Picture it....it was 11 years ago, I was showing my work on a cool, rainy Saturday in September at Trinity Bellwoods Park in Toronto. Despite the nasty weather, there were a number of people out buying art! I had only done a handful of outdoor shows at that point, so I was pretty nervous about whether people would like my work - or just walk right by!
WHAAAT??? Self doubt from an artist??? It can't be!!! ;-p
Then a man came up and started to talk to me about this painting:
The gentlemen had a lot of questions. A LOT. It was great to have someone who was SO interested in my work! The interaction went on for quite some time, before he decided to buy it. In hind-sight, there was something very soothing and vaguely familiar about his voice....but when you're in the middle of hocking your art, it is hard to think of anything but the sale!
Anyways, I take his credit card, and then ask him for ID.
The man looks at me, there is a really awkward pause, and the man raises an eyebrow....as if to say "REALLY??". I went on to apologize, and tell him that there had be a rash of fakesters taking advantage of poor artists. (Which was true! Because people can be awful!) Truthfully, he looked a little perturbed, but then who wouldn't? There is something off-putting about having your identity and legitimacy questioned!
So I finish the transaction, hand him back his card and his ID, all the time feeling 'strange' but not understanding why. I then wrap up his original art, and he walks away...into the sunset.
Within a couple of seconds, the artist in the neighbouring tent comes over. "Wow, Rob! That's great!" she says to me. I reply cavalierly "Ya, nice to have someone enjoy the work!"....You know...NO BIG DEAL....and she replies "Especially a Canadian celebrity!". I stood there, confused, looking at her like SHE was insane. She continued "You know who that was, right?" I looked down at the sales receipt in my hand...
(YES - it was a paper receipt - that is how we did it back then!)
I looked up at her and said "It was Stuart McLean."
There is is long pause in conversation where this artist was looking at me, waiting for me to clue in. It seemed like an eternity - although I am sure it was only seconds...until I said...
"OH FUCK! It was Stuart McLean! CBC Stuart McLean! Vinyl Cafe Stuart McLean!! FUUUUCK! I KNEW I KNEW THAT VOICE!!!!"
The other artist gave me a sympathetic look, and said "Don't worry, I am sure he didn't realize that you didn't know him." And I nodded...."Ya. Probably not!" and walked away!
Except of course he knew. DUHHH. It really could not have gone WORSE!
It was a great lesson to me. I tried in the years since, to be more attentive to people's body language, and also to try to stay out of my own head when chatting with clients!
ADMITTEDLY though, the sale really gave me a boost of confidence. I mean, if someone clever like Stuart McLean liked my art enough to buy it, it MUST be good! At that time, it really helped to reassure me.
(YES I KNOW my therapist would have a lot to say about seeking validation from others.....get off my back ;-)
I went on to put his name on my CV as a badge of honour.
I feel truly blessed for the confidence boost I got that cold wet weekend over a decade ago, from a CBC legend! He never knew how much it helped!
Normally I'm not one to post about celebrity deaths, but this time I needed to. Yesterday Mr Stuart McLean passed on. It is sad for his family, and also sad for all Canadians....period. We lost a great storyteller!
If you don't know anything about him...(SHAME ON YOU...you should look up his many albums and CBC podcasts on iTunes.....you will not regret it!
He will be missed!
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Rob is a professional artist, lover of vintage stuff, part time smart @ss and compulsive pancake eater!