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

Hi Everyone,

I got a post card in the mail a day or two ago about a show, and I am sure they must have bought my name off a mailing list because I've never been to Chicago.  But it made me curious.

The show is One of a Kind Show+Sale Chicago.  I looked at the website and the application.  It is $1900 for the standard booth, 10x10.  Emerging artist is $700 size TBD.  (EA is closed for this spring.)  I searched here for more info and what came up was from 2010.

I have never paid more than about $300 for a show.  I think those who have read my posts know I have never done top tier shows.  I have no idea how to get started being prepared financially or with stock for one of these shows.  It would be a big stretch for me to afford a booth as an emerging artist.  Then I have travel expenses on top of that.

But I am getting ahead of myself.  This show in particular ... Are the artists selling to the public or is this wholesale?  I am not clear on that.  Is this show available anywhere further south?  From where I live to drive to Chicago, it's a 14+hour drive, not including stops for meals or potty breaks.  I don't see flying as an option since I have to take product with me.

For those of you who started in local, small shows how did you make the jump to large shows such as this?  I know I cannot go to Chicago this year.  But who knows, I could be interested for the show a year from now.  Can I qualify as an emerging artist?  How do I find out about shows like this early enough to get in as an EA?

Help me know learn how to get in to shows that can lead into shows like this.  The shows I've been in are in Louisiana and are not anywhere close to the *kind* of show most of you write about.  If you want to know the shows I've done I can list them.

Thanks in advance.

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Just wondering ... are my questions are ridiculously simple?  Or what?

Hi Cindy,

it's good if you can spend a day visiting a big show, if you haven't done that.

I'm in the north so I don't know what would be near you.


I am on the gulf coast of Louisiana.  I have never seen big shows like the one described in Chicago or other like it less than a full day's drive just to get there.

Thanks for the input.

Well, if you could find the best show that you could physically get to, and research that one, that would be a start.

You need to see what a larger show and their customers expect in terms of the artist's booths and work.

You can also go to show's websites and browse through the artist's work. Some have a booth shot. That way you can see what the jurors selected in terms of photos of work.

As far as I know, the Chicago show is all retail. Some shows do have both.

Thank you!

Cindy,  Let me tell you what I know.

My daughter went to art school near Toronto where a ONE OF A KIND show is held.  They are only in very big cities.  I think:  New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Toronto  and maybe Miami.

There are two in Toronto.  Spring and Christmas.  Yes those are the prices of the booths.  It's incredible.  This is NOT a wholesale situation and the show is open to the buying public.  The emerging artists or Rising Stars are able to get a booth (ha booth is a funny term) for a 3'x3' spot.  There are scholarship programs, but the competition for them in stunning.  

I would strongly urge you to attend the show before doing it.  I got a card in the mail as well, and my daughter did apply last year for one of the scholarships.  Frankly I was glad she didnt get it as it would have meant we would have spent Thanksgiving Day in Toronto.  :)   When we did attend the show we were stunned by the displays that people built in order to be accepted.  Amazing.  They did a great job.

Wendy, are you freaking kidding me?  A 3'x3' booth?  How do you have room to set up product?  That is smaller than our master bathroom water closet!  Wow.

So it's retail.  That is not a deal killer for me.  Almost all of my painted things are one of a kind so I cannot duplicate them.  This would make them ineligible for wholesale.  My tumbled travertine products can be duplicated.

Any way, thanks for the first hand input.

Nope not kidding. A 10x10 would be around $3200. The small displays that people built were amazing. It also had to encompass storage. The vendors have to sit on a stool near their booth and they are always in the way because the "booth" needs to be able to be accessed 360 degrees. I kid you not. nuts.

I can only speak for the Winter Toronto show ... but there are 800 vendors. EIGHT HUNDRED!

In addition one night they ran the thing until 10pm or midnight or something crazy. You need at least two people to cover the hours, and at that you are going to be exhausted.

This sounds like it could be a great opportunity for exposure if the booth fees and hours did not kill you.  LOL

Hi Cindy,

I enjoy reading your comments. I've just 'joined' but have been reading this site for a couple of years now. You've touched on a few topics in your post but the one comment that you might find most useful from me is the name of a big 'show' that is closer to your area. It's Houston's Nutcracker Market. It's in Nov. or December but supposedly gets tons of foot traffic. I know of exhibitors that say that's their best show of the year. I think it's around $1200? for a 10x15, in Reliant Center I think and you have to be juried in. It's put on by the Houston Ballet Co.. They look for unique, and hand-made items and do limit exhibitors in each category. May be worth checking out...

Thank you.  I have checked out their website and asked to be added to email / mail lists.

Back to the Chicago show- I get cards from them every year, and I have looked into it as I do know of a few other artists who have done the show. We have never talked numbers, but one artist has done it several times, with wall work that ranges in price from about $50- $2000, and has about a 6-7 hour drive to get there.

I got very close to visiting it one year, when I lived closer (Cleveland OH).

After research, I finally decided to just scrap this one. Not that it wouldn't be a cool show, but I think a slightly smaller and easier-to-do one would be better, and there are plenty of those.

I'm sure that you could get started on something a bit closer and less risky.


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