Call for Artists, Making Money at Juried Art Fairs, Craft Shows and Festivals
Feb. 15 & 16, 2018 - Deerfield Beach, FL
This year's theme:
Communication, Collaboration and Building a Better Future Together
Why does a person take their time and money to spend several days far from home at a conference? This year I wrestled with the decision to attend or not. It was not convenient. It was more costly than I wanted it to be, but in the end the lure of being with people who are working in the business I've been devoted to since the 1980's won out. I got on that plane and went to work. (Secretly I was hoping to get to get the beach. Didn't happen, the sessions kept me in my seat.)
Preconference - Wednesday
1. A new show director workshop presented by Cindy Lerick (Sausalito Art Festival) who answered questions from this special audience of new directors. With over 30 years of experience in event management she presented seasoned answers. I was particularly impressed with some of her statistics that put the events in perspective. This was also an opportunity for new people to meet one another in preparation for the upcoming days of work.
2. Keynote presentation on Communicating the Value of Art by Amir Jackson, founder of the Nurture the Creative Mind Foundation that helps empower youth while developing marketable creative skills. He is a TEDx fellow and sits on multiple arts boards.
3. Photographer Chris Dahlquist's presentation: Get Your Story Out was a workshop on learning how a show, an artist, can develop and engage their audience delivering a method for communicating the meaning of your artwork and building a following. This was an amazing presentation, nearly stunning, in its insight and depth of knowledge. Learn more about Chris. Do not neglect clicking all the tabs on her website, worth your time.
4. Jury Workshop - a public portfolio critique. Artists submitted their jury images to a seasoned panel of judges and they discussed the merits of the presentation: what worked, what didn't. This is always part of the conference and is always an eye-opener for everyone. Moderated by Laura Miller (St. Louis Art Fair), the judges were artist Matthew Cornell, Mary Beth Harris (Boca Raton's Art in Mizner Park) and Jeanne Seehaver (ArtFest Fort Myers).
5. Mystery Unmasked: An Inside Look at the Jury Process. More about jurying, how juries are selected, how the scoring is done, how important that booth shot is, artist statements. As we all know, no matter how good your art is, if you don't make it past the jury you are not in the art fair business. Moderater, Stephen King (Des Moines Arts Festival), artist Chris Dahlquist, Marguerite Esrock (St. James Court Art Show), Sharon McAllister (ArtFest Fort Myers) and Maureen Riley (Ann Arbor Street Art Fair, the Original). Each of these events has a different type of jurying so you were presented with multiple perspectives.
End of day - time for the cocktail reception and dinner with friends old and new
6. The Art of Savvy Marketing: A Digital Workshop presented by artist Benjamin Frey. Ben had so much information it had my head spinning. He presented in an hour and a half a full day's worth of information. Hope you know all about If This Then That and Sprout Social ... plus, how to build a website in 20 minutes. I'm going back to school to learn. BUT the gist was about how to do social media effectively and STILL make art.
7. One of the things I enjoy the most at these conferences is the presenters who do not work in the art festival business, but do work in the arts. This was a fascinating presentation: A Festival Every Day, Programming Arts in an Urban Public Market, presented by David Dickinson, arts program manager at Seattle's historic Pike Place Market. Pike Place Market craftspeople continue the tradition of “Meet the Producer" by selling handmade products directly to the consumer. Each morning, after the ringing of the market bell and roll call, the North Arcade bustles with activity as craftspeople set up their displays. The crafts market is one of the largest showcases of locally made crafts in the country.
David Dickinson presenting the intricacies of the artstalls and community of artists who sell their work at Pike Place every day of the year.
7. Concurrently there was a meet and greet with the NAIA for artists, a nonprofit organization of artists and art shows that supports the art fair industry.
8. Organizational Strategies to Avoid Burnout, presented by Brenda Conway.
A helpful, point by point, workshop on helping artists and show organizers recognize burnout, one of the biggest threats to artist businesses and nonprofits. One of my favorite takeaways: When you are doing well and feeling good, pat yourself on the back, and don’t start worrying about what isn’t done.
9. Artist Driven Data, presented by Robin Markowitz, Art-Linx. Robin presented statistics from recent nationwide surveys about the art fair business, comparing the results of a 2010 survey to a 2015. It covered tips for administrators and artists.
10. Every conference ends with a group discussion, usually moderated by Stephen King, "Connecting the Dots," where artists and administrators discuss trends and the future of the business and genuinely dialogue on topics of interest to each.
What I can't say enough about is the opportunity to meet and spend time with this community of people. Artists and show organizers have been the constant in my life. This is not just a job for most of us, it is a conscious lifestyle choice and we do not do a 40 hour week and then go away. We are interdependent. Meeting together and sharing one another's concerns strengthens each of us.
I hope to meet some of you at the next conference. It was a pleasure to meet artists Anne Johnson, Bernadette Szajna, Dick Dahlstrom (a serious veteran artist, in and out of fairs, galleries, etc., but still wanting to know more), Kelsey Merkle, Wendy Merkle, Lou Montells, Melanie Rolfes, Michael Zavison, (Melanie and Michael got to have 3 bodies of images critiqued by the panel in the jury workshop), Michael Brown and Ronna Katz.
And not to be forgotten, the women behind all your inquiries at Zapp:
Left to right: Christina Villa, ZAPP Manager (sorry, Christina, about the quality of this photo, it has you glowing), Joann Liu, ZAPP Communications & Support Associate and Kate Kreutz, ZAPP Senior Program Associate.
Were you there or do you have any questions or comments?