I've just read through this thread and it seems appropriate for me to add my experience from yesterday at a small-town festival. I'd debated whether even to show up or not, but almost last minute decided to go ahead and do it for the experience. I had three sales that all happened just before a storm cell hit and I packed up ditched the remainder of the day. I sold one mug and two sponge holders, $12 each. The space cost $10 and my husband and I shared three shave ices from the space next to me and I bought books from two authors in a writer's group I go to who were on the other side of me. There were lots of vendors, a lot of trinkets. One trinket vendor had a big, heavy cash register to use for her sales.
While unloading my ware, I noticed that I'd left three boxes in my studio. Since the boxes contained covered casseroles and my more pricey items, I decided not to bother husband with going back home to get them, but went with what I had and that all seemed appropriate for the day. I love chatting with people who like/love pottery and I made a lot of good contacts for other things/other places and mentioned to several about the next venue which is a dedicated Craft Fest in two weeks. I'm almost sure i'll see most of them again. Whether they buy or not ... who knows.
I was approached by a promoter who handed me a tri-fold color brochure about two conference centers near Fayetteville, Arkansas and excitedly told me about the thousands of people who attend and stories about some vendors who sell out (not pottery) the first day of a two day event, and on and on. Then he mentioned the fees. $1,500 and $1,800! I'd have to make stuff for a year to get enough to try to recoup the fee and expenses for a weekend. I just can't think in relation to my pottery and those figures.
Every show/festival I attend (single digits so far) have lots of people asking me if I teach and expressing the desire to learn, accompanied with their individual stories of any past experience. I love teaching beginning classes and intermediate and a few more advanced techniques in hand-building, but I'm not set up to teach from my studio.
One man couldn't find a price on a bowl he liked, so I turned over the tag and when he saw $25, he left and was about 50 feet away by the time I got the bowl back on the table! I will do that event next year just to help the tiny town and because it's fun, but I'll only take mugs, lots of them, some ring holders, sponge holders, and smaller things and I plan to make a folio in a three-ring binder to showcase my bigger/better ware for anyone who cares.
Oh, and in addition to all the dogs in attendance, I got to host and pet a 24" tall horse in my booth. Along with the experience of helping my husband and another guy hold down our canopy during the storm, the horse was probably the highlight of my day! If I had to depend on pottery for a living, I'd starve quickly ... but I'd have a great time!
I agree with all of you who advise to match ware to the potential types of people in attendance and if you want to become known for your pottery, don't mix up woodworking and other things into your pottery displays. I'd get another space for that or just not take pottery. I think we should promote our chosen craft by itself so we can build the idea of quality (or humor, or cheap sales, or whatever it is you're looking to do), and not have our public relating our best work with other things, no matter whether it's pottery or wood carving or jewelry making.
That's more like ten-cents-worth, but since it's a discussion, hope you don't mind.
- CarlCravens likes this