d love to hear how you handled (insert media-specific issue here). It’s always so helpful to hear how others resolve problems like this.

 6. “Why does it cost so much?”


Because questions like this require that I buy ibuprofen by the case.


The raw materials in my work include (quick list of basic supplies), my education, my life-experience, my time, my inspiration, and my willingness to show a part of my soul to others, in the hopes that they find some beauty or meaning relevant to their own lives. That’s how I value my work.

5. “How do you make this?”  NOTE: I kind of like getting this question. A little bit of inside info can help someone better appreciate and understand the value of a piece.




I start with (very basic list of supplies) and an idea – something inside me that needs to be expressed.

4. “Will you donate your artwork to our event? We can’t pay you, but it will be great exposure.”


Are you nuts? I need to sell my work to pay the rent or I could die of exposure this winter!


I support selected charities with monetary donations; it is my practice not to donate my art. Best of luck to you in your fundraising efforts.

 3. “My nine-year-old makes this kind of stuff too.”


What art school is the precocious little bastard attending?


How nice that your child has recognized her calling so early; I must have been at least thirteen before I settled on making my living as an artist. 

 2. “Kids, this is what happens if you don’t go to college.”


Yep, cause if you go to college, all the creative joy will get sucked right out of you.


Matter of fact, I graduated from (insert alma mater here). My art is infused with and informed by my education.  My house is paid for and furnished with the money I earn by doing what I truly love.

1. “I can buy that at Walmart for $3.99.”


If you know Walmart’s pricing structure, you are way outside my client demographic!


Have a lovely time in the funnel cake line . . .

Oh, well, sometimes, you just can’t do any better.

I am thrilled to discuss my work with anyone who’s interested enough to spend their time with me at a show. Circumstances might require that I excuse myself, temporarily, to attend to others in my booth; but I do not take folks’ attention lightly. This is not to say that I think we artists are fair game for intentionally rude people. We should absolutely take no crap.  We just need to be sure we’re not taking the wrong attitude into a discussion.  Look for the good, ignore the unintentional slight, and direct the truly rude ones to the funnel cakes.



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