There is one word to describe my vending experience last night: frigid.
Surprisingly, not a ton of people stroll the charming streets of Collingswood in search of that “need to own it” piece of artwork in 30 degree temps, in the dark, barely missing my table of merchandise because I chose a location with no street lamp. Luckily for me, one person did.
I had never heard of March Second Saturday, but I assume it’s a lot like Philadelphia’s First Friday. The only difference of course, it being located in the quaint and picturesque town of Collingswood which is a larger version of Haddonfield, yet not nearly as hipster as Portland, OR. (ugh, Portland, my heart). Still, when I saw the event plastered on my Facebook wall I jumped at the $10 chance to meet and greet with customers and like-minded artists and generate some profit.
Finding parking on a Saturday evening in Collingswood, at least as a vendor was a bit confusing. As an artist vendor, you can set up on any block, but not in front of a store unless you get the store’s permission. With all the one-way streets, and the hunt for where other vendors may have been set up, it was a decent 20-minute drive and 20-minute contemplation as to whether or not we should even stay, let alone find a decent spot to set up shop.
We came across another artist vendor, whose name I can’t remember but whose artwork was out of this world, and we set up next to her. My cheap, $2.99 broken easel from Goodwill kept being knocked over by the wind; my paintings, smashing the concrete, diving head first into a pile of dirt and mud and icy residue. A dog almost peed on my table, and there was so many strangers who whizzed by my table without even a glance. I mean, I may not buy anything either but I would at least look and acknowledge some random woman wearing pint sized sunglasses, shredded jeans, gorgeous eye makeup, with decapitated porcelain doll parts shoved into makeshift teacups at least. Oh and I also made awkward eye contact with an adolescent boy of about 10-years old who stammered with fear as he stood idly by my table, soaking in my monstrosities and feigning disapproval before quickly walking away like I was some sort of deviant. Ah, the artist life.
Between the lack of customers, freezing temperatures, and sparse vendors (I was one of three in the entire event), both my fiance and I grew kind of tired of just standing there watching people ignore us. We would much rather be ignored in a warm restaurant, preferably set next up to a fire and an endless basket of breadsticks.
Right as we were giving up all hope, some random guy stopped by and was like, “Wow, these are really cool.” Yeah, yeah, yeah, I’ve heard it before mister move it along, it’s thirty degrees outside! But he legitimately loved my merchandise. He kept pulling out every one of my paintings, asking if I was an artist, asking if this is what I did full time, saying how talented I was and what a good idea marketing “bad artwork” really was. He flipped TF out over a painting I had just done several hours before; an abstract fluid art cat with terrible whiskers, pointy ears and black scribble that says “bad art is the cat’s meow.” I hadn’t planned on selling it as much as I’d planned on bringing that painting with me to future events serving as some sort of mascot.
He told me that his girlfriend would go nuts over it and had to buy it. It was my first $10 sale on artwork ever. And I know, $10 doesn’t seem like a lot and if anything, probably too much to charge for a silly, bad painting that was created with a lot of heart and minimal effort, but I felt triumphed when he bought it.
I felt like maybe this was a gimmick that people aside from me, my loving fiance and supportive father could get behind. Maybe all hope wasn’t lost. Maybe there are people who appreciate my style. After all, people didn’t like Picasso in the beginning either. Nor did people appreciate Monet. And, whenever I sit in the gallery at the Philadelphia Art Museum, jaw dropped at the collection of CY Twombly, people aren’t so quick to appreciate his quick brushstrokes and abstract expressionism mind either.
(Me admiring my favorite artist, CY Twombly)
So maybe there’s still hope lingering around for me.
I’d sell at the Collingswood’s Second Saturday event again in the future. After all, for a quick $10 application fee, it’s an opportunity for any artist to gain exposure. My only recommendation would be to choose to set up shop in the spring. Then again, perhaps my choice of leg-wear that were more holes than pants has me a bit biased.