I was recently at an art’s fair where hundreds of local artists were trying desperately to wrangle the thousands of passerby’s into their booths. For all their cajoling and enticing, it was like trying to herd cats.
I imagine there are many reasons people chose to simply pass by, but one reason trumps them all. The artists weren’t selling anything really unique.
I know, each piece is beautiful and unique on its own. But the average customer at a street fair doesn’t know that at a glance. Instead they just see the same old jewelery or more paintings that they probably can’t afford.
And yet, that day, these same disinterested people bought a bunch of $45 driftwood bottle openers from my wife’s friend Taylor.
Why? Because they were actually unique and different.
Your painting is still on canvass. Your pottery is still a painted vase. Your jewelery is still just necklaces and rings. Your photography is still just pictures in a frame.
And people can get all these things, for cheaper, at Target.
Guess what? That’s what they will do and for most artists that is the competition. The question potential customers have is “What can I get here that I can’t get somewhere else for less?”. They don’t care about quality (only that it doesn’t break) and they certainly don’t unconsciously care about the design atheistic, at least not like the artist does.
This applies to more than just arts festivals, it applies to any artistic endeavor; why is your art cool? Why is it unique and interesting?
The trick is to be different enough that people notice you but not so staggeringly different that people don’t know what to make of you.
Instead of pulling out the canvas, next time paint something off the wall and crazy. What’s your painted driftwood bottle opener?