Friday, June 27, 2008

Art in the Park: Part 1- The Shoppers

Last weekend was my 5th Art in the Park. I started this "adventure" last year knowing absolutely nothing about exhibiting in art shows. I must like it because I keep going back. It's really a wonderful feeling when someone likes and actually wants to buy your work. Sometimes I feel guilty about charging $12 to $15 for one of my matted 8X10s, but then I quickly remind myself about the expenses of the classes, equipment and supplies. That price is fairly inexpensive compared to street artists in New York on Columbus Avenue. It is a lucky artist who can make a living "doing art." Dare to dream.

I've noticed that I have become more and more confident with each show. I know my photography is good..not great, I just don't know if the "general public" agrees. I can almost tell when a visitor enters my tent if he or she is going to make a purchase. One thing I know for sure is this: when a person walks into my tent with a camera around his neck, he is not going to buy. These people want to talk. I admit it, I've done it myself. They usually want to ask me about my equipment and say "where did you take that shot?" I've learned to be vague in my replies. They seem to accept what I say, thinking to themselves, "I know I can find that dune in Cherry Grove," or "I know just where that house is in Charleston."

One young couple who came to the park on Sunday was putting a lot of thought in their purchases. The young woman chose an image of a chateau that I shot in Provence last spring. As they were paying, I told them about the location and she laughed and said, "he said he knew just where that house is in Charleston!" Poor guy. I wish I knew where that house was in Charleston before I went to France...

Then there was a golfer who was interested in one of my framed golf shots. Realizing the clubs in the image were antiques, his nose almost touched the frame. We talked about where he played golf and he mentioned that he belonged to a course where I really wanted to shoot. Because we had become chummy, I guess he thought he could ask me to come down on the price. Not a chance. He didn't have cash or a check, only a credit card. Needless to say, the transaction didn't occur. Love 'em and leave 'em.

At these shows I feel like a bartender or a hairdresser. People tell me some things I really don't want to know. I show interest. I care. I live in the South, I can't be rude. We talk about where they're from, where they're staying, what they're doing at the get the picture. One retired lady told me about her move to the beach from a city in North Carolina. Although she told me she was looking for artwork for her new home, I could see that she wasn't reaching for her checkbook. As we continued to talk and I showed an interest in her new life she found a picture that she just loved....a statue of an angel...just for her bathroom! A pity purchase. I'll take it.

Towards the end of the show on Sunday, a nice couple from Long Island came by. I could have talked to them for hours. He was a retired principal from an elementary school in Brooklyn and his wife was still working for the school system. Because my niece is teaching in that same area (a small world), I had tons of questions for him...."Why doesn't NYC buy new classroom furniture for the schools (my niece's teacher's desk is one of those old wooden ones that they used in the 50's)?", "Why don't they air-condition the classrooms?", "Why is it so hard to get students with discipline problems and learning disabilities tested?" and finally, "How can principal's get away with handing out teacher handbooks in December when it should be done before school actually starts?" Before they left, I gave them directions to nearby town where they could spend their evening observing a subculture in action. I hope they went. Bless their hearts.

These were the most interesting people who I met at this show. There were many more. I guess I'll add more as I remember them. What a hoot. I can't wait for the October show.


janie said...

This is the older traveling sister. Nancy has always been artistic and is fascinated with photography and, ofcourse, I think her pictures are wonderful! On the trip to France she mentioned, she nearly drove me nuts stopping to take pictures of everything picturesque. Well, in Provence, that's a lot of stopping! She was smart enough to ignore me and generous enough to make copies of all those pictures for me.

Penny Gail Ginger said...

Well, this is Penny Gail, the friend who is still unemployed after 6 months, and would no doubt be homeless if it weren't for Nancy and her generosity. And yes, I owe Mary and Barb too!!Many,many thanks to my girlfriends. I truly don't know what I would do without them.
I absolutely love Nancy's work and I think she will be very successful at it-I keep trying to get her to let me do the marketing for her (a job) but we all agree I need to put my energy into finding a real job! I think she should try a show around Atlanta or maybe even Florida along either The Atlantic or Gulf coastline. Who would have thought she could be so creative-I suspect that comes from her Mother, Nellie.

JennyB said...

This is the niece that teaches in Brooklyn. I can attest to the fact that the same pictures in NYC would go for at least 3 times as much. Buy from my Aunt Nancy- her pictures are a breath of fresh air, but priced to kill!

Karen said...

Nancy invited me along to help her set up and take down for the show. It was a lot of work. I do not think I have the patience to go through what she does; a lot of time and effort goes into getting everything ready for a show. Nancy does a great job of "staging" her work to get people to come into her tent and look around. It was interesting to see and hear the people comment about the photographs; many "how cute", "how nice", “good job”; some "I will buy this". It was funny when one guy thought a French photgraph was a building in Charleston.
The other vendors were interesting too.
Great place for people watching!!