Art Fair Insiders

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:


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)

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I so agree with Chris on the process proof - We applied to a show and we were asked to furnish "proof of process" being either photos or a video of the process.  Keep the bar high, don't lower your standards, and your event will gain a favorable reputation with patrons and fellow artists.

I have been fighting Chinese tiles for many years.  I have provided shows with Chinese web sites showing  tiles and tables which usually eliminates fake artists the next year.  The problem is after they are rejected they have lawyers contact shows threatening lawsuits based on racial discrimination.   The shows that have stopped them in their tracks  require them to submit two years worth of raw material invoices and contact info for suppliers.   I have seen artists at work photos where it shows the (artist) taking wooden  framed  tiles out of a kiln.  The real problem now is that these  fake artists are having their art and booth photos done professionally. I am actually impressed with their presentations!  These fake artists receive awards and after being in the show circuit for years look legitimate to promoters, patrons and other artists. So you may ask how do I know these are these are really imported?  Well after years of research  I recently found their bill of ladings on line showing their imports.

Instead of asking for a description of how the items are made and what materials are used, you could ask each artist to send in a little book of photos or disc of files that show them making it step by step.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words.........let the photos show you what and how they do them. If they can't provide you with step by step photos showing everything they do, then they don't get in.

Every single step of the raw materials to the finished product. That would be hard to fake, especially if the artist has 2 be pictured in it......

Perhaps it's time to clean up my studio LOL

With current few seconds viewing time of images by jurors, it is doubtful they would look at a collection of images of process.

There should have been one thing learned from this discussion. It's not the artist's responsibility to call out suspected buy sell. It's the show's issue to deal with. You do the best you can, and have 2 or 3 artist advisors well versed in different mediums advising the jurors. If the suspected artists aren't juried in, there's no issue that can generate a law suit. That and do an onsite standards review asking artists to remove things they didn't jury with.

Larry Berman

I totally agree with Larry and have always held this position. Artists shouldn't be concerned with this issue. Let the shows do it.

Of course you're right Larry. But sometimes some B/S will get by even some of the best promoters. And it's not our job to remove them.

But what ever happened to the idea of competing with it? Whatever happened to the idea that true artists/crafters will run the B/S merchants out of town by financially burying them at the shows?

I've done shows where my "icky country crafts" were looked down upon by "real" exhibitors. I was every bit as legitimate as anyone else, but I was just not good enough for them, so I was made to feel very unwelcome. But that's not done with a B/S merchant. When they show up everybody gets all exited and runs around in circles with their arms flailing about wanting to hide inside their canopy with all the sides down and tightly secured. You'd think they had cooties or something.

We should concentrate on our own booth. Concentrate on making the sales to the people who are interested in our work, even if it means getting out of that tall director's chair and actually interacting with the customers.

One thing I learned long ago about some B/S merchants who are making the sales.

1-They have something different. And here I am with the same designs I was selling 5 years ago. That's a wake up call nobody notices.

B/S merchants are just like the rest of us. When they don't make enough money to justify the costs of the show, they don't return. That part can be our job!

Larry is right on with this one... The promoters must take responsibility for this. There are a couple of shows that I do that require a history of invoices for my raw materials for acceptance.  

One thing to be sure and do is to research all of the artists that you are planning on accepting to a show before you send out the acceptances.  Online information can tell you a lot.  Are they creating more than one person can reasonably create in reference to their show schedule?  Can you find the same items on a wholesale or import site?  Do they even have a website at all?  Without mentioning names there is one buy sell group out there that sells all over the world.  There is no way one person or a team of two can make that much inventory by hand.  Speaking for myself, if I have to send in process proof with my application I'm going to think twice just because it is more work.

Hi Lois: I think a dead give away are the exhibitors who are unpacking their b/s from the obvious foreign cardboard cartons with foreign writing on them that their shipment came in. It's a first clue. Most of us use plastic tubs or "banana" boxes if we can get by with the cheaper approach.
Simply to avoid lawsuits, don't jury them in the next year. We all can be fooled once. Good luck to you!

There is a common theme here about fear of being sued. One person mentioned a lawsuit based on racial discrimination. I think, no, I know these are empty threats. Let them sue. They are just wasting their money. The comment about racial discrimination is a joke. The jury process just shows the images. It's a blind jury. There is no way to tell from the process, what race, gender, sexual orientation, or religion, anyone is.

This is worth repeating: The artists have a greater chance of winning a lawsuit from a show letting in an exhibitor that clearly breaks their rules, than the person who is rejected.

But in order to sue that exhibitor must prove they were "injured" in some way by that B/S merchant being there. How can you prove you lost money to that particular merchant selling imported veeblefetzers who was two rows over from you?

It only costs $50 to sue, but it can cost the defendant thousands to defend that suit. Or if it's in Small Claims Court, will the "injured" exhibitor be willing to travel the possible hundreds of miles to appear in Small Claims Court? And if the plaintiff made more than the space fee in sales, will s/he even have a case?

Just how badly do you want to be blackballed? No promoter is going to want someone in their show who will sue them if they make a human mistake.


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