Rick Bruno posted this to the NAIA Open Forum one day and started a thread…if you would like to contribute please email us.

A man inquiring about one of my enhanced photographs at a show in Florida: What’d you do, just run it through PhotoShop?

Submitted by Richard Stewart, photographer/artist

I was at the San Francisco ACC show and a woman admired a piece of jewelry that I had done which she had perceived to be inlaid wood. When I explained that it was stone, not wood, she said “that’s too bad..if it was wood I would have had my husband make me one. ” Another favorite is, “what does your husband do that you have such a nice hobby? And years ago (in the 70s) I was exhibiting at the Baltimore ACC and was talking with a gallery owner from New Mexico. He was saying that many people believe that artists all live in VW buses and eat sunflower seeds. Then he said “don’t they know that artists have to pay as much for their Mercedes as everyone else does?” I thought that was great. Submitted by Susan Sanders

A couple of years go at shain park in Birmingham, Mi, a little boy walking by with his mother inquired as to ” When are the tent people leaving, so we can play in the park”? mothers reply — soon I hope.
Submitted by Wallace Fuller

I was at a show in Des Moines (yep, that’s Iowa). A mid-40’s aged man comes into my booth and spends some serious time looking at my paintings. Then he asks if I would come to the booth about 3 spaces down to answer a question. Being ever helpful and desirous to sell him a painting, I agreed. When we got there he told me how much he admired my work, and valued my opinion, and did I think THIS artist’s painting would match his wallpaper. I put on my public goodfacesmile and refrained from telling him what I thought of his wallpaper!
Submitted by Karen Cooper.

When I was a student we had a show that included demonstrations of the different classes taught at the school, one of which was raku. We had been watching a blown glass demo and someone announced that they would soon be unloading the kiln for a demo of raku firing techniques. Close by were two sweet older ladies sitting on a bench and immediately one asked the other, “But what about the RACCOONS?! They don’t hurt them do they? Would they use a REAL raccoon?” I HAD to set them straight even though I was about to fall over laughing and to this day whenever I see or do raku pottery, I think of the raccoons. Your collection of things overheard at fairs is a riot!
Thanks, Lisanne Garvin

One of my first shows was an outdoor show that my 12 year old daughter was helping me with. An elderly gentleman walked into my booth and asked my daughter if this was her work, with which she replied: “No, it’s my Dad’s work”. I was standing nearby talking to another person, but over heard her conversation. After a minute or so of looking at my work (and still not aware that I was there) the old man said “this is pretty good stuff, but it’s kind of expensive…..is your father dead? Quickly she answered with a straight face “No, but he’s working on it.”

I make glass framed portraits and display them as if they were in a window.  Someone was asking whether the colors would FADE….my reply was “you will be long dead before these colors will ever fade”  – a bit on the snippy side – I must have been very tired.

While at the Saint Louis Art Festival a man came into my booth and said ” I come every year to this art show, and I don’t appreciate art, I don’t even like art, but I really like your stuff.”

Before I became a metal sculptor, I was a potter for a number of years. My favorite happened twice in my pottery carrier. A woman came into my booth and asked if I had any soup latrines. After asking her to repeat the question and finding I heard it right, I resisted the urge to tell her “I don’t, but I think my friend down the row does, you’ll have to ask for them as they’re not out on a shelf.”

My ex-wife does black and white landscape photography of Scotland, which is her homeland. At one show I overheard a young man tell his date: “WOW! I didn’t know everything in Scotland was black and white!”

A couple leaving my booth, the man says, “I haven’t seen one artist here who’s as good as Thomas Kinkade”. (Coconut Grove)

Two women were walking by our booth of functional pottery at a show in Central Florida and made the comment, “Oh, this is just kitchen s—!”

I don’t know if anyone has ever done a top ten list for street artists, if not I’d like to contribute my list of the most unusual things I’ve heard over the past year. I’ll call it Stuff Overheard at Art Festivals.

In the Crosby Festival of the Arts…in my booth filled with one of a kind photo realistic watercolors that often take up to 80 to 90 hours to complete,…I heard: “Oh…I LOVE these….but do you carry it in Blue?”

