In a recent conversation (I believe it was at a board meeting) Tom Fletcher noted that the farmer’s market was no place to sell “fine art”. Now I know exactly what he meant – “you are unlikely to sell a piece for $500.” However, that sent me down one of my favorite rabbit holes of thought.
First, I don’t even know what that term means. If there is fine art does that imply that there is ok art, so-so art, bad art? Or is it graded like sandpaper extra fine, fine, medium, coarse? Moreover, who gets to decide? But I digress.
My friend Katrina formerly did spectacular underwater photography. “Formerly” because of a rather unnerving episode at a couple of hundred feet down with a shark a good deal bigger than she is. After a certain amount of soul searching she turned to making jewelery and she’s good at that, too.
She is the only artist that I know personally who made a significant part of her living selling work at sundry street fairs. She always had a few stunning prints up in her booth – 20x24 or bigger, beautifully framed and priced to match. She had smaller work priced to sell --loose and framed prints, refrigerator magnets, greeting cards, and bookmarks. The highest margin items were the cards and bookmarks – very cheap to print and priced at the impulse buy level. Refrigerator magnets were also good sellers but not so high a margin. Smaller prints in the $20 or so range did ok, too. And sell they did – they were the bread and butter of her sales.
Did anybody ever take one of her stunning, large, expensive prints home from her booth? No. But they sure drew lookers into her booth. She also regarded them as advertizing. More than once she got a call or email of the “We saw your work at… and want to buy a print.” She did a series on eyes – octopus eyes in particular. A veterinary opthalmologist bought a couple of giant prints for his office. Paid her booth fees for a couple of years.