When Awkward is your Default Setting
Let's be clear from the beginning. I live in a traditional, conservative state. My art is out of the box, out of the shadows, weird. Really, it's a minor miracle that I ever manage to sell any art at all.
I've been working the art market and festival circuit for almost ten years now. I've listened to all the marketing tapes and watched all the videos. I've listened to other artists in their interactions with customers and my final takeaway is always, "how people"?
Their interchanges seem effortless. The other artists talk about their work in a polished, professional manner, interjecting just the right amount of humor and sympathy. They have their stories and their anecdotes about each piece and seem to know just the right notes to hit in every conversation.
In contrast, I feel as if I hopelessly floundering every time I start an exchange. I do have my stories about specific pieces but I know I don't have that charismatic flair.
My work seems to be hilarious. Potential buyers giggle all the time when they're flipping through my artwork, but I can't pull off funny.
Early in my art market career, a customer was gushing over my "Poe and the Raven" artwork. Thinking it was safe to let my inner literature geek out, I commented, "Yes, this is an actual photograph of Edgar Allan Poe taken before he started writing, back when he was still working the vaudeville circuit."
She cocked her head and gazed at me in a fascinated manner. "I didn't know that he performed in vaudeville."
Quickly, I walked back my statement, explaining that I'd been kidding. Clearly, I should not attempt the humor. I haven't made that mistake again. I will let my inner history or literature geek out but only if the other party opens up that particular can of worms first. (For instance, I had a fun conversation with a man on Saturday morning about Aleister Crowley and the Great Pyramid, but, in my defense, he started it).
Humor can be an effective sales technique, just not for me. Fortunately, my artwork seems better able to speak for itself than I can speak for it.
I like to think that maybe I've gotten a little better over the years, but I could be completely self-deluding. I do know that I've never made another joke about Edgar Allan Poe's career in vaudeville and I probably never will again.
Please, if you haven't already signed up for it, my Bloom Where You're Planted Oracle Deck will be launching on May 3rd. There is no obligation to buy anything at this point, but the algorithm responds best to higher numbers so your support would be invaluable.
Much love and I promise to never history nerd out on you unless you really want me to.