Art Pricing-Your Attitude Stinks up the Process

This post is in response to a conversation I overheard the other day at an art fair I was attending.  The artist who whined the loudest was issuing verbal complaint regarding the lack of sales at the fair.  I found it interesting because I knew that a few other artist I had talked to were doing quite well and were excited and upbeat about being there.

I overheard her loud complaints while I was standing in another artists booth space.  As a bonified art and marketing geek I make it my point to check out as many spaces as possible when I go to any kind of art show.  My ADD style of perusing had not yet brought me to her doorstep so I deliberately walked across to her booth so I could check out her work. (this is like a bad horror movie…you may see where this is going)

As I moved over and entered her space I didnt even get  any eye contact. Not a smile a nod or a hello. Not a sneer, leer or even a snort. It was as if I didnt even exist. No love. Wierd, I was the only one in there at the time.  After the cursory guy-type breath and pit check I decided I was clean and worked up the courage to approach her.  Her work was really nice…very unique.

My question uttered forth, much like that of a school boy asking the new girls name. It was simple really, “Do you have prints available?” (I knew based on the original prices that a print would be a more likley purchase for me) My skin crawled as lady Godiva turned from her interior design magazine and set her stoney gaze in my direction. I felt I would lose bladder control as the velocity from her shriek-like answer threatened to tear my geek-glasses from my face. “I ONLY DO ORIGINALS!” Yikes! Stop,drop and roll man. I was out the doorway frantically searching for my wife and kids so I could save them.

C’mon. I hope she likes rice and beans sans beans cuz she aint selling no work that-a-way. Yep. True story by the way. Check this out though, first at a street show, expo or fair you cant control the environment or the type of person who comes in to see you. Variety is the spice of life here. Dont cha think it might make sense to leave the nicest high-end work at home? Use some prints, small sketches and less expensive stuff if your trying to drive sales.

In my opinion, the best way to treat shows that you dont get to control the enviornment, is as an entry to your marketing funnel.  Showcase a high-end piece or two but try to cover your expenses with less expensive work.  Use the opportunity as a marketing venue to start the ever-so-important relationship. Ask them questions about themselves, engage in the art of conversation.  Art lovers enjoy talking with artists. You are the heros. Read Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People” and apply that information in an authentic manor. Be sure to have a point of collection via cards or clipboard so you can market to them down the road. (That should be the number one goal of most street shows or fairs).

You will find that you have more fun, make more sells on the spot and more opportunities for larger sells down the road.

Let me know what you think.


7 Responses to “Art Pricing-Your Attitude Stinks up the Process”

  1. Robin Maria Pedrero - July 23, 2009

    Bad behavior = bad sales
    Sadly she not only threw her manners and good business out the window she probaly infected the people around her with her sour attitude as she insisted on destroying any potential sales. Attitude is everything. Some people are just not a good fit for the gypsy artist street fair life. I know I am not at this time in my life, so I utilize other selling opportunities.

  2. Tim ONeill - July 23, 2009

    Well said Robin. The street fair life takes a specific “place” in your attitude and being. If its not something that makes you happy why do it right? There are many other opportunities to meet people and sell your unique work. Find one that serves who you are or want to be. Thanks for the comment.

  3. Nancy Medina - July 23, 2009

    Tim, thanks for sharing. I wonder if this scary lady was the same one who slashed holes in two of my large paintings at my last outdoor art show. It is amazing to me when artists have negative attitudes, since making art can be such a joyful experience. When I go to shows, I try to focus my energy on the smiling at everyone who walks by and meeting people. Selling the art is secondary. Maybe that’s not the right attitude, but I sold out at that show and the one the year before. Selling out can be good, but it can also get you some glares from other artists at times, and sometimes worse. Thanks again for the post Tim! I am such a believer in helping other artists, rather than tearing them down.

  4. Tim ONeill - July 23, 2009

    Hi Nancy,

    I have oft wondered about those in the arts that are negative. It is just so incongruent. Your focus and energy on other people in my opinion is a major reason why you can sell out. Not taking anything away from the quality or technical expertise of course, that obviously has to be there also. Buying anything in an emotive process. Stinkin thinkin excudes from the very core of an individual and for sure gets in the way. Bottom line as always: people buy from those they know, like and trust.

  5. Cath - July 25, 2009

    I have a simple rule of thumb – if you don’t want to be there, don’t go! Going with bad attitude guarantees a bad day; so stay home with a book – hopefully one on marketing and playing nice with the public.

  6. Jeremy McKay - July 28, 2009

    People by the artist as much as the art work. In this type of show really any show you have to be as engaging as your art. If you can not be I will be ou know some one who is not just engaging, but would gladly help you with such an event just for the opportunity to meet and greet. Although you should reward such friends generously.

  7. Tim ONeill - July 28, 2009

    Jeremy-that is true in my opinion. And I find generally the higher end your art is, the more they are purchasing the artist. As I have said before it is a relationship that people buy. As always folks buy from people they know, like and trust.

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