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Say the Right Thing

by Luann Udell on 7/22/2010 9:08:20 AM

This post is by Luann Udell, regular contributing author for FineArtViews.  You should submit an article and share your views as a guest author by clicking here.

See the intention, not the insult.

There’s a favorite pastime artists and craftspeople indulge in. Get a couple of ‘em together, in person or online, and soon they’re swapping stories of the stupid things their customers say.

And it makes me cringe.

First of all, come on! Let’s be a little more tolerant. We all say stupid things from time to time. I myself am the Queen of foot-in-mouth disease, and yet I rarely ever deliberately say something mean. Things just fly out sometimes.  Only in retrospect do I think, “What was I thinking??!!

Second, understand that people are trying to be sociable.  (Arguably, some more successfully than others!!) Many are in a venue they are unfamiliar with—they aren’t the working artists and craftspeople, after all! (I would feel funny and out of place wandering around a hospital or a construction site.) And sometimes that sociable intention goes awry. 

Example: A jeweler told a customer who was admiring her work, “Here, look in the mirror with those, they look even better!” She meant, “Hold the earrings up to your ear, look in the mirror and see how good they look on you.” The customer, who was obviously confused by the directions, tried to cover. She held the earrings up to the mirror and obligingly said, “Oh, yes, they DO look better!” Do you see it? The customer thought the jeweler had said something odd and was trying to go with it to make the jeweler feel better. But the story ended up in an online forum (open to the public) as a “stupid customer” story.

Third, it’s mean. I hate to think how our customers would feel, if they ever saw our comments. I know some of you are thinking right now, “Well, I want them to know!” But somebody who asked a “stupid question” in my booth one year became one of my all-time biggest collectors. What would have happened if I’d shared that story—and she’d seen it?

My point is, the people who say the truly mean things and the truly rude things, those people are not our customers. Our real customers are saying “something stupid” for a very good reason. And that reason is the total opposite of what we think.

They have connected with our work and they are trying to engage us. They are asking us to tell them more about it.

Bruce Baker is a craftsperson and store owner who speaks professionally on the art of the sale. His CD on selling for artists and craftspeople (at is worth its weight in gold. He talks about this phenomenon and it rings true:

People who see your work for the first time need time to look and browse and think. After you greet them (at a show, at an exhibition), they want time to do that.

If they like what they see, they eventually give you permission to talk to them about your work. 

And they usually do that in the form of...a stupid question.

If you react to the surface meaning of that question—if you do not recognize where it comes from or what it really means...

If you react with anger or resentment or even sarcasm…and yes, even your “joking” answer is sarcasm and they know that...

You risk losing that potential sale.

Instead, see the stupid question as the way a person (who is totally ignorant of our work) to reach out and connect with us. Let it slide off . Go with the intention—the desire to talk more— and you will go a long way to building a relationship that eventually results in a sale. You will have made a collector out of that “stupid customer.”

How do you do that? Here’s a good suggestion: You don’t have to answer the question. You can simply use the question to open up a conversation.

Example: Something I hear all the time in my booth: “Are these made of wood?” Or, “Where did you buy the animals carvings?” 

Now, I have signs all over my booth talking about the artifacts, how I make them, what they’re made of, etc. So my first answer might be, “No, they’re not wood (“idiot!” under my breath.) They’re polymer clay.” 

Instead I say, “Oh, I’m delighted you thought so! I actually make them myself, out of polymer. Look at this piece—doesn’t it look like real ivory? And real soapstone?”

Which gets the customer to do exactly what I want….they look at the work again. And as they look, I pick up the piece they were looking at and put it in their hand and I talk about the stories behind the piece and I show them the exquisite attention to detail that goes into everything I make.

If get annoyed…if I get angry, if I say something sarcastic like, “Oh, right, like I made them out of knotty pine!”, or blow them off with, “There’s a sign right next to your head that tells all about that”, then I totally crush that attempt to connect.  

Lose the snappy comeback, too. Even a joking answer will make that person feel awkward--because they know you’ve just made a joke at their expense.   And you will have to work three times as hard to rebuild the rapport.

A painter friend shared with me the most annoying question a landscape artist hears: “This looks like that field in Maine with the lone oak tree in the middle. Is this really the field” Since some landscapes are composites, or meant to be more generic, this sounds like someone who’s going to argue that you left a critical fence out.

