When reading a review I always read between the lines. This is why.   I have done a lot of shows where one artist on my right does exceptionally well, while the artist on my left  makes nothing.  What I make from this is that the show is a good for for the person on my right,  but not the right show for the person on my left.  

You have to know who your audience is.  Who your buyer is.  A good show for a potter is not necessarily a good show for a painter and visa - versa.   I look for shows where the price points could be like mine and the people coming to that show might be interested in what I am selling.  Some times I get it right and sometimes not.   If I cannot go to the show I look up the artists who attended.  This only works some of the time.

Good reviewers should include what they make and price points that sold best.  They should include a little observation about neighbors who did well or not.  I read every review with a grain and am always interested in how easy or difficult a set up was etc.

What else should a good review include?

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  • Is the money someone posts going to be the reason we do a show? If one jeweler does fantastic, but we don't do jewelry, is that a good enough reason to sign up?

    There are reasons people don't like to tell everyone how much money they make. They could be working "under the table" as far as the IRS is concerned, or they don't want to get pushed out of a great show (for them) by having everybody else apply simply because of the money. That's one way to "work yourself out of a job".

    What happens if there's one exhibitor who has something completely different, something no one else has, and literally sells out. He reviews the show and says he made $15,000 in three days. You sign up for that same show next year and make $900. If you based your decision to do the show on that review, who's fault is it you didn't do as well as you thought you would?

    When we review a show we should be fair in that review. As soon as I start seeing a personal vendetta starting against the promoter I discard that report. Tell us about the show itself. The layout, the crowd, were they carrying bags, etc. What about the exhibitors around you? Was the show a mix of prices and did it have something for everyone?

    If a reviewer says sales were good, then all I have to do is go to their page and kinda get to know them by what they do, how long they've been doing it, possibly look at their website, etc.

    I have said this for years now, the absolute best reviews you can get are from people you know. People who are in different media. People who you can trust and know what to expect from a show. People who don't have to tell me how much money they made. If they say they had a good show, I can believe it was overall a pretty good event.

    And they're all right here on this board.

    • I agree that the main reason to do show should not be based on the fact that one person does well. Especially if that person has a completely different set of skills,  a jeweler verses a painter.  What I think helps is a comment like "I sold most of my work for 20 and under,  or a lot of pieces I saw sold were large expensive pieces.  Or the crowd seemed more interested in country crafts, etc.  I do not tell how much I make at a show, but I might relay that my inexpensive works are selling better witch indicates the crowd is impulse buying instead of collecting.  There is a difference and we all know this.  

       What you sell, and  how much you ask would be helpful. How much you made, perhaps could be left to words like,  "I did well", or "I felt sales were slow.", and a comment most telling,  "I will reapply next year."   Did you think the buyers were impulse shoppers or serious collectors.    

    • I can generally agree with Chris Hoyt, but my analytical side looks for hard numbers rather than adjectives. In defense of hard numbers, regardless of medium, they show that the crowd had the affluence to spend. Beyond that, you have to do the homework to determine if your medium can compete for that money. Gross is one thing, net is another and I don't share the latter.
  • Larry~I agree with you on the level of experience that the reviewer has doing shows. Just like everything else, experience doing shows (especially outside) for 8-10-20-+ years as opposed to just a few makes a difference! We learn with each show. Also, I find that like Steve & I doing Art or being involved in Art full-time is easier to grow creatively than just part-time during the year.

    As far as set-up~it is CRAZY to set-up the day of to us if we do not have to!!!  To be offered night before or morning of, we always set-up the night before (at least our canopy & displays). Load-In/Out no matter if further away does not matter as much as long as we can set-up the night before, however, it IS nice to unload next to your booth when you can at some shows. It makes it so nice the morning of to bring in our jewelry with coffee in hand!

    I also think that with whatever media you have, if at all possible, one should have a wide range of price-points.  That way if only the expensive goes~you have both!

  • ANYTHING I can find about a show I'm interested in is helpful to me. Attendance, artists years of experience, parking, load in/out difficulties, artist amenities etc. !!! anyone likes to mention "real numbers" of money made, Good!! If not, fine too!!! In the end I have to decide which show to apply to and i have to find my market! Just leave reviews!! Thank you, thank you, thank you.
  • I did a review this morning for a show before I read this thread this evening.  I did look at the art show review area and the show was not listed.  The form to submit it looked a little daunting and geared towards the promoter.

    I am not really comfortable asking my neighbors how sales are but I do keep an eye on what I see is being carried around as well as the what the neighbors are selling.  But , earlier posters are right.  I have had great shows where friends haven't done well and vice versa.  I would like to know if it is a pattern also.  The Springfield show I just did had the best weather they have had in years so not show I can gauge the great crowds as normal or just the first nice spring day they have had.  

    I am guilty of putting in  whether they bring you water not because it matters on ding the show but so you are prepared to bring plenty of your own or just bring a few back ups.

    • Should have proof read this because won't let me edit it...sorry for the typos

  • Well I've got to take this in a different direction. What I really look for and don't always get is, was the crowd the number advertised? I recently did St. Stephens art show next to the big Grove show. The website says 40,000. FNO says 30,000. And if 5,000 people walked by my booth I would be surprised. It was a 3 day show. Frankly if I wasn't staying with friends I would have lost money. Now I was toward the back and I understand not everyone will be walking by my booth. I would have been happy with 10,000 people walking in our area over 3 days. I heard there was a "cul de sac" in one corner that had very few visitors. How do you all feel about the estimated attendance vs actual people?

    • Paid gate has to be pretty accurate if promoter is honest. Otherwise I ask a cop on what they estimate "what is today's attendance". I think the have the experience.
  • I am always very interested in hearing actual numbers from other artists. Even saying, "I average $1000 and this was a very good show" is more helpful than just an adjective.  I don' t make show decisions on load-in alone, but all those little elements contribute to an overall "score".  About the only element that I can think of that consistently counts is show attendance; there can be varying reports of how good or bad it was for a particular artist, but if the show was packed, I know that I at least have a chance!

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