Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Art Fair Types

As we approach (we hope) the end of The Covidian Age, and art fairs (hopefully) make a come back, and as we prepare to do art fairs in NYC, Miami, Houston, London, and maybe Seattle, I thought that this would be a good time to republish this post from 2004:


One of the more eye-opening things in attending an art fair is seeing the dynamics that go onto the decision to buy a piece of art. Put together a few thousand people, paying an entry fee to enter the fair, an assortment of dealers, and a huge diverse variety of offerings and it's an education in people watching.

The married couple: 

"Do you like it?" 
"Yeah, I like it- it's just what we've been looking for." 
"Where would we put it?" 
"We have a couple of spots that it'd fit."
"Do you really like it." 
"Yeah, how about you?" 
"Yeah, I kinda of like it." 
"Should we get it?" 
"If you want it." 
(five minutes later) "Let's think about it." 
"OK" 
[To me] "Do you have a business card?" 

The couple (not married): 
Her: "Do you like it?" 
Him: "Sssoright" 
Her: "Where would we put it?" 
Him: "Dunno." 
Her: "Do you really like it." 
Him: "So'OK.. Yeah, how about you?" 
Her: "Yeah, I kinda, sorta, really like it." 
Him: "Dunno though" 
Her: "What? You don't like it?" 
Him: "If you want it." 
(five minutes later) Him: "Let's think about it." 
Her or Him: "OK" [To me] "Do you have a business card?" 


The Single Woman (SW) with a Woman Friend: 
SW: "WOW! Now, I really like this!" 
Friend: "Yeah... it's nice" 
SW: "It's exactly what I've been looking for!" 
Friend: "I have a friend who does work just like this..." 
SW: "I am really drawn to it!" 
Friend: "Are you really sure you like it?" 
SW: "Uh - yeah!... why? Don't you like it?" 
Friend: "Yeah... it's OK" 
SW: "I think it's really good... I think it's the first piece in this whole show that I really like." 
Friend: "There's a few more booths we haven't seen." 
SW: "I think I'm going to buy this." 
Friend: "Are you sure?" 
SW: "Uh - yeah!... It's a good price too.... why? Don't you like it?" 
(five minutes later) SW: "Do you have a business card?" 

The Single Woman (SW) with a Man Friend: 
SW: "WOW! Now, I really like this!" 
Friend: "Yeah... Cool" 
SW: "It's exactly what I've been looking for!" 
Friend: "I think it's a lithograph" [it's actually a charcoal] 
SW: "I am really drawn to it!" 
Friend: "Are you really sure you like it?" 
SW: "Uh - yeah!... why? Don't you like it?" 
Friend: "I have something like it... I got it cheaper though..." 
SW: "I think it's really good... I think it's the first piece in this whole show that I really like." 
Friend: "You like lithographs?" 
SW: "I think I'm going to buy this." 
Friend: "Are you sure?" 
SW: "Uh - yeah!... It's a good price too.... why? Don't you like it?" 
(five minutes later) SW: "Do you have a business card?" 

The Single Focus Dream Buyer: [Walks straight up to one piece, never looks at the rest of the work in your booth] "I'll take this" 
[Me] "Thank you... it's a very striking charcoal drawing - will be that be a check or charge?"
 "Charge
[Me] "I can send you more information on this artist..." 
"That will be great - I love this work - it's exactly what I'm interested in!"
[Me] "I have a few more pieces here, would you like to see them?" "
No, thanks..."  (He/She buys it and walks away)

The "I'm glad you're here guy (IGYHG)"
IGYHG: "Hey! I've been looking for you!" 
[Me]: "Hi, how are you?" 
IGYHG: "... been walking this whole fair looking for you!" 
[Me]: "Yeah... lots of dealers this year... glad you found us!" 
IGYHG: "Howsa been goin'?" 
[Me]: "Yes... quite good actually..." 
IGYHG: "Well, let me look at what you've got!" 
[three minutes later] IGYHG: "Well... I'm glad you're here... see ya next year!"

The "I Shudda Bought It Last Year Guy (Shudda)"
Shudda: "Hey! You're here again!" 
[Me]: "Hi, how are you? Yeah... It's our 7th year here..." 
Shudda: "... been walking this whole fair looking for you!" 
[Me]: "Yeah... lots of dealers this year... glad you found us!" 
Shudda: "Howsa been goin'?" 
[Me]: "Yes... quite good actually..." 
Shudda: "Well, let me look at what you've got!" 
[three minutes later] Shudda: "Where's that really good watercolor of the fill-in-the-blank?" 
[Me]: "Uh... I sold it last year - but I have a few more pieces by that artist." 
Shudda: "Ah! - I really wanted that one! Do you have another one?" 
[Me]: "Well, no... it was an original watercolor, and I sold it; but I have ---" 
Shudda: "I really wanted that piece; and it was a good price too..." 
[Me]: "Maybe you'd like some of his new work..." 
Shudda: "I shudda bought it last year" [Walks away] 
Shudda: "You gonna be here next year?" 

The "Where's That Piece Guy (WTP)"
WTP: "Hey! You're here again!" 
[Me]: "Hi, how are you? Yeah... It's our 7th year here..." 
WTP: "... been walking this whole fair specifically looking for you!" 
[Me]: "Yeah... lots of dealers this year... glad you found us!" 
WTP: "Howsa been goin'?" 
[Me]: "Yes... quite good actually..." 
WTP: "OK... last year I saw this piece... it was a fill-in-the-bank and I should have bought it then! " 
[Me]: "Yeah... that is a nice piece." 
WTP: "I've been thinking about it for a whole year" [Looks around the booth and doesn't see it]
WTP: "Do you still have it?" 
[From here there are two paths...] 

Path One - [Me]: "Uh... I sold it last year - but I have a few more pieces by that artist." 
WTP: "Ah! - I really wanted that one! Do you have another one?" 
[Me]: "Well, no... it was an original watercolor, and I sold it; but I have ---" 
WTP: "I really wanted that piece; and it was a good price too..." 
[Me]: "Maybe you'd like some of his new work..." 
WTP: "I shudda bought it last year" 
[Walks away] WTP: "You gonna be here next year?" 

Path Two [Me]: "Let me get it for you... I have it in the back!" 
WTP: "Great" [I bring it out and give to WTP] 
WTP: "Yeah this is it! It's great!" 
[Me]: "This artist has done really well this last year and ---" 
WTP: [Handing it back] "Excellent! I'm glad you still have it... until what time are you going to be here?" [Walks away...]

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