This is a subject that I have been pondering for a while now. What is the etiquette for asking an artist or crafter about their handmade items, techniques, suppliers, and business in general. I actually get quite a few questions on a weekly basis on a wide range of subjects. I don't mind the questions. I love to communicate with fellow fiber artists and the public in general. But...(of course there is a "but" here!) Some of the questions that I get asked can be a little, um, forward and even strange at times.
So my question is... What is okay to ask a professional artist or crafter and what is just taboo?
Here's my take on the subject...
I usually answer questions pertaining to my felting techniques. It is all on a question-by-question basis of course. And, unfortunately, no, I don't have time to type out detailed written instructions for you on how to make something. I get this question once in a while - "Could you give me detailed instructions on how you make (fill in the blank here)?" I'm happy to give you some pointers, but I feel like there are enough online resources and books out there to adequately teach you about in-depth felting techniques. If I get this kind of question, I usually point the individual to free online felting resources and tutorials.
I usually don't answer questions about where I buy my supplies or get my materials. Ordinarily, it is a competitor asking the question. I personally do not feel obligated to share my well researched sources with the competition. Call me crazy, but I feel that is just bad business practice - no matter how nicely you might ask or if we've crossed paths before. I try to be gracious about my knowledge and not stupid. I've decided that you have to draw the line somewhere.
It is a toss up whether or not I answer questions pertaining specifically to my business and business practices. I usually share this kind of information and resources on my blog in posts like this one if I feel it is something that will help the arts and crafts community as a whole. If I feel a business oriented question is too prying into the personal realm, then I politely decline the question and usually give some online resources for the person to research on their own.
Well, that is the sum of how I currently handle questions. How do you dish out answers to questions pertaining to your art/craft, technique, suppliers, and business in general? Do you have an established etiquette or do you take it as it comes? I'd love to know! (Oh, there I go asking you questions... Ha!)