What they are actually trying to do is connect what you’ve painted with an actual place that they know, and remember, and have a connection with. 

And if you can feed that sense of connection, you have a good chance of selling them that landscape. 

“That’s one of my favorite views! What is it in this painting that reminds you about that field?” or “I love it when my work reminds people of special places. Do you have a story about that field?” Listen to what they say. Build on what they’re feeling, and how your work made them remember that feeling. Remind them that they’ll remember that beautiful field every time they look at your painting.

Let’s turn around the “stupid question” stories into a new tool for great customer relations! What responses have YOU used with a potential customer to engage them more deeply with your work?

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Backstory: About Clint. Email EditorTwitter. Republish. ]

Related Posts:

Don't Be a Jerk

Let Your Fans In

Are You Talking To Me?


Finding Your Peeps

Topics: art marketing | sell art 

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Roxanne Steed
Ah yes! Luann you are so right! What's the old saying, "you catch more flies with sugar than with vinegar"?! Somehow it seems these days we have allowed ourselves into the land of snarky with no bread-crumbs to find our way back. Some have gone as far as lost the ability to be kind. And yet we build our connections (as well as our best selves) through kindness. I was so happy to read your entry today!Thanks!

Phyllis OShields Fine Art
This opening comment by the public is really true. It happens over and over again. I had never thought of this. A kind way to show your respect for public or art patrons is just as you say, use it as an opening into conversation. A good way to look at it is how uncomfortable I would feel in a house construction site looking at building details. Not knowing enough to ask an intelligent question. Respect is the key here. There are no stupid comments or questions. After all they did come to the exhibit or art show! Respect for our fellow human beings always comes first. Phyllis O'Shields

Terry Rafferty
Luann, if you are the queen of foot-in-mouth, then I am at the very least the duchess! A memorable moment: on seeing the promotional photos for a friend's singing debut I said, with great enthusiasm, that the photographer had done an AMAZING job. What I was responding to was the drama and sense of mystery - but what she heard was that the photo made an 'ugly duckling' into a swan. She never really forgave me.
Your observations that people are just trying to connect, and that we all say things that sound stupid or awkward are supremely important - move on and take the opportunity to be friendly!

James Haywood
What an outstanding article! I was thinking of how often people pass by and think my artwork is sepia photography, when it's actually wood burning. One fellow artist was directly across from my area for over 6 hours before realizing that the sign indicating "wood burning art" actually meant what it said.

So I really appreciated this article focusing on the real motive behind some of the odd questions we get from time to time. Thanks for posting Luann!

Mary Aslin
I work daily at my summer art festival and when I work in the booth I hear constantly, "Oh look at those chalks she is using." The main question I get asked is "Do you spray them when you are finished?". I consider any and all questions or comments to be an opportunity to engage and educate, even though I sometimes find the comments irritating. Most people, to my surprise, have thanked me for taking the time to teach them about pastels and I feel grateful that despite my impatience I was able to employ the most important rule when dealing with the public and that is the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.

Thank you for a great and timely post!

Sandy Askey-Adams

I have to stay off this computer. Got on to reply back to a customer and saw this recent article, so it got my attention.
...and Thank you Luann.

I cannot imagine any artist/exhibitor insulting anyone coming into their booth at the art shows.
I would think we all know better. I think we all automatically use that opportunity to open up to that person and talk with them.

I am not saying that at times there are not some seemingly stupid comments and if there are and when there are, we surely do not write down that persons name on a pad so we can announce to the world what so and so said...and pass it onto other exhibitors.
I think we all understand that each one of us can and do say and/or write stupid things, no matter who we are.

We know that to not be gracious or considerate while at the art shows is a certain death for sales and certainly for our reputations.

Again..we should treat others as we would want to be treated.

If we are discussing 'Stupid Comments" with a group of other exhibitors just for a release of pressure while waiting for sales, etc... and the regular Mary and Joe Smith walk by and hear that conversation then shame, shame on us for even saying anything. Even if Mary and Joe were not who we were still sounds very bad and unimpressive to be saying anything uncomplimentary about those who visit art shows.