A man walked into booth, looked at my drawings and asked, “Is this prison art?” I replied, “No, what do you mean by prison art?” “Well I used to be a chaplain at the local prison and many of the prisoners do work just like this but better. Are you sure the artist isn’t in prison?” Partly offended and partly amused, I looked him square in the eyes and said, “Not yet.”

One very hot day at the Ann Arbor MI art fair a young couple come in with their hands full with their infant and toddlers. They take some time looking at literally everything when suddenly the husband says “I’m freezing!”. Immediately the wife picks out something and hands it to me to buy. During the transaction I inquire about the statement. “Oh, at Christmas time we pick out our own tree and that comment indicates that if I don’t pick something immediately, we will go home without a tree.”

Frustrated artist to show director “I’M NOT WHINING I’M EXPLAINING!”

Frustrated Judge to artist who has demanded to know why he did not receive an award. “Your work is good and original, unfortunately your good work is not original and your original work is not very good.”

Artist learning for the umpteen time that they did not make it into a top show. “Asking me what I think about slide juries would be like asking a fire hydrant what it thinks about dogs.”

Overheard at a South Florida art festival. “The judge just told me something that brought tears to my eyes. After pouring out my heart to her for ten minutes she said ‘No hablo ingles’”.

An artist who is definitely a burn out told me “This year my New Years resolution will be to try to dread just one show at a time”.

Best acceptance speech by an artist “I don’t deserve this award, but I’ve got arthritis and I don’t deserve that either!”

Overheard at a Boca Raton show: Artist who has had it with a ‘persistent why can’t you give me this for a better price, customer. Artist to customer “Sir when your IQ rises to 28 sell!”

Overheard: Friendly advice given to a distraught artist who has had a miserable year, no sales, no awards, not getting into any shows. “Let me give you a little cowboy wisdom, when your horse has died don’t try to ride him”.

Overheard at Longs Park, burnt out artist to a gentleman passing by. “Sir is that a beard or are you eating a muskrat”.

Three photographers visiting together at the Columbus Art Fair. A fourth photographer who has blatantly ripped work off from all three is being approached by the judges committee who have ribbons in hand. One of the three says “Lets walk on over there and see which one of us won the award”.

One artist still talking about the rip off artist. “No one can have a higher opinion of him then I have, and I think he’s a slimly little weasel.”

Same artist who received the ‘dead horse wisdom’ is still trying to justify staying with their current work by trying gold frames. “Partner, putting a fancy saddle on a dead horse is not going to improve the ride”.

An interview with the notorious show director X. Question: “Do you try to treat your artists fairly?” Answer: “I treat my artists EQUALLY, My foot is either on their necks or up their rear!”

Two artists talking about technique. “He was the worlds only armless sculptor, He put the chisel in his mouth and his wife hit him on the back of the head with a mallet!”

Overheard: One artist asking another artist the secret of their financial success in view of the fact that their work is terrible. “Sure I’m a lousy artist but then again most people have lousy taste.”

Overheard: “The difference between great work and junk is that there are limits on how much great work you can produce, only the worst artists are always at their best”.

And finally this classic from painter Jackie Berkly. “ Why do I feel that it’s a precious cargo of art on the way to a festival and an unsold load of junk on the way back?”

Thanks and a tip o’ the hat to Rick.

Here are some more gems sent in by members:

Our best was when a man looked over the contents of our booth, turned to Marty, and said, “My 9-year old grandson makes artwork that looks just like this.” Marty’s response was, “Here’s a business card. Please ask your grandson to give my wife a call. She really could use some good help.”

Actual overheard comment at last week’s ACC Charlotte: “There’s so much pretty stuff here I wish we had a double-wide.”

A young unmarried couple came into my booth at an outdoor show once. The girl was touched by one of my photographs and asked her boyfriend to purchase it for her. Her boyfriend, in a manner meant to impress, offered these words of wisdom; “No need to buy it, I can take a picture just like that for you (and as they walked away, finished the sentence with) as soon as I can afford to buy a camera”.

At Barrington, a woman asked me:”$225.00 for a picture?… are you famous or something?”. Otto Senz who was standing next to me almost had a heart attack laughing, told me I should have said “yes”.

