Hi everyone:)

I am new to AFI, I'm a long time ceramic artist and have been having shows in my home gallery for 2 years. I tried a show, not juried, this past weekend and it was pretty dismal, people were looking but not buying, and the quality crafters were amazingly mixed, the promoters seem to be taking  a booth fee check from anyone sending one in.  I didn't make back my money invested. Of course I knew it was a gamble going into it.

My expectations, (making money based on how the promoters sell their show to artisans), certainly were not met.

My question is a sort of poll I guess, and has most likely been asked in AFI before.


Do You only do juried shows, or do you try the non juried ones as well?


I am on the east coast and very central to the Sugarloaf shows does anyone have personal feedback about these larger events and the promoters? What should I expect from the promoters (other than promoting?). 


Best customer question during the show: "Don't you have anything for under $14?"

(My smaller mugs were priced at 14, which I consider a bit low actually.)





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  • First, what are your expectations?  What do you consider a "good" show? Is it the money? The setup and teardown?  The glossy promotional material sent out by the promoter who has only one goal, to get you to send in your money?

    Sugarloaf is great for some, terrible for others.  But everybody has a different opinion of "great" (I did $3,000) or "terrible" ( I only did $3000)

    My heartfelt suggestion is to attend a local Sugarloaf show and see for yourself if it's a fit for your work. This way you can see firsthand and actually talk with the exhibitors. If you believe you should be there with the others, and get accepted, well, you have a series of shows open to you.

    Also attending the show beforehand, you'l get to see the displays and you can make sure yours is right up there with them.

    Like all shows, everything is down saleswise. So when you hear a comment like "I was down 50% from last year", so were a lot of other exhibitors. 

    Next, don't believe anything you read from the promoters, unless you know them. Attendance? The people who came when that brochure was printed in 2002 won't be there this year.

    I do a number of shows with a number of potters. They used to have a lot of original work. But the way things are today, their originals are fewer and although they sell, the $12 coffee mugs are the mainstay of the booth. Those things pay the expenses.

    As far as firehouse shows, with your work and your prices, you need juried shows. And to be with other exhibitors with your caliber of work, expect to pay from $300 on up for a space. And ALWAYS pay for electricity for your many lights.

    • Thanks Chris, great perspective. I joined Zapplication and have begun more serious research. My selling experience is limited to our present economy, not a great time to begin, I hope it picks up for us all. I had never considered being charged for electricity, I have installed lighting in my home gallery, time to look into show lighting...

      I have been to Sugarloaf in Gaithersburg Md several times over the past 5 years, and a metal artist in my art guild shows there.  I purchased a gorgeous Face Jar by Tom Phelps at S.L.,  I've noticed his work has started to lean more towards straight pottery rather than his fabulous face jugs, $4 juice cups... and in no way is that depressing(sarcasm)

      There is a tremendous amount of pottery at the show, great and mediocre, the competition does seem to bring everyone's prices down. I am not a really a production potter (I don't mean that in any way other than with great respect. I love the nuances and gorgeous craftsmanship of a Master Potter and understand work involved in glaze formulation and firing process) I am more sculptress than potter, I took up turning pots to add faces to them. My learning was Ceramic Art at school, mostly hand built work and slab built sculpture. My problem is I cannot compete with production pottery, and need to somehow distinguish myself from that form... (if possible?) it does seem people look at my work and the category is automatically pottery in their minds, and some of it is, but what I do is sculptural and each one takes much more time than just the turning process, there is really no way I can charge the same prices. I am slowly finding my audience it is lovely when someone enjoys the work.

      ...$many lights$... anyone have favorite lighting systems?


      • Last show I bought track lighting, pain in the you know what! My neighbor who had a trimline and mesh panels used one 300 w trouble light hung in top center, her booth was bright and very easy to handle. Worked great for her, cheap price and easy to do. something to consider.



        • Thanks Deb, any trouble free help in setting up is great:) In my gallery I use little clip on spot lights discretely placed to highlight the work in addition to the track lighting above, bet they'd work well in a show situation..

          best regards,


  • Our first "learning year" in the art show world we did a lot of local festivals, some non-juried with just a requirement of "handmade", some supposedly juried and realized that if you weren't selling "grandma crafts" or items that appeal to kids, non-juried shows just don't give you a reasonable profit unless you have really low priced items.  My advice is to look for juried shows and stay away from community festivals where the art show is a secondary or lower consideration, street fairs and any shows that allow any b/s vendors.
  • Hello Laurie.  I think juried shows tend to bring in patrons who expect to pay more to buy fine art work.  Patrons don't expect to have to pay much for things when they go to craft shows.  I think if you want to get more for your work you should try to aim for juried shows.  I know sometimes it is hard to get into as many juried shows as you want.  So, you may have to take on a few non-juried shows in order to fill up your schedule.  I think if you use good judgement as to which ones you do, you should do ok.  Just be very selective.  Good luck.

    Jacki B

  • It DOES come down to expectations - local and small shows often won't have the place swimming with potential customers but if you take it in the vein of being promotional in nature perhaps someone will see your work and buy from you down the track.     

    I did a small fair last year and had NO expectations but it ended up a quite successful day especially considering the small fee, little travel and no other costs.  Plus it has led to further sales.  

    My recommendation - don't ignore them, but don't expect great things either.  If you're free that day, do it!

  • I did a couple of non juried shows in the past. They do not cater to my price points as I was competing with grandma's pott holders and readers digest angels. There were a lot of compliments and a lot of remarks about my prices and that was before I added my labor to a piece. So now I only do juried shows. Now most comments about my prices are " very reasonable" and " worth every penny".
    Now my main problem is being wait listed and promoters that aren't doing their jobs. Such as not promoting or allowing work in that doesn't follow their written criteria. So I read all the reviews of a show I can find and talk to other artists about what shows are good. And I am on a constant road to improve my work and display. This year has been frustrating because of the number of wait lists I've been put on, but the upside is that I am not getting just plain old rejected, so I'm closer to doing things right.
    • I can relate Michelle. I'm now being wait listed for shows that, in the past, I would have been out right rejected from....it gives me hope, and the opportunity to work and improve my techniques even more. And, what it is really saying, is that my work has improved....yeah....we will get there......
  • Back in the 80's, I only did semi-juried (or loosely juried shows). Since then, I research, use ArtFair Source Book, other artists comments, walk a potentially expensive show, and this website to determine the value of applying to a show. It must be a juried, promoted, and established show, for me to consider it.
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