Monday, September 26, 2011

Have you seen my head? I think it just got bit off...

Yowch.  Lemme tell ya a little story...

I'm finally getting around to getting my first tent for art fairs and festivals.  I'm earning enough money, and I have enough of a body of work (I hope) that I can start to go to some local farmer's markets and street festivals.  I'm excited about the potential, and I've thought about it for a long time.  I think it's the next logical step for me to try and get my stuff out there.

I started exploring different kinds of tents on the internet and come to the conclusion that there are two kinds of tents in the "festival world"--EZ-Up tents and tents that require more assembly (I don't know if there's a name for those).

The EZ-Up tents have a canopy that expands open, and legs that simply drop down from inside, locking in place.  It's all one piece.  It looks pretty easy to set up and take down by one's self.

In contrast, the other kind of tent requires a lot more piecing together as the legs and joints are all separate pieces.  The tarp for the canopy is separate, and has to be place onto it by hand.

I went to my local Costco and looked at their EZ-Up tent that they had in stock, and was stunned by how flimsy it was.  A simple gust of wind would send it flying.  And the complicated expanding mechanism that allows it to work seemed to be potentially plagued with problems--a bent strut or popped rivet could render the whole tent inoperative very quickly.

And I wanted to find out if it could handle any weight--I wanted to find a tent in which I could suspend a bar from side to side and possibly dangle clothing or mobiles from it.  I needed to ask someone if it was possible to do that using an EZ-Up tent--if it was strong enough.

I went online to a favorite site of mine--Art Fair Insiders--and posted my question on the forums.  Not 5 minutes later, I got a reply post.  But it was less than useful--it was filled with such venom and anger and spite that it took my breath away...  I was accused of being a clueless hillbilly who should get a real job since I was obviously going to fail if I all I could do was post stupid questions.

Burn!  Not only did my hackles rise, but they were literally singed off!  I was feeling a bit crispy!

Of course, I know enough about the internet to realize this happens.  It's part of the anonymity of it all.  I know that.

But it made me really step back and wonder, how on earth someone could be so bitter about an honest question?  The reply post expressed a deeply seated frustration with dealing with "newbies" wanting all their answers without figuring things out for themselves...  I just wonder how a person reaches that point...  A good portion of my background is in teaching, and I know what it's like to teach introductory theatre courses to folks who don't know what they're doing, so maybe I'm a bit numb to the quandary she's feeling.  But it made me feel...  naive.  It made me feel angry that the kindness and generosity that seems to be a hallmark of the new crafting and arts movements was so upbraided and ridiculed like that.  It felt like a denial of everything we've all worked so hard for, of the examples that so many people I know set for one another.

I was breathless.  I'd never experienced that outright hostility in this industry.  And I was surprised!  Art Fair Insiders has always been a wonderful resource of great professionals willing to help and offer advice.  It was uncharacteristically mean for postings on that site.  I'd never seen anything like it there.  And I did get several helpful replies and much lamenting of the hostility of the first reply...

But I wonder, now, if I have indeed been too naive as I've tried to make this business work.  I worry that what I don't know is what's really going to tear down my optimism.

I don't know how much I don't know, but I do know that if I let myself lose hope I'll be lost before I begin.  Ignorance is bliss, true.  But I'd rather choose it over pessimistic, jaded experience if that's my future.

I refuse to give up hope.  And I'll staunchly continue to be naive even if bitter frustration is the inevitable alternative.

So if you see my head rolling around on the floor nearby, let me know.  I've got to resew it on, because I've got work to do.

Until next time, Live Life with Relish!

Top image by plutor via Flickr, Creative Commons License.
Bottom image by CedarBendDrive via Flickr, Creative Commons License.


  1. Yep, there's always that one person out there who's ready to tear you down. And anonymous too. I've met enough bitches in my selling at craft markets. The ones who aren't anonymous are even worse. It's not your head you should worry about. It's your heart. Keep on believing.

  2. Oh, Jane, I'm dreading those interactions... I hope I'm strong enough! I like to think I have a thick enough skin to let those things bounce off, but I know my first icky confrontation will send me into a tail spin! It's good to know I'm not alone! Thanks for the positive thoughts! : )

  3. Corey, this just breaks my heart and I know how hard it will be for you to get over the harsh words. There seems to be a falling apart of social skills and compassion, I believe it has to do with the fact that you can do and say anything this way, online. It just brings out the cowards and the hurtful types. But why wouldn't someone on a forum there to answer questions just do that? Be helpful?
    Because before I got to that part I was so happy that you were going to find out about tents ~ we really scoped them out at the last fair we went to, wondering the same things, which is the best and the easiest to put up and won't blow away.
    Keep your focus on the future and don't stop trying to get the info you need to move forward with your plans. They sound like very good ones. You've worked hard to get to this point so screw these tiny mean spirited head cases.
    Sending you love and a big hug.

  4. Susan, thank you so very very much! I was just shocked that such an innocent question was met with such anger... It came out of left field and I was left spinning for a bit this morning... I'm better now. I'm refusing to let it spoil my search for info, and my faith that the vast majority of people in this community aren't like that. Art Fair Insiders really truly is a great place for info. It was so uncharacteristic of regular postings it completely caught me off guard. But like I said, I'm better now that I've had some time to chill. Haha!

    It's kind thoughts lie yours that keep me positive, Susan! Thank you so much!!!

  5. Having been a teacher myself, I know about sharp retorts, and their effects upon people. Keep looking until you find someone helpful..there will be.Mentally shrug it off.Meanness backfires on people eventually.

    I was thinking about fairs many tents etc.

  6. There were a number of apologetic comments on the post afterwards--I even got a personal email from the lady who runs the forums saying she was sorry that I'd been on the receiving end of it. She was apologizing for someone she didn't even know--how kind is that?!? I got lots of useful information, so I guess it all paid off, in the end... That moment of meanness really truly did backfire.

    And Judy, I've been meaning to tell you your "tiny" projects are too too adorable! Beautiful and charming! Well done! I'm excited you're thinking about fairs and such--I'll make sure to share all the info I glean if I think it's useful. : )


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