Saturday, November 8, 2008

Lessons Learned at Craft Shows

The last two days I've spent some time doing my favorite "bus-man's holiday", I've been going to craft fairs. These are not art fairs and not the type of show that I do but another facet of this whole art/craft business.

I wanted to see what people are doing now. What's new. What catches my eye. What holds my interest and what makes me think I've seen it all before. What are people doing right and where are they making mistakes. In my opinion of course.

There were people who I'm sure sell on Etsy since it was fresh and young (that's a compliment). That's what really captured me. New ways of looking at things. Lot's of recycled items and materials. Clean, uncluttered displays with prices showing.

I've seen more low end beaded jewelry than I thought was possible. I love beads but please, do something different with them! Anyone can string different colors together and make a necklace but put some of yourself into the pieces. Something to make it different than the 12 other people selling the same thing at the show. End of rant.

In some booths I wanted to whack the people on the head and say pay attention! One booth with interesting work, you couldn't enter because the artist was talking to friends and completely blocking access. I didn't bother going back. One booth was so tight that I didn't want to go in for fear of knocking something over. One handmade soap booth had beautiful displays but I finally had to ask about prices since nothing was visible. Turned out that they were priced on the ingredient labels. Which meant if it was a gift you had to remove the list of ingredients to remove the price. Duh!

My very favorite booth had both cards and little baskets full of fun little stocking stuffer types of paper items. I hit this booth hard because the little things just made me smile. As I'm paying I told them how much I was enjoying their work. One of the two women said, oh at this time of year it's just a job. I asked for a business card. They didn't have a card. I asked if they had a list of where else they would be and no, they didn't have a list.

This booth was packed FULL of people jockeying for position. These women had an absolute gold mine there AND THEY WERE IGNORING IT! Oh how I would love to get my hands on them but it's their problem. Maybe by my asking for a card (one of them did say that it was pretty bad to not have cards since they made cards for a living), that will help point out that they need to at a minimum, have business cards.

Personally, I learned good lessons right before my last show of the year. Yes, I'm tired. Yes, there are times that this is just a job (thankfully not often). Yes, times are tough. But celebrate the fact that we are all at an art fair looking at beautiful work made by people who love what they're doing.

I needed to be reminded of how lucky I am to be able to make my living doing what I love. That I have the flexibility to change. It's in my hands, no one else's. And I was reminded that I love beautiful packaging...

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