Call for Artists, Making Money at Juried Art Fairs, Craft Shows and Festivals
I’m beat!, Exhausted, fried, wiped out... pick your adjective... I just finished the West Linn Fine Art Festival, Aug. 3-5. I did this show in 2011 and it was BAD (it was deserted), so you can’t say I didn’t know better. However, this year they were in a new venue which should have been better. And in some ways it was better. This year there were more people and they were buying. However, as has been the trend for me this year, all of my sales were of small items. And in this case, very small sales, with many single card sales. My average sale was $30 and my largest sale was $118. For me, it wasn’t a large enough attendance to make it on small ticket sales. I did make money, but only because it’s a local show for me. As I was tearing down on Sunday in 95 deg heat, I was wondering why I decided to try this show again.
This is a show that I want to work. It’s a show that ought to work. This year, it was on a new date and in a new venue set on a field on the Marylhurst University campus, set between the upscale Portland suburbs of West Linn and Lake Oswego. Booth fee is $200. It’s well organized, with lots of volunteers, snacks, water, coffee and juice for the artists. The majority of the show is laid out in quads, giving the artists plenty of room to set up and tear down. My set up time was 4pm. I decided to arrive early to beat the rush hour traffic and was allowed on the field early to set up. There was enough space that I could leisurely set up from my vehicle. It was cool during Friday setup. The show ran from 10-6 on Sat and 10-5 on Sunday.
There were two artist shuttle lots, one for smaller and one for larger vehicles. Shuttles were supposed to run every 15 mins but I waited over 30 mins on Sat morning. Saturday started out overcast and cool but heated up once the clouds disappeared. The buying energy was different than when I did this show two years ago. Or maybe I should say there actually was buying energy this year. I left on Sat evening with hopes for good Sunday sales. Sunday started out hot and got hotter. By 3:30 PM I was about done for. People did show up but I sold considerably less on Sunday than Saturday. A few of my neighbors had large late Sunday sales. Most of the artists I talked to were disappointed with their sales overall.
Load out was similar to load in. I partially dismantled my display and packed up what I could and took the shuttle to get my car and the rest of my packing materials. At that point, around 6pm, my car said it was 95 degrees. I had planned on parking and bringing in the rest of my packing materials before taking my car onto the field, but there was ample space so I finished packing and loading directly into my vehicle. It saved me at least 40 mins load out time.
The organizers of this show may be on the right track with changing the venue and they are trying. There were definitely qualified buyers at this event and the art was good. A number of buyers were confused which show this was. They weren’t sure if it was the West Linn Fine Art Festival or another local show called Art in the Forest (which was cancelled for this year.) It will be a show I will watch and hope it takes off in this new location, but for the next couple of years, at least, it’s not one I’ll apply for.