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

Along with the jurors also being the art police, we have seen an increase in promoters using crafters to be the  buy-sell police.  This leaves the acused crafter to redeem himself on the word of a crafter who's motives might not to be pure.   It happened to  artisans we know and wonder if anyone else have seen this? It makes us feel like anyone can turn you in on a whim or vendetta. Knowledge is power.


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Before anyone, that means show directors or artists, accuses a person of being buysell they better have concrete proof to back up their allegation.  I hate buysell.  But you gotta have proof.  Any show who will boot somebody on hearsay is gotta be a poor show.  Like you said, it leaves it up to other " motivations" if they only accept hearsay.

Do you really believe that someone willing to jury into a handmade craft show with imported goods would hesitate even one second before picking off the "Made in China" stickers?  And even boxes aren't a given since large boxes tend to have either toilet paper or imported goods.  On top of the fact that who wants to tattle -- are we in second grade? 


Which goes back to the Art Show Police -- isn't it up to the host to decide the quality of the show and then to determine who/what is invited based on photos, including booth photos?  And then to monitor that the photos represent the product in the booth?  I'm all for requiring strict compliance with the application/contract, but it needs to be on both sides.   The term "handcrafted" is pretty broad.  As a crafter I prefer to walk the show or speak with someone who has done it in the past rather than be surprised with marshmallow shooters or iron on T-shirts.  We bear some responsibility as to the quality of the show we choose.  At the same time, promoters have the responsibility to maintain the quality they advertise.  And, yes, to police to ensure compliance.

Well, you kinda made my point, Holly.  Low end shows tend to attract B/S and often more represent flea markets.  Contracts need to be enforced (policed), but they often are not, which is why it's normally a good idea to walk the show beforehand.  And yes, crap happens all the time and crooks are stupid.  Absolutely no argument.  Most quality crafters avoid these shows.  It's when there are stringent application requirements and we're taken by surprise that's unfortunate. 


When the show is juried for handcrafted with application clearly stating so and photos (including that of the studio) are required and seashell candles (yes, with stickers picked off) show up that the show needs to enforce their own application/contract.  The SHOW needs to enforce its contract. 


Really, Chris, a Federal fine?  Are you kidding?  It's tough to find a quality promoter (like Mr. Rose) who even questions much less pursues.  It's all about the booth fee.  Consider the Crystal River Manatee Festival where I was told that her job was to fill booths and collect the booth fee, so she had done her job.  That the contract was capitalized in red for only handcrafted was not an issue Saturday morning when (literally) anyone who showed up was allowed a place on the end of the street.


Yes, life is tough, and that's just the way it is.  I appreciate the effort by the host/promoter in policing the show to ensure application information and photos submitted are substantially similar to the work exhibited.  I think the contract between the artist/crafter/exhibitor/host/promoter should be honored by both parties.  There are shows that welcome all levels of art/craft/buy-sell and  it should be clearly identified in the application what is acceptable -- and it is the responsibility of the show to ensure that the contract is fulfilled. 

Your argument is the same one I have heard for decades. And it's the same thing. "The promoters are not policing their shows". I heard it in the 1980s,the 1990s the 2000s and the 2010s. 

It is therefore up to you to police th epromoters. Yes, by walking the shows beforehand is the absolute best way. Butwith the economy being what it is and many getting out (or dying) the promoter has expenses s/he must meet too. And if they end up "selling real estate" to fill those spaces, we then must choose whether or not to go back.

The only wayI'll care about a show going downhill is if I continue to make money at it. If I don't, I don't return. 

Interestingly, there was an article about this in the recent issue of Sunshine Artist magazine, with extensive interviews and advice on what to do if you are accused, plus tips on how to spot the unscrupulous.
The article in Sunshine Artist was about a woodworker who makes all his own stuff but was rejected as being buy sell because he created work that was common, and had a professional web site.

I had taught him to photograph his work and booth and they are much improved since he started doing shows. I had posted to a thread about it on the Sunshine Artist forum asking if maybe because he had professional looking photographs that might have hurt him also. The problem with that particular situation was that the director thought it was buy sell, not other artists.

And the article in general is flawed because it referenced that professional looking web sites are signs of corporate, not artist.

Larry Berman
Art Show Jury Services
I'm late on the draw with this topic, but yes,there are articles on this.  I am with Nels - you better have concrete proof if you choose to accuse people of being re-sellers.  And I have to push this - buy/sellers ARE re-sellers.  Also there are embellishers too.  I am not as upset with them, as I am with those who are re-sellers.  Just for the record.

What do you mean by 'concrete proof"? What might satisfy you at a show as "proof"? Just curious. I don't know what I would have at a in my booth or purse...



