Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Polar Opposites

Mini-ghost says, "WTF!?"
Sunday was a pretty good day for me at Jack Russell Farm Brewery. I made some sales and met some great people. Meeting fun and interesting people is one of the reasons I enjoy having a booth up there, and this time of year, running into fellow Hallowe'en freaks is a regular occurence.

Running into people who think you're desperate and running a garage sale, sadly, is the other side of the coin. I had an experience with a couple of people who reminded me of a topic Ghoul Friday and I had covered during our Hauntcast interview.

So, these two women come up with their kids and are looking around the booth. They spot my mini-ghosts, and one of them picks one up and says, "Oh, how cute! How much is it?" She turns it over and sees the price. "Seven dollars!?"

I try to get my eyebrows out of my hairline before she sees I'm watching her.

Her friend says, voice dripping with snotty contempt, "I wouldn't pay seven dollars for that!" I'm pretty sure she didn't think I had heard her.

Mind you, someone, if fact, bought three of them the day before, because she wanted a little ghost family. But I digress.

Well, they wandered off without buying anything, and I turned to the next customer, who bought a couple of things and went off to grab a beer. People milled around a bit in the booth, and suddenly, I saw those two marching up to the booth again, body language screaming, "Confrontation." Inwardly, I sighed.
Mini-ghost says, "Go
away, mean bitches!"

"We're here to talk business!" one of them says to me.

Really, I think. I thought you were here to ask about the meaning of life. Go figure.

I hold a hand up. I know where this is going. I've been here before.

"Before you say anything-" she starts to interrupt, but I talk over her. "Before you say anything, I need to make something clear to you. First I have to go buy my clay, then I come home and make my ghosts, carve their little faces. Then I wait for them to dry-" she starts to interrupt again. I talk over her. Again.

"Then I fire them in my kiln, and my electric meter sounds like a Huey helicopter trying to take off. When they cool, I go in and glaze them, three coats of black and three coats of clear. Then I fire them again."

"Now, what was it you were going to say?"

If she had been smart, she would have shut her yap and gone away. But, no. She just keeps going.

"Well," she says, "we all have to work for a living!" I flash on the eighteen- to twenty-hour-days I've been putting in, and still not getting everything done that needs to get done.

"I work from eight to ten hours a day!" she babbles arrogantly. (Clearly, we artists don't need time to make our work. It simply falls off our bodies, like a snake shedding its skin. Who knew?)

"I remember those days," I answer. "I wish I worked only eight to ten hours a day." She looks at me blankly. Her buddy steps in.

"She doesn't want to negotiate." Again with the snotty tone. What is with people, anyway? Fricken' entitlement mentality.

"No, she doesn't."

"Let's go," and she rakes this contemptuous stare over me before she turns away. Her wonderful friend follows after. I restrain the urge to give a little finger-wave and say, "Bye!" as they walk away, offended righteousness written all over them. After all, I don't want the Brewery to suffer bad press because of something I did, regardless of my reason.

Wal-Mart. I think. Dollar Store. This is where you need to keep shopping, lady. And your nasty little buddy, too. I sigh, thinking that my work has been in a museum and an international ceramic arts show, and these are still the people I have to deal with, and will for as long as I sell my work.

Mind you, had they been nice and respectful, and perhaps offered to buy something else that was more expensive, I would have been happy to take a dollar or two off the price, or even throw them in for free. But for one or two mini-ghosts, plus a bad attitude, it was not worth my while.

People come and go from the booth, some buying, some not. Then the flip side of the coin walks in with her son, delight written all over her face.

She wanders the booth, looking at everything, sometimes touching with a gentle finger. Simple happiness at the whole Hallowe'en vibe just poured off her.

My kind of person, I think.

We make idle chit-chat, then she decides to buy the pumpkin pictured, after I show her the little bat I have carved in the back of him to cast a bat shape onto a wall when he's lit.

Then comes the clincher, and it makes my whole day. She tells me that she reads my blog all the time, that she's a big fan, and that she drove a long way to see me and buy one of my jacks.

It totally makes up for those rude women. I am telling her, right now, thank you so much for taking the time and effort to come see me. My day would not have been nearly as great if you hadn't come!

It's one of those crazy life lesson things, about taking the good with the bad, about not judging your work by the monetary value idiots place on it. It's about knowing that somewhere, there is someone who loves what you do, and is so happy to take it into his or her home and treasure it every day.

It's about unlooked-for Great Pumpkin gifts, physical and metaphysical. 

Thanks, Great Pumpkin! It was exactly what I needed.


  1. I commend you for your exemplary behavior with those two %#$(^#@...I would have been leaping across the table to throttle their throats. but how cool to have that experience followed by the one with the devoted fan. the realization that most people have no taste whatsoever is sad but then humanity redeems itself by putting forth a few individuals who REALLY appreciate what artists do.

  2. Its amazing that people come to shows like that and expect to pay 1 or 2 bucks for something that they know took you a long time to make. Knowing me I would of just took one of my pieces and chucked it at her right to the back of the head.(Yes I am a redhead and can have a nasty temper)

    If you didn't live across the U.S. I would come see ya!

    Wait a minute, I paid how much for the last jacko I bought from you?!?! :)

  3. I know exactly how you feel, I made Sorcerer Micky Tarot Cards for a presentation project for one of my classes. I made the designs, went through and carved lino blocks for the back and front, aged each of the 50 cards, then printed the designs and finished the cards by hand painting and signing. It was easily an investment of 24-30 hours of work.
    I handed these cards out for free. Some appreciated it, and my instructor was awed by the work, but 24 people threw my cards to the side or in the trash. One even went so far to rip their card in to itty bitty peices.
    Some people just don't get "it".

  4. That is just crazy, but also not unexpected ... some people just don't get it.

    Glad there was some good that came out of all that craziness!

    Our pumpkin of yours is proudly out on display in the front window now ... still love it ... thanks so much for all your hard work! :)

  5. *snickers* Yes. We certainly did talk about this. And it happens all the time to everyone.

    The Walmart shoppers.

    They are not looking for one-of-a-kind pieces. They are not looking for art. They are not looking for something unique. They want tchotchkes - trinkets. They need directions to the closest Walmart.

    As an artist, this isn't your customer and therefore you need to not worry about them (but oh boy are they aggravating).

    I rarely offer any reply except "Yup. That's the price" for people like that. If they press, I might throw in that I think I deserve at least minimum wage for the time I work on items.

    I've even told these people they shouldn't buy something because it's not for them (which often results in a confused look, silence, and then they walk away).

    Because it's true. It's not for them. It's for the person who sees your work, feels a connection to it, and has a huge grin on their face as they eye the pieces. You just have to be patient for them to arrive :)

    And I'm glad the lady DID arrive for you soon after.

  6. What gets me about people like this is that they seem to feel righteous over something like this. Why would they even go looking at a hand-made art display in the first place? There are plenty of places that sell cheap, mass-produced-in-Chinese-sweatshops-by-small-children trinkets. Take ya uncultured behind over to the Wal-Mart and leave the cool, unique stuff for people who appreciate it!!!

  7. I've been going through your blog, loving the older posts when I saw this one. And seriously, even at WalMart things like that will be $5 or more. She just needs to make her own dang stuff and THEN she can botch about the price. People like that want everything dirt cheap, but they want gold for crap. Seriously, they need to be slapped. I love that you kept talking over her. The nerve of some people.


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