I'm writing this having just finished my first artisan market of the year, organized by The Farmhouse Project and hosted at The Arnold House in Livingston Manor, NY, where I live. A lot of preparation goes into doing a sale, and while it is exciting, there is an emotional side to it I can't help but believe most makers experience, yet rarely talk about.
As an artist, I spend months creating new work for an upcoming show. It's just me in my studio, head down in my work, and hands covered in clay. Then comes the time to make the pieces available. I get a flood of self-doubt, wondering if what I've been creating is any good. Sometimes even fighting the urge to back out of a market for which I've decided to do. These thoughts get pushed aside, but there is always a tiny voice that lingers and tries to resurface.
A few days before market day, I make lists, pack boxes, check the list, gather more supplies, check items off the list, and do everything I can to have the logistics in order. I stop worrying about what I've made, and focus on what I can control to get ready to sell my work. Then comes the physical part of carrying boxes of ceramics, tables, packing materials and displays to the venue.
Before the doors even open, I've beat myself up emotionally, exhausted my planning skills, and broke a sweat moving heavy boxes. Then comes the joy of seeing the table display come together and the belief I'm on the right track, quickly followed by the thought "I hope I sell something!" And through all of this, I am basically holding my breathe until someone stops to talk and ask me about my work, and possibly buy a piece.
From the first interaction until the end of the market, it's a wonderful blur. It's great to connect with familiar faces, meet new people, and get to talk with other vendors at the show. For me, an introvert, the energy can be overwhelming...I forgot names and connections, but love when the memories come back. I enjoy talking about my process and hearing stories about how someone uses the bowl they bought years ago every morning or how much their child enjoyed the mugs gifted to them for the holidays. Finding out someone gets a kick out of my studio dancing Instagram stories makes me smile. And of course, I sell some work and my worry about not being good enough is washed away.
There's an adrenaline rush. And with the rush eventually comes a crash. I find within an hour or two of packing up, the self-doubt returns, but not as strong. The lead up and prep for the day is much longer than the market itself. When it's over, I can't help but feel emotionally exhausted and wondering how I'll be able to do another one in a few weeks. But then I think about the talks I had, and the pieces I sent to their new homes, and feel reinvigorated and ready to start the process over again! Inner saboteur be damned!
If you are reading this and we have met at a market, thank you for contributing to why I love selling my work in person. If we have not met, I hope you introduce yourself if our paths cross at a show or fair!