Art Fair Insiders

Call for Artists, Making Money at Juried Art Fairs, Craft Shows and Festivals


We are new to the Art Fair Insiders community, although we have used the site for several years to find shows to apply for.  Our problem is that we're not artists - we represent our cousin's late husband, who painted 200 paintings (in acrylic on canvas) while he had cancer in the last year of his life.  He painted them so that our cousin (who is handicapped and disabled) would be able to sell them to supplement her disability income.  She cannot do the legwork, so we have purchased a tent, a trailer, racks, etc. as a labor of love for her.  We are both retired and live on a fixed income, but we are willing to pay the application & booth fees, and even offer NOT to be juried.  We just want to be allowed to sell his paintings.  We have been denied for more shows than we have been accepted, and it is harder and harder to find a show to participate in, even when we explain our extenuating circumstances!  We've been told that it wouldn't be fair to the other artists exhibiting their work, but we can't believe that they would be so insecure or hard-hearted as to deny us the opportunity to present his work.  We are not trying to take prize money or recognition away from them; we're just trying to give a family member a better life.  We'd love to hear your comments and opinions on how and where to sell his art!  

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I'm surprised you've been accepted to any art shows. They were obviously not juried. The basis or backbone of this industry is that the artist has to be there to sell their work. The only time there are exceptions is if the artist is cheating and sending a rep or representative and the show staff is unaware.

Compassionate promoters do exist but they don't selectively break their own rules or else they would have to do that for everyone. Then the show goes down the drain and eventually only buy/sell applies, which is the same as sending a rep.

What you need to do as find shows that allow buy/sell or reps.

This is no different than artists who, for religious reasons, don't work on Saturday or Sunday. They want to do art shows and send reps on the days they observe their religion. Then complain that the show is discriminating against them for their religious beliefs.

Bottom line the artist has to be there at any of the shows worth doing.

Larry Berman

Thank you for your opinion, Larry.  We were accepted to an art show in Daytona Beach, FL two years in a row which WAS juried, but they were open-minded enough to allow artwork to be presented WITHOUT having to be judged.  Why would that decision lessen the quality of artwork exhibited, or cause the "show to go down the drain?"

You say that we need to "find shows that allow buy/sell or reps."  Where would we find them?  Would they be listed in the Art Fair Insiders postings?  Any suggestions would be very helpful.

Photos of the art still need to be submitted with the application, and the artwork would be accepted on the basis of its quality.  We do not expect anyone to allow us to exhibit just because of the circumstances surrounding the art. 

A suggestion here is to try a different route other than art fairs. Get professional scans of the work in order to sell prints as a continuing revenue stream. Triple or quadruple the prices you' e been getting and sell the originals through galleries. There still should be enough paintings left to maintain a good body of work. The way you're doing it now you have high expenses,
lower profits, and once the paintings are gone that's it. Sell the originals at a premium, and have lower cost high quality prints available that you can continue to sell.

We appreciate your constructive suggestions!  We have been investigating getting professional scans.  How would we go about selling the originals through galleries, and where would we sell the prints? 

Why does everyone think that they can turn to art fairs when they have something to sell? It doesn't matter about the display, the jurying, the quality of the work or the show.  There are rules that have to be adhered to and the biggest rule is that the artist must be there to sell there work. That's what I do and I am glad that this is a rule. At least, it is a rule for 99.9% of the shows out there. And, who says any of us make any money doing it, no matter how it looks to an outsider. I'd say that most artists make hardly anything after show expenses and the cost of creating the work. Selling takes work. How willing are you to work to sell the paintings? I'll give you some suggestions so that you perhaps sell the paintings. However, there is no guarantee that the work is saleable. The market determines that.

Ways to sell the paintings:

1) E-bay

2) Take the paintings to galleries.

3) Take pics and email gallery owners. If you send out enough of them, you may get some interest.

4) Create an Etsy account. Don't ask anyone here how to do that. Go to Etsy and figure it out, yourself.

5) Google "How to get a print firm to make prints of paintings."

6) Email print companies and ask them to make and sell the prints in their catalogs.

7) Have an estate sale.

8) Create a web site and sell them from the site.

I am going to put my foot in my mouth and say that this sounds like a story to me...

from what I can see, the guy could really paint, and only paints in his last year of life?  and then paints 200 in a year?  While dying from cancer?  I'm sorry but I really don't believe it.

You're right, Jacque, it is hard to believe that someone who never painted professionally all of his life (although he studied art in high school) could pick up a paintbrush and canvas at age 64 and paint 200 beautiful pictures in one year.  That's what makes his work so amazing.  We have heard numerous stories from other people about relatives who did the same thing. I guess he was too busy making a living and supporting his family throughout the rest of his life to pursue his passion.  You're very lucky to be able to afford to pursue yours, especially in light of Barry Bernstein's comments suggesting that artists don't make any money selling their art.  Best of luck to you.

I guess my question would be, then, WHY does that rule exist?  If the art is of good "quality" (a very subjective determination) and is good enough to be accepted into a show (when pictures of the art and the booth are submitted with the application), why does it matter WHO is selling it? 

It exists because we are giving the public the option to meet and talk to the person who created the art that we hope they will be hanging on their walls, instead of going to a big box store to purchase cheap art painted in China. Buying an original from the artist instead of a whatever it may be.
It allows real artists a way to earn a living without having to compete on the unfair import buy/sell playing field.

Larry Berman

the rule exist because people lie.  And they take $$ from those of us that actually work and sweat for it. 


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