When does criticism appear unprofessional?

Crafty types! I’m really curious: Do you consider it unprofessional to voice complaints about a show or venue? Is it the way those complaints are voiced, or that they’re voiced at all? I’ve been to so many craft shows with my mother (selling her pottery) where business was terrible but everyone walked around stiffly smiling and proclaiming that, no, really, it was a good show. Is it so bad to be honest? If criticism is well-founded and gracefully presented, isn’t that constructive?

That being said…

I’ve had work in a cafe in State College for almost a year now, and while I’m truly, deeply grateful for the opportunity to have had my art sold for me, no commissions taken, it hasn’t always been the most stress-free situation. When they sell work, they put the money in an envelope labeled with the artist’s name. I always compare that to my inventory sheet and take a complete inventory, because every time the money in the envelope has been the wrong amount. Usually way less, but once more (I think they’d put in some for someone else’s earrings that had a similar vibe to mine).  Last visit I found two envelopes in my name– combined, still short from the visit before, and the employees didn’t have enough on hand to make up the difference… which I still haven’t received. I had earrings in a bowl, and someone put them in a different bowl; it took me several months, notes, and Facebook messages to the then-manager to get my bowl back, which was only really an issue because it matched another bowl I used for my show display, and I coincidentally needed it for a show. Had to buy new bowls. (I didn’t even know for sure that this manager was gone until today!) I went in a few months ago to find my print rack missing; it had broken, and they threw it away instead of contacting me. I might’ve fixed it. (My prints were messily tucked behind my jewelry. Some bent.) With the distance, my schedule, and their hours, it’s been hard to check in as much as I’d have liked, and despite my asking, I’ve never gotten feedback about how my work is doing, what needs restocking, what would be a better fit for the space and clientele. Once I went during their normal Saturday hours and no one was even there. I was meeting a show customer to drop off a custom order, and we watched several other cafe customers arrive and leave, disgruntled.

Today when I went in the folder of envelopes and inventory sheets was gone, and the girl at the counter also informed me that it was good I stopped in, because they’re moving out at the end of April. I was going to take my work out anyway, but now I’m waiting for the return of the folder. I’m not even upset. Just resigned….

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