Phew! Is it tea time yet?

Originally published on jillianodwyer.blogspot.com on September 10, 2012

September’s week long madness, otherwise known as CRAFTfest, ended on Saturday.

All craft fairs are an experience with a capital “E” and CRAFTfest was no exception.

I meet interesting people both customers and fellow vendors from whom I gain advice and tips and suggestions.  Personally, I find all of it helpful.  It might be hard to believe, but I do truly find all of it value-added even if the offered words never find their way into my work or display.  Every word and comment is processed and incorporated or very thoughtfully not incorporated, but all of it leaves me in a better place as an artist, as an individual.

CRAFTfest certainly did all of these things for me, but it was different.  There was a true community among the stallholders that doesn’t exist to the same extent at other events.  The success of this past week relied almost solely on the amount of time each of us was able to devote to social media and “other” media promotion.  A much more collaborative environment that I hope to take with me to other fairs this year.

I observe everything in a different way.  I don’t know if I can explain it adequately, but I suspect that every person who has ever sold their services or art will understand immediately.  As you’re setting up your display focus shifts from viewing your work through the eyes of creation to viewing it through the eyes of a buyer.  Potential customers never, and I truly mean never, see the same things you put into your work.  They have their own past experiences and filters.  It always delights me when they decide to share with me their “take.”  This perspective shifting helps me refine my designs, color schemes and even launches new product ideas.

I missed this aspect during CRAFTfest.  Sure I got some comments on photos and in group forums, but absent the live interaction it felt strange.  I participated in an Art Walk in Claremont on Friday night and found myself hungrily engaging in those conversations I had been missing.

I work pretty hard.  It might not seem like it to the customer, but each art fair starts with going through current inventory to assemble the right mix for the event, double checking pricing, packing up my car, getting up really early to drive to the fair, unloading my car at the fair, setting up my display, fielding questions, selling, restocking, tearing down the display, repacking unsold work, repacking the car, driving home, unloading the car and finally putting unsold work back into inventory.  Phew!  Major run-on sentence there.

CRAFTfest seemed so appealing initially with the no getting up early in the morning and none of that loading and unloading were top of my “that’s cool” list when I signed up.  It does seem like I worked just as hard, if not harder for this show though.  Taking pictures, listing inventory in my Etsy shop, uploading photos to my stall and all of the hours logged on social media.  It might not have been physically demanding, but there was definitely work involved.

I laugh and have fun.  This is without a doubt the best part of participating in art fairs, okay well aside from selling work, is how much fun it can be.  It is easy to forget sometimes amidst all of the work or when you’re not getting many sales, but it is an absolute blast.

Thank you, thank you to all of my fellow stallholders for making me laugh throughout CRAFTfest from crazy computer glitches and “bum” comments to support on writing fancy HTML for stall descriptions to the mini Twitter vs. Facebook debate.

As CRAFTfest closes, I will be taking everything I’ve learned forward to my work and social media strategy today as well as to the next CRAFTfest in November.

To my fellow CRAFTfesters like Debbie from D&D Designs, I wish you all many sales as a result of all of the activity this past week.

Image Copyright D&D Designs

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