As promoters, we do ask for input from our exhibitors if they suspect another exhibitor of not making the work they are displaying. We cannot be experts in every area and appreciate the concerns of our exhibitors being able to be expressed.

That said, we do not remove or exclude an exhibitor based on another exhibitor’s word only.

In 2009, we had a number of complaints about a leather worker and asked for a visit to that exhibitor’s studio. We were invited to visit any time we were in the vicinity of their studio. Our visit put to rest the concerns others had about the work being created by this artist.

Throughout the thirty years we have been promoting shows in New Jersey, we have made a number of studio visits. When the work is truly created by that exhibitor, there is never a hesitancy to have us visit.

We do realize jealousies and prejudices can come into play by requesting input from our exhibitors, so we do our due diligence to investigate concerns expressed. Unfortunately, there are some very duplicitous practices going on out there that make the buy/sell problem difficult to contain.

We were recently told a story about a company in one of the southern states that will provide a half finished carved bowl and wood chips to exhibitors who buy from them. We found this simply mind boggling!

Two years ago, we had a clothing exhibitor, who when told to physically leave the show with a police officer next to the booth, offered to cut out the “made in China” labels so he could stay. While this gave us a good laugh, after the fact, it does show the deceit and willingness of some to do whatever it takes to get into and stay at a show.

Years ago, we were sent a letter from a lawyer threatening to sue us for accusing an exhibitor of not making their work. The exhibitor who tipped us off, sent us the catalogue the work came from and we forwarded it to the lawyer. Of course, we never heard another word, but this experience cautioned us to tread very carefully.

Howard Rose

Rose Squared Productions, Inc

There are two worlds in play here. The fine art/fine craft world where the best of the best get into the top shows, and there's the world of the rest of us. Artisans and crafters.

We're not in this to impress anybody. We're doing this because of a passion and a love of what we do. There's an old saying that you have a passion for something if you would do this for no pay. That's us sometimes! Three days in a rainstorm watching few if any people going by.

I have been accused of being buy/sell. Just because I put every item in a poly bag with a header. Is it art? But since I do make everything in my booth I am indeed a valid exhibitor at the shows I choose to do.

As far as taking off the Made in wherever stickers, that's punishable  by as much as a $10,000 fine. So if you can prove it, report them to the Feds.

Boxes at craft shows mean absolutely nothing to me. Sometimes we get metal stars for our wreath hangers. They come from CWI. And they are made in China. But the sticker stays on them. But that doesn't mean my hangers are made in China, just a small part of them.

Marshmallow shooters? They've been part of the craft show scene for decades. Along with rubber band shooters made of pine. But they do indeed qualify, because they are in fact "handcrafted" by the exhibitor. Completely within the rules. And if that's what's selling and you're not, then you, not they, are at the wrong show.


I am all for the policing of work.!!!

 I have also done this long enough (jewelry) to have seen many many people getting into shows cheating and lying their way in and around the rules.  It truly makes me sick. Not only for myself who makes everything by hand by myself..and is in the Artist category..but for the people buying it under the pretence that what they are buying is made by this person here in the U. S. I am not a promoter, but I would imagine they want to back up what they are advertising to the public as well. 

I am amazed and appalled at the crap that people will do and say and put in their booths. I am thrilled to hear of the promoter here visiting the studios. Granted, they can hide the evidence before you show up...but if any show ever asked me I would gladly invite them in. I have my BFA (metalsmithing) and can spot imported junk a mile away..not to mention the PRICE gives it away. Its not rocket science people. I was recently given an article about a painting scam. I will see if I can locate it.My fiber friend is terrific on how she checks out her fellow 'artists" . She turned in someone who has these purses mass produced and has a website where the customer can pick out the fabric and such..sold in 500+ stores and internationally. THEY GOT INTO E. LAnsing last year! I applaud the show for removing them.!!! I have no problem doing the same. I have done it in the past and I will do it again. I love my customers and they support handmade work too...and they are not nearly as educated as we are about it. I know I would be happy to know that there were some checking going on so that I was not scammed as well if I were them. Not only do we owe it to ourselves, but we owe it to the Art buying public. 

By and large it is sad for be hijacked this way....Its jaw-dropping at how people lie and cheat and steal....and call themselves "Artist's" to boot. ugh.


Excellent points Chris!!

I had to stand my ground with a fellow crafter/vendor/artisan last year when I found out that she was purchasing kits on the web, and assembling them, then putting them in a booth she was sharing with me, and marketing them as her own designs. If we are marketing at a hand-crafted Fair or event, she no longer carries those items to shows. I flat out told her I would no longer share a booth if she continued to bring those items, because that is a line not to be crossed, and I won't risk being booted from a show because she needed to cheat. It's not fair to other crafter/artist/vendors, not fair to the consumer, and just plain unethical.



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