Dear fair-going Father and Daughter,
You really warmed my heart today, knowing that you understood why I was out at the fair myself today. You came into my tent and took a good, long look. Daughter asked politely if she could take a picture of my photos on the wall. Before I could even sigh, Dad said no, these pictures were for sale and that would not be right. I appreciatively offered Daughter my business card, with one of my pictures on it, and told her that she could go home and look at my pictures any time she wanted on the web. She smiled.
It was a small thing. It will not put a penny in my pocket, but understanding helps. When an artist hangs their work in public, it is generally not just to share their work. Whether in a café, a craft fair, an art gallery or even some museum shows, artwork usually has a price tag somewhere. It may be a labor of love, but it is also business.
In spite of the rather large price tag you might see, few of us are out to get rich off of our labors. But, artwork has to come from somewhere; it is not free for us to share. There are raw materials to use to make the work. Very few people can make work exclusively out of found objects. Even recycled-object art and things made from found twigs and other natural materials usually need nails, solder, string and/or glue to hold it all together. There is equipment to purchase and maintain. Once the work is made, there are display materials to buy – mat board, frames, hangers, pedestals, stands, tables, a tent or whatever the site requires. There are space fees, application fees, commissions, advertising costs (like those business cards, cheap though they may be), gasoline, sometimes even hotels if the craft fair or show happens to be far away from home and studio and the artist doesn’t have a friend’s sofa handy. Although it would be nice to say that we could just live from praise of our work, artists making physical work have to pay their bills if they are going to continue to make art and bring it to your eyes.
Your helping your daughter understand that we are trying to sell our work helps us to keep going. If we do not sell our work, eventually it won’t be around for people to see.