One of my favorites is from a photographer, perhaps the very one whose work was really that of three other artists. Years ago this person hung a sign on his booth that said, “Compliments are nice, but they don’t buy bread.” The sign was posted immediately to the left of a photo of a snake. Hmmmm.

My paintings are rather minimal in nature, so I’ve heard this comment more than once: “If I stare at this painting long enough, will I SEE something?” I truly understand someone’s confusion at being confronted by something new, (I even have that problem with JURORS) so usually I respond, “No, but you might FEEL something!”

My worst was with a judge at the Disney Festival of the Masters two years ago. She came into my booth, looked around at my traditional figurative work in a very bored manner. When her eyes fell upon my organizer hanging in the back of the booth – a hanging travel organizer with clear plastic compartments crammed with miscellaneous: my sugar & creamer packets, napkins, pens, feminine hygiene products, a corkscrew – She brightened up, looked excited and asked me if that was art.

My booth was right in the middle at Syracuse this summer. I noticed a guy looking at several booths, then he walked up to me and said, “What time does all of this close tonight”? “Well”, I replied, “this art show part closes at 8:00, but I think there might be some music going on until 10:00 or so.” “OH”, he said, a startled look in his eye, “Is this an art show?”

I do pastels and do not use fixative on them. Two years ago I got a phone call from the person who purchased my pastel at the auction saying “I showed the drawing to the Chairman of the show and to a framer, we can find nothing wrong with it” I replied “I don’t understand what your asking me” He said “well you have do not fix on the back”. Happy Holidays!

I’m a photographer and have been asked if I have any pictures of unicorns. I have also been asked (more than once, I might add) if I was there when I took those pictures. Some of us work hard at making a nice display. A jeweler friend of mine won an award at a show and hung his ribbon on his backdrop panels which were nice wood folding screens with fabric panel inserts. A man come up to his booth and told him that the award was well deserved for such beautiful looking screens!

Two women staring at our work…one says to the other “I have never seen anything like this in my entire life.” Then she turns to walk away as she says “But I’m looking for something really unusual.” Two other women walking by the booth, one says “This stuff isn’t cheap. I thought these people were supposed to be artists.” A man walked into our booth with a camera and asked if I’d mind if he took a picture of one item so he could go home and make one for his wife.

Our very favorite: In Louisville we heard the word “cute” so many times that we decided to start counting the number of times we heard it in a day. After one hour we had ninety nine times. One woman had used the word in one form or another 26 times. “So cute, the cutest, that’s cute, this is cute,” etc., until the capper, as she was leaving she turned to us and said “Cutey-cute!”

A woman spent quite a while browsing through the knitted garments in the booth of a fiber artist friend of mine. Finally, she asked the artist if she had a business card. My friend handed her a card, and the woman promptly spit her gum into it, wadded it up and handed it back to the artist, asking her to discard it for her.

A 12-14 year old boy came into my booth one day and looked around. “Did you make all of these things yourself?” When I replied that I had, he responded with, “Boy, you must have a lot of free time!” Happy Holidays, everyone.

I kind of hesitate to post this one, because I’ve heard it so many times it seems obvious, but here goes… “Will this match my kitchen?” I once had a lady ask me this question, and when I told her I had never seen her kitchen, she said something like, “I really need something to match my kitchen.” My response was substantially the same, and she said something like, “If it matched my kitchen, I’d buy it.” I thought to myself “I’m not going to play this game”, but when she was still playing it after 15 or 20 minutes (no joke), I finally said “It matches your kitchen”, whereupon she replied “Wrap it up!” Sometimes people just want permission to do what they are going to do.

This is slightly related to the thread below, which I agree is wonderful. Like many artists at the shows, I spend so much time explaining what I do that I’m constantly reminded of a comment by Picasso on that subject: “Everyone wants to understand painting. Why doesn’t one try to understand the song of a bird? Why does one like the night, a flower, all that surrounds us without trying to understand them. Whereas they want to understand painting.”

