home resources "The Independent Artist" Issue 6, pg 5

"The Independent Artist"
Issue VI, November 2009

Be a Rock Star in Your Booth
by Holly Olinger, Mixed-Media Artist, NAIA Board Member

Holly Olinger

- Pronunciation: \mi-_st_k\
- Function: noun
- Etymology: French, from mystique, adjective, mystic, from - - - Latin mysticus
- Date: 1891
1 : an air or attitude of mystery and reverence developing around something or someone
2 : the special esoteric skill essential in a calling or activity

All artists have an invisible power that they can purposefully choose to cultivate as a sales tool and that is the power of mystique. We all know famous rock stars idolized by the masses who know this powerMick Jagger, Axl Rose, or Pat Benatar all had that indefinable something that set them apart from the crowd and made heads turn over their every move. You need to work at the development of this concept but its not hard. Heres a quick primer with steps to unleashing your inner rock star.

Be Interesting
This doesnt sound difficult but how many people do you know who sit in the back of their booth reading the paper or a book? Youve invested in your booth fee and the wonderful artwork youve brought to the show so complete the picture by being the entertainment in you booth. Practice in front o the mirror if you need to. Have a quirky story about why you create your work. Develop an interesting anecdote about why you gave up your day job to pursue your passion. Tell the audience that is waiting for your personal show what is different and interesting about your work that truly sets you above Patsy Pastel in the next row. Is there a way to tie your work to current events, pop culture, or other art forms? Explain this to your audience. Why was creating your art such a passion you could not deny that part of yourself? Tell the story.

Be Unique
Not all of us are graced with a set of smackers like Jagger, but we can all make personal clothing and accessory choices for show gear that scream out I am so coolI never wear Izod. Get rid of the t-shirts and grungy jeans. Go get yourself some cool vintage clothes or a wonderful scarf from your favorite artist friend. Dont be shy. You have just a few seconds to make the impression that something really cool lurks under the canopy. Do you feel like a gypsy fortune teller today? Add the glitter, add the bangles, and put on your best circus act. Enjoy the moment and dont be afraid to show how you are different from all the people in suits.

The power of eye-to-eye contact and storytelling are insurmountable. Look at the woman in your booth. Which one of the necklaces in your display would be killer on her? You need to show her how great she looks in your piece while you tell her the incredible story of where you got the dinosaur fossils you used in the design. Look at your customers and read their body language. They will tell you what they want to buy and give you the hints you need to close the sale if you correctly interpret their facial expressions and hand positions. Connect to them and let them know you are listening. Above alldont hide behind the sunglasses. Take them off and look your customer in the eye.

Do you remember the lurid tale of the artist who was kicked out of a show for doing the wild thing behind their display? Well thats not

what Im talking about here. You have assets- use them. Do you have a glorious head of red hair? Dont hide it under a hat. Guyshave all those hours blacksmithing or turning pots left you with some impressive pythons? Dont hide them under a ratty sweatshirt. You dont have to be young, model thin or gorgeous to take advantage of your best assets. Keep your teeth nice, dont ever smoke in your booth, and wear clothes that are stylish or flattering instead of the daily shop rags. Get some good fitting pants and let the fans dig your lovely lumps. Work it, baby! If you look good and you know it, the fans will come flocking.

Have Fun!
You are at a show to make money but there is no rule saying artists cannot enjoy the ride. Put on a smile. Talk to the kids on the street. Put flowers in your booth. Get up and get out there with your fans. Patrons come to a show not only to buy your work, but also to be entertained by their touch with glory. Recognize thisyou are the focus, you are the entertainment and if you enjoy putting on the show, everyone in the crowd is going to come back again and again because you will make them feel good about their time in your booth and the wonderful art they are taking home. Make a memory for them and a sale for yourself.

Take the time to evaluate your personal image strengths and weaknesses. Cultivate the mindset that you are the star of your booth and then project that image. If you need to think of it in terms of having a show costume do it. Youve got too much invested in your art fair booth to have an off day where you dont really show up to sell. Rock stars have a passion for their lifestyle and we artists have the next best thingpersonal freedom from normal work schedules, travel time, and the ability to call our own shots. Enjoy the grand life youve made for yourself and be the star of your booth!!


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