Art Fair Insiders

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

Of course my free subscription ran out in August, right before the annual ranking issue.  

Would someone be so kind as to list atleast the top 20 shows?

When I worked in the Grove office, the excitement when SA called to tell them they were number one that year was incredible.  Artists may scoff at these listings but the promoters really are competitive!  


And, did you know that more luggage is sold in Miami than any other city in the US?  I learned  that reading SA magazine.

Thanks for the info.

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Vinnie, thank you so much.  There are a couple that I am surprised at.

I really wanted to go to St. James this year but they don't allow dogs and this would be a side trip on our way back to Florida so the dog must come with,  Oh well.  

I agree too Patricia but it is good harmless fun.   And since it is rankings from artists, it may cause a couple of directors to improve things for artists.

I don't remember how it is broken down but it would be interesting to compare sales numbers from shows 150 artists or less and those that are over 150.  

It seems a lot of people are saying that the smaller shows are better and some type of comparison of sales would be nice.  

Surveys are fun and like Vinnie said, you read them with a dose of skepticism.

And there's no way that Art & Apples is a more profitable show than Arts, Beats & Eats. Maybe ten years ago, when ABE was just getting started, and A&A was a top juried show, but today's reality is much different on the ground.

I don't think it's BIG so much, as if artists return those SA ballots. The more votes, the higher the ranking?

I wouldn't do Arts and Apples if they gave me a space.
Ms. Art'N'Apples called, Barry, and said she would pay YOU to come to Art & Apples. She said she couldn't get enough of that good raku...
Well, if I can get some of that good apple pie, I might change my mind.
You're so easy   ;-)
Ya know-the important thing is not that you can sell at the top ranked shows, but that you can sell at the shows to which you can predictably be accepted.

Maybe you should take this discussion back to both Greg and whoever publishes SA.  Maybe different questions need to be asked on the surveys as well as broader coverage of ballots for more opinions.  

Websites like this one can only help so much as it has been mentioned that people may be afraid of being blackballed for complaining about some festivals.

Attendance is a big factor for some, but not so much for others. For me, high traffic usually generates more sales. The more people I can get in and out of the booth, the more I generally make. But for others, people need to contemplate, touch, ask questions. Too many people at a show, and there's an overflow factor. If they can't get in your booth, it doesn't matter how many people there are at a show. So typically, high end work will do better at a medium sized show: 100-200 artists, with maybe 10-30K in attendance over two or three days. 

Weather is a big factor, too, and can trump attendance. Look at Ann Arbor this year. Biggest show in the country, highest attendance level, hottest temps = slow sales for most.

On AFSB, money is one of the criteria, and you get access to historical sales data, if you pay for the Diamond subscription. However, you'll never get artists to state income from shows honestly, even if the show asks for it and reports it directly. The historical data on AFSB is useful to a degree, and that's as a benchmark, not an actual figure that your work might command. Some shows will report gross income for the show, combined. Based on this criteria, Sausalito comes to the top. In comparison, Cherry Creek has 230 artists, with an average gross of just over $9000. Take half of that figure as the median, and you come up with a round figure of just over $1,000,000 in revenue. For the artists. Your mileage may vary.

(See this link for an interesting table of average net income per artist, ranked by show.) As an illustration, this makes sense. Keep in mind that this is based not on reported income from all artists, but only those who reported. And those figures may or may not be accurate. There are a couple of shows on there that you may never have heard of.

Greg has refused to rank some shows because they were caught stuffing the ballot boxes, or otherwise trying to influence artists' opinions. But as an overall picture of what shows are worth trying, worth researching, worth doing -- AFSB is head and shoulders above SA for believable data. Just keep that salt shaker handy.

When I was an auditor for SA the criteria for the rankings was sales numbers only. I repeat sales numbers only.

And that was determined only by the audits that were sent in. If some exhibitors made great money and sent in the cards with inflated numbers, the show was ranked accordingly. But the ones who didn't make expenses didn't send in the cards, so that info isn't considered.

The show rankings have absolutely nothing to do with what's being sold. Country Folk Art has at one time been ranked at #12, and they're 90% buy/sell. So the B/S merchants will also send in their audit cards.

Attendance has nothing to do with a show either. Nor should it. Give me 5000 buyers, not 200,000 lookers clogging up the aisles. (200,000 people is 1/3 the population of my state!)

Sales numbers only. And that's only by the people who tell the magazine. And how many are friends of a promoter and send in 100 audit cards saying they did $10,000? 

I can't tell you how many times I read where some exhibitor signs up for a "top 100" show only to find B/S or the dreaded "country crafts" there.  Well, that's because those "country crafters" made good money and sent in their audit cards.

We can say it should be based on this, or it should be that, but it is what it is.

Sales numbers only.

A flea market can make the list.


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