Last weekend I was at the Oxford International Art Fair. It’s a 3-day event, with set up and a Private View on Friday evening, and then Saturday and Sunday open to the public. The event was in the stunning Old Town Hall in Oxford city centre. I had a wonderful time at the fair, meeting loads of new people, with 30 new sign-ups to my Newsletter, and sales of both prints and originals, as well as a commission. And to cap it all, at the end of the weekend I was awarded the 2nd Prize for the Fair (out of over 150 artists).
So I was reflecting on why all that happened. For previous events I’ve been preparing full-on into the event, trying to do too much in too short a time. And then by the time I got to the private view I was completely exhausted. So this time I was determined to arrive fresh and ready to be there. So although it wasn’t perfect (I was still framing work the day before), I definitely was looking forward to meeting people on Friday, rather than looking forward to bed! The other big change I think was that I wanted to be very open to people, try and get to know them a little and focus on that interaction, rather than purely selling. To do this I made my goal for the fair to get new sign-ups for my newsletter, rather than a sales goal. Getting someone’s email is not an easy thing these days. Most people are very wary of generating yet more junk mail in their in-boxes. They need to trust you, and be interested in you to hand it over. So this goal encouraged me to open up a conversation, being really interested in each and every person I met, and in that context being interested in what they thought of my work. And again, although far from perfect, I think it worked. Not only through the results, but also in the fact that I really enjoyed my time, with my energy levels high right up until the end of Sunday.
So a wonderful experience, but also some understanding of how it was achieved, which is a double-boost and something to build on for Reading in April.