Call for Artists, Making Money at Juried Art Fairs, Craft Shows and Festivals
We hear a good deal about the national shows and I have written a few reviews this year, but there are a good many smaller local shows in our communities that have long successful histories. I would like to focus on a few from the Cleveland area. These are the mom-and-pop shows that have dedicated volunteers, who want nothing more than to bring good art to their communities. They have volunteered their time year after year for decades. I think of Jo-Ann Rettig-Rau, the chair of Medina's Arts in the Park. Jo-Ann, who at nearly 70 years young, has been chairing the Medina show for decades. Or Karen Cooper, chair of the Lakewood Arts Festival will step down from Chair this year after 20 years of service to her community. These local art festival organizers and hundreds like them are the unsung heroes in our business.
For the last four years I have spent the middle of July to August in the Cleveland, OH area, participating in a series of local shows. Some are one day shows that are scheduled back to back: Willoughbv ArtFest on Saturday and Medina Art in the Park on Sunday; Lakewood Art Fesitval on Saturday and Chardon Art Festival on Sunday while others like the Akron Art Expo are weekend affairs. To the artists who travel on this caravan, it's a marathon.
The Cleveland Shows are not usually high grossing shows for me, but with little expenses, it's all about the net and these shows are solid. At the Lakewood Show last year I grossed 3K... a 1 day event, not bad! I even saw a big smile on Nels face after he finished the Lakewood show last year. Usually the gross is in the 2K range for the one day shows and less for Akron. That said, several of the Cleveland Shows were down for me this year by 30-50%, the exceptions being Boston Mills and Chagrin Falls... these were up (reviews written earlier). Of course someone always does well at every show. I spoke to a photographer this year after the Medina show and she was very happy... grossing nearly 5K in one day. Booth fees at these shows are modest, $100 to $200 and jury fees are $10 to $25 so it is easy to recoup expenses.
What is consistently remarkable about these shows is how well supported they are by their communities. Pictured above is the Medina show this year. It is packed with patrons for most of the day and the same is true for Lakewood and Willoughby. (Akron is probably the weakest link in the series.) These are local folks, some are wealthy, but most are from the struggling middle class. They have to think hard about any purchase. I can not help but feel honored when they select any of my works.
Quality of the art? Well it's all over the place, something for everyone from amazing art to not-so-amazing. You kind of go into these shows knowing this. When you do a series of local shows with the same artist, you can't help but build friendships with many. They too do national shows and travel quite a bit, but elect to do some art shows in their community to support the local efforts there. I have been fortunate to develop such good friendships with some these amazing artists.
Well it's back on the road again in a few weeks. I hope to be seeing some of you. Cheers!
P.S. Linnea Lahlum (a.k.a. workaholic or is that chocoholic) sorry I didn't get a chance to stop by your booth at Lakewood.