Selling my Art at Fairs and Shows

by Gill Martin
(Dorset, UK)

Your site is great...

I sell my own art at craft fairs and various shows, some of my work is displayed in shops/gallery windows. I also have a website.

My problem is the the shows and fairs, people wandering by maybe some looking quite closely at my work or chatting about it. Thats fine. The problem comes when they pick a picture up and study it more closely, i'm never quite certain how to approach, i don't want to frighten them away but i also don't want them to wander off again. I become a bit 'blank'... Also i have a problem with "whats the best you can do on this picture for?". I really think my work is worth the price i put on it, I want a sale but obviously don't want to break even or a loose my labour cost.

Another, I paint commissions of people's pets, they come to my stall, leave their info, they are really keen... I contact them later to make arrangements for a photo shoot or receive emails of photos - then nothing, it all seems to fade away...





Hi Gill,
I'd like to say I have all the answers but I doubt it given that I have never sold art and couldn't draw a straight line if my life depended on it.

Not knowing what to say ?
I know a guy who is really good at selling retail (I sold B2B). He used to tell me that you always open with a line that people cannot object to.
He used to say things like, "Sorry, I think you are in the wrong isle." People would say "What do you mean" he'd respond, "the quality stuff is all in that isle and you are obviously a person who wants quality" What are they going to say, No, I want to buy crap!"
Another line was, " Do you want to make a good decision?" Once again how can they respond ?
So, maybe you could say something like, "Ahh, I see you have an eye for X (color, quality, details - whatever that particular painting excels at). If they respond yes then you talk about that quality with them. If they respond not really you can say "maybe you are selling yourself short" and ask "what do you see in this painting ?" and then your conversations is underway.

With the best offer query you say "I really think my work is worth the price", sounds a bit like you are trying to convince someone. Maybe yourself ? Are you REALLY sure it's worth the price.

There is a fabulous story in "Influence" by Cialdini where a jewelry shop owner goes away for a short holiday. Before she goes away she leaves a note for her shop assistant to halve the price of a slow moving line (to get the stock out of inventory). When the owner came back, all the stock was sold. No surprise there. But there was when she found out that the assistant had misread the note and DOUBLED the price of the goods ! plainly the potential buyers had changed their opinion based on the higher price and I guess the shop assistant had too. How would you feel about doubling the price of your paintings ?

With the pets fading away. May I suggest you ask the people to leave a deposit. You may lose some sales but you'll get a lot less of your time wasted too.

Hope this helps, Greg

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