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Selling Art

St. Martins in Houston

St. Martins in Houston

I’m sitting here thinking about the show.


ECVA ( that’s Episcopal Visual Arts) local chapter had an art show/sale on Friday and Saturday in Houston. It had been postponed several months due to Hurricane Ike and subsequently was a low key event. It was my first time to exhibit as an artist—not as a merchant of wares but an ARTIST! There was clearly a learning curve.


I had hoped to have a new Honduras portrait ready but due to a lot of personal medical issues that just didn’t happen. So I took what I had—and came home with all of it. It was the first time that I had seen all of the pieces hung together.


My booth set up

My booth set up

The show was hung on a wire grid-work—lots of pictures of it beforehand, but for me, I have to physically interact before it makes sense. I had decided I would try bungee cords—which made for an interesting display challenge.


The second day, I brought two small folding tables, Styrofoam packing sheets, and pins. I pinned a few of my fiber postcards up and laid the rest on the tables.

I was pleased that I sold quite a few postcards—it seemed quite a hit with both the artists and viewing public—not that there was a huge crowd. I had priced them quite low but I was ready to have those pieces move on to a new home.


Questions about my work included:

How did you learn to do this?

Who taught you how to do this?

You program that into your computer?

How long did it take?

I thought they were paintings until I got up close.


Everyone wanted to touch the work—although no-one touched the paintings or photographs in the booths on either side of me—or even the jewelry.


One customer compared my work to Rauschenberg—I was impressed she knew who he was and his early work versus later work. One woman snatched up a card for her sister saying it was perfect—she didn’t even look at all of them.


I must admit I was a bit surprised when the organizer said I needed to have change—that meant she expected me to sell!


I did sell—about half of the postcards—-none of the portraits—



Things I learned:

Change is a good thing. Be prepared.

Calculate out ahead of time the sales tax—I don’t really know what it is in Houston—but I calculated tax for my home base.

Be prepared to talk about your work—have your sales pitch ready—succinct…..but interesting.

Samples are a good thing.

Regular paper postcards were fun to hand out—I had experimented with Overnight prints so I would have something to hand customers or potentials that had my name and information in addition to a business card. There is a learning curve in making these postcards and I was happy to have a try at it without a lot of investment.

Take a small lunch and bottles of water. I wasn’t sure if I should have been working on a project or not—I chose to read a book on color and JK Rowlings Tales of Beetle the Bard.

Chat with your fellow artists===and if possible give them a piece of your work to take home with them. The painter across the aisle from me had her grandson visiting her—I had him pick out a card to give to her—and the girl down the aisle from me fell in love with a certain card—that I gifted her at the end of the show. I also traded a card for an absolutely lovely milagro. So don’t be afraid to barter/ exchange===both of you will will end up with something lovely—and a smile on your face.


Would I do it again? Yes…..a lot of work………but fun to talk about my work. Talking about my work helps clarify my intent and vision.

5 Comments Post a comment
  1. janice Paine-Dawes #

    Hi, I enjoyed reading about your selling adventure. Could you send me privately some information about this group? I am an Episcopalion and I spend 6 months in Texas. Thanks!

    May 8, 2009
  2. linnerlu #

    Sylvia, that sounds wonderful! I wish I had known about it, I would have come to see you and your work. I agree about the bartering with fellow artists, that may be the most fun part of a show!

    Linda Teddlie Minton

    May 8, 2009
  3. Sylvia, can you tell me more. Also an Episcopalian and an artist. Want to see if we have a chapter her in CO

    May 8, 2009
  4. littlegemquilts #

    Interesting how people are programmed to want to touch textiles! Having something small/inexpensive to sell is always a good idea … people do want to take something home with them. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this experience.

    May 8, 2009
  5. Mary Ann Littlejohn #

    Sylvia, I wish I had known about it. I would have liked to have seen your booth and your work.

    May 8, 2009

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