I spent Sunday wandering around the Cedarburg Wine and Harvest Festival. There were SO many booths filled with art and crafts: jewelry, paintings, photography, pottery, sewing, etc. And though I can't say I came back with the "I want to make that" bug, I do feel inspired to be creative. It was nice to see other people express their creativity. It's interesting to wonder whether these artists are able to make a living selling at shows like this or do they supplement these shows with other venues (boutiques, galleries, online). Or do they have a day job and they pursue their art in their spare time, selling at shows as they can.
A few decades ago, I was going along making very basic quilted wallhangings as gifts for friends and family. (I was in my early 20s, so I was always in need of gifts for bridal showers and weddings.) After many of them told me "you should sell these," I decided to do that very thing. But since it was before the internet was commonplace and I was young and inexperienced, I dove in without doing any research, and got a table at a local fall festival with my very dear, now ex, mother-in-law who had also just started selling crafts. (No, the divorce wasn't due to this adventure--I had fabulous in-laws!) Since the show was in a few weeks, I feverishly cut, sewed, and painted late into the nights during those weeks. I probably made 20 wallhangings, mostly Christmas, and all one-of-a-kind. If you haven't already guessed, it was a disaster. Didn't sell a one. It was a yucky fall day, weatherwise, and, of course, our booth on the square was just that--it wasn't actually a craft show, more like an extension of a small-town high-school homecoming day. The bright side of this situation was that, in the end, I did sell all of them--to coworkers looking for a homemade gift and to family members seeking the same. (My sister really doesn't like to shop, so she thought it was great!) So when Mom sees something that I've made and starts to say "you know, you could make those and sell those and make a lot of money," I just smile and ask "like those wallhangings?". Somewhere I have pictures of them--if I run across the photo album, I'll scan some in so you can all see. There's nothing wrong with them, they're cute enough, and they were priced fairly for what they were, but it was 1990 and I was a brand new quilter, so when I think of them now, I have to smile and think "oh bless my heart, I thought I was really something."
So tell me your stories. Do you sell your work? What avenues do you use? Anyone else have a rough first show? Lessons to share with the rest of us? Leave a comment and let me know.