I was doing Baltimore (with my jewelry) and 2 women came up from a big name gallery and started pointing and gushing that this was just what they had been looking for. The excitement builds as they start bringing back others from the store to look. I’m starting to see a big order coming, and then they tell me they’d like to buy one of the commercial chains that my piece was hanging from…

A friend of mine was having a very bad show and her attitude was slowly going in that direction as well. As she was sitting in her booth she recognized a past customer entering her booth and her hopes were rekindled. After looking around a little bit the woman approached my friend and expressed a deep appreciation for my friend’s work. She told my friend that she wanted to support all her efforts over the past years by thanking her for being an artist. The customer than went back to looking at the work. My friend thanked her and went to the back of her booth for something. When she came back out, the woman had left. My friend was thinking that if the woman really wanted to support her she should have bought a piece. As my friend went to sit down there was an envelope on her chair. My friend sat down and opened it. Inside was a $100 bill and a note that said, “Thank You”.

Favorite booth stories:
1. A young woman comments that a friend of hers would love our little linocut of a dragon, to which her husband responds “Why? Is she a devil worshipper?” Nonplused, the woman tried to explain saying “No, you know, some people like unicorns or mermaids…Like that.” The husband then looks sideways at her and says “Why? You can’t have one as a pet!”
2. A man stands in the middle of our booth and very loudly says “Well, I really hate this art, but can I have that one for half price?”
3. A man comes into the booth holding a bible and some religious tracts and says “Mr. Hill, there is much darkness in your work,” to which Marvin replied “The ink is black. Get over it.”
4. Someone really did ask once “What’s it FOR?” Marvin’s answer was “It’s for SALE.”
5. When the third person in a day had asked what kind of drugs Marvin did to produce his unusual images (or “I know what YOU were doing in the ’60’s!!”), he replied that he doesn’t do drugs because they interfere with his hallucinations.
6. We once had a gentleman offer us $500 for a piece priced at $600. and $100 for a piece priced at $200. When I asked him if he realized that he was asking us to give him the smaller piece free he said “Well, don’t think of it like THAT.” Another favorite is when people tell us that if only we had a certain image we’d be millionaires. One even asked why we don’t do the Batman logo (this was when the movie came out with all the merchandising).

As two women were leaving my booth, after much oohing and aahing, one turned to the other and said “If you put a gun to my head, I couldn’t paint my way out of a paper bag”.

At the Smithsonian Craft Show I heard a man, who has escorted a group of Brownie Scouts to the second floor for a free over view of the show, say to a guard, “So do they hold this flea market here every weekend?”

Thought you could add this dumb question to the list. I do raku fired ceramics and was asked once,” is this that haiku stuff ?”

Why must my work remind people of someone else’s work? I have started a list of cultures whose art I have been told my work looks like: It literally ranges all over the world, from contemporary Swedish to ancient Greek, from Native American to Australian Aboriginal, from Chinese to Namibian. Twentyone cultures that I have written down, many more that I have forgotten. Individual artists and illustrators are also brought up, and two of my favorites: “Do you ever do Nascar pots?” and “Are those Pokemon characters?”

At my very first show, a group show, a woman came up to my fiber wallhanging, oohing and ahing, examining it very closely, turning it over, exclaiming the whole time. I said, “If you have any questions about that piece, I’ll be happy to answer them for you–I’m the artist!” “Oh”, she said, “I don’t have any questions–I’m just looking at it as hard as I can so I can go home and make one just like it!”

I always work on my art in my booth. One day two children were watching me in fascination while their mother was talking to friends on the street. As the mother tried to get the kids to leave, they were begging her to come and watch me. She glanced at my work and said “They make that stuff on machines in China.” The kids shrugged their shoulders and left…..

I once exhibited at a nice invitational indoor show located in a temple in a northern suburb of Detroit. The first night was the preview for members, artists were invited to attend. I was offered an hors d’ oeuvre by a hostess. Later when she went by I asked her if I could try something on the platter she was carrying. Before I could get my hand on one, she abruptly withdrew the platter and said, “These aren’t for the artists, these are for the members!” She then pointed to someone who was serving the hors d’ oeuvres (snacks) for the artists. Aren’t we special?

