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

How to effect change at the shows we do.

When we see or experience things that are wrong at the shows, how do we addrees them?

If supposed "artists" are violating the rules, what do we do?

Examples might be:

Breaking down prior to set times.

Bringing vehicles in prior to set times.

Buy / sell

Bead stringing (simple, not where they made or colored the beads themselves).

Representative instead of artist presence.

Kit work.

Not having created themselves.

50% off signs.

Just examples, there are many more...

The question is:

What should / could we fine artist's do to effect change?

Some promoters just feel they are renting real estate.  Some do not understand what this is doing to our beloved field.  some are not aware of the wrongdoings. 

We are not going to change the offending "artist's" as they know what they are doing and don't care. How do we get the promoters / directors to police and enforce, better?

If we don't, our future is bleak.

Ideas? Collective bargaining? monetary? advertising / public shamming? 

I have personally spoken to some promoters, when I have experienced this, to no avail.  They do not seem to understand, this will eventually hurt them too.  I have read in the rules that if certain things happen, the "artist" will be evicted, immediately. Then when the promoter is made aware, they say "oh. they wont be welcomed back next year." Next year, they were back :-( 

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I believe that as you say "our future is bleak".   The quality arts and crafts show is slowly disappearing. Nothing much that I see can be done about it. 

Barry, you are a nice guy, so how do I say this... I HOPE you are WRONG!.  Please be wrong.  Many of us, you included, have a our hearts and lot invested into this.

There must be solutions. Let's put our heads together and brain storm. There is always a solution. Let's find it.

The "only" way to do it, would be to do it yourself. Either personally (hard to do, even if you have the time, money, experience, etc.) or via a guild/other group (still not easy).

Promoters of events have the job to sell space-- when not enough "real artists" sign up to do an art show... they have the dilemma of "relaxing" standards to fill those spaces or the real possibility of losing money for their organization (usually have to rent/pay fees for the space) plus having a "bad show" for the artists who do come due to the smaller size being less attractive to possible attendees (and fewer artists promoting the show).

The other problem is the economy.... Improve that, and people will be more likely to spend, and thus "vote with their pocketbook". The middle class just got hit with a big tax increase, and prices of necessities have risen; art isn't a "necessity" when you're worried about affording food and rent. Tariffs have increased the costs of consumer goods, and art supplies-- whether or not the particular goods were directly affected by the tariffs: made in USA items have increased in price as much as the made in China ones. The San Diego Bead Society just canceled its annual Bazaar-- the primary fundraiser for the year. Only 20 of 50 vendor spaces had been "reserved", and not all of those had been paid; this was a smaller "show" than previous years (had over 100 in the past), but still would have cost the organization several thousand dollars to put on. Vendors weren't signing up because they were having a hard time selling enough to make a profit. Even if all 20 paid in full, plus we picked up another 10, we would do no better than breaking even, despite having an all volunteer staff running it. A local non-profit art gallery is also looking at needing to close its doors-- or allow in "art" that doesn't meet its current standards: do they "relax" those standards for what might be a short term gain, since it might drive away current artists/buyers? Charge more to "show", and drive away artists on a strict budget? Charge an admission and discourage potential buyers from coming in? Close because they can't afford the increased rent? No easy answers....

I have space reserved in the Comic Con Art show-- non-profit, but expected to "pay for itself" via reserved art spaces. There are those on the board of directors who want to close it down-- because it isn't "profitable", and have moved it away from the main convention so it is inconvenient for agents to review the art of pro's and hopefuls (which was one of the main goals of the art show). Again-- the "job" of the board is to make money... art show doesn't "make money" (even if it comes in under budget), so what can be done? Raise prices for space? Start charging a commission? Shut down? We weren't allowed (board decision) to have multiple prints for artists who make them....

The promoters are the people that must have a strong desire to stand behind their existing rules and enforce them when necessary. We all know of the issues WE deal with as the artists and these have obviously been communicated to the promoters often and again.

I would welcome input from any promoters and have their insight as to how they see it and what it is like to walk in their shoes.

Very good points, all of you.

What about "sticking to our guns". Even if the show runs at a slight loss, don't let the lower standard in.  The customers will see this and when they attend they will have higher expectations.  Which is the buyers we want.  I wont lower my quality, just to fit into a show. Even though I would likely make more sales doing what many other photogs do.  They might sell much more than I.  however customers expect more from me and get it.  So I sacrifice to keep up certain standards. Can't the promoters / directors do the same?  the concept of business ethics might need to be reexamined. 