Kathy Chin
Hi Luann,

Thanks for the good article. I'm always trying to engage my potential customers, and love it when they ask if my photos are paintings. I have a tendency to ask a lot of "dumb" questions myself, so I'm normally very understanding when someone else does it...I take it as though they're really trying to learn.
But as you pointed out, there is also the tendency for some people to misunderstand others, so I will think twice before I engage in "good-natured" teasing when someone asks how my photos got onto a piece of tile. (i usually tease then quickly explain...but maybe I should re-think that!)
Thanks again for the good reminders that we need to remember the "golden rule" at all times!

What a great article, thanks! It's so true... people don't say stupid things to be mean or nasty, it's just that they are uncomfortable and want some reassurance.

I had a display at a winery recently and I can't count how many times people asked me "are these YOUR paintings?" In my head I was rolling my eyes and thinking "no, I'm just sitting here among a dozen paintings for fun!" But I just smiled and said yes!

Obviously these people were interested enough to ask, but weren't 100 percent sure that they were mine. To them, it was safer to ask that stupid question than it was to assume I was the artist. Imagine how stupid they would feel if they started asking someone about "their" art and the person wasn't the artist. It's a bit of protection and self-preservation.

Tom Weinkle
excellent advice. We've all probably done it at one time or another. It;s better to give people the benifit of the doubt.


Thank you for writing this! When I saw the lead-in on the FineArts newsletter, I cringed, thinking it was going to be a rant on stupid customers. I hate that mentality, when people of a profession poke fun at the others. I have always seen awkward comments as a way to engage, and that the person wants to connect with me and doesn't quite know how to.

This article should be right up there with lessons in etiquette, and can translate to contact with others on a daily basis. We always run into people that make awkward comments...except for the obviously rude, listen to the intention. We are becoming SUCH a rude society anyways...

Karen Winters
I don't get dumb comments with my work too often, thankfully. I think that oil paintings aren't ambiguous to people like some other media might be. But occasionally I get "trying to be funny" comments and a high percentage of the time it's from men in the company of their wives.

Sometimes the ladies roll their eyes and look at me sympathetically/apologetically. Other times they look like they want to crawl under the rug.

A light-hearted response that takes no offense and turns the topic around to an art topic seems to work well.

"No, in fact there are no numbers under these paintings, but I do make a drawing that I fill in with patches of color, let me show you" (If I'm painting in my booth.)

I sometimes wonder if the hubbies make intentionally dumb jokey comments that so their wives won't drag them around to art fairs. Ya think?

Mark vander Vinne
The art of talk. Many artists, don't seem to have it, myself included. We are loners as artists, commonly, painting in the studio or outdoors by ourselves. Being an introvert, I know I get my energy rejuvenated from being in the studio and not talking to people. However, I do like the idea of letting the customer ask a question, but I wonder...what if they're a little shy and are afraid of asking a stupid question? What then?

My father was an high school English teacher who had a saying, "It's only a stupid question if you already know the answer."

As for stupid sayings, I had a customer looking at my paintings at an art fair several years ago. It was a very avant garde fair, and I was possibly the only academically-trained representational artist. He mentioned, "Aren't you a little young to be painting like this?" I thought he meant that because of my age I should be painting more modern-type, cutting edge work, like the other artists, instead of the landscapes I favor. I mentioned that I was probably older than I look. When I spoke to a fellow artists about it, she told me he probably meant that the quality of my work seemed to be beyond my age. I never thought of it like that, and am glad she opened my eyes to a new way of looking at it. Sometimes the "stupid" comments are simply misinterpreted by us.

Sandra Haynes
Thanks Luann, for the wonderful article....I absolutely love stupid questions. Many viewers become buyers of a piece after they understand the process...I do a lot of Scratchboard Etchings, a little understood or seen art form for most people.
You would be surprised how many others become my students, too! Annoying? Yes, it can be if you let it....but it's part of the business end of things. If you can't suck it up and deal with it to your advantage, then you probably have no business dealing with the public when selling your art. And without the public, you might as well stay home and crochet doilies.

Helen Horn Musser
Luann, I really enjoyed this post; lots of good advice. I have a tendency to shy away from talking about my work; may come across as arrogant. Need to be more accessible

Michelle McSpaddend
I love this article!! Thank you for bringing this up.

