I did an arts and crafts fair recently, with High School Friend as my ever-amazing helper. I’ve done this particular event before several times, and each time I bring in more money. This time around I was quite pleased by my earnings, and knew even without crunching the numbers that I’d definitely made a profit.
But then I did crunch the numbers, and once I factored in the cost of the table, the cost of buying HSF dinner to thank her for her dedication, and the cost of the merchandise I’d sold, said profit was about $30. For a six-hour day.
At my first bunch of events I actually lost money, though, so clearly I’m getting better and better at this; I’m learning what to sell and how to sell it. I’m trying hard to focus on that and not on the fact that I’m making so little.
Ironically, I’m offering a lot less variety in my wares than I did in the beginning. You’d think having lots of choice would make for good sales – something there for everyone – but no. Maybe my table looked too cluttered or maybe a bunch of the stuff I was selling just didn’t appeal to very many people (I think it’s both, actually) but now that I’ve pared back to just my two most popular kinds of merchandise, sales have gotten way better.
While I was at the craft fair, some dude came by and was grilling me about what I had to do to get in. He was like “so did you have to pay a guy to participate in this?” I said that I did indeed. Dude kept asking me, in a haranguing tone, why I had to pay – what was the money for? Couldn’t a person just set up their shit on the street without needing someone to facilitate it? What did the facilitator actually do? The implication here seemed to be that I’m an idiot getting ripped off by some random person claiming to be affiliated with the craft fair. I protested that the facilitator guy provides tables and chairs and…probably deals with obtaining some kind of street permit, or…something? I realized that I don’t really know what-all the guy does. Interrogator Dude looked smug.
A few minutes after Interrogator Dude left, some chick came by my table and she was like “I volunteer for this craft fair, and I’ve just been talking to various participants and…you all paid some guy to participate in this?”
I was like “Yeah…should I not have?”
She was like “Well…we’re just investigating this and trying to figure out who this guy is.” I said I had his name and cell number if she wanted it and she was like “No, that’s okay…I’m just gonna go ask some other people about this…” and she wandered off.
I…am speechless. If this woman is trying to track down the facilitator guy and figure out who he is, and I tell her that I know who he is and have contact info for him, why would she not want that info? And secondly, she didn’t take my business card or anything; if she ultimately found out that the facilitator was a giant scammer, was she just…not gonna tell any of the vendors? Let us just go home and transfer bank funds to him for the next event?
I was sure that the event facilitator is legit, mind you. He’s at every craft fair getting people set up with tables and chairs, directing traffic, and generally looking harried and doing eighty things at once; a scammer would just take people’s money and disappear. Still. The barrage of questions about the guy was kinda making me paranoid.
After a few minutes, HSF saw the volunteer chick in the crowd again and ran over to ask her WTF was going on. The upshot appears to be that everything is fine. I suspect Interrogator Guy approached Volunteer Chick with his pushy, confident diatribe and she didn’t know what to believe. Volunteers at events rarely know anything about anything.
Anyway. In other art-related news, I’ve recently modelled for two instructors I hadn’t previously worked for, and they both seemed to like me. So hopefully this will lead to lots more work. And, the first instructor I ever worked for offered me a “sustained pose” job – one class per week for the entire term. That’s a guaranteed $200+ per month for me – if the class doesn’t get cancelled due to lack of interest, which has happened before.
I’m a member of some Facebook groups for life models and artists. I’m gonna promote this class there, hard, and hopefully get some people to sign up.
By the way, at one of these “new” classes, the instructor and students were all very complimentary and friendly and we chatted during the breaks. At the other, everyone was kind of silent and aloof (although at the end the instructor said “Good job” or some similarly generic thing). And I feel like every class I do falls firmly on one side or the other in this regard. I wonder why? Do certain classes attract less-than-effusive people? Or maybe certain classes expect particular kinds of poses and my style clashes, so nobody has anything they’d want to compliment me on? It’s weird.
I’m actually so used to people gushing about my awesomeness at work now that it feels weird when they don’t. Ah, how far I’ve come. In my old office job, compliments were the exception, not the rule.