Art Fair Insiders

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

Hey all, Been an illustrator for years, but decided to try the "art fair scene" for the first time this summer, jumping in with four expensive, high-traffic shows. I created all new work (7 pieces in these photos from Gold Coast in Chicago, and am working on another 5 for a show next weekend). 

I was pleased with the balance of comments: 80% complimented the work, while the remainder seemed to enjoy the booth and setting. I admit it's a pretty strong theme, but I hope I haven't over-accessorized to the point that it would overpower the art. Based on sales, I suspect it was good mix that gave buyers a hint of a residential setting, while letting the artwork take center stage. That lovely skyline certainly didn't hurt. 