Claudia L Brookes
Do you know, I have been wracking my brain trying to come up with a time when a customer said something stupid, and can't think of a single instance in the 12 years I have been a professional artist. There have been many, many instances of people wanting more information, or not being educated about painting or especially the kind of painting I do most frequently, which is en plein air work--there is usually a sense of amazement that the work is done in the timeframe that the existing light is in effect, and also there is considerable misunderstanding of the process, wonder and exclamation when they learn more about competition painting and "timed paintings" (Quick Draws). But stupid or unkind remarks, no, not that I can think of.

Marian Fortunati
Thanks, so much Luann for a GREAT article. I plan to go back after I finish this comment and look into the art of selling information by Bruce Baker you provided the link for.

I sometimes kick MYSELF for making what I consider to be stupid remarks because I really don't know what to say when someone approaches me about a painting. A few pointers would certainly be welcome ...(so I'm not the one the clients are making fun of.)

Lately, I usually resort to some comment like... "Thank you... are you an artist too??" It's neutral enough that it lets them start talking about any number of things and moves the conversation on.

Esther J. Williams
I admit, there have been times when I got very annoyed with people approaching my art or craft and asked dumb questions. I just couldn`t give a warm response. I grew up eventually and removed the sarcastic attitude. That is all is it, a bad attitude and it is impolite. Onlookers are only being unaware of artistic processes or are curious and it`s my invitation to teach them, open their awareness. I truly love doing that now. In the past, I was a smart alec and offensive. The most annoying comment I get is "Do you swim?" when they see my name, Esther Williams, which has nothing to do with my art, I guess that`s why I got upset. I`ve been getting that comment since I can remember being a child. Now that I changed the signature on my art to EJ Williams, I don`t get it much until they see my biography in the booth or a business card. At least they see the art for what it is instead of seeing a famous name and their thought process changes. It is unavoidable for me to receive the name wisecracks, so I live with it and treat it like an opening to conversation. Questions I receive from children can be irritating to some artists, "What is that you are painting with?" But I love to let them look at the oil paints on my palette and tell them it`s oil and sticky if they touch it. They ask about colors and how I did that painting. Then I tell them it`s fun to paint with oils, like fingerpainting is and I learned it in an art school. The mom is looking at me smiling, so see, I just won the approval of a potential adult buyer and made the child feel like they learned something and became inspired that day.
What I am trying to steer away from is the negative conversations that adult artists get into at shows, exhibitions and galleries about other artists. The same rules need to be applied, don`t stick foot in mouth.

Karen Winters
Esther, When interested kids come around I'll ask them if they'd like to smell it, and I'll hold the paint brush and let them take a sniff. That seems to help them realize that this is really different stuff than the poster paint they use at school. When I had an easel that was lower, I'd occasionally let an older child make a mark on my palette - they enjoyed that. This is a problem in a really busy show, though ... you might lose a dozen passersby while occupied with one curious family. So I usually only do this when things are slow.

Sharon Weaver
Everyone is trying to get the spotlight but posting embarrassing comments from customers seems a sure way to antagonize clients. A little tolerance goes a long way but I think Karen is very brave to let some children play with her paint. Ever have then make a mess in their excitement?

Karen Winters
Sharon, no, I don't think a child has ever made a mess. They are usually very tentative and careful and their parents are right there. I just let them make a mark on the glass palette, not on the canvas of course. The parents often make a big deal out of it, explaining that it is an honor to be able to touch a painters materials. That makes everyone feel good. On one occasion I set up a smaller easel at child height and put out some paint and let kids make some marks on a small canvas board - with parental supervision. That worked ok, too, except one little boy stood there for 15 minutes carefully drawing squares instead of making a mark or two and moving on. You could just tell that he had a feel for art.

Helen Horn Musser
Karen, You are doing a great job encouraging young people to get involved in your art, if only for the palette. You never know who you might help toward a master in the making. Kudos

Helen Horn Musser
Esther, You made me think of years ago when I was showing at an outdoor art festival. Two women walked into my space and did stay and look quite a while and when they left all they said was "You have some beautiful frames" I said thank you but, will never forget those words. Wish I could. Needless to say Was not what I had hoped to hear.

Helen Horn Musser
Good for you Esther, you are encouraging young people too.

Tom Weinkle
Helen, aside from giving people the benefit of the doubt, there are always a few who love to torture others. And that is based on their own self-image.

