Call for Artists, Making Money at Juried Art Fairs, Craft Shows and Festivals
This past weekend I did the Annapolis Art and Craft Festival. I was extremely disappointed! I do a lot of shows in Southwest Florida. This was not the quality I am accustomed to! I have not applied to out of town shows and was excited that I was accepted! Unfortunately, it was not was I expected.
This show was NOT an "art show". It is a "craft show". There were some excellent crafters. There were also some buy/sell. There were some mediocre crafters and quite a few "country crafters" There were a lot of jewelry booths, ranging from assembled beaders to a few fine goldsmiths. There were around 200 participants. A comment I frequently heard was "I thought this was a juried show". I would not have been as frustrated if I had been aware that it was a "craft" show.
I am a metalsmith/jeweler. I was located on a corner. Directly accross from my booth were two goldsmiths, a beader, and a beach glass/silver designer, Right behind me was a fabric person -- She had dresses she designed, but did not make -- two booths worth. Next to me was a fabric purse/bag maker, across an apron maker, a pillow maker -- and so on. When I walked around the show, everyone I talked to was unhappy about the sales.
There is an $8 fee to get in and a $5 fee to park. The location is at the Navy Stadium -- which sounded great! But it was not nice. It is the dirtiest location I have done. It is a sand parking lot. We were constantly cleaning the cases. It is a FILTHY location. The booths are backed right up next to one another. There is no storage space behind the booths. I paid the extra $25 to have a corner location and I am happy I did. I got a little bit of a breeze.
It was a well-organized show. However, will I apply again. Probably not. I came primarily because I have family in the area and a nine-month old granddaughter I want to visit.
I do not recommend this show.
Thanks for the review, and I'm sorry you were disappointed! I was thinking about doing it, too...until I read the raft of scathing reviews on AFI and elsewhere. I have yet to read even a barely-passing review of this show from a fine crafter or fine artist.
I was there too. I am a monotype printmaker from Annapolis area. This was my first two day show as I am new to this business. Being from the area I thought that this show would be a great way to enter the art festival business. The show was juried and I was very happy to get in. I readied my booth and set it up in my driveway a week before to make sure that I would be in compliance with the show's rules. I was excited and ready to go. Boy was I disappointed! The venue was awful especially since Annapolis has so many other great potential venues. I thought the venue would be on the grassy part of the stadium but it was in the sandy parking lot. Once all the white tents were up and enclosed by a chain link fence the venue looked more like a refugee camp than a fun art festival. Add to that the 90 degree temps and we were in for a "great" time. Although weather can't be helped a better venue could be found. As far as it being a juried show I must question their standards. I think the promoters have to decide what kind of show this is. Is it a fine arts and crafts show or is it more of an event where people can taste wine and buy a trinket or memento to take home with them. My husband talked to 20 vendors all who said they would not come back. Include me in that group. For now I have to go clean the dirt off all my inventory. I have a lot to clean since sales were few.
Kathleen: Sorry you hit a bummer on your first show. Don't worry; there will be better ones. It's probably good to learn early on that promoters over-hype shows all the time. You have potential as a great blogger/contributor, and I hope you keep it up!
As for the venue possibility: I used to live near Annapolis, and unfortunately there ain't a lot of real estate that lends itself to an art festival up there.
Its awful to hear of any show being a disappointment Charlotte, and this one seems particularly so. Did you make expenses?
Not if you figure coming up here just for the show. However, since I will be spending a month with my granddaughter, going to New York City to visit my son and spending time also with my other son and daughter-in-law, the show was not the primary reason for coming.
Hi Charlotte. I didn't come from as far away as you did but it was still one expensive weekend full of nothing. One artist close to me jokingly tried to put a positive spin on it by saying "At least I made my jury fee back!" I did a review on it as well. Just incredible.
I've never done an outdoor show and to me it's just too risky re: venue and weather. I have an application in to the Lincoln Center (NYC) Autumn Craft show but haven't yet heard if I've been accepted. Even so I'm going to think long and hard about it. Also, outdoors it's much more difficult to control the lighting, too. Sorry your experience was so bad. Next time, apply to an indoor show. Also - did you check who was on the jury for previous years' shows?
Julie, I do a lot of outdoor shows -- from January through April, I do one almost every weekend. You have some good shows and some bad shows. Nevertheless, don't be afraid to try them. I have done some indoor shows and do not find them as good. In fact, I rather like being outside.
