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.”

BAD:

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

BETTER:

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 . . . ”

BAD:

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

BETTER:

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?”

 BAD:

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

BETTER:

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.”

BAD:

Can you make yourself pipe down?

BETTER:

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?”

BAD:

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

BETTER:

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.

 BAD:

Magic.

BETTER:

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.”

 BAD:

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

BETTER:

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.”

 BAD:

What art school is the precocious little bastard attending?

BETTER:

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.”

BAD:

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

BETTER:

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.”

BAD: 

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

BETTER:

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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