Helen Horn Musser
Tom, Yes, the S M people are everywhere. They probably had a good laugh about it as they left. Thanks for your kind words; they do help!

Deb Trotter

I'll never forget hearing Bruce Baker talk about this - I still listen to his tape every now and then.

His advice about using the so called stupid comments, in addition to this wonderful article you wrote, works well with other aspects of the arts business. I love your example about turning the customer's question into a question you ask them. Not only does the potential customer/fellow artist/potential friend, etc., open up - but you do as well.

Warm, fuzzy feelings promote common ground. I often find that one of those 'idiots' enables me to see something in my art I had never considered - it may even result in a new idea for a new creation.

Thanks for another great post!

People will be people, and I agree, do unto others as you would have them do to you!

claudia roulier
You are so right, I never bad mouth my customers, ever....I am familiar with Bruce's tapes and Alyson's book both are excellent and make common sense suggestions. I try and take every opportunity I can to chat with potential customers I blow past things that are a little strange and try to turn everything else into a the way I think artists make similar stupid remarks art speaks for itself (oh really), I'm too shy to talk to people (huh), and the worst, I have heard it more than once....ready ....I don't care if I sell (what the heck, they are totally lying)!

Dolores Delgado
I totally agree. I don't find it kind or thoughtful to do otherwise.
I am sometimes surprised that what a customer buys is not what I think is the best of my work and have come to realize that it's really about what has meaning to them that brings about the purchase.
How lucky we are that everyone is indeed different!!
Thanks for a thoughtful post.

Marilyn Gilis
You never know how someone will take what you say. You can be kind and friendly and someone may think you are being rude. But it seems it's best not to consider any question stupid and give the person the benefit of the doubt. People often don't read signs. They stop because they are somehow attracted to a piece of art they see. They may read your signs later.

Susan Gutting
This is an excellent article. It reminds me to always think positively and most of all, let the law of kindness rule in my heart. Why do we feel the need to put people down in any form anyway? Thank you for the good word and also the great examples in engaging folks in a way that makes everyone involved feel comfortable.

Judy Mudd
Nice one, Luann. I don't I have put my foot in my mouth more than a time or two so sympathize with anyone with my affliction. Yes, always look at it as a conversation starter. You may win over a convert!

Luann Udell
Thank you all for sharing your excellent insights and experiences, it's fun to hear them all!

Marian: A good response is one that gets the person to look at your work again. "Are you an artist, too?" either gets them talking about THEIR art (if they're an artist) or can be taken as a challenge (if they're not.) More on that later....? (Keep going!) :^)

Two more Big Insights:

1) This strategy--finding something pleasant AND constructive to say--works with all kinds of awkward moments with customers.

2) The next time you feel a good comeback coming on, remember: Whatever you say to this particular person, OTHER PEOPLE ARE LISTENING.

If you respond with sarcasm, or anger, or even a little teasing, others believe you will do the same with them. THEY don't know if their question is stupid or not, and they won't risk finding out.

Handle the question/comment/cut with dignity and grace, and you will win friends and collectors.

For those of you who have outgrown the snappy comeback, good on you!

For those of you who never hear them, may your life continue to be so blessed. :^)

So, folks, what do you think--another column on good things to say when people ARE being obnoxious? :^D

Gaye Sekula
Luann, Your posts are always spot on! I look forward to each and every one!

Susan Gutting
I wanted to add one more thing. This is applicable to all of life and our relationships. Thank you, again, for this good word.

Ilene Rubin
Thank you for a great article.
While I'm not the one that declares that I don't like speaking to the public, I do stumble sometimes and feel awkward or at a loss or at other times, I tend to respond from a quip with a quip in an effort for a level playing field. My trick to avoid the too-rapid response that I might later regret is a bottle of water.

Put bottle of water, straw from drink or whatever I have handy up to my mouth, instead of words exiting without forethought. Consider for about 2-10 seconds while taking a nice drink of water/coffee, whatever. Breathe. Then answer or speak. Sometimes I tend to move at the speed of light and it is sometimes in the wrong direction or at 3 or 4 steps down the line of thought, so your article really put a good paradigm in place for me. Look at it from their point of view first and consider their motivation and intention before adding mine into the mix. Thank you. Good advice.

