02
Apr
12

The Rules

WARNING: This post is for the amusement of my fellow art fair exhibitors.  If you are a patron, don’t read this.  And if you DO read this, remember—I’m not talking about you. You’re perfect.

(1) The weather will always be perfect the day after the show.

(2) No one who enters your booth carrying a sponsor’s giveaway bag full of free stuff will ever buy anything from you.

(3) The more lavishly people praise your work, the less likely they are to buy from you.  The praise is your payment.* And that’s OK.

(4) People who enter your booth while you are frantically trying to set up or pack up will also never buy anything from you. They are there to get in the way, and subtle hints are wasted on them.

(5) If you bring two similar items to a show—say, two monkey robots or two robots with refrigerators for bodies–neither one will sell.

(6) After spending a great deal of time in your booth, polite people will do one of three things.  They will tell you that they will be back soon. They will ask for a business card (AKA, the “get out of jail free card”), implying that they will most likely make a purchase in the future. Or they will ask for something that you do not have, like a vampire zombie ninja robot, implying that if only you had had that item they would have bought it.

(7) People who stand in front of–or in–your booth while holding a stroller out at arm’s length, effectively blocking anyone else from entering and exiting, while talking on their cell phone in a loud voice… not only will they not buy anything, but they will give you dirty looks if you suggest they move.

(8) Patrons come to an art festival to look, not to read. So if you put up a sign stating, for example, that all items on this shelf are $160 and that they all open up to reveal a heart inside, that sign might as well be invisible, and you will be asked repeatedly how much they are and do they ALL have a heart inside?

I was hoping to make it an even 10. Any suggestions?  I’ll update this list if you or I can think of any more. But for now, I’m going to make a vampire zombie ninja robot.

*I read about an artist who tried a psychological experiment with his patrons. Rather than saying “thank you” to people who praised his work, thus accepting their “payment”, he continued to talk about his work instead.  The compliments got bigger and more grandiose, but still he would not say “thanks”. Finally, when it became evident that he was either in danger of being nominated for sainthood, or that they would never leave, he gave in.  They fled.

Update: I knew you guys would come through for me!  We now have an even 10 Commandments.  Thanks to Barbara Johansen Newman and Phil Crone for rules #9 and 10, respectively:

(9) No matter how many thousands of times a day people ask you the same question (Where do you find all your parts? How long does it take you to make these? Where do you get your ideas?), you must remember that it is the first time they’ve asked that question, and answer with sincerity and enthusiasm.

(10) The command “Don’t touch!” issued by a parent to a child entering your booth seemingly absolves the parent from any responsibility to actually prevent the child from touching all your stuff.

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13 Responses to “The Rules”


  1. April 2, 2012 at 9:14 am

    The patron who says, “Oh, yeah, I can do this! I’m just gonna take some pictures for ideas!”

    • 2 artgirlraleigh
      April 2, 2012 at 9:28 am

      Aah, but that’s not so much a rule as an observation! And anyway, I don’t mind people who try and make their own. I think it’s great! Of course, I’m not talking about the ones who attempted to make exact copies and then set up at a competing show. Even THEY knew that was wrong.

      • April 2, 2012 at 2:11 pm

        Oh, all right. But, now, I have at least 10 more!… 10. People who stop and take pictures of your work. They don’t really want to remember which piece they want to buy. This is to give them ideas to copy for their own crafting and, since they feel you are compatriots, have no problem asking where you get your stuff.

        Better?

    • 4 Penny Symington
      February 20, 2014 at 8:44 am

      As a former art show participant, my favorite comment from passers-by was “Oh look, Alice, you could do that too and for much cheaper!” Then the stare from the speaker waiting for you to say, oh – how much would you like to pay for this? This happened at leasty 5 times at every show!

  2. April 2, 2012 at 9:44 am

    Sadly- Hialrious! So so so true! …I have not done a “show” in awhile, but boy- reading this brings it all back! Let’s not forget the ones that order 12 of everything only to go home and leave a message on your voicemail cancelling all or most of the order…also back in the day we only could take cash at fairs and everyone wanted to give me a credit card- I’d be in a church parking lot- and they are handing me a Visa card??? CASH ONLY signs hanging all around me…oh, the PUBLIC- and just think- they get to Vote! LOL

  3. 6 Phil
    April 2, 2012 at 12:48 pm

    How about…
    9. The firm “Don’t touch!” issued by a parent to a child entering your booth seemingly absolves the parent from any responsibility to actually prevent the child from touching all your stuff.

  4. 7 artgirlraleigh
    April 2, 2012 at 2:57 pm

    Sharlene–true about the picture takers–some of them do want to try and make copies. Let them, and good luck! But since I already have pictures up on my website, what do I have to gain by prohibiting photography? The only thing I could do would be to put up a “No Photography” sign. Oh wait. See rule #8!

    And Debbie–thank goodness I’ve never had anyone cancel a large order after they got it home! And, though I may not be the most technologically advanced artist on the circuit, I wholeheartedly embrace the gadgets that let us take credit cards and have them verified in mere seconds. Whatever did we do before then? Pray that the checks wouldn’t bounce!

  5. April 3, 2012 at 8:09 pm

    I’d settle for a vampire zombie robot. or any combination thereof… 😉

  6. April 3, 2012 at 11:17 pm

    Be aware…never “hold” an item for someone who wants it put needs to go retrieve their forgotten money ESPECIALLY if it is at the start of sales day. The person never returns and invariably the item becomes the most sought after but unpurchased piece of the day…

    • 10 artgirlraleigh
      April 4, 2012 at 7:57 am

      And THAT’S why I tell them I’ll only hold an item for one hour! Excellent rule, though—and very funny!

  7. 11 Kimla
    June 6, 2012 at 4:34 pm

    I say pack up the road shows and just bite the bullet and open an etsy shoppe! You can sell in your pajamas and reach people who are actually looking to buy. Puuuuleeeeze. Once a year shopping for me just really sucks. Love your bots too much.

  8. 12 artgirlraleigh
    June 6, 2012 at 11:46 pm

    Hey Kimla! Good to hear from you. Ya know, I did have an Etsy shop for a few months. At the end of that time I hadn’t sold a thing and ten people were making inferior copies of my work. One even used the name “Fobots”, which I have trademarked. I asked Etsy to make him stop, since he wouldn’t respond to my convos, and they said they didn’t want to get involved and that I should hire a lawyer. But you know you don’t have to wait until November. Treat the whole website as your store–if you see something you like, let me know and I’ll make you something similar–or better–if I can.

    • June 7, 2012 at 11:38 am

      That’s almost a rule, Amy. I tried Etsy and found that it had become just too big to really sell your product, UNLESS you turned Etsy into your only business focus. When you have to hire assistants just to keep up with the multi-media opportunities, it’s gets scary.


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