On Thursday, I was told that I could have a stall selling my artsy wares at Chillifest in Belfast at Custom House Square on Saturday (today!) because someone had pulled out at the last minute. As short notice as it was, I'd never done an art stall before, so jumped at the opportunity.
Chillifest is an annual event in the City centre celebrating American food and music, cold, frosty beers and local folk who have nice things to sell, make and do. There's lots of interesting folk all with different talents and oddities, a real mix of people with a great atmosphere.
As it was such short notice, I had to get properly stuck in to sorting all my stuff out. This included arranging a ma-hoosive print job (thanks to my good friend Shorty!), and a LOT of cutting out, folding, packing, painting, drawing and writing. Doing all this whilst looking after an 11month old who has a ridiculously inquisitive nature and enough energy to put a Duracell bunny to shame is not easy! But, with the help of my lovely boyfriend, and plenty of energy drinks, I managed to stay up most of the night to get it all done and ready to go. After another quick trip to the printers this morning, we headed off to set up shop.
My friend Caitlin was setting up her stall beside mine. She goes under the name Catface Designs and makes everything from prints and paintings to furniture and clothes, all featuring bizarre and twisted characters and cool, quirky designs (do a wee search, her stuff's very good!). We had a good corner spot, kind of in the middle of everything, so with the help of our friends Hollie and Jamie and of course the ever helpful Mark, we finally got everything up and running.
Having never had a stall before, I had no idea what to expect in terms of interest or sales. And after about half an hour and one sale of a pack of note cards, I didn't have much time to find out because because a hot, gloriously sunny day turned into a horrific, dark, thundery day in a matter of minutes, so we had to pack up and run for cover! Good old Belfast. I have friends from South Wales who have never seen anywhere with weather like here before. One minute sunny and warm, the next dark and wet, then back to sunny again. I'd never noticed really or thought it was strange until they pointed this out, but sure enough within ten minutes of the skies opening, the sun was out again and the rain was drying up!
We set back up and this time the place was really starting to fill up. I found myself chatting away to people about my work, art in general and how the day was going, and happily I was selling my stuff pretty consistently throughout the day. I found a lot of people taking business cards and asking about custom work etc, so hopefully it will generate more work and customers in the future.
The day went better than I'd expected because I'd heard that art stalls can be very hit or miss so I didn't have high hopes for fear it'd all go wrong! I've almost sold out of foodles (my felt toys), and I shifted a lot of paintings, cards and prints, and on top of that I had great conversation with some really lovely people so what more could I have wanted? Really pleased! :)
I love the fact that when you set up and display work in an open, public environment and when you sell face to face, it's a lot more personal and adds another dimension to what I do. When you sell on the internet, it's obviously a great feeling, and you do usually get feedback and the occasional brief email or message from the customer, but to actually have the chance to speak to people face to face, hear about what they like (or don't like!) and explain my work to them is a really unique thing that you don't really get from emails or messages. It also gave me the opportunity to give customers custom items, for example note card packs with cards of their choice, single cards rather than packs, impromptu two-for-the-price-of-one offers etc. It's definitely a nice way to sell and exhibit your work. For anyone who hasn't sold at a craft fair, festival or market, I can't recommend it enough. Even if it's a particularly bad day with a low turn out or no sales, at least it gives you an idea of what people like, how to display work, what might work better for you etc. I can't wait for my next one (whatever it may be!), I have a lot more planned now!