"Blue Leaf Clock" 12"x12" wood base with leaf-embossed polymer clay face. Hand tinted paper leaves decoupaged on acrylic washed wood base. $125
"Oh! Such beautiful colors!" "I love the colors you use." "Wow, those colors are neat!" "Beautiful work. Love your colors."
I hear comments like this every time I display my work. Using the Bruce Baker model, I try not to just say thank you. So, I've had to develop a range of replies. My responses include: "I do love color...what's your favorite?" to "Thanks, I try to make beautiful things people will like," to "Do you have a favorite piece?" But, when it's very clear the person is using the color comment as an exit line to "escape" from my booth, I do just say thank you. Bruce is right sometimes: when you engage people in conversation after they've given a compliment, it will occasionally result in a sale. In my own experience, telling the story of how I created a piece will usually interest people, but it won't always make a sale.
So, what's behind the color comment? In some cases, I can tell it means: "Wow, there's NO way all that color will fit into my decor." For those 'beige is best' people, it's what they think is a polite, complimentary exit line. For others, it means: "Tell me more about how you designed this." I love talking to these people; they're genuinely interested in my work, and do want to hear my "story".
Every time I'm at a show, I realize just how difficult it can be to close a sale. As artists, we often think our work should speak for itself, and we shouldn't have to convince people to buy it. I confess to believing this too, to some extent. I don't try to convince or persuade, I try to show why my work resonates with the person I'm speaking to, who's already shown interest in it. Because, when all is said and done, if the work doesn't move you, it's not right for you, and I frankly don't want you to buy it. When someone is drawn to pieces which resonate; I try to support her reasons to make it hers. Picking up cues from what she mentions, or what she's wearing (since what you like in clothing often mirrors your home decor taste), I can often 'close the deal' in a way that's comfortable for both of us. I'll be the first to admit I'm not a great salesperson, but I do feel I can connect with customers or potential customers who truly appreciate my work.
Festival in the Park and Art and Soul of South End in Charlotte were my best shows by far this year. I hope my work will be accepted for inclusion in both again next year. Until then, my focus will be to find similar art-based shows where people interested in hand crafted work come to buy.
Next: Part Three: Meeting Artists