Art Fair Insiders

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

We're here to help. At the recent Arts Festival Conference, sponsored by Zapplication, in Deerfield, FL, one of the presenters was Brenda Conway whose session was geared to all participants in this art fair business.

Her Mission: Provide resources so art fairs and artists can succeed.

My favorite quote from her talk:

When you are doing well and feeling good, pat yourself on the back, and don’t start worrying about what isn’t done.

Quick overview:

First tip: Concentrate on spending your time on the jobs that support your mission. Does it support your goal? If it doesn't set it aside.

Second tip: Organization: Concentrate on the plan that will support your mission, create an annual Plan/business plan and a time line; create a calendar that insures it is taken care of; create a support system; plan for attrition and life getting in the way. dates, accountability

Third tip: Plan for growth. As opportunities come your way think long term. Don't use the lemonade stand approach (here today, gone tomorrow), but each day builds for the future.

Fourth tip: TAKE TIME TO CELEBRATE; reward your team members; make it fun

Fifth tip: If you're stressed, change it up. If you change nothing, nothing will change. Sometimes you need something completely different: take a class, meetup with like minded people, do yoga first instead of when you have time, reward yourself

Directly from Brenda:

Burnout robs you of your passion; your joy.  Taking steps to avoid/address burnout can help you find your way back to your passion and help you realize your goal/s; make it a conscious choice to live and thrive in that sweet spot.  What you do matters so much – you should get to feel the joy rather than the “drug through the mud for forty hours” that burnout brings.  Here are some tips that can help you avoid burnout in the first place or, if burnout is staring at you from the mirror, to make it pack its bags and move to Siberia. 

  • Know your goal/s for being involved – all decisions should tie back to this “mission statement”.  This keeps your focus in focus!  Write it down – words have power!

  • Know what you are willing to sacrifice (and what you are not willing to sacrifice) to reach your goal/s.  Also know what you are asking those around you to sacrifice so you can reach your goal/s. Give them the courtesy and power that agreeing to their role deserves. 
      
  • GET ORGANIZED – This is often the point where everything breaks down.  People often get so busy “doing” they forget the planning.  This creates a “can’t see the forest for the trees” situation every time.  Burnout ensues and people walk away.  Better to put everything on hold and get organized than continue this sure path to mediocrity and a loss of passion especially when you think you don’t have time

  • Change it up – take a different role or give yourself the gift of being involved in a way that challenges a different part of your brain and your skill set.  It is sort of like taking a vacation (new sights, smells, scenery, new challenges) but within a festival.

  • Have fun and celebrate!  It’s a festival – it’s supposed to be a fun and entertaining event.  This applies to you as well as the patrons!  Celebrate event the smallest things (they often mean more than the big ones). 

I especially liked the last one. That is one of the very good things about our business. We get to meet people who love meeting you and have voluntarily shown up for that pleasure. Also, each step of the way has its joys, not to be missed, celebrated. A favorite story of mine, when we were doing shows I remember so well one day when we got accepted to the Cherry Creek Arts Festival (a joyful event, right?), and my husband saying, "Too bad. Now we've got to start worrying about getting in again next year." Me, I celebrated ...

Brenda Conway co-founded the nonprofit Downtown Peculiar Arts & Culture District. During her leadership, this organization went from an idea to a multi-award winning entity with over a half million dollars in assets and one quarter of a million dollars in grants and donations. The organization received a Missouri Arts Council Creative Community Award and became an award-winning part of Missouri Main Street. 

Stemming from her working experience, Conway developed a passion for small towns and arts endeavors. She is the author of several arts guides, including The Beginner's Pocket Guide to Becoming an Art Festival Artist, How to Organize & Host a Successful Arts Festival, and Twelve Months of Affordable, Temporary Public Art Projects. Learn more about Brenda.

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Comment by Nancy Reyna on March 22, 2018 at 10:09am

Thanks for this article, Connie. I'm learning everything I can about selling at fairs as I proceed through my second year of literally putting myself out there. Art Fair Insiders has been very valuable to me in this process. I just ordered Brenda's book.

Comment by Connie Mettler on March 24, 2018 at 1:07pm

Thank you, Nancy. So glad we've been helpful to you. Since we've been online since 2009 with this site you're going to find just about any topic already covered on the site, so don't limit yourself to the current discussions. Use that search tool and you'll be amazed what you'll find, from what not to say to customers to what to carry in your toolbox and every possible way to weight your tent and show off your work. Good luck and report back!

Comment by Layl McDill on April 24, 2018 at 11:42am

I love this article!  We should all keep it handy. I especially love the reminder that we are part of a FESTIVAL!  A celebration!  How lucky are we to get to be the center of this weekend after weekend.  We can't take it for granite even after we've done hundreds of shows- it's work but it's also a PARTY!

Comment by Richard L. Sherer on April 24, 2018 at 2:17pm

Great advice. I would only add the importance of staying in physical shape and eating healthy. Art shows can be demanding physically and you want to survive for the next one.

Comment by Layl McDill on April 24, 2018 at 5:46pm

Great addition!  I have picked up rowing on a rowing machine at a studio at least 4 days a week.  It really helps keep my back in shape for tear down.  I find it makes a huge difference.  

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