Gotcha! Or not…


Drawing visitors into my booth at art shows is tremendously difficult sometimes… in most cases it’s impossible to understand what my work is without spending a few extra seconds to step closer and look, but at a big fair with 600+ different booths, most of which are artists and craftspersons, there aren’t enough extra seconds for folks to spend.

Last year I got signs printed up:  JaguarBanner copy

which I fixed up this year to make them even more eye-catching – while my handwriting font was very personalized, it didn’t look so great, so I got ’em printed with a different font and made a few other changes. I don’t have the updated image right now to show you – trust me, it’s nicer.

The signs worked great, mostly. Lots of people saw the signs and stopped dead in their tracks.  Fantastic!  Still something held folks back, so I wound up giving a quick explanation to the ones that stopped but would not actually come close. “It’s all words,” I say… “Tiny tiny writing.” Got a lot more people interested, but after a while I felt like I was sounding like a carnival barker, which really has no place at an art show and made me feel kinda cheap.

How to bring the folks that come to these shows in close enough so they can see what my drawings and paintings are comprised of and where the poetry lies, without being loud or obnoxious?

This year I think I’ve got it: I attach large magnifiers onto a couple of pieces on a table display, to encourage viewers to step up and examine them for themselves. Once they do that, their reactions are a riot, ranging from speechlessness coupled with a raised eyebrow and looks of incredulity, to outbursts of “holy shit” and “NO WAY,” or “are you crazy?” From there many folks are hooked and want to check out other pieces to read the poems.

I still have a lot of coaxing to do, even with the new setup.  I suspect some people who stop when they read “Look Closely” are really not interested in wall art or don’t like my style at all… it’s fine to move along. But I’d hate to lose someone in a split second, not because they’re not interested, but because they don’t understand what it is that I do.

Anybody have any other suggestions?

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