Sunday, September 30, 2012

My First Craft Fair

After years of painting things...bird houses, then trays and boxes, and even taking up oil painting, I finally got up the nerve to show my things in person at a craft fair. Sure, I have an store, now a year old, but as I discovered yesterday, it is something to put your stuff online, write cute descriptions about those items you have slaved over, and trust me, any artist in one way or another has slaved in some way to create, and another to put what you do in front of a live, and sometimes critical, audience.

This was a fair hosted where I live, Rosemead, CA, to help save an old cemetery that has been here since 1850...very old by California standards. I wavered for days not sure how I would be able to do this and attend the funeral of a dear friend - both on the same day.

A friend offered to help me so it was settled. I spent a week trying to decide what to bring, made a kind of manifest and we sat down the day before deciding about pricing.

As we loaded up the provided table, I was stunned to realize that I had created all this. I mean there was Christmas stuff, and Halloween, then the craft items and bunches of bird houses. Even more amazing, when I actually looked at it, there were also a variety of styles...Pennsylvania Dutch, Eskimo, Rosemailing, cutsy, serious, and almost without exception color. For a second, it looked like a booth on Oliviera Street in Los Angeles, the birthplace of that city! I have always loved color and standing there and seeing it all together for the very first time, I realized just how MUCH color there was and what it meant to me.

As a show, it was a very small craft show. I am not sure if it was publicized much, but there were about 14 booths, and people wandered in and out all day. I was asked to comment on a high school students amazing East Indian drawing (though I am hardly an expert), checked out by and checked other crafters and even managed to sell a few items. It cost $25 for the booth and we took in $58. 

In some ways it is affirming to finally meet the public and expose myself to comment. This was amazing to me. When people stopped by I made sure to let them know that with each of these items, the painting part WAS an original, one of a kind item painted by me while the original unpainted object was bought in a craft store or recycled from a yard sale. 

The surprise was that other than a smaller birdhouse, wildly colored I might add and one of my favorites, it was the Halloween items that sold. So, you never know!

Would I do it again? Absolutely. However, the lesson learned was that presentation is everything. I certainly had the items, but too many were placed in one spot. It was hard to tell one from another. A larger space is required. Another lesson was the booth needed a bit more decor. A larger sign maybe, something to make the space stand out, make the customer feel that the asking price was worth cost. Also, the venue probably helps as well. 

On a week long trip this past summer, I stopped in several craft shops asking about how they got the items they sold (all on consignment I might add) and how they got their start. All of them said that they and many of their vendors got their start this very way - initially showing at craft fairs.Just like I did yesterday!

Amazingly many were against using the Internet fearing that their ideas and products would be copied. And while they may have been considered Luddites, I think that this might well be the opening for another discussion.

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