Fun fact: The number 1 reason I love craft shows is…

The people. I’m naturally an introvert. I hang out in my house most days. I don’t have adult conversation. I don’t really go out and look for things to do. It’s nice, and it can get old sometimes.

Craft shows are different. Something about being in my element make me comfortable to talk to people without hesitation. I love it. I’ve always met awesome people, whether it be buyers or neighboring vendors. Some of them have become dear friends.

That being said…

Are Craft Shows Slowly Killing Your Creative Soul? | Knot By Gran'ma Blog

Oh craft shows… what a tangled mess of a day you can turn into. I’ve been doing shows for over 10 years and still can’t seem to get the hang of them. I’m enjoying them less and less. The last show was a little rough, and my ego was a little crumpled at the end of the day. I’m weighing out my pro and cons for doing shows. I’m also wondering why I’m doing the types of shows that I’m doing. Some of them are destined to be a disaster from the start. A little part of my creative soul dies a little after each unsuccessful craft show, and this time I’m really reeling from the whole experience.

Good or bad, here’s how my creativity suffers from craft shows. I’m shaking this one off and moving on, but I thought it would be fun to share the BLPPPPPT! side of doing craft shows.

The amazing creation that you thought of while you were sleeping will have to be shelved until you finish completing these 4 time sucking, show preparation tasks.

  1. You have to make sure you have enough inventory to even do a craft show. Way to procrastinate on those items that you only make for craft shows. That totally didn’t come back to bite you in the ass.
  2. Every new item that you made for this craft show needs a label and a price tag. It was also wise to not do this as you were finishing up each piece. Good job
  3. You have to stop everything because the bank closes in an hour and you need 50 singles, 5 tens, and 10 fives… plus change and a few twenties.
  4. You have to display your work professionally? Are your table clothes even clean? Did you put your tent away after the last show? Can someone help you load up the car, plus the bags you need to leave out for tomorrow? All of this equals a practice set up so you have an idea of how everything should go together.

The physical work involved could make a professional wrestler cry.

Maybe The Rock wouldn’t cry, but the rest of the wrestlers would definitely be in tears. (I kid! The Rock would totally cry.)

Craft show day always ends up being a 14 hour day (or more) of the most physical labor that you’ll ever do. What is going on? You drive an hour to your show, you set up trying no to sweat like a football player, you eat a little of the food you remembered to bring, guzzle a gallon of coffee, and somehow are pleasant and professional to the people visiting your booth. Even local shows eat hours and hours of your day. Before you know it, you’ve been on your feet for 13 hours. Then you still have to break everything down (after hiking a mile and a half to where you had to park your car), get your car packed up again, and drive home without falling asleep.

Fun fact: The number 1 reason I hate craft shows is… 

Craft shows cause me to doubt myself, my ability to succeed, my artistic talent. I hate it.

I have done more bad shows than good; and it’s not that the shows themselves are bad (some are), but rather that I have a very niche product line that isn’t for everyone. I still feel like I’m doing something wrong when I do craft shows. It rare that I come home with handfuls of cash and a feeling of well being about the sales. It does happen, and I’m getting better at finding those shows, but it’s not something I can rely on.

Here’s the thing. I am a talented artist. I know this. It hurts my feeling that people don’t want to spend their money on my dolls/patterns/kits/puppets. My rational mind tells me to stop. My stuff isn’t for everyone, and it can be pricey. My heart though… I’m just like, why doesn’t everyone love these as much as I do? Should I change what I’m doing? Am I doing something wrong? Why can’t my conscience allow me to make Pokemon hats? (BECAUSE UNLESS YOU HAVE A LICENSE, IT’S STEALING. I have no license.) Maybe I should lower my prices (nope), maybe I suck (nope), etc…

It takes a few days to shake off that feeling, even though I know none of it is right. My self esteem takes a few days to let go of that bruise. It’s the worst feeling.

There’s no way to tell if anyone will actually shop at your booth, or instead tell you, “oh, I could make that, ” as they walk away with their cash.

Just because last year’s show was a huge success, doesn’t mean this year won’t be a flop. People are fickle. The weather is not your best friend. Sometimes no one shops… FOR NO REASON. It happens. There’s no way to predict it. There’s nothing you can do.

My favorite people though, are the ones who let you know (either directly or loudly to a friend) that they could make that. AND IN YOUR HEAD YOU SCREAM, “BUT YOU WON’T. AT LEAST BUY A KIT SO YOU ACTUALLY COULD MAKE THIS.” For real. Wouldn’t it be nice if the non-buyers would just smile and not say anything? We have feelings too and that’s the easiest way to make us feel like we’re wasting our time.

Preaching to the choir.

Think of the best (or worst) craft show story that you have. 

I was doing the show at Garrison (NY) for the first time. This lovely lady shows up at the booth asking what I make my dolls with. This was right around the time I switched to using mostly wool for the bulk of my work. She invited me to her house in Jersey to pick up as much rug wool as I could swing… for free. I just had to come and pick it up.

I did drive down to pick up the wool. Hubs came with me, because he was worried that I might be murdered at “this lady’s” house. It was awesome. We got horribly lost, I almost killed us by almost driving into a pole (while maneuvering an illegal U-turn), and Hubs ended up wondering if I had indeed been murdered before knocking on the door… after I asked him to stay in the car. I wasn’t murdered, and she really was a sweet old lady who was giving me a ton of free wool.

Does your story affect the way you feel about craft shows now? Share your story in the comments!


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Are Craft Shows Slowly Killing Your Creative Soul?
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2 thoughts on “Are Craft Shows Slowly Killing Your Creative Soul?

  • September 26, 2016 at 6:10 pm

    Great post Jess!! (I was just lambasting myself for #1 this morning!) I’ve mostly given up on shows for most of these reasons. The people who say, “I can make that!’ are my absolute favorites., (Yeah, sure you can. ) and I just don’t feel like they’re worth the effort anymore.

    • September 28, 2016 at 1:31 pm

      Seriously. I think I’ll be taking a break at least for the spring 2017, while I figure out if and how they can be part of Knot By Gran’ma. I’m glad you enjoyed the post. I’m also so annoyed about #1 at this particular moment. LOL. WHEN WILL I LEARN???!!!

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