I'm in the midst of applying for shows for this spring and would deeply appreciate any input that my fellow artists might be able to give. Because of other commitments, I need to stay in Florida and cannot risk any booth fee greater than $300. So far I've applied to Bartow, Winter Haven, Lakeland (Mayfaire) and St. Pete (Mainsail).
Any suggestions? Comments?
I did the Paragon Downtown Sarasota show in January 2019 and was moderately successful. I am an impressionist oil painter and brought an array of prints with me...sold a painting but prints carried the show (limited edition priced $50-100)
Second, Winter Haven: I have done shows with Sergio 2015-2017 and with Central Ridge Art 2018. I haven't been able to sell much. I will do the March Ridge Art event again as I really like those people and the event is near home. It seems if the few people in town that buy stay home, you are out of luck. However, the show has plenty of dog walkers. I had the pleasure of patrons coming up to the March Ridge Art Winter Haven event that met me at the February Lake Wales show. I recommend Lake Wales as a good small show in a town that supports art.
Finally, Lakeland's Mayfaire: I sold well there my first time-May 2018. This Mother's Day show is well attended by families. The Polk Museum of Art volunteers do a fantastic job for the artists.
Nice input. This is what he was asking for.
Another is the Dania Beach Arts & Seafood Celebration, March 30-31, 2019. Jury fee $15, booth $250. A very nice show with music, food trucks, various activities for the whole family. Last year Saturday night the park experienced a micro burst that dumped 7" of rain on the park flooding the area and the Sunday show had to be cancelled. They didn't have to, but they refunded half of the booth fees to all participants.
1) I didn't think there were any shows in Florida worth doing where the booth fee is less than $300. If there are, those are the risky shows.
2) It's December. The app deadlines for Florida shows are in September. Those shows are in January, February, and March. If you mean April and May, then disregard what I am saying. I leave Florida before April 1st.
I takes a couple of times at a show before you can really decide if it's a good fit, or a stinker. There are so many considerations that go into a good show. Weather and current events can be a huge influence. It takes a time or for people to get to know you and your work also. It is so nice to have repeat customers! Don't hesitate to get engaged with the people who come into your booth. People are more likely to buy if you talk to them. Tell them stories about your work, talk about the weather, anything that engages them. Be friendly. That aura of friendliness can permeate you booth and people just feel good when they come in. I hope you have a great season!
Oh no, Len. You make it sound like work! Amazing, isn't it? It takes a lot besides being a talented artist to earn a living.
Thanks for this good analysis. It sounds like a good formula to use before you toss the dice.
In general, Dave, the more you pay for a show the more likely you are to do better. Art show organizers have their pulse on their audience, usually, and know what they can charge in order to get artists to apply and have them come back again the following year.
What is successful for one may not be others. I try to determine if my art is a good fit to a show and if that show is likely to attract those interested and able to pay my prices.
Price is the first consideration unless you produce and sell items that qualify as an impulse buy for anyone. ($60 or less is what I define as impulse buys for any demographic.) Where markets have strong financial demographics that impulse purchase points move up. For some people, that impulse point might have 4 digits or more but generally speaking a qualifying market (for me) would have demographics that suggest 400-500 limit for an impulse buy.
That doesn't mean everyone will be at that strata, I try to determine (estimate) if 5 percent of the local population or about 10 percent of those attending are at or above that level. Get the best demographic info that you find (Chambers, Census, real estate data, etc.) Adjust the price point to fit your work.
Next factor is the ability for a show to attract the people with the spendable (disposable) income. How a show is promoted is important. If their promotions feature mostly craft items and items that appear less expensive, they will likely pull those interested in those type products. I don't mean to be snobby here, it's just the way it is.
For painters and sculptors and fine crafts that have more pricy items promotions would need a stronger representation of paintings and sculpture and high end craft to attract those potential buyers. They then need to be willing and able to reach that segment in their promotions. As it turns out, those shows that attract more artists whose works fit that description are more likely to attract the segment of the population that share that interest. Bird of a feather.
Bottom line, few shows will work for all and higher end items are tougher to sell when there is only one or two days to consider making a purchase (3 or 4 day shows work best for higher end sales - there is a reason for that).
If you do your research you have a better chance of success but in the end it is still a crap shoot so you roll the dice and hope it doesn't rain.
Great analysis of how to market our work. Thank you, Len.
Wow, that is one of the most comprehensive explanations about this that I have read so far. Everyone always says "figure out which shows are best for your work", but you've actually explained HOW to do that.