Friday, March 30, 2007

Staying Positive

When I was wandering around at the One of a Kind show yesterday, I noticed that some of the artisans made absolutely no effort to engage with the people who were passing by. For example, I stopped to look at a display of paintings, and the artist didn’t even look up from the book he was reading to acknowledge me. I wasn’t offended, just curious. Why would he put all that time, money and effort into participating, and then ignore a possible buyer?
In one way, I can understand it. You have to dig deep to create a body of work…so much so that taking it to the marketplace can bring out those insecurities about how the world supposedly works…and not selling much will only confirm your belief that no one takes you seriously. On the other hand, the people who stop to look at your paintings are drawn by the images. If you’re willing to talk about them and be friendly, it creates an atmosphere where people are willing to buy. I watched Carmi the pro in action, and it was obvious to me that when you’re open and engaged, the people will come. Even though it was a slow day at the show, most of the people passing by came into her booth, and many of them bought cards.
It reminds me of a story I read years ago in a self help book. A man committed to raising money for temperance put all his own money on the line by renting a big hall in Chicago for a fund-raiser. But there was a terrible snowstorm and only two little old ladies showed up. Nevertheless, he launched into his speech and delivered it as if he were addressing a full house. When he finished, one of the ladies said: “I’d like to pledge a million dollars.” While he was still trying to work his head around unexpectedly raising this enormous sum, the other woman responded by saying, “Well, if you can donate a million, so can I!”
The reason I love this story is because quality beats quantity every time. If you persist in spite of the odds, recognition will come, often in ways that you least expect it to. I always think that staying positive is like exercising. You build resistance, you feel better and you’re more likely to get the recognition you really deserve.


Mary Ambrose said...

Hi Susan,
Your are so right. I found exactly the same experience at the show on Wed. I sat my husband and son down last night and explained to them how engaging they need to be at my show next week because how they come across to people will be a big factor in my sales. By the way, I loved David's work!

Erica Solberg said...

Hi Susan,

Just a thought, in my experience a lot of the people "manning" those booths aren't the artist at all but friends, family or employees of the artist. I have experienced they same scenario as you time and time again. It is a shame.