Tuesday, December 6, 2011

I recently had a booth at a craft show...

Talked to a local store owner in Lockport about selling my prints on commission at her establishment. She recommended I give her upcoming, "Christmas Show", a shot and then go from there.

I was thinking about doing a few art shows next summer (which means I'd need to take care of the legal stuff anyway) and the entry fee was pretty low, so I thought a one day craft show might be a good place to start.

Selling prints at a craft show is a dumb idea, btw. People don't go to craft shows looking for art-they might buy it, but functional stuff is more likely to sell. I knew this already, I've been to craft shows and seen the booths that only sell prints- they're usually pretty dead.

I do, "make stuff", as a hobby though. And I was also looking for an excuse to start selling some things.

So I did the craft show and then for a week or so afterwards various people would ask, "So, how did it go?", but of course what they meant was, "Did you make any money?"

The short response is No.
The slightly longer, but still short response is:
No, but I was expecting a loss to begin with so it went pretty well*.

*Read on for the long response(or if you want some perspective on selling stuff at a craft show).

After a month of 'crafting', here's what I had at my table;
Clay miniatures-mini cookie platters/mini breakfast platters
Paper miniatures-mini bowls/mini flower arrangements
Prints of my personal illustrations-8x10s, and half sized, 4x5s. Both framed and loose prints available.

Reasons why I shouldn't have made money at the show;

I only had a month to advertise that I would be there-not ideal.

I'm a craft show newbie-Craft show people didn't know I existed 
until they stumbled upon my booth.

I had no idea what the Lockport market was like 
in terms of people who would be interested in my work-though it's something I'd like to learn.

I had no idea what kind of vendors would be there-also something to learn from.

I've never done a craft show,
and would probably mess something up-look at all the learning.

I had to create an entire booth worth of inventory at once-that's a big expense.

I had overhead(display material/tablecloth/promo materials)
and an entry fee to factor in-more expenses.

Yeah, with some luck I could turn a profit, but like I stated earlier, I was expecting a financial loss.

So why would I spend my time and money on something when I might not immediatly turn a profit?

The local exposure alone is well worth the money spent. The number of people who now own a quality example of my work or, at the very least, a promo card with my Deviantart page, Facebook page, email, and other contact info, the amount of self-promotion I got within a 5 hour time span is well worth what I spent to get it. And it's not like nobody was interested in what I had, I did make some sales(lots of small purchases), so the 'loss' is really only on paper.

Here's how it actually went;

The ornaments were a bust this time around-I was inbetween a booth selling them cheaper and a booth giving them away with each purchase. The main purpose of having them was so that my booth fit in with the Christmas theme, so that's not the end of the world.

My minis sold the best, mostly thanks to the dollhouse and Barbie owning little girls who stoppd by. Although little boys thought they were cool too, or at least, they thought it was cool that I could make something so small and detailed. I had some fairly long convos with both groups.

I sold 1 illustration, at half size, unframed, and that took some talking. This would be discouraging were it not for the legitimate feedback I'd gotten throughout the day.

Interactions with customers(that did not result in sales) typically played out like this;
Person walks up to my booth, looks at my work, asks a question, looks through the mini portfolio I had on the table, asks if I'm online, I give them a card, and then they'd move on-they didn't buy anything that day, but I've gotten into their heads for the next time.

Person walks up to my booth, looks at my work, asks a question, looks through the mini portfolio I had on the table, asks if I'll be around tomorrow, I explain that it's a one day show and try to give them a card, but they don't want it because-they don't have the internet. This usually led to a conversation about what shows I might do in the future(One woman made sure she wrote down my name/what I sell before she left).

This all looks very promising.

And I think I may have uncovered a no-internet Craft Show going sub-culture.  
Anthropologists, feel free to look into it, but I'd better be credited in your next book.

And all the kids that were looking through my portfolio. I've been looking into doing children's books("You should do children's books", is the most common comment I get about my illustrations, which I agree with comepletely), but up until this show the only feedback I've gotten was from adults. Granted, adults are the ones who pay for such things, but seeing a young child looking at your illustrations, clearly amazed by what they're looking at-that's pretty encouraging.


Was this show worth it?
Short response: Yes.

The slightly longer, but still short response:
This craft show, cost me about as much as seeing a movie, opening week, while enjoying some popcorn and a drink. After factoring in sales, the 'loss' was less than half of what I spent.

Losses happen, but the way I see it...

If you're willing to invest more money in the entertainment industry then you are in your own work-quit now. You are probably just blocking the way for someone who may actually be successful.

~Side note, I'm still working on the blog design. I can't find a Sans Serif type I like, but that's probably a boring rant to read so I won't get into it-Be sure to introduce yourself to all of the fish before you leave.

~~Another side note, since I promised entertainment in my last post, Please enjoy this bizzare Christmas animation I made with my little brother back in high school-using nothing but MS Paint, Windows Movie Maker, a microphone, and some bells(Turn your volume DOWN). Ah, memories...

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