Art Fair Insiders

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

I wanted to ask this specifically of photographers that are regular participants selling their work at shows.

I've been on a "break" from shows for many years. The break time from shows has allowed me to concentrate on my web marketing, the new website build and coming up with some really unique large format fine art media options. Also the last 2 seasons it's allowed us to visit many New England art shows and speak with the artist in person for a review on the specific show. Anyhow to the point, I'm gearing up to do it again and also plan to make available my own unique proprietary display pieces

There is no right or wrong answers to my questions, just a poll of your findings based on your past experiences. 

  

Q 1: For those Fine Art photographers that set up at art shows frequently, what do you find are your (2) most popular selling piece sizes?

*Note that I'm not requesting a critique of aspect ratios, or an opinion on size preferences*  

I'm seeking ballpark feedback here that I'll relate to similar sizes that I market myself for this question. If anyone has feedback selling larger fine art photography pieces, I'd love to hear it.

Q 2: What do you personally find to be the ceiling your clients are comfortable paying for your most popular selling sizes?

OK, this may vary widely due to the fact my media options may differ greatly from yours. I haven't polled this website for your preferences of media options, so this second question may turn out to be irrelevant.  

For example, I DO NOT make traditional hinge mounted/matted/framed/behind glass - prints available. I do however make the "print only" option available on my website as an entry-level to own price point, these are popular mostly holiday time as gifts. So if you happen to find homes for a ton of 30x20" framed and matted at a certain investment point, that still helps me gauge what demographics these shows are drawing. 

Totally unrelated to any feedback I get, but here are just (2) piece sizes and media options I ship often, and the price points via my webpage: Chromaluxe Aluminum Dye-Infused 24x16" at $365.00 / 30x20" at $515.00 - ready to hang museum floats 

HD LumaChrome Acrylic face mounted - Museum floats, ready to hang 24x16" at $480.00 and 30x20" at $650.00.  

These 2 sizes are actually near the lower end of pieces I make available. I find my most popular shipments are 36" max dim. to 45" max dim. pieces through my website.

Thanks in advance!

Thom

 

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One small size only available unframed but matted and one large size available just matted or matted and framed. Make sure the two sizes aren't adjacent and don't compete with each other. It took me years to figure it out and once I did I made more profit after expenses. Competing sizes compete and everyone but you wins after preparing inventory.

Larry Berman
http://BermanGraphics.com
412-401-8100

Thanks for sharing, Thom. I'm in my third year and still trying to figure it out. I try to offer something in every price point - but honestly I think it's not helping. I did better with fewer price points - or maybe it's the economy. I started with mostly wall art - framed canvas. Did ok. 36x12 in a plein air frame for $300. (All landscape.) Did ok but I print and frame all myself. Now i'm offering bigger wall pieces - 36x24 is my largest. But also added bagged prints with no matte for $20 or two for $35. Seems to be comparable to what others charge. The 2-fer works. I probably sell more of the small prints lately - but I've just been getting the kinks out this year in arts & crafts shows and the 'crafts' part really drops the price point that people are willing to consider. At a traditional art fair, no one blanches at a $300 or even $450 framed wall piece. Most of the rest of my shows this year are pure art fairs so I'm hoping for better luck. I don't offer any metal prints but recently saw a fotog offering metal in a plein air frame and thought that was pretty cool. Not sure that's much help. Last show was a disaster. Told my wife if I ever sign up for a arts AND crafts show again to just shoot me. Plus, a wild storm came out of nowhere and smashed my Trimline tent to something totally unrecognizable. If I could have gotten it back in my trailer, I might have tried selling it as 'modern art.' Maybe call it: Windy day at the beach!

Thanks for the feedback. I definitely get the jest of your experiences and how you are adapting. Sorry to hear about the severe weather damage. That is something always on my mind.

