1) Crowd Comments:
People who do business at Art Fairs realize that there are always a lot of bizarre comments coming from the crowds walking through - enough that on an artist discussion board the topic of "What is the worst question you have ever been asked at an art fair" there are 38 pages and the thread is still going. That being said I had several real winners this time around.
Some standouts included the woman who very loudly informed her friend and everyone else in a 30 foot radius that my booth was full of "that Italian glass" and that she could get it cheaper elsewhere. Now when people refer to Italian glass they are usually thinking of Murano or Venetian glass. It looks something like this:
Here is picture of my work:
which leads to topic number 2: The dreaded Buy/Sell Fraud
If you are an avid reader of artist forums you will quickly see that one of the hottest topics is the folks that claim to be artists, jury into shows, win awards, take sales dollars from patrons and DO NOT MAKE THEIR own merchandise. Generally referred to as Buy/Sell (or B/S) these folks import work from places with cheap labor and pass it off as their own. There were at least 7 such vendors at this show. The most well known of these B/S outfits include a group that sells wooden watches imported from South America, silk embroidery from China, inlaid wood, wood knives and cutting boards, stone ducks, metal yard art and tons of jewelry. You see these "artists" show up at multiple shows on a given weekend which should be impossible because most shows have the rule that the artist must be present. Please remember that not everyone selling items in the categories I listed are part of this fraud, I don't want to drive business away from honest artists.
The artist community is working to inform the promoters and make sure that these vendors are not accepted into shows anymore. It is a difficult task, there are legal issues and political minefields to maneuver, so I am advocating an additional approach - educate our customers! If you question the likelihood that an artist made something check out their website on the smart phone that you are probably carrying. If you see multiple shows in a weekend or a long list of galleries, stores and outlets, or a comment about designers who have skilled artisans working for them then you have stumbled upon some serious B/S.
The next time you walk through an Art Fair please consider what you are looking at, talk to the artist and try hard to direct your dollars to those of us who are the real deal.