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I need help with this question from my inbox:

We produce a few local artisan shows at ___ _______ in __________, __. We have been producing them for 15 years. I need help with how to go about incorporating NEW artists while saying good-bye to artists who have been with us for many years. Is there a nice way to do that?

All of us have been in this situation, the new artist who can't get into an established event at a show that has a solid invitational list, and being the old dude who has kept it on her calendar for a long time. But I do understand the dilemma. Any suggestions we can pass on?

Please help. 

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Being fairly new to shows, now in my 4th year, I can already see how some shows get stale for me, and I need to give them a year off. There are two shows in Denver that I did not apply for this year, as it was time to give them a rest. Last year I applied to 22 shows, was accepted to 25, and I did 14 shows; this year I made the decision to drop 5 of them, simply as they were the lowest sales of the 14. One show had an unsafe teardown, and I will not go back. One that I am dropping is the one that I always thought of as the good show to be at; but the numbers told a different story.

Solution found:

As has been said before, time heals all.

Have patience.

As the clock runs, us old coots wil fade away. 

The new, fresh young wipper snappers will fill in the void.

So just wait, it will happen whther we want it to or not  :-)

If it's truly a blind jury, why are all old artists consistently getting in? You'd think it would be the best work getting in regardless of history. 

In the interest of new blood, don't reinvite anyone, not even award winners. 

There are several shows that I don't bother even applying to anymore, as I've learned they are heavily grandfathered. All with a hefty jury fee, too. I have customers asking me why I don't do a particular show, as they know it's good and my work is a good fit. They are surprised to find out the slots are mostly sewn up already; at least in my medium. 

It could be an unpopular thing to do if anyone found out, but you could assign an extra jury point or fraction to new applicants. Though that could mean lesser work got in. 

If it is really a "Blind Jury" yet many of the "old artists" are getting in. Perhaps that is because those old artists are very talented, skillful and diligent with their work. They know how to present it, do the best artist statements, write up of descriptions & booth shots. 

So it is possible they are getting in because they are the best work.

Maybe / maybe not. 

As artists we might tend to be a bit biased thinking our work and view are superior. It is difficult to separate out and see it from a neutral viewpoint.

If the question is "how do we change the demographics of people who come to our art fair", then the answer is in 2 parts. 

1).  Change the way you're marketing the fair...if you want fresh eyes on your fair you gotta shake it up.  Advertise in new ways/places (use that free social media!), change up your logo and marketing materials.  Hire a young person to try new things to market your fair.

2.) Change your roster of every artist every year (no grandfathering!).  If you're not getting any new applicants and the same old artists keep applying every year then you need to work on attracting a fresh crop of artists.  Revamping your show logo and description, and trolling for applicants on Instagram, for example, could attract artists who never thought of applying to your show. Actively seek out the kind of artists you want at your show and personally invite them to apply.

May want to consider local artists over traveling artists in jury point system.

Just repalcing is not a good thing unless the work is better-new faces is a piss poor reason on its own.

Mix it up is best. You want folks who sell well and the public supports.

Being relatively new to the show circuit I have enjoyed being an emerging artist in some shows. . . smaller space at a lower price -  it is a nice way to get new artists in and freshen up a show. I think everyone benefits from it.

Look to American Craft Council --their Hip Pop program really supports artists who are new to their shows.

I will go under the assumption that the talent is there and the people are returning because the target audience/ demographics of the people who come is working for them. Sounds like you might want to add to that group, not change it.

Rejection is never "nice" but letters saying thank you for applying- we had an overwhelming amount of talented artists apply and we hope you will apply next year is the best you can do. Can't please all the people all the time.

I do like the idea of a percentage of the artists being new every year--keeps it interesting for everyone.

I'm making an assumption here that this director hasn't surveyed the patrons. Those are the people he/she needs to please. Everything else is moot until you know what your customers desire.

That doesn't throw shade on the suggestions offered. Great ideas that could follow once you know what your audience wants.

I recently attended the kids show the day before the main show at Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts. Kids under 18 can participate. Some of them were just having fun selling their creations for a buck or two - think lots of slime - but some were quite talented and I could see them in a booth next to me in a few years. It won’t solve the immediate problem but more shows should do this to bring up the next generation.

I've heard Rick Bryant person his Children's Art Fair at a conference. It is definitely a model for others, a great way to grow up an appreciative audience and a great way to encourage entrepreneurial and, as you said Alison, it gives the very interested ones an educational opportunity. Rick has said that there are several people who participated in the Children's Show at State College who went on to art careers.

Being new to art fairs, but neither to business nor logic, this thread kind of baffles me.

I think the thing that's mostly missing in the discussion is the notion that what brings a show into existence (and maintains its existence) is very different from what brings an artist to a show. And on some very basic level, what brings an artist to a show matters very little to the show. Yes, I understand that the show must recruit the talent/accomplishment that will please its audience...that's a given. But that doesn't necessarily prompt the question in the original post at all. (And I realize that it wasn't the original poster's own question.)

In other words, if all eleven of your offensive players make the Pro Bowl each year, a change for the sake of different faces in the game program probably isn't indicated - for the sake of change alone.

Sure, there are plenty of talented players who would love to be invited to join that particular team - but the owner/coach/fans are probably poorly served by that course of action if it's done merely for the sake of change. And the potential new player's desire to be on the team doesn't enter the universe of the decision-making process. Or at least it shouldn't.

My view on the process is that it's their ballgame - their playing field - their revenue center - their legacy. Should they choose to invite me (as a new artist), I'm thrilled. Should they choose not to, I have to assume that whatever it was that I presented as what I could bring to the table for them, it wasn't enough. It didn't support whatever aims they have - realizing that their aims and mine don't necessarily have too much overlap in what drives them. In other words, I'm sure they think every bit as much about me buying groceries with art sales revenue as I do about their day-to-day problems of...whatever it is that occupies them the other 362 days a year, festival-wise.

In other other words, I don't suspect they'd run a very healthy show for very long if they relied on my notion of "fair" to populate it. I guess what I'm looking for is the overlap between me and the show. Sometimes there's gonna be none. And that's their call, not mine (to determine if there is).

sometimes re-arranging a show can make it look new.  Instead of putting the same artists in the same spot as in the past, shake it up a bit.  Move things around.  Change the site plan a bit.


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