Monday, December 15, 2008

It Ain't Easy!

Being an artist is probably the hardest job I've ever had. Well no, scratch that. Being a mom is the hardest job. But this artist business sure runs a close second. This is a hard working job that is not only a physical drain, but an emotional one too. When I am setting up a table full of art, along with the wood and paint goes a part of myself. No matter how frivolous my art may seem to the passerby, it was done from the heart and usually with a story somewhere in the back of mind. I paint a little bit of my own self into each painting and it's not something that I can ever take back. Most of the time the feedback I get from strangers is positive. Compliments and giggles are the favorite emotions evoked from potential customers. But every so often I get an invisible crackling smack across the face from some insensitive people who think that because my work is for public sale, then that makes it fair game for public insult. It used to upset me to the point of tears when I would get a cruel comment or rude reaction from the public. I had a woman once come to my table and tell me that I should not be allowed to sell at the farmer's market and that she would never buy anything from my table. The reason for her anger was that I had decoupaged a plaque using the image of Frida Kahlo's "Broken Column" and the woman thought it was inappropriate to display nudity in public. If she had bothered to get past her own ignorant assumptions, she would have known that Kahlo's painting has nothing to do with lewdness or nudity. I tried in vain to explain this, but of course this woman could only see with her eyes. I don't mind when somebody doesn't understand the work I choose to use in my own artwork, but to blindly make accusations and not even bother asking "why" is beyond my understanding.
And then there was this great day when I heard "I've always passed your table up because I thought they (my artwork) were cheap Mexican imports." Hm. Obviously she hadn't shopped in Mexico lately because she'd find that their "cheap" products aren't so cheap anymore. Another time I was setting up for the celebration of Diez y Seis de Septiembre (the 16th of September is Mexican Independence Day). There was a couple walking by and looking at the decorated plaza then glancing down at my table as the woman asked the man "what is all this stuff?" to which he replied "I dunno...some Mexican imported shit." Wait. Huh? Did I suddenly turn to stone? Because was he speaking like I...didn't exist? On another day as I was talking with a fellow artist in front of her booth, there was a group of tourists who walked up to her table and the know the type...the obnoxious type of man who thinks it's cute to hand feed a shark from his fishing boat...this man walks up to my friends table and bellows out..."hey...hey...look here...pick out the ugliest thing you can find on this table! hahaha!" Wait. Huh? Did we suddenly become invisible as he chose to not only loudly insult my friends artwork but to also make fun of it right in her face as if she had no feelings at all? And then there was the lovely weekend in Casa Grande Arizona where I made the bad decision of trying to sell at the Bluegrass Jamboree Festival. I figured hey I love Bluegrass music so why not try and make a few bucks there too! Supposedly this was a venue open only to artists of handmade crafts and goods. End result? I sold $40 bucks of merchandise and the vendors next to me (really nice folks from South Dakota who sold Made in China (yeah I saw the stickers) resin figurines of things like singing frogs, fishing bears and dogs in tutus) completely sold out. Lesson learned. Never sell at anything with the name Bluegrass or Jamboree in it.
I could probably write a book on the negative experiences I've had selling my own artwork, but truth is the positive far outweigh the negative. And although it can be hard not letting that one ugly splat on the wall get me down, I find that I still go home everyday and look forward to putting another piece of my heart down for posterity. Man...gotta love this life! jeje


TheFancyChola said...

I can feel your pain Pam! I love those "what the hell is this girl trying to sell?" looks. I figure those people are just not cool enough to own our stuff! Your art is so BOSS,(I've seen it live and in person)...I know from talking to others that you and your success are what they strive for. Sometimes I am shocked that your items are even affordable. If awesomeness was equivalent to price, you would be a millionaire! Cheap Mexican imports my ASS!

Carolyn said...

Oh my gosh Pam! Those people are just ignorant people. Probably the type that buy their art from the local feed store. "Hey kitty, that's a nice horse poster!"
You know your an awesome artist and you make a living out of it. So no matter what a few jerks say it does not change that fact.
I have tried to sell at our local rodeo and this last recent "craft" fair. Ummm never again. You have to stick with the right venue.
You do paint with your heart and personal inner ideas, so that really hurts when someone is rude about it. But you can laugh about it now. Christina always tells me, Time + Tragedy = Comedy
It's true.

gennimcmahon said...

Well, being familiar with she of the "cheap Mexican imports" comment (seriously, what does that even MEAN?) I can say, Consider the Source. Consider the garage-door-sized-Jesus-in-Stained-Glass Source, baby.

But, no, that doesn't help how it feels to be smacked with someone's ignorance. I had a guy come up one day and look at a Frida bag and say, "If I had a time machine, I'd go back and take her a pair of tweezers." My sister and I had trouble responding because our jaws came unhinged when they dropped open.

I got this from a customer this weekend (who had bought a lot from me, but who makes orders and then forgets what she ordered and eyes what I am delivering with suspicion): Customer walks around and around the purse trees, touches EVERYTHING, then wanders away, "Oh, maybe next time..."

Huh? Hey, maybe NOT, sweetie. Try that.

She'll think the same bags are new next time anyway ;)

You know how I like to make sure that the purse flap matches the design under it? I had a lady get pissed that on the underside, the magentic snap was on Our Lady of Guadalupe's face. "No,no,no,NO!!!!" she cries, and storms off.

That just made me want to be really, really naughty with the next one.

LuLu said...

Bonjour Pamela! Thanks for stopping by my blog and for your sweet comments! The latest post on your blog made me smile... I feel the same way about selling in fairs and craft shows. NOT FOR ME!!! YOUR WORK IS BEAUUUUUUUTIFUL! I will be visiting often, please do so too!

TheFancyChola said...

Merry Christmas Pam! I had a strange dream about you the other day...Carolyn and I were staying at your house..your Husband was a Chef at a fine dining establishment/ fire man, and you had runaways staying on a couch in your attic? Weird right? Anyways, I have no idea why you are starring in my subconscious movie nights, but tell your husband good luck in finding his signature dish!

glorv1 said...

I think all painters leave their souls in their work and that is what makes it special. I need to backtrack on your blog so that I can see some of your work. In the meantime, Happy New Year.