Here's a particular situation that is uncomfortable for me and I wonder how other artists handle saying the right thing when someone comes into your booth and wants to take photographs of your art. As a rule people ask, they don't just start snapping pictures. But I wonder why they're doing it. If it's someone considering a purchase and wants to show a photo of a few paintings to a spouse who's not there, of course it's ok. But if someone comes in with a high resolution camera and wants to take singles of the paintings, the answer is no. I've suggested that someone can take a wide shot of the booth with me in it if they just want to remember who I was and my art - but no closeups. It's awkward. I don't want someone making prints of my work, or painting their own copies nor do I want badly shot photos of my work showing up on someone's website. I usually suggest that they can see all my work on my site and give them my card but every now but then some get offended. How do others respond to these situations?

Joanne Benson
Way to go Luann,
Sounds like we all benefitted from this post! I have been guilty of complaints to other artists about some very ornary customers. However these have been made out of earshot. For the most part people are just curious and mean no insult or harm. I think you offer some excellent suggestions here and I will definitely put this post in my keepers folder!

Helen Horn Musser
Karen, I don't recall that happening to me; maybe I wish it had

Alma Drain
One remark i have heard many times seems to make some artists mad, is Did you make/paint that? it does not bother me I just say yes i did so you like this it can be yours. Its not that people are trying to be rude its that some just cant grasp that something that nice was made. and some people have never made anything so its just a little bit beyond their mindset. I was once told by a boss i had she said that i may have just chewed you out but if a customer comes to the window you had better make them feel that they are the best thing that ever happened to you. So i still use that whenever i deal with people. And they are the best thing that ever happened and if they buy even better...

Helen Horn Musser
Alma, I do remember this happened to me and it sort of blew me away that they would ask; I like you just said I did and they continued to look at my art. I should have talked to them more but, did not. Wish I had.

Here's what always bugs me about rudeness in forums and why it is always important to be helpful to people asking a question. Here's the low down. A new person will ask a general question and then inevitably someone will chew them out along the lines of "there have already been hundreds of discussions about this- search the archives." Then, someone will do as asked, and reply to an older post. This is usually followed by, "Why do people keep reviving older threads?"
Which way do they want it, I ask?

Alma Drain
Each time we do a show or demo its a learning process. Would have ,could have, should have,
we all have thoes but we learn and grow from each time. With this news letter i have learned so much from all the artists. Thanks for the info and keep it comming.

Marilyn Gilis
Letting people take clseups of your work is unacceptable.I don't blame you for not wanting to let them. I've had several reports of people having my paintings in their homes. Unfortunately they didn't buy them!

A possible way to handle it: if someone wants to show it to their spouse would be to offer to bring it by their home or have them come to your studio at their convenience.

Sandy Askey-Adams
Hello Karen..

Over all the decades of doing the outdoor art shows, I cannot even begin to count the number of people who have tried, or sneakingly taken photos of my work while I wasn't looking.
Basically, they instinctively KNOW that it is not the acceptable thing to do.
Sometimes, there have been those who have seen me busy with a customer and try to quickly take a photo while I am busy. I temporarily excuse myself from the customer to handle the situation...or I walk in front of the painting they are trying to take a photo of and look at them smiling while telling them it is not allowed. They give me that guilty look and walk away...or give me some excuse as to why they were taking it.

AND Then there are the people who ask first to take photos of my work...and I have looked them in the eye and nicely said, "No, that is not allowed to be done in this show or any other show. Please do not take any photographs of my art work or any other artists work in the show.
Thank you for appreciating my work."

There are times though that I have had regular customers of mine ask if they can take a photo of me with my display, and I have said yes, but I do know that I can trust them and they want the photo to place with their information they have on me. That is a totally different thing. Or they want a photo of me standing next to the painting they are purchasing. Sometimes they will want to be in the photo with me. Not a problem.

Then with the cell phones today, people are able to quickly take a photo of the art work before you even realize what they are doing...and often you do not even see it happening. Today's technology. Works for them, but not for the artist. So now, an artist has to be aware of that also.

My next outdoor art show is this coming weekend in Lititz, PA. Have never had a problem with anyone taking photos of work at this show, but the people who attend this show are extremely appreciated of the art and I think they have so much respect for the artists, they would not even consider doing it.


