Art Fair Etiquette: No Dogs, Don’t Dicker, Etc.


Here is a recent article from the Kansas City Star by Lisa Gutierrez that all the artists love. This is just in case your mother didn’t teach you right!

“Mind Your manners while making the rounds at the art fair booths. ” Here’s what not to do at the next art festival you hit:

Don’t drink and browse — you might break something.

Don’t stand around yapping with your friends and block the way into the booths. Makes it hard for people to shop.

Don’t make uninformed comments about the art within the artist’s earshot.

That’s Art Festival Etiquette 101 from the artists last weekend at the Prairie Village Art Show.

Oh, and did we mention the universal pet peeve?

Keep your dogs out of the tents.

Watch your kids

Artists like children, they do.

A lot of them have kids themselves. And they know that children are future art consumers. But please: “Take care of your children,” said Rod Garrett, a Florida artist who sold acrylic sculptures for hundreds of dollars.

“When a child comes in an area like this, he makes everybody else nervous,” he said. “(But) if you’re going to be in this environment, bring your kids here and teach them respect for the arts.”

Garrett’s heavy acrylic sculptures aren’t easily broken, but Mark Thorson’s ceramic pieces are. (Thorson, by the way, is not related to Star art critic Alice Thorson.)

“A lot of times kids will come in the booth without their parents and start picking things up,” the Mission artist said. “You have to jump up and cut them off at the pass.”

Don’t dicker, don’t bicker

Many artists work festivals for a living, so they don’t want to haggle.

“I think artists get shortchanged anyway,” Thorson said. “They usually sell themselves short with the amount of time and effort they put in a piece.”

But if you feel compelled to barter, be respectful. Ask “How firm are your prices?” Don’t lowball.

“If someone comes in and says ‘Can you do any better, I’ll say yes, it’s $95, but for you, it’s $105,’ ” said Anthony Pack of Overland Park, who makes folk art from recycled materials.

“… then I want to say ‘What do you do for a living, and can I come over and get a discount from you?’ I think for some people, art fairs are like flea markets.”

But here’s a secret: Regular customers sometimes get discounts, and some artists offer payment plans.

“There are a lot of us out here that on large-scale pieces — you know, our stuff is not exactly inexpensive — plans are available. Ask,” Garrett said.

St. Louis artist Clark Stoeckley will give a “deal” to people who buy more than one of his pencil drawings. But bring cash.

“You better have cash if you want art for cheap,” he said. “Credit card just says, ‘I’ve got money but not yet.’ ”

No pictures, please

Taking pictures of the art without asking the artist first is a “good way to lose your camera,” Garrett said.

“That is one of the biggest bugaboos out here right now because of the digital technology involved,” he said. “It’s a nightmare out here.”

The nightmare is piracy. Not the Capt. Jack Sparrow kind. The art festival kind.

It’s not so much an issue for artists working in three dimensions like Garrett. But the painters?

“Somebody captures the image digitally, they can have it printed in four hours and framed,” Garrett said. “And it’s a big deal. These are original creations of work. Somebody comes by, snaps a photo of it and it’s at some home decorating store a month later in a frame for $19.95. It’s been going on for years, big time. I have seen cameras destroyed.”

To read the rest of the article click here.


2 Responses to “Art Fair Etiquette: No Dogs, Don’t Dicker, Etc.”

  1. Fabio Wentworth Says:

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  2. mixed media artist Says:

    Additional tips for Fair – Goers –

    What not to say to an artist about the materials they use – “So, this is just…”

    “Just” implies the materials have no value. Well, the Mona Lisa is “just” paint on wood. The statue of David is “just” rock… the finest ming vase is “just” clay… the Thinker… “just” metal. Quilts that take months to complete are “just” fabric.
    My quote? “The materials may be inexpensive, but the talent…. priceless!”

    What not to say to an artist about their technique – “My child did a project like this in school,” or “I did that in high school.”
    It’s a good thing some schools still have art programs.
    Every artist started out as a child and probably discovered their talent or love for creation in school.
    My response? “Me, too.”

    What not to say to an artist “I’ll be back” when you have no intention of being back. It’s better to say “I love your work.”

    What not to say to an artist “Can I have a card?” when you have no intention of contacting the artist or purchasing a piece at some point. Postcards and business cards cost the artist money.

    What not to say to an artist “Where do you get your subjects,” “Where do you get your materials,” “Can you show me how to do that,” “Can you give me a list of your resources,” “What kind of glue do you use,” etc… Artists are at Art Festivals to sell their work. Some techniques are considered proprietary – the artist may not want to share their techniques. If you are seriously interested in the “how” please ask the artist if they give workshops.

    If you are an artist or wanna be artist – please tell the showing artist immediately so they don’t think you are a customer.

    And, please DON”T TOUCH the work, it is not yours. But please, BUY IT and take it home and touch it all you want.

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