Yes, you read that right. Usually we’re trying to get people into our booth or open studio, so we can sell them our work. But sometimes it’s just as important to get them out of there, too.
There are many kinds of visitors who will come to our open studios. the person who has no intention of buying anything, but is distracting you from other customers.
And okay, I’ll admit it–the title is provocative. You don’t necessarily need to, nor should you, boot every non-customer out of your studio! Not every transaction is about money, and not every comment is meant as a slam, not by a long shot. Revisit “the stupid question”, for example.
But no one needs “bad transactions”, either. There are indeed times when someone is being a jerk, a downer, a whiner or simply an energy-vampire. (I wrote this before the TV series, “What We Do In The Shadows”!) If they aren’t driving other customers out of your studio, they are practically driving you out of your studio.
You must contain and deal with that negative energy. Not only your sales, but your peace of mind may depend on it.
To save myself some time this morning, I’ll just point you to a wealth of information on this topic that I’ve written about for years: How to get people OUT of your booth
Short story: Not everyone is your customer.
That’s okay, of course. Most open studios and other events are as much about creating connections as they are about sales. Our open studio events are the most powerful, as we are on our home turf, in our sacred creative space. They get to see who we are, and hopefully learn what our artwork is all about.
And for the same reasons, this is why we can’t let people s*** in our space, either.
But there will be people who may go beyond all boundaries, from slightly-aggressive to downright boring as all get-out. The people who know, deep down, that we are a captive audience.
I get as annoyed as anyone when this happens. And yet, when I take a moment or two (or a thousand), I can get back to my happy place. Maybe they are lonely. Or lost (figuratively.) Or desperate for attention. Or need to one-up me because they are envious. Maybe they are wistful, wishing they could have a studio, a creative outlet, work that they put aside, a decision they regret but can’t fix.
These fears, feelings of superiority (or inadequacy), anger, sadness, can manifest in so many ways, from the Design Diva who will micromanage their custom order to within an inch of (your) life, to realizing your good “friend” isn’t really your friend at all.
Here’s one big tips to help you get through:
Use your words. In almost every situation, from visitors who demand a lot of your time at the expense of other visitors, to well-meaning friends who want to catch up, these three words can be a lifesaver: “After the show…”
“Yes, after the show I’ll be able to offer classes, so add your email address to my sign-up form so I can let you know.”
“I’d love to grab coffee and catch up with you after the show, when I’m not so busy!”
“Yes, I’m happy to share the info of where to learn more about polymer clay, email me after the show.”
You are setting boundaries while still remaining available emotionally for people you care about (and those you don’t), people you want to be available for (or not), when you can be available.
Why does this work? Reasons here: Why Distraction Works
All of these suggestions and strategies echo words of wisdom my best-ever boss made oh, about 45 years ago:
And yet also understand that we can all be annoying sometimes, and not everyone is trying to be annoying. (Er…I’m beginning to wonder if I’m more annoying than I realize…)
Last, a very dirty trick, but it can work:
If someone is being a total poo, and nothing I’ve tried has moved them on, I will encourage them to check out another artist’s studio. And it’s often an artist I don’t like. (Okay, I’ve done this maybe three times in my entire art career of 20 years. But I have to admit, it was very satisfying.) (I mean, I also send wonderful visitors to another artist who I DO like, too, if I think they’ll enjoy that artist’s work.) For all you difficult artists, be warned! (JUST KIDDING!) (Not.)
I know I’ve linked to a slew of articles here today. But trust me, I can guarantee you have–or will–meet at least one of these people at any art event you host or attend. Knowing how to deal with it is powerful protective armor.
And the better you manage it, the better your studio experience will be for everyone involved.
If you’d like most of those articles in one place, you can buy my ebook on Amazon. (Maybe I should do a book on open studios?)
I would love it if you asked questions or shared your own tips and suggestions along the way!
If you found this helpful, let me know! And if you know someone else who might find it useful, pass the link to this article to them. The best gift you can give a writer is to help them grow their audience.