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Re: Fairs and Markets

        It's been at least 15 years since I've done outdoor shows, and at that
time I was doing calligraphy. I also frequently accompanied a friend who
was a potter. I had some great experiences and met some wonderful
people. I also had some lousy experiences and met some obnoxious people.
My husband's advice is, Bring your tough skin- while most people are
nice and either respond to your work or keep their mouth shut, there are
some who turn to their friend in a LOUD whisper and say, "I can't
believe she's charging that much for that, I could that easy" - and take
the show organizer's glowing promotion with a grain of salt- they all
say they'll be wonderful and some are and many aren't.
        It's helpful to have one or more low-priced items, the equivalent of a
stocking stuffer. I had small calligraphy quotes for $3-$5. I also had
paper printed with a border and wrote names in calligraphy. My potter
friend made tiny little pots. The idea is that these items can pay your
booth fee and maybe more, but at least they will hopefully keep you from
losing money. Perhaps a mini-journal or a tiny book on a cord that could
be worn as a necklace or glued to a pin back.
        While I agree that too high a price will make sales difficult, you have
to make sure you don't sell yourself short. You have to make enough to
make producing the work worthwhile. While it is not something to count
on, think about how you would feel if you sold everything you brought.
Would you have made enough money to feel invigorated and inspired and
ready to make more books for the next show? Or would you feel exhausted
looking at the meager amount in your hand and feel burdened by the
thought of another show?
        I think this kind of show is a good way to make the transition from
giving away work to selling it. Try to view it as an experiment. At the
time I was doing it, my entire heart and soul was so wrapped up in the
work that every rejection as a blow to my inner being. I've learned to
separate the work, where my heart and soul still are, from what happens
after it's done and it has made my life much saner.
        Best of luck to you.

in good spirit,

Susan Kapuscinski Gaylord
Newburyport, MA

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