Thursday 20 June 2019

New Wheels and Some Ranting.

So if you've been following my Instagram, you will know that we recently bought a new car. She is a lovely Honda Pilot, and now I have the space to pack all of my art show supplies and equipment into one vehicle, which will make a huge difference. Previously, we had to either take two vehicles, or downsize the amount of stock that I bring, and run the risk of everything getting wet in the back of the truck. Add in the cost of both vehicles' gas, and sometimes tolls and parking, and I was spending far too much money just to get to an event. These are things that you have to think about when trying to sell your own work and somehow make a little money. The Pilot (her name is Trixie, short for the Aviatrix!) allows me to tote everything that I need in one vehicle, and we could potentially sleep in the back too if needed!

And, fair warning: I need to go on a little rant here, so feel free not to read any further!

As you know, this year I committed to doing a lot more fairs and events as a way to try to sell more of my work. Some of those fairs have gone very well, others I have not sold a single thing. That's the nature of things, and not what I want to rant about, however, I'm just trying to give you a background. What most people don't think about, is how expensive it is to do these shows, and how little money we actually make. When you factor in the cost of renting a space, (I've seen anything from $10 to $800 just locally, depending on the event!) as well as the gas, the parking, the toll fees, the wear and tear on your vehicles, etc, you're out a lot of money before you even set up. Then, you are dependent on the vagaries of the weather as to whether any potential customers show up or not. At outdoor events, if it is too hot, too cold, rainy, or even just has a chance of rain, people won't come out. Even indoor events are affected by the weather, as many people don't like to leave their house and drive anywhere if it's raining. Most outdoor events do not have a rain date. Some events don't even give you a refund if the event is cancelled. So, picture weeks of prepping, making new things, pricing and displaying your work, packing everything up, loading up your vehicles, traveling sometimes hundreds of miles, and then having no customers.

After all that, if people do actually show up and look at your work, there are a surprising amount of people who feel the need to haggle over your prices. This isn't a flea market or yard sale, people! This isn't a bazaar or a souk. You don't go into a brick and mortar art shop or gallery and say, "Can you do any better on the price?",  so why do some people feel like it is acceptable to say this to an artist's face? My prices are more than reasonable. I actually struggle to price things at the level that my work deserves, due to the overwhelming anxiety, lack of confidence and imposter syndrome that I, and so many other artists, suffer from. 

Recently, I had a man argue over the price of one of my mixed media pieces. I had put many, many hours of work and effort into it, over the course of several weeks, and I was selling it at $30.00. THIRTY! DOLLARS! For an original mixed media painting! The supplies alone probably cost me at least $10.00, so clearly, I am not charging enough for the work that I put into these things. Yet this man wants to haggle. I explained to him that everything I sell is handmade, that literally, my blood, sweat and tears go into my work, that I am already charging too little for this, that $30.00 is a very small amount to pay for an original painting, and that I am, quite definitely, firm on my price. He walked away, but came back again asking if I'd reconsider. By this time, he was looking at two different pieces. I told him, if he bought BOTH, I *might* consider a deal. He walked away again. Eventually, he came back, and bought the original piece. He paid cash, and when he opened his wallet, I could see hundreds of dollars stuffed in there, so I was very happy that I stayed true to my price!

At another event, I had a woman nastily say that I was advertising falsely because my prices were higher than my sign said. I do have a sign, that clearly says: "THIS BOARD ONLY, $10 and under, 3 for 2" on some of my cheaper earrings. I pointed out that that sign was for that board only. She said she wanted to spend less than $5.00. I told her that my prices start at $5.00, but that I do have some earrings that are 3 for 2. She literally stuck her hand in my face and said "I'm not interested!" Lovely. No-one forced you to come see me lady. My sign was clear. And good luck finding handmade jewelry for less than $5.00!
And, I shouldn't have to point this out, but I guess it's not obvious to some people: If I sell a pair of earrings for $5.00, I AM NOT MAKING $5.00!! The supplies aren't free! My time isn't free! And if I am selling at a local store or gallery, you can expect them to take anywhere from 10-50% off the top for their cut! Just because I love to create, and enjoy making things, does not mean that I should not get paid for my time. I am not getting rich off this. I do this because it is my passion, because I can't NOT create, because this is my dream, and because it makes me happy to think that my work can brighten someone's day.

I know that I am preaching to the choir for most people on this. Most people I come across are lovely, and I have gotten so much great feedback on my work. It's just that, the mean ones can really ruin your day, and make you question everything that you do. It's so easy to say that you shouldn't dwell on things, but most artists struggle with these issues. When you put your soul into your art, it can crush you to have such negative people put you down. It can be scary to put your work out there, knowing that you can't please everybody, but knowing that people will say cruel things to you, straight to your face, is terrifying. But, I am trying to focus on the good feedback and the lovely people that become repeat customers that come back again and again. You brighten my life. Remember, shop small, support your local artists, and don't be a dick!

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