This is a huge show held on the streets of a grassy mall and also on busy city streets right in the middle of a trendy-millennial shopping/drinking area.
You have 300-plus booths plus another outdoor show (Powderhorn) going on.
Lots of competition for a slim number of buyers.
There are tons of people attending. They are well dressed,many are tattooed, some are pierced, too many have their faces in the screens of their smartphones.
This is a long running art show, but too many attendees treat it as an event.
Meet friends, drink beers and occasionally look at some of the work in the booths.
Employment is pretty full here. They have mostly traditional tastes for their art.
Example ( since I am a photographer). The landscape photographers with nature shots and lake shots outsold niche photographers like me.
I am a Floridian. I sell highly colorful images from the gulf, the keys and the Caribbean. I also sell hand-colored black and white images of cult figures--think Christopher Walken.
I do best when I get in a big show like Des Moines. Only a handful of competitors and I have a lock on my niche.
So, I know that going into Uptown.
I have done this show since the eighties. Always with my booth down on the end of the mall.
In old days this was a solid 6-8K show with a 350 booth fee. Everybody went home happy.
Flash forward past 2008. This show has gone south for most of us.
You do not see that many good shoes people as we used to see.
"Be-Backs". What is a be-back?
I only saw three the whole weekend.
Sales tended for the most, to be low end. I saw very few big pieces go by.
Understandably, really big sales are delivered to the client's home.
Just wanted to take a minute to tell you how I come by these conclusions.
Hopefully, it will be illuminating and you will profit by reading it.
I know lots of great artists, this includes the crafters who are also great creators, and can talk to them frankly. They will review certain truths to me which I am duty-bound not to reveal. Like actual sales figures. I am OK with that. I just want a sniff of where they are at.
Two. I watch and observe sales patterns during a show. I keep an eye on packages and their comments.
Three. I have done this for 42 years. I have done more than 1400 art shows. I have participated in every biggie except Cherry Creek, Sausalito and Bellville.
So I bring an unbiased view to things. I call them as I see them and usually I am spot on.
So I talked to about 40 artists and crafters this weekend . Overall, they made a living, not a great living. Their were some big sales. My neighbor, a painter, sat skunked nail Sunday and then sold a 5x8 foot piece for mega bucks. A Michigan landscape photographer did more than $7K. Clay people with quirky sculptural pieces did better than $5K.
So here is my final conclusion.
For too many of us, we are getting ripped off by a high art show fee which does not deliver the sales.
It is more an event then an art show. Only the strong will survive.
I want to end this blog on a high, happy note.
So here goes.
At the very end of the show this lithe, comely beautiful young woman comes into my booth.
She grabs my photo of Prince and nestles up close to me. Now nobody but my wife does things like that, especially in my booth. That is another story for another time.
She coos in my ear, trying to get me down on the price.
I am deeply conflicted.
I want her to keep on cooing but I also want the sale.
Finally she gets me down on the price. I give her a $50 photo for $30. It is the end of the show and that money will cover my bar bill later with Andy Shea.
Then she shoulders up ultra close to me. I can smell her perfume. I can experience some of her bountiful bodily assets.
She looks me in the eye.
Then she says, "I was proposed to by two different guys today . I turned both of them down."
Here I thought it was my magnetic energy coupled with my dynamic images (thank you Kyle Spears) .
I said, " I am going to give you a way to say yes and make your day."
She looked at me very shyly and said,"how?".
I said trust me.
I then went down on my knees, her name was Serena.
I said, "Serena, you will you NOT marry me.
She said ,"yes".
She gleefully kissed me on my cheeks and skipped out of my booth.
End of story.
End of post.