Once at SunFest, a scantily clad, tatooed young woman walked up to the booth — holding a cup of beer in one hand, and using the other hand to balance an Iguana on a leash on her shoulder. At the same time, a little boy who was with another customer in the booth (and about 4 or 5 years old) watched the woman with the iguana intently. The woman with the iguana, in an attempt to free up one hand to look through a browse bin,placed the iguana on the ground next to her, while still holding onto its leash — and, of course, still holding onto her beer (yes, I was cringing waiting for a spill to happen!). The little boy watched another minute or so, and said, “Hey lady, you’ve got an ugly dog!” The booth erupted with laughter. As the mother of the little boy and the little boy headed out of the booth, the little boy said, “Mom, what is everybody laughing at? Are they laughing at me?” The mother said “No, honey, they are laughing at that lady’s dog!” Sometimes, these art shows are just too much fun!

As two women were leaving my booth, after much oohing and aahing, one turned to the other and said “If you put a gun to my head, I couldn’t paint my way out of a paper bag”

How about along the lines of, Is this a DOLLAR fifty? Or a Hundred and fifty dollars? Then the same show produced the question of, “Can I get the frame without the painting?” Or, “How much do you want for this cute little basket?” (the one holding the business cards.) Which brings me to, “Do you have a business card?”, (thinking,”Well, at least they noticed me”) as they proceed to the next booth to get that artists name and number – that artist had run out of cards that day, what a shame! Then the infamous line of “DID YOU DO ALL THESE PICTURES?” No, my cat did while I was resting in a laundromat somewhere! Someone told me along the way that she showed some talent, so I encouraged all of her nine lives!

A potter friend who makes barium encrusted amphora forms had a woman ask “what did these used to be?” “Dirt”, he replied.

Two beautifully dressed women stopped in front of a booth in Atlanta and one said to her friend “Aren’t these beautiful?” “Yes” she replied, “ALL this is so beautiful. I wonder how they find time to make it?” “Well”, explained the first, “none of them work.”

A woman in Columbus stepped into a booth and with hardly a glance immediately asked “What’s the cheapest thing in here?” “You are”, the artist quickly answered. It had been a long show.

Heard at the AASAF: “George, look at all these artists! Where did they all come from?” George: “Oh well, you know Alice, the auto plants have been laying off a lot of people lately.

Heard in Detroit: An elderly lady and her daughter come around the corner from a side street onto the art fair. Says the elderly lady to her daughter, “Oh my, look at all this mess”

My first passers-by looked at my work and said, “Hmph. Couldn’t afford color film.” They kept walking past even after I said “hello”. I was absolutely shocked! How sad.

I’m Asian American, and my pottery, with it’s drippy, slip-based glazing has a Pacific Rim aesthetic. After one gentleman spent a good amount of time looking at everything in my booth, he turned to me and asked, “Don’t you make anything with Celtic motifs?”

A customer purposefully walking around a fine art/craft show, then stopping to complain “This show doesn’t have any pottery! Why don’t they have any pottery? Have you seen any pottery?” Said to an exhibiting artist standing in his booth full of (you guessed it) pottery.

I make glass framed portraits and display them as if they were in a window. Someone was asking whether the colors would fade….my reply was “you will be long dead before these colors will ever fade” – a bit on the snippy side – I must have been very tired.

As a photographer I get two questions regularly: “Did you take these pictures?” and, “What kind of camera do you use.” It’s only a matter of time until I’m in the right mood to respond to the “Did you take these pictures?” question with one of two answers:
1. “No, I get them all from the internet, isn’t it fabulous?”
2. “No, Brown has this great new service. I send my camera to a location, the driver jumps out of the truck, snaps a pictue and then sends the camera back to me. Sure makes my life easier!”
As to the what kind of camera question, someday I’m going to buy one of those yellow cardboard disposable cameras and just hold it up to answer the question.

The most insulting, and in retrospect the most amusing, reaction that my work (and my physical appearance) ever elicited was: “So! You bleached your hair, and you raised your prices!!”

As a woodturner, I take a lot of pride in converting an ordinary piece of wood into a beautifully shaped and finished hollow vessel. A visitor to my exhibit once asked ‘what kind of trees are these that grow into these

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