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What are some of the biggest challenges that an artist might face when preparing for and attending an art show?

On the other side of the coin, what would an artist define as an accomplishment after the art show is all said and done?

I am genuinely interested in the responses as I enjoy attending art shows and meeting various artists along the way... 

Chris Alexander

RLI Insurance Company

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I would say weather is number one, followed by poor sales and poor booth site (off to the side of the main traffic flow, next to a stinky food booth, etc)


healthy sales, making new friends and renewing friendships, and packing up dry

One of the biggest challenges for me is the set-up.  If I do not have a helper, it is essential that I am able to pull up next to my booth location to unload.  My own daughter questioned me one time when I asked for her assistance at a show near her home, "you can't set this up yourself?"  Yes,  I can...but it would take me 6 hours rather than 3... I am young enough and still physically fit, but with winds, rains, rough terrain, that is my biggest challenge. 

That being said, everytime I do a show I remark how it is always worth the work.  9 times out of 10 the folks putting on the show are amazing.  I love the feedback from the customers and of course the reason we are all there, to make enough money so that we can continue to create. 

As to outdoor shows, coming to terms with the idea that, many months in advance, we are paying money up front to apply. Then a lot more money, well in advance for booth fees. Then travel expenses etc. Often puttin a lot into the promoters pocket.

Then the show days come and we have rain / bad weather.

We could have booked a show in a different area that had good weather.

Of course we do not control the weather (yet). However we risk a lot for this. We can be out thousands. 

So Chris, there is your market. Get together with the actuaries and underwriters, come up with a "Loss of expected return" policy. Or at least a "Loss of expenditure" policy. The loss as well as the incident causing said loss, would have to be documented and provable. 

Akin to "Trip cancellation" insurance.

The numbers can be done to account for the false and exaggerated claims. 

It can be done on a show by show basis.

I would purchase such, if the risk were weighed appropriately.

I'm sure Lloyds would write it.

Now that I've given you the idea, I'll send you my contact info, so you can send me my money for the wealth you will be acquiring through the new market :-) 

Remember who you heard this from :-)

Thanks for the comments Larry. I can definitely see how the weather and related circumstances can be challenging. This is very useful and something that I  can take to my folks. We will keep the group updated if we ever expand the policy to include this type of coverage.

As a newbie, I have purchased an annual policy through ACT - we recently took our first order through a major retail outlet (9 stores) and they required this insurance, though I knew I'd need a policy for the forthcoming shows we hope to get into, so I just went ahead and purchased the policy.  I am completely unaware of other similar policies available and I'd like comparisons.  I also feel that the artists who have commented are providing valuable information on what we could expect at the shows - thank you! I also wholeheartedly agree with a loss of revenue insurance based on inclement weather - which is a strong possibility where we live.  Perhaps in another thread, or a personal response, I would very much appreciate hearing from artists who have had this experience and what they actually DO when the weather is too bad to have any sales or stay open at a show?  Do you pack up and leave?  I would just like to know what we're required to endure as we have had to sit out in 108 degree days for a few street fairs, on asphalt - very draining.  Thanks in advance for advice/comments.

Hi Tina,

We can definitely discuss a policy comparison if you might be interested.

Please give me a call when time permits.

Chris Alexander

RLI Insurance Company


Hi Tina,  My husband and I have been doing art fairs for only about 13 years, not nearly as long as some of the others on this site.  We try to stay if we can, but in the end, it's the artists who know what's intolerable for them.  We have asked to move booth spaces when there are spaces available.  What we try to weigh is whether it is worth it to leave and perhaps not be allowed back another year, or to wait it out, unless it's dangerous.  (We live where there are a lot of tornadoes.) Only once was the weather so bad that the organizers told us to go. We have done quite a few shows in the rain, I mean really raining hard.  Both my husband and I are pretty cold and heat tolerant, but it is just painful to sit when there is very poor traffic and non-buyers!  I usually have something that I can work , so I don't exactly lose time.  Also, when it's slow there's an opportunity to get to know some great people, your fellow artists.  One thing I will warn you of, when artists begin complaining to each other overly much, it can really make things drag, and ruin a cheerful disposition.

Thank you, Kathleen - great info and advice!  I welcome all of it.  Tina

I've been doing shows since the early 1990's.  I do 5-6 shows during the summer at Colorado resort areas with maybe Jackson. WY or another Colorado show thrown in. Challenges: 1. First quarter finances of paying booth/jury fees and cabin/condo rental before any shows while still running the studio. 2. Building art show inventory on top of doing studio work and 3. Mountain weather: it can snow at the May show, and throughout the summer there are usually afternoon thunderstorms and microbursts. Rain can be disastrous for leather.  Rewards:1. Shows are mini vacations away from the studio and hot springs are an add on. 2. Exceeding my daily sales minimum and making enough overall to take a road trip late September or October before starting the studio work for the winter. This year it will be camping and visiting hot springs in UT and NV on way to Reno to visit Jean's sister. 


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