Tuesday, May 6, 2008
A profound experience
Once again I was able to attend one of my favorite festivals of the year last weekend, the Moscow Renaissance Fair. This was their 35th annual fair celebrating the arrival of spring.
Nearly 150 fine arts and craft artists fill East City Park, which is, located just a few blocks from downtown. Moscow, ID is home to the University of Idaho. Being a college town fulfills one of the criteria of mine when selecting shows that I want to apply to. Although a younger, college age audience usually makes up the majority of those who attend this show; it also attracts all age levels from kids to senior citizens.
The promoters of “the Ren Fair” have worked hard to keep this festival a community and artists funded affair and so far have taken no assistance from corporate sponsorships. They are also incredibly proud of the fact that 89% of all of the garbage that is created by the tens of thousands of visitors to this fair is recycled or composted. Very cool indeed.
In the hundreds of shows I’ve done and the thousands of customers that have purchased pieces of art from me, I have never had a more profound experience and interaction with a customer like I had on Sunday at this show.
A gentleman came into my booth early in the morning right after the show opened for the day. I greeted him and “welcomed him to my world of color” and he then proceeded to browse my prints. Being a talkative sort myself, I tried to engage him into a conversation but he seemed intent on concentrating on my art and gave me the impression that he’d rather not talk, just look.
He spent about 15 minutes in my booth then turned and left when I was wrapping up a few of my prints for another customer. I really didn’t give him another thought until about an hour later when he returned to take another look. As an artist, I’ve learned from experience that a retuning “browser” is always a good sign and quite often ends with them purchasing a piece of art from me.
When this man left again without making a selection I chalked it up as a no-sale situation. The day proceeded and near the end of the show my mystery shopper once again returned and silently started to look over my fractals. He must have sensed my confusion over his inability to make up his mind and he offered me this explanation.
He said that he always attends the Ren Fair but has never been motivated into buying anything from any of the artists. When he came to the park that day he was just coming for the entertainment and food and not for any art, but he said that as he passed my booth early that morning he felt compelled to take a peak.
He then shared with me his reason for the many return trips back to my booth to look over my art. He was having a difficult time in choosing just the right print. He was looking for something to give to his mother and wanted to make sure his selection was right. I gave him the same advice that I’ve given 1000’s of people before when faced with this same dilemma which is that they, the buyer, is having a hard time choosing because there are hundreds of different designs they are looking at in my booth but when they give the piece to whomever the gift is intended for, the recipient is only seeing the one design they are given and not all of the rest, so whatever is chosen will be right for the situation.
He nodded in agreement then continued to say that this gift was not a mothers day present like I assumed but a piece of art for his mother to look at while spending her last days on earth. He said that he understood the basis behind fractals, chaos theory and quantum physics and it would be the perfect art form for his mom to look at while in hospice care with only a few short days to live. He felt compelled to choose a piece of my art so his mother could peacefully meditate to when “she passed to the other side.” He said her favorite color was blue and my piece entitled “Totally Tubular” was going to perfectly help with her “transition.”
I was completely speechless and could only communicate with him through nods of understanding because I was afraid that if I spoke my emotions would overcome me. This man selected this piece along with a few smaller ones that were a bit brighter with more color to also help brighten his moms last days.
As I packaged up his purchase I searched for something to say to this caring individual but the words couldn’t come. He paid me, shook my hand and as he turned to walk away he looked back and silently nodded his head as to let me know that he was thankful that I created this piece of art, for his mom.
I will forever be changed by this experience.
Moscow Renaissance Fair