Call for Artists, Making Money at Juried Art Fairs, Craft Shows and Festivals
Dear ArtFair Insiders Members,
I just joined a local group of Artists, Cass Area Artists (CAA), Cassopolis, MI area. The group has participated in a few local shows with joint booths, but July 4th the group is sponsoring their first event. I am very happy to be a part of the CAA group.
Thursday at our CAA meeting we discussed a firm rule that no buy/sell will be accepted. We discussed that sometimes it is hard to know buy/sale if they look like a legit artist. Several people in our group are well-aware of some of the established folks and some of the regularly accepted folks who are not really artists. I look forward to guidance about any current buy/sell names of which we should be aware. You are welcome to message me privately or email me to share names and avoid any potential liability. I know about the wooden watches, but forgot the name of the folks selling them and I know there are others. I'm wondering if any of you folks provide additional guidance to avoiding BUY/SELL vendors.
Lois Anderson: DrLoisuop@gmail.com
I am more than happy to take any suggestions to our group without providing your names.
Thank you for any comments or suggestions.
Lois Anderson (Rosary Doctor)
Chris, I have to disagree with you about b/s not hurting other sales. A lot of people come to a show with a specific amount that they are able to spend. If they buy from a b/s booth, they are not going to have as much money to buy from the real artists.
I understand what you mean, but if you're selling fiber, and the alleged B/S merchant is selling painted rocks, just how much are you personally impacted?
Again we all must take a long look at why that booth is selling, and we're not! It's not solely because they're buy/sell, it's because we do the same shows year after year, and the customers see the same thing year after year, and here comes someone who snuck in that shouldn't be there, with something different! Something new!
Now I am fully aware there are some media that can't change or update, but what about the ones who can?
I have a friend who is a tinker. He makes candle sconces, wall sconces, punched tin lanterns, chandeliers, etc. He has 100 year old machinery that makes the fluted candle pans as well as other parts. He sees the stuff from China and will make the same thing, only with far better quality. He's always updating his work to keep up with the market trends.
So I always will never be afraid of the B/S. And maybe, just maybe, someday others will realize they're looking at the current trends when they see the B/S merchant.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not defending the B/S merchant. I'm defending the promoter who is only human and will make mistakes. Because I've been there, done that, never again.
Chris, I know you are a smart guy but I don't understand why you keep saying that b/s at a show is not impacting your sales if it is a different media.
I have $200 to spend at a show. I buy a piece of pottery for $125. I now have $75 left to spend. I buy a painted rock for $25. I now have $50 left. I come to your booth and really, really like what you make but your least expensive piece is $75. Because I bought the b/s rock, I cannot afford to buy your piece. So, I walk away empty handed and you lost a sale to b/s.
What am I not understanding?
Right, Geri. In addition, the b/s does hurt other sales and really hurts the entire art fair business. We have enough trouble finding buyers who want to buy one of a kind work, fine art and fine craft, and when they finally show up, in their "good shoes", what do they find? Imported goods, sales reps, etc. Will these people return? Will they just give up on attending art fairs to find our carefully made goods?
When a good promoter runs an event, the chances of B/S being there are small at best. Yes, one may sneak in, but that's about it.
When we see plenty of B/S at a show, it's time for us to move on because that particular promoter has been reduced to selling real estate. Could it be because they always let it in? Probably not. It was because the real artists and craftsmen weren't doing well enough to return, and the promoter had spaces to fill. It happens all the time.
Shows come and shows go. There are the nationally known or regionally known events that have staying power, but let's face it, the others have maybe an eight to ten year lifespan at best. How much B/S gets into those nationally or regionally known shows?
Like I said before, I'm not defending the B/S merchants. They've been a thorn in our side, but they aren't destroying our industry! I know this for a fact!
What's hurting us today isn't the B/S merchant, but the Walmart mentality of the people.
We just need somebody we can point our finger at and blame.
Chris I have to agree with your assertion of the Walmart mentality. I have been in the arts and crafts business about 3 years, a much shorter time than many of you here, and I have seen that mentality. I often say that (potential) customers want American made, even high quality, but at Chinese prices.
I refuse to discount my products accommodate their mentality. My goods are worth what I charge because I take time to think about what I am doing, plan a design and color scheme and do it all by hand ... just like the rest of you here. You are not going to find what we do at BBS.
Mark, promoters are in business to make money, pure and simple. Their sole job is to fill spaces at X dollars per space. And if the show you mention can fill those spaces without the hassle of jurying, they will.
Your job on the other hand, is to jury the promoters you want to do business with. You contact them and inquire about their policies concerning B/S and what will they do when it shows up. Work only with promoters who meet your standards, instead of the other way around.
BTW Mark, I love you passion for this and being an advocate for artists but the Annapolis show is a perfect example for what Chris is saying. I had some consideration for it the first year because of location which I thought would be cool. The actual setup worried me and how they presented it in addition to a first year show caused me to wait. Knew a few people close by who tried it and feedback was horrible. All the feedback online is horrible and cited specifically B/S. Very easy to identify and avoid that show if thats not what you are looking for.