Now, the shows I do are regular shows near where I live that I have some knowledge about. Also, they are in southwest Florida where the weather is usually beautiful. Being outdoors was not the problem with this show. As someone else said, it was described as if it was an "art and craft" show. I do not know what your medium is and I am not trying to insult anyone. However, there is a difference in "art and craft shows" and "craft shows". I believe there is a difference in the amount of sales one can make. It was also billed as a "juried" show. If it was juried, it was jurying people out. not in. And there is a difference (and there were people who should have been juried out). There were also buy/sell items there. I am aware that it is sometimes difficult to keep buy/sell items out of a show, however, these were pretty blatant.
Don't be afraid of outdoor shows. A show at the Lincoln Center would appear to be a great show. Just research it. That is what I did not do on this show, and my primary purpose was to find a show near my family so I could spend time with my granddaughter. I have definitely accomplished that; so it is not a complete wash and I have partially (very slightly) paid for maybe one hour of travel up here.
Good luck on your show.
Hi Charlotte, no offense taken! And there is a difference between "Craft" and "Fine Craft" - as a jeweler, I'm sure you're aware. What I'm wary of is the 'fly-by-night' possibilities with outdoor shows, since there appears to be less commitment on the part of the promoters, and less 'structure' around the event - sometimes day shows seem more like a picnic/stroll, if you get my drift.
I design jewelry myself, and my website is www.GaslightOriginalBeadwork.com.
I believe my stuff shows to best advantage in artificial lighting, being generally for evening wear. Hence, indoor shows and galleries for me.
Anyway, outdoor challenges such as dust and wind, can definitely take their toll on art and craft - something I would keep in mind.
It behooves us all to research our shows and find out what we can about previous years' juries, I totally agree.
I'm definitely going into the American Craft Show-NYC in October, based on favorable mention at this website and the available information on the internet. What would we do without the internet?
Glad you had other reasons for going to the Annapolis show, most rewarding (granddaughter)!
I too did this show as a photographer, and I have to say that with a special order I had from another show this was one of my best shows so far this year. I had a woman from a doctor's office and she bought a fair number of pieces from me which made it a good show financially. If it wasn't for that sale, it would have an OK show in terms of sales. You never know about these shows!
Having said that, I would generally agree with the comments above. I was a very dirty location in that there was a lot o fine brown/red dust which got into everything and everywhere. I am still cleaning off my frames and canvases from the fine dust. There was a large wine tasting tent (which I don't ever remember being part of the show description) which while in itself was not a bad thing, just added to the overall affect of the show in that many of the people there were there for the wine tasting. It did feel very much like a tent city, in that we were all in rows and surrounded by a chain link portable fence which did give it a bit of a escape from NYC feel.
Having said all of that, the crowd was a decent crowd, and for me as a photographer it was a very interesting crowd in that I sold about 40 prints. I haven't really sold a lot of prints this year, and was wondering if prints were going out of style, but this crowd bought a lot of prints. What didn't sell well were canvas wraps (yes, I do mostly canvas wraps). Again, having said that, I still did well on the sales side (at least for me).
In my location (G aisle) I didn't see a lot of buy-sell, but there were a lot of crafts (but then it was an Art and Craft show). A woman next to me tore down her booth on Saturday and left, she said that if she doesn't do 2K a day, it's just not worth it, she only sold 300.00 worth of bags.
Well, that's about it. Would I do the show again? Perhaps, I did get a lot of email addresses for the area, so I would work my email list to drum up some visitors. I would do it again as one of my "B" tier shows. It's a good filler show for me.
Wow, tore down her booth on SATURDAY because she was falling short of $2,000 per day selling bags??? Seriously? Sometimes I would love to get the true NET numbers and motivations of some artists that protest just a tad too much. :-)
So, if you care to share, what shows are in your "A" Tier and even "B" Tier ... What are your favorites and why?
Hugo - I talked to one artist there who said his best show was $6000. He said a normal show for him was about $2000. I think he said he made most of his expenses back at Annapolis. Personally I still am looking for my first $2000 show. I have to say I was *really* tempted to fold camp Saturday afternoon but I consider signing up for a show a promise to be there for the whole show so I stayed. I guess the lady selling bags didn't want to waste paying for a hotel room for Sunday night.