How Artist Should Speak to Guests & Consumers at Art Festivals- The Do’s

The times they are a-changin’.

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creative entrepreneurs do not have the option of avoiding these questions, when they are posed… if they plan to sell.

Yes youare a creative… in thestudio. When you step into the “Fair”,  you are a sales person… Your job is to sell  the art. If this is difficult hire an agent or a sales rep. 

How Artist  should Handle the top questions they never want to be asked…  

I am an artist  I have friends who  are artist and I’ve heard the complaints so when I saw the article ”

“How to Talk to Artists at Art Festivals- The Do’s and Don’ts ”

several times.  I first  ignored it and avoided responding, but I have a different view.


 I‘ve experience a lot of what was discussed, I even had someone go home and bring the “copy” they had made of a wearable art piece I had done to the second day of a Festival. What I did was take her number and teach her  the technique. She eventually started selling  lengths of fabric in this technique which I used sometimes in my line. They were different in execution from mine and added another option for my customers.

Today I counsel Creative Entrepreneurs and one of the sessions preps them in handling these uncomfortable questions. As I read this again  I felt the urge to  highlight the opportunity. Frankly  we Creatives, Artist designers need to get over ourselves and be of service to the customer. Yes we need to  eat a bit of humble pie. There is a way to do so without losing ones dignity!

First up hire an assistant so you  are NOT stressed and tired.  Make sure you have food  and water  at hand. a hungry  artist is not a pleasant sales person and you need to be at your booth when the buyer is there. Get  adequate rest…  take a walk every couple of hours . That’s why  you need an assistant. Can’t  pay  consider barter.  Finally greet friends and family but  keep the socializing  for your studio or home. Stay off the phone and Social media, even when  guest are not in your booth. It is NOT inviting  when you walk into a booth and the  person there seems otherwise occupied.
#1 “Can I get a discount?” 
  • I’m so sorry … we price our product  so you get the best  deal we can  possible afford.  What’s your budget maybe I can  find something in that range or recommend a fellow artist  who may falls within your budget.
  • I’m sorry this is the original  but we do have prints.
#2 “Does this come in any other size/color?


  • No, I have another in the series , or another series in that size or color”
  • I do not sell prints but I will do commissioned pieces.
  • I sell prints on special order (remember You still own the copyrights to your image… ) visit my website at
#3 “Is it finished?”


  • “What makes you ask that”… listen their response, it might  inspire you or open up an opportunity…
  • Well yes, it  is a part of a series/ set, let me walk you through the companion pieces

Get my drift? Stop being “sensitive about your sh**” )

#4 “How long did it take you to do that?”

REPLY:–  I developed the technique over  X number of years and t pheiece over 5 day; or 5 months or 5 years … the point  Artist need to  tell their stories


#5 “How did you make that?”

REPLY:–  Tell them your story  sell your work and gives it value. The better the story… In fact set up a show area it attracts real art lovers

#5b when asked … with the intention of, “I’ll go home and make one just like it!”
REPLY:–  Stop being afraid YOU studied the  masters at college. 
“I  teach this technique as well as creativity  workshops to  help you define your own style and have labs wher you can  develop you  skills, Take my card and give me  a call or better yet  leave your info with technique on my  guest book and I’ll contact you.  
#6 “Your work is just like so-and-so’s.” 
REPLY:– I never noticed, I assure you  our process of development is unique, we may  have similar aesthetic, values or background. Then tell them about YOURS

#7 “It must be fun to just paint all day.” and/or “What do you do for a living?”
Unfortunately the process is not so cut and dry, we have to do  research, drafts and aside from the actual art, their is like any other person the paperwork.
#8 “I want to learn to paint when I retire/have free-time, etc.”
REPLY:–  what a wonderful idea, I’d encourage you to. In fact  I (or a colleague0 offer some workshops that are great. Why not  give me your contact email, and I’ll shoot you notes on these as they come along.
#9 If Your work is Insulted…
REPLY:– –  I appreciate your honesty… but  art is a conversation, and  in your very  reaction there is a response, while I do not agree with your viewpoint, I  surely  do appreciate the fact that you took the time to respond!  The atmosphere at art fairs or Pop up shops are can vary from slow and  intimate to fast paced and “commercial”! Set the mood and  keep in a positive mindset.
 #10  Can you  put this aside for me… 
Sure but  you  will need to  make a refundable deposit that  will be forfeited if it is not  picked up by (give date on receipt).
When someone inquires about a piece on hold. 
It is presently on view?hold for a customer. If you  give me your info I will make an  effort to clarify their interest and get back to you.

The Challenger

– Recently  someone threw a tantrum, “You can’t talk to me like that”  

At  first I was taken aback, my  words had no malice , vulgarity or even emotional overtones, It was fairly neutral. Especially  since it was written, even casual. In looking  back I realize this person simply did not want  her actions challenged. Do not take comments as a personal  challenge. I was expected to agree with what she did or said and I had clearly indicated that I  had not! Look
If you want to open your mouth to speak be prepared for ANY reaction. 
Other things ;  
 Lesson One: Consumers need to understand the artist Artist, Understanding the shopper  is a quest in YOUR space… adding some type of communication that introduces who you are and your art is simply  good manners. With technology  it can be a short URl, or qr code that  points to your  About page on your website or a special  Landing page for the event
  • Post your policy especially Graphic signage and encourage show promoters to post these and send out pre- show notices including what actions will be taken- eg  removal from premises. (these man nothing without  teeth)
  • Artist should have an assistant  at the least  a notebook and pen (attached). When you need them to  move on  politely say..
  • “I’m enjoying this dialogue and would love to  continue this , why  not  connect on (social media channel)  or leave your info and I’ll give you a call, or i’ll add you to my  email list  so I can invite you  to a more intimate event!
Targetted more towards the consumer. 

Consumers should not  take up an artist’s time chatting;- 

Consumers should Never take pictures of the art unless you ask the artist for permission first.

Bonnie Sandy 

Phone /VM 646 736 2984



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