One of my favorite ways to spend a few hours is browsing an antique shop, a market full of handmade goods, or an art fair. Soaking up all the pretty things just puts me in my element. My next favorite part is chatting with the makers.
My inner artist is fascinated with other artists and their creative process. I want to hear all about their piece of work. Where did they get all these ideas? How do they like to create? Metallica blasting loud enough to shake the canvas or stone silence as they roll around sacred stones.
I buy art when I like the maker.
Art snobs might turn their nose up at this statement, thinking, I make what I make, take it or leave it.
And that’s all good and fine. The best makers balance making new stuff with the balance of customer-loving favorites.
More important than any of this, is the energy a maker brings to their work. This is true regardless of what you make or sell.
I went to an art and antiques show recently, one I’d frequented a handful of times so I knew I’d find some cool stuff and have some good conversations.
This time was a little different. I noticed some of the energy of the makers as they stood surrounded by their work in their booths. Some of them seem disinterested didn't really even seem to care that I was there—or any of the customers for that matter.
Some of them had the same stuff that they had the last four times that I've seen them. Sometimes when I’d approach a booth, the artist would be on their phone not paying attention to the customers entering their booth space.
There are a few vendors I visit every time I'm at this market, and they all delighted as usual. There's one vendor, in particular, that stands out. I wasn’t a jewelry person until I found her stuff. Now I’m obsessed. But mostly just with her stuff. I’m still not a jewelry person.
When you see this lady at her booth, she is so intensely engaged with every person. When there’s no one there, she’s tidying up her pieces, smiling and saying hello. Now, she’s not an extrovert either. If you watch her, you’ll see the energy she puts into her work matches the energy of every interaction she has.
The other thing that’s very different about her work is that her work has a similar theme—stones, but she's constantly coming up with new ways to showcase them. Some designs are so popular they sell out hours after she snaps a pic on Instagram. She could make the very same designs over and over, but she doesn’t. Every time I see her she has a mix of stuff that's similar to her previous work as well as some new creations.
She’s willing to play, experiment, and make a mess.
Looking around at the others at the market, the ones with the busiest booths are the ones who have new stuff and are up and chatting with their potential customers. The difference is the energy they bring.
Think about the artist in her booth who's enthralled with her smartphone and not making eye contact with the people who are enjoying her artwork—would you want to buy from her?
Or would you rather buy from someone equally as talented or maybe even less talented because they’re engaging? They ask you questions; they want to get to know you, Ms. Customer with the benjamins in her pocket. Not because she wants your money, but because she wants to create a deeper connection with the people who wear her work and hang it on their walls.
They’re there to listen. And when you listen to them, there’s an undeniable energy they bring to their work that just feels clean.
This is a real-life example, but it applies to your website too. Do you respond to your emails? Are you interacting on social media? Do you reply with a personal note to anyone who drops by your virtual “artist booth” just to spark a little connection?
Bring the same excited energy to your work, to the selling of your work and to every opportunity you have to spark a conversation.
Meet the jewelry maker who has mastered the energy thing. Her name is Amy and you'll find her atelier (French for workshop) here.
If you enjoyed this article, you might also want to read these:
- 7 compelling reasons you need a blog if you're an artist
- Stop judging every brushstroke of your life
- Screw passion, let talent lead the way
And, if you're an artist with a bio you'd like to paint over. I can do that for you. Not paint over it, but unsuck it. Learn more about it here.