The past 2 weekends I've been back to investigating the "art" shows happening somewhat local to me, my friend Scott (from Hennicker NH) set up his mobile gallery at both events. Show 1 was New Paltz-Woodstock NY Fine Arts & Crafts. Show 2 was another Fine Art & CRAFTS + wine tastings at the Ives Center Danbury CT. I had high hopes that the Ives Center show would be a winner because I'm currently living all of 23 minutes away and almost feel obligated to make an appearance.  Both shows were wonderful locations, especially the grounds at the Ives. The New Paltz NY show was packed. Unfortunately, the crafts end of that show lowered the temp of the room. Some amazing high-quality handmade work was on hand, but the items that bordered on traditional "flea market" fair hurt everyone. Before I left that show I spoke with as many photogs as I could for their feedback, a resounding two thumbs down :(  A handful of small print sales, no one broke even.

The Ives show was an unmitigated disaster. We spent 4 hrs 15 min. there Saturday. Overheard two artists that spoke with the booth keepers before closing and the tallies came in at barely 3 guests per merchant browsed the displays! I'm 100% with you that I will refrain from attending a mixed show and will stay with Fine Art Fairs. Come to think of it, maybe time to boycott? Anyhow heard the sales tally for the entire 2-day event was....drum roll please.... A pair of earrings! 

  

 

I wanted to share this article I found and attach it to my thread. I find it handles the complexities of the 5 "W's" (who, what, where, when and why)  associated with art shows, the artist, collectors and connoisseurs alike, dealer galleries etc.. It's a bit high brow, granted the majority of the fairs they describe have very little in common with mobile pop up tent booths.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-03-06/art-fairs-are-po...  

I am fairly new to art shows, only started this year.  Once I went to large prints, I sold better.  I have sold best in 30x40 canvas, sometimes multiple pieces to the same customer.  In my bin prints, 11x14 OD have sold best, at $30 each.  Print size is 8x12, mat size 11x14.  30x40 canvas, priced at $565, dropped down to $500 each when they buy multiple prints.  Again, NOT much experience here.  Just thought I would provide my feedback.

Thank you, Kathleen!  Apologies for the belated reply, life gets in the way sometimes. 

This is the sort of feedback I'm after.  40x30" is a substantial print size. Although I don't make Canvas available, this does provide a good comparative.  I'm strongly considering 12x8" and 18x12" bin work (print only - unmatted - shrink-wrapped) to coax people to not walk away empty handed.

Gosh, I've attended several fairs this year already in the northeast, lending a helping hand to a good friend who's also a pro photographer with his booth. I'm continuing to get feedback from other high-quality fine art photographers as well, seems inconsistency is the norm and there is no totally sound formula that works from day to day, fair to fair. 

So here are the results after attending a wide variety of Fine Art Fairs this spring and summer, and adding this information to my findings from '16 and '17. I had a whole bunch of metrics to consider and some anomalies that were rather surprising thrown into the blender. 

I've had some wonderful interaction with other artists in my genre'/medium of work as well as feedback from artists outside of my medium who provided details feedback on specific art fairs and why they either will or won't attend specific art fairs again. Generally speaking, about 60% of the artist are NOT thrilled with the venues and say they won't return. That's for another thread.

I've decided it's best for me NOT to try and fit in with other artists, rather I'll forge my own path and market towards a more specific clientele. I'm seeing the vast majority of fine art photographers are displaying "Metal Prints", Canvas Gallery wraps and framed/matted. IMO, all of them are just too common nowadays. 

The only one of those (3) I make available on my website is ChromaLuxe which is a premium version of MetalPrint and I'm VERY soon to be either discontinuing this substrate or just making it an entry-level option. I'll stick to my preferred substrate to be unique, both at Art Fairs and my website offerings. 

I do notice a large majority of photographers seem to lack skills in closing deals, I've seen by not offering alternative sizes (EX: purchase this today and I'll send you this piece in your desired 36 x 24" with FREE Ground shipping)   Seems merchants are willing to let clients walk away thinking "that's all this artist has to offer, that piece was just too small". 

When I pop that tent back up for the first time in 10 years I'm going to have the mindset the pieces "on display" are Samples, all available on (these display options) and offer flexibility with the substrate materials and ways in which to display them. To maximize my available SF space I'll present ONE "masterpiece" with a very high price point either 60" or 72" width for the wow factor, and the remainders as 24x16",30x20" and 36x24" for neatness and to view details.  

I'll do bin work, prints mounted to 2mm styrene and shrink-wrapped in my two smallest sizes 18x12" and 24x16" at a lower price point for the enthusiast that just can't swing for the premium displays.  

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