This past weekend, I helped a good friend of mine, V, sell her pottery at an art fair. This was her first fair and she was nervous and excited. She was deeply worried nobody would like her things. I imagine it's got to be difficult putting your creative efforts out there for all the world to see and purchase. The first hour or so after opening was ego-crushing. People walked up, looked for a minute, then wandered off. I could see the tension building on her face and I knew it would not be relieved until she had made a sale.
Her first sale was a large green bowl. The buyer was interested in a possible mate to it, but it was one of a kind. After that, V, seemed to calm down a little and was willing to leave the booth and have a little walk around the fair herself. We talked about it later and we agreed it was an enlightening experience being on "the other side of the table." We recognized some of our own shopping behavior, but saw it from the perspective of the artist (well, in my case, as the friend of an artist that I consider very talented) and how ego-bruising some of our habits can be. It's hard not to feel that they hate it or think it's substandard if a people walk past the table and only glance at the pottery before moving on. There are hundreds of dismissive gestures people employ with their hands, faces, body postures that can really cut you to the quick. Intellectually you realize they might not mean anything by it, but that's hard to remember while you're sitting there.
Ultimately, she did very well. In two days, she made over $1000, net. This calculation does not include the amount of money she spent on studio time and so forth because she would've done that anyway (pottery is one of her passions), but rather the cost of selling at the fair. And it was a beautiful weekend to be outdoors--sunny, not too warm or humid.
As for me, I got a weekend of people watching, time outdoors in beautiful weather, some muscle-building from the loading and unloading of all of that pottery, two very good nights of sleep (from all that exercise and sun--this is worth it's weight in gold for me as I have a tendency towards insomnia), a free dinner, and two beautiful pieces of pottery that I will treasure always (or until I break it--at which point, I'll likely glue it together). And, of course, the satisfaction of being useful and helping out a friend.