How about the boards, promoters, directors have serious - on equal terms, meetings with the serious artists. Open dialogue. Perhaps with effective communication and understanding we can find some resolution?

"Even if the show runs at a slight loss, don't let the lower standard in. "

Loss for whom? And what do you consider "slight"?

Vendors and promoters/organizers operating on a thin margin can't afford a loss-- and the vendors won't return if that is what they experience, regular attendees won't come if their favorite vendors aren't there, plus the show gets the reputation of being a poor venue.

Personally, I've done shows where I've expected to do not much better than "break even", or even "a slight loss", because I want to support the organization running the show. But, I don't depend on show income to pay all my bills, but I can certainly understand why an artist who does depend on show income, could not afford to do the same, especially if they have travel and hotel expenses. As long as the organizers seriously attempt to make it a "good show", I will continue to support the organization by taking part in it.

And yes, there is one I will not do again, even though it otherwise is a "charity" I would feel good about supporting. It was a school "Craft Show"-- originally promoted as being for "local crafters"  and home-made/grown food and plants ONLY. Evidently, they didn't get enough sign-ups for that, so they expanded it to include "home businesses" (they didn't bother to inform previous sign-ups of the change). And it was packed with MLM and other buy-sell. Hard to sell items that cost you more for materials than the next booth is charging for a "similar" item.

First, you speak of "vendors" many times. I'm not concerned for the vendors. They have their own type of market. I'm concerned about us "artists".

Most any business understands that it may have to operate at a loss, at times, in order to build.  Did any of us make profit on our first shows? After figuring in all that goes into doing this business, it may take quite some time to earn profit.  Investing in new market areas, new ways of doing our work, new display ideas... there are many changes we make that are risky and may not turn the profit. What is a "loss"? Are we adding in all our expenses? Insurance, travel, vehicle, shop, equipment, damage loss, supplies,  maintenance, lodging, taxes... of course we all know of these things. What I'm trying to say is it is possible some will have a temporary loss. However, smart business people will see this as an investment in order to improve the quality and eventual higher returns and success. Let's get back to Quality not quantity.  The inn er city slumlord may make great profit but the caring landlord, with nice properties, in a nice community, will gather quality tenants and have a good investment.  We need to get the promoters to want to invest in quality tenants. 

I am in the process of moving and unable to post. BUT- please look up the def of vendor  in Wikipedia. 

... means anyone who provides goods or services to another entity. Vendors may sell B2B (business-to-business; i.e., to other companies), B2C (business to consumers), or B2G (business to government). Some vendors manufacture inventoriable items and then sell those items to customers, while other vendors offer services or experiences.

Pretty much describes artists who sell their work, either in person, or through some sort of agent. Or teach art. I "make stuff" which is inventoriable and which (hopefully) will be sold, therefore I am a vendor. Currently, I sell through art shows, where the show takes care of sales, so I supposed it could be said in those cases, the show is the vendor. But, I also do commissions... so, still a vendor. 

Wackypedia is not in the art business...they are in the words and definitions business and can by no stretch of the imagination be used to define what goes on in our business or how we define ourselves and our creativeness.

I don't think that the Wikipedia definition sounds like an artist at all.

If you may only use one word to describe yourself, such as in a discussion about art shows, I would not choose vendor. I feel that describing us in that way is only pushing us further down the hole.

You had said in your previous post to "look up the def of vendor in Wikipedia". I did-- that's a quote from that Wikipedia page.

Sellers are vendors, whether they sell their own work or somebody else's. Artists may or may not sell their work. If an art show is truly about Art, then all the participating vendors will be artists. Think Venn diagram-- big circle representing "sellers of all kinds", smaller circle representing "artists of all kind", and an overlapping area representing "artists who sell their work"-- that's the ideal area for art shows to have. In CA, at least, "all vendors must have a resell certificate", and that means anybody selling anything other than services only.

Semantics.... garbage men are "sanitation engineers", secretaries are "administrative assistants" (or "office goddess", per the woman in that position at our church), craft fairs are now "Maker Markets" and crafters are "artisans" or "makers" whether they make fine leather-work or baggies of "snowman poop" for the Christmas Faire.


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