Sandy Askey-Adams
OOPS, I meant to say appreciative of the work..forgive all typing errors please.
Those errors are like the sneaky photos taken of art work, they happen before I realize it, message is sent and then it is too late. LOL

Sandy Askey-Adams
Taking photos of our work??

Let's not forget that today, all people need do is go on our web sites.


Max Hulse

Humorous but serious treatment of handling
tough and usually thoughtless questions or
comments from viewers. All of us share the
experience of saying something and wish we
could retrieve it before the words get cold.

It is never a mistake to always be gracious!

Max Hulse

Donna Robillard
This was a good post, a good reminder that not everyone who looks at art knows much 'art speak,' and they may say things that sound not so good. If you think about it, it is difficult to speak with knowledge about something we know not much about. I find that people want to know more, but may not know how to ask; we can help them in their understanding.

David Tipps
One of the very best articles I've ever read. It clearly points out that the problem is not with the people who have high enough self esteem to take a moment and share what set's your work apart from others. The problem is with the "stupid" artist who is so lacking in self esteem that they can't see that ANY ATTEMPT TO SHARE A FEELING THAT THE ART KICKS OFF, is important to share. They don't do it with most artist, because most artist are hiding at the back of their booth, terrified that someone might say their work is crap, which is what their most afraid of. Let's all realize that our "stupid" jokes are nothing more than an excuse to FEEL SUPERIOR in our attempt to protect ourselves from being hurt. We all are afraid of that.

I loved this article Luann - I had someone ask me the other day if the flies in my print were bees - I was flustered and didn't know quite what to say. I definitely need some practice so I don't just blurt out what's on the tip of my tongue which was, embarrassingly, "well, I guess they could be bees if you want them to be" - oh my - if I could turn back time........

Ilene Rubin
That's where that trusty bottle of water comes in handy. Keep it with you and drink.... think.... then answer. Works every time, really. Think of it as a cringe breaker...

Great idea Ilene! - I needed that water bottle first and then after the comment a different drink - I'm working hard on keeping my foot out of my mouth!

As usual a Great article.....someone is interested in what we do, we should be grateful/kind.....we are the "knoweledgeable" ones when it comes to the process, the customer is not and deserves every bit of kindness we can muster up to get them to understand what we do---we are the salespeople for what we create....
Helen---you never know, maybe they weren't "not liking" your paintings---but maybe they saw others work and never liked THEIR frames with their work----so you may have struck a very positive cord with them.......I know when I go to a show, I always pick up on how things are maybe it's not what they didn't say, it's indeed what they did say and you should be flattered....

Helen Horn Musser
Thank you for commenting, Margaret, you make a good point; made my day!

Happy :):):)----Actually, I visualized those women, after you approached them (smile), and asking them "you mean you didn't like what's IN the frames"---and they are saying---"Oh my gosh, no, we didn't mean that at all---we just meant that you are extra saavy in choosing such great frames for your pics" (in their own not too good at communicating way!!!) BIG smile!

Helen Horn Musser
Just said thank you; was blown away by the comment. Should have talked to them more

No guilt, no was one of life's learning experiences----you've grown and now you are better prepared--maybe the Universe sent them to you so you could have this learning experience----
this main article gave me lots of food for thought because I'm not really a "talker", and can be abrupt---but you better believe, I'll be friendly and nice from now on, always seeing the other side (smile).....

Helen Horn Musser
There you go; we hope we all will be on our toes.

sally flagg
Overheard conversation: Customer: what would you put in this? (a handmade small box )

Store volunteer answers: Paper too small to write on.

It was all in good fun. Never forgot it after 25 years of selling craft.

Alma Drain
This happened to me i had a waterfall painting and i always hide something, in this one i had a white horse behind the waterfall, lady said oh a unicorn...well it wasnt but i just asked so how do you like the setting, she loved it and bought it. my plan is,its whatever they see thats what it can be. people want to relate to paintings.a good comment is if they ask its about a place that looks familar to them, i will say are from around that area? and get them talking about that.then you are not just a artist you have established a personal realitionship with the person.

Lisa Mistiuk
Thanks Luann!! This was super helpful!

Kevin Hastings
Fantastic, a very timely article for myself, as I am an emerging artist, new to doing the shows and competitions. This is the kind of advice I need, before I need to ask for the salt as I shove my foot in my mouth.


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