Art Fair Insiders

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

The Buyers Market was up for us this year. We are not alone. I saw a good number of people who looked happy and had good reports from most I talked to. The show has gotten smaller and buyer attendance has gone down. This year there were more buyers and the show is still small. Maybe that was good for those who did well but I think it was mostly an overall feeling of more enthusiasm. We have all had to dig deep within ourselves in the past few years to innovate. We had more new work and that made a huge difference. There are buyers who had taken several years off who came back. I am writing this in hopes that those with wholesale experience will consider giving the show a try again. For you newcomers, do your homework before testing these waters. I would be glad to mentor any out there and swap notes with you old timers.
It was encouraging to have a decent show and know that there were still many buyers who are not coming. Hopefully, enough of us did well to spread the news and have the show grow again. I am on the Artist Adviory Committe for the show and I can tell you the show is in good hands under Rebecca Rosen Mercado's direction.
I see the show as a fruit tree that has been pruned and is starting to bud again. For those of you who don't know me (probably most of you) I have been making art glass with my wife, Carol O'Brien for thirty years. We have been doing wholesale since 1985.

Ps. I went to the symphony at the Kimmel Center on saturday night and experienced a wonderful performance of Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto #2. I had some binoculars and one of the cello players looks like my brother! On to Florida!

Views: 1822

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

I have thought about doing that show. I had a really bad experience with ACRE /Las Vegas a few years ago and have hesitated to try wholesale again. I do hand painted silk scarves and millinery design. It seemed jewelry did OK so maybe it was because of my products. Someone from Philadelphia came by and offered a helpful critique on my booth which I still follow. Any advice for a newbie?

Hi Rose

It would be best to talk on the phone. Call me this evening on my cell@ 585-354-3296 or at my house in the evening @ 585-374-8860 on the 28th or 29th of this month. Post here if that does not work for you. Your best bet would be to contact the buyers market and ask if there is a fiber artist who has volunteered for mentoring. Check the exhibitor list for this year; there may be someone who did the show in your category that you know. I would be glad to help with logistics advice and general display experience and business terms, etc. I have not done the ACRE show, but it looks to me like it is best for low end.

1. Attend a show before you exhibit.  2. Talk to other exhibitors. 3. Know your price points and mark ups 2.3 is standard for retailers.  4. Know "WHY" your work will sell.  Don't rely on a technique... have your own aesthetic voice and language. 5.  Attend the Arts Business Institute to learn how to avoid mistakes when starting out.  Spend $250 and save $3,000+ !  I'm happy to critique, chat, answer questions.  Email your questions to me at  The only stupid question is the one you DON'T ASK!  Mentoring teaches me as much as I share...

I, too, have wanted to do those shows. Even did the Visiting Artist Program a few years ago.....but with one of a kind looked like it was an impossible fit. And, with a $2400 booth fee, at this time, I can't justify the cost. And, don't even suggest the Emerging Artist area....they were put in the back, behind the food fair is that?

Ann Marie, Another option is to share a 10x15 booth or participate in a guild booth.  Both of those options will save a bundle.  However, your booth cost is not your highest expense... sharing the cost of a hotel room and travel can save you even more.  Buddy up and save 40% in your cost of this show!  Don't forget that we also offer pre-show webinars and support assistance to our exhibitors.... for free.  Take advantage of all the services we offer.  Even collection assistance! 


Paul, having shown at Wendy's show and ACE Baltimore many times, and did I mention buying your work for our unnamed gallery, it is good to hear that, finally, galleries are starting up again.  However, it's going to be a long time before the booth fees are close to resembling anything commensurate with the amount of buyers and the lowering of the artist pool.  The biggest sellers were always glass and jewelry.  The rest of us have to pass on the shows because it isn't profitable, yet. In 1985, the first year I did the wholesale shows, the booth fees were $700, the number of artists were around 800 and their were 4 times as many galleries as today.  I was reminiscing about this the other day with a bunch of oldies and I had forgotten that the first show I did was at the Exposition Hall in West Springfield a week after the state fair and the building still had the faint smell of farm animals.

Ah, Barry, those were the days! The feuding between ACC and Wendy and Richard Rothbard had his oar in there too. Had to be exciting for everyone.

We also had an up show this year. We saw buyers that we haven't seen in years who had dropped out of coming to the show. They placed orders again! Paul is so right about being innovative and adding new pieces every year. The buyers that do make the trip annually are always wanting to see the brand new items.
The orders, for the most part, were larger than in the recent past, which is great. Some buyers actually asked about reserving time again, something we haven't needed to do for years (we still don't really need to do that, but it's nice that the buyers are thinking that far ahead). Altho it is horrifically expensive, we'll be back, as it's the best venue we have for finding and retaining wholesale buyers.

Retailers are looking for 30% new work in any given year from each artist.  If YOU don't keep their store looking fresh... they will go elsewhere. The marketplace is growing again.  And it's the new work and new artists that keep buyers coming.  We have all too few clay artists... we are working on a way to get more new potters and ceramic artists into the show.  It's tough, years ago we saw potters do our show once and never return... they wrote 50 new accounts and never needed us again.  The turnover was difficult for us, and for the buyers.  New potters must learn how to have production and limited edition... and to be efficient and competitive with price... Karen-  You could teach that class!


So, Karen, your clay did well?  I may have to revisit the situation.  It's cheaper doing Philly than what I'm spending for 5 weeks in Florida. And, I'll do at least twice the business, in terms of dollars.  It's only been in the past year that I have been running into some of my old galleries and they were really eager to do business with me.

Sorry, Barry, didn't get back to this thread for a while...
Yes, Philly was good for us. It perhaps helped somewhat that the clay section (along with the entire show) has shrunk, making more dollars available for each artist. I think we saw more buyers this year, in general, and specifically, some previous buyers that we haven't seen or heard from in a long time.
Philly has always been our best bet for filling our wholesale calendar. If it were possible again, I'd love to just do wholesale and skip the hassle of art fairs. Not quite there yet, however. We'll see.....

This is surely good news, Paul. Many thanks for the information. It is so heartening.

Great of you to make the offer to do some mentoring too. When I finally get all my technical difficulties fixed with my podcasting I'd love to schedule an hour with you to talk about wholesale. Would you be interested?


Fiber artists -- use this resource to find new buyers:  Advertise with Reach over 60,000 fiber arts lovers.

Our 50 Best Art Fairs

Look Inside the our latest Art Fair Survey:
Who Won and Why

Join the MasterMinds Group for personalized coaching on your Internet Lifestyle Business! 

Video Website Reviews

60 Page Report - Best US Art Fairs

Click Here to
Learn More


  • Add Photos
  • View All

© 2021   Created by Connie Mettler.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service