Call for Artists, Making Money at Juried Art Fairs, Craft Shows and Festivals
Okay, now that I've gotten some sleep I can think more clearly. Just finished the 3rd time around in Tempe. The first time I did this show was probably over 25 years ago, I was parked on the side of 6th Ave where hardly anyone showed up to see my work. I remember the streets being so crowded you could hardly move around. As it was the first time I had done a big show I was fairly starry eyed and on overwhelm. Last year was the second time I did the show and had moved up the street to 3rd Ave which was better visited but still crowded but only because the street was narrower. This year I was on 5th avenue, much wider, better lighting, the sun actually hit the street, and room to wiggle around when you got restless. The crowds didn't seem as overwhelming to me, maybe that is a function of time, memory or there just weren't as many people out as the first time I did this show?
The show is very well run logistically speaking, you check in on Thursday down the street from the fair but you've already gotten so many communications from the staff in advance that they hardly have anything more to add to your knowledge of what to do, maybe last minute details, and then you can purchase off site parking for $25 for the three days (much less then the city lots which are $10-12 per day and large vehicles can't get into the high rise lots anyway). As for load-in...you wait till after 9 p.m. there are three load-in time segments, the further away you are from the entry the earlier you get in. I had to wait till after 10 and then, because I didn't scout out the numbers like I usually do, I drove past my booth area and had to drive all the way out and around just to come back in again and start all over again. All said I still was able to park not too far from my booth space along the curb for set up. A lot of vendors waited till the next morning to come in, maybe a better strategy but I needed the extra time for my set-up as did my neighbor.
Show amenities? There is an artist hospitality booth with drinks and treats throughout the three days and they run around on a golf cart in the morning with coffee and the afternoon with water. Very thoughtful!
We arrived in Tempe a little later than anticipated. Winds were high through eastern AZ and driving into Flagstaff on I-40 we ran into the storm that had flattened much of southern CA with high Santa Ana winds. It was snowing hard and southbound, as-well-as north bound I-17 were at a standstill with ice and snow covered roads. A little patience and slow driving were required. Those that were driving a little too fast found out how icy it was! After they had shoveled the tipped over vehicles off the road and pulled people out of the medians who were going too fast for driving conditions we were once again on our way. I was anticipating 70 degrees at lower elevations! Oh, what fools we mortals be. What I heard from a visitor to the show is weather in Tempe always seems to conspire against the show though last year it was mild (trying to lull me into a false sense of euphoria!) this year the storm that blew in from CA turned the thermostat down considerably and threatened rain on Fri and Sat. Sunday the sun was out all day but it never got to 60. (It's snowing at the 3000 ft. level as I write!)
Despite the cloudy and cold weather the crowds did show up. Maybe, because it was still part of the work week, Friday seemed like everyone was asleep trudging along the rows of artists with no sales for me and most others around us but my neighbor whose creative woodwork was very compelling sold a few pieces. Saturday was the coldest with nary a sign of the sun but the people came out, sales turned up a bit. Sunday the sun was out all day and the crowds seemed more enthusiastic and engaging but sales were still dismal. Meanwhile my neighbor had a steady stream of sales, though he reported being off about 50% from last year. Other artists he talked with reported few or no sales as well.As a reflection of the level of buying at this show there was a lot of popcorn and yard art things that you poke in the ground walking around (not that there is anything wrong with popcorn!)
People were very appreciative of my work and I earned the show prize for photography, the acknowledgment, plus the cash prize, helped salve the disappointing sales from this show. Parenthetically, the awards were hand-made by a fiber artist and very impressive, not the usual trophy store variety! I've heard harsh reviews from other artists about this show and I noticed it was quite a mixed bag in terms of quality. There seemed to be a good mix and balance of media of the fine art type, whereas in some shows there may have been too many of one type vs other types. Many artists that I've seen at other shows with high end art were there mixed in with more crafty novelty type items (walking puppets on sticks and dog hats).
All-in-all, the show is well run, the crowds were there despite the weather and the sales were disappointing. What else is new lately? We move on down the road...