The art supply store attendant totalled up my purchases and enquired if I was a student. Students at art stores get a discount. I said no. I then asked whether the store stocks hardwood stretcher frames as I like to have a good idea of who stocks what for my infrequent and time consuming trips to Melbourne. Essentially the answer was no.
I won't go into the details of what they did stock and the rather unconvincing case put forward as to why their softwood frames are just as good as hardwood ones, but just leave it at mentioning their lack of what I was after and the eyerolling sales obsfucation that didn't work.
There was one a part of this encounter that I will elaborate on, however, as it was so subtle and strange that it had me perplexed for a full day before I figured it out.
It was this: the store attendant launched into a lecture on how (in their opinion) top quality materials are not necessary if you are 'just painting'. Students (like the lecture-giver) don't need top quality materials. The only people who do are those entering painting competitions where it definitely makes a difference.
What was so weird about this? I had already stated I was not a student. And despite the fact I was buying a load of professional quality painting materials and enquiring about further top quality materials, the idea that I might be a professional artist was obviously missed. It had been assumed that if I wasn't a student then I must be a hobbyist and professional artists don't exist. Which is super strange coming from a painting student working in an art supplies store.
Also sad and disturbing. The idea that art is not a 'real' career is alive and well, unfortunately.