Art Fair Insiders

Call for Artists, Making Money at Juried Art Fairs, Craft Shows and Festivals

Hello Art Show Folks,

I have been through some major life changes recently. As a result, I have decided to make the plunge and venture out to the art fair world to sell my photography. I am working outside of the US right now but at the beginning of 2018, I will be back in the country and ready to take on art fairs full time. And, I will be doing it while traveling in my SUV and a travel trailer...at least that is the plan at the moment.

Are there others folks out there that are "location independent" and working art shows from their RV or travel trailer? I am interested in learning from those who have blazed this trail. What are the big considerations? Am I crazy for considering this? This information will be very helpful as I move forward to this new life in 2018.

Thanks in advance for your advice/comments!

Mike

mbthomasphotography.com

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You wouldn't necessarily know it from his website, but Martin Spilker has just such a lifestyle.
http://martinspilker.com/
He often posts about it on his facebook page
https://www.facebook.com/mspilker1

Don, thanks for pointing me to Martin Spiker's sites. I will check into it.

This is really interesting. I would love to do this, the hubby however, not so much :(

Stephanie, It would be more challenging as a couple. My wife passed away last December so I am consider a "location independent" life that never would have been a consideration when we were a couple. It's not the way I want to make life changes but I am working on adjusting to my new reality as a widower. 

Some points to be aware of:

Cons:

Extra travel costs incurred due to reduced fuel economy & tolls.

Some places you cannot find reasonable parking.

Some towns do not allow sleeping in the trailer overnight. 

Maneuvering for load / unloads at shows can be burdensome.

A motorhome may be shorter in length than an SUV with attached trailer.

Separate vehicle from trailer allows for easier getting around while trailer is unhooked.

May not always find a trailer campsite near enough to the shows and if you cannot sleep in your trailer (see above), then the cost savings is negated.

If you do all your own work from shot through framing, as I do, you need a large enough trailer to accommodate your shop work, storage of inventory, show setup, sleeping and living arrangements. This last one is a real consideration as you are talking long term, not a couple of weeks.

Look into what sort of insurance will cover your work materials in case of loss, being in a trailer.

With SUV & Trailer, double the risk, if either incurs mechanical problems you are out of business till fixed. 

Environmental controls are a concern when you are not occupying trailer due to artwork / equipment / supplies. Either need constant hookup, generator running or gas usage, very often.

Fuel costs have been comparatively lower for a number of years now. They will be going up soon, perhaps significantly. Quite a difference when using a trailer or motorhome.

Weather during travels can be quite a factor.

Arrangements for shipping of goods to you while mobile.

Pros:

Having the equipment with you to replenish / alter inventory on the road.

Having extra inventory with you to change over displays based upon different shows.

Flexibility of being able to just pull over at any rest area, Walmart, truck stop to rest when weary.

Sometimes able to lodge right on the property at shows, fee free.

If able to stay on show grounds, no need to travel before and after show days.

If done correctly save a lot of money.

Inspirational.

No time lost waiting at airports.

Time traveling from show to show can avail one of new experiences, places and opportunities to explore and shoot.

Climbing up on roof gives a different perspective for shots.

Just a short list from experience.

Larry, I can tell you have done this a time or two given your list of pros and cons. You pointed out some aspects of this endeavor that I had not considered. Thanks for enlightening me to a few more considerations that I need to look into.  Mike

Cam Chapman, wonderful photographer of lighthouses, lives in an RV, and travels in it to shows. He's made lots of changes over the years, is a nice guy and might be an excellent source of info for you. Here's his website - http://www.camchapman.com/ - I'm sure you can reach him through it. 

I have a home, husband and five dogs, so there's no living in an RV for me, but I did try a travel trailer (Scamp) for a while, and loved it, but in the end, it made everything far more difficult and expensive, so I sold it. Sometimes I camp in the van, but that's hard. I'd like a box truck that I could turn into an RV, but the mpgs are around 11-12. When I do the math, and this is with gas prices where they are now, it's maybe only a tiny bit cheaper than a hotel. Bummer. 

Carrie, Thanks for the information on Cam Chapman. It is encouraging to know there are others out there living the lifestyle I am considering. Mike

Hello Michael, Ruth Finkenbiner is a member here and she sold her home and lives out of an RV.  She usually hangs out in the Southwest artists group.  Send her a message and ask her what she thinks now that she surely must be a pro at that lifestyle. 

Hi Jacki, Thanks for the recommendation to contact Ruth. It will be good to get the perspective of the pro. 

I AGREE!!! THANKS RUTH!!  KATHLEEN V. SMITH & STEVEN HEDSTROM

THE REAL BEAUTY IN THIS WOULD BE NOT TO HAVE TO PLAY "PRICE GAMES" WITH THE HOTELS!!!WE ARE SO SICK OF THIS!!!  THE WORST PLACE TO FIND A REASONABLE HOTEL OR MOTEL IS THE WEST COAST OF MICHIGAN. WE HAVE LITERALLY STOPPED DOING SHOWS THERE BECAUSE OF IT & MANY OTHER ARTISTS I KNOW HAVE AS WELL ONLY BECAUSE OF THIS. YES, IT IS BEAUTIFUL (WE used TO LIVE IN PETOSKEY) but NO MORE BEAUTIFUL THAN OTHER TOURIST TRAPS ON THE WATER & YET THEY ARE MUCH MORE EXPENSIVE!. SURE, YOU CAN STAY AT A BED & BREAKFAST, BUT THAT IS CRAZY UNLESS YOU ARE ON VACATION! WE HAVE THOUGHT OF GETTING AN RV TO LIVE IN-NO RENT OR HOUSE PAYMENTS-OMG-WOULD BE SO NICE.WE WOULD HAVE TO HAVE A RATHER LARGE ONE THO (A BIG CON) SO WE COULD DO OUR WORK!! WE ARE STILL CONSIDERING THE PROS & CONS...EVEN WITH OUR 2 FUR-BABY CATS~"TRUMPSIE" & "BLACKJACK!!"

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