Call for Artists, Making Money at Juried Art Fairs, Craft Shows and Festivals
I'm a digital artist. I sell limited edition prints of my digital paintings in multiple sizes. Its only in the last couple of years the Old Town Art Fair has accepted digital artists, or even printmakers. This show has traditionally been an "originals only" show. I'm delighted that I finally got to participate in this, the grand-daddy of all art fairs. I did very well at this show with twice the sales on Sunday than on Saturday, but this wasn't the case for all artists.
As I mentioned above, I sell prints with a business plan much like that of photographers. When I create an image on my computer, it is easy for me to package it in multiple sizes, much like a photographer. Digital art, for me, is a printmaking medium, but, unlike traditional printmaking, I have the technical ability to offer different sizes, each size with a different limited edition, and all sizes at an affordable price point. This technical ability puts me at a distinct advantage over the artists who have populated this show in the past. Painters and other "originals only" artists exhibited wonderful work at this show, but they were not allowed to exhibit or sell prints of their work. Hardly fair.
I have been successful at art fairs because I am able to package my work in multiple sizes and offer it for sale at affordable prices. That's the direction art fairs seem to be going these days. People who go to art fairs and buy art seldom dish out $5000 or more for an original painting. With some exceptions, the most successful "traditional" artists package and sell prints (giclees) of their work. They'll sell an occasional original, but the lower cost prints pay the bills. But not at Old Town. I saw several incredibly talented painters suffering with low or non-existent sales because of this outdated policy.
A couple of things... Could be that the policy change of allowing us printmakers and digital artists into the show severely affected the sales of the "originals only" artists. A patron looking at one of my large canvas prints, selling for $695, is going to compare that price to my neighbor selling a similar sized original painting for $6000. If my neighbor was able to offer a giclee of that original painting, it might level the playing field.
The other thing... There will always be those artist who take advantage of shows that allow prints and offer sub standard reproductions. Just like there are digital artists who take advantage of the category to offer sub-standard images created with little or no creative input. Its up to the committees that jury artists into these shows to weed these artists out. Of course they will never weed them all out, but the legitimate artists, who offer limited edition giclees of their work should not be penalized because of the bad ones.
Anyway, I had a good show, and I continue to be heartened by the continuing positive response I am getting for my digital work. There were eight digital artists at the Old Town show. I see that as a good trend that shows, and the public, are embracing this new medium.
One other good thing about this show, taking place on the narrow streets of Old Town in Chicago, is that this is the first year they offered Friday setup. In the past the setup was on Saturday morning. This new policy, from what I understand, was a resounding success, and the powers that be will be offering that option next year as well. I'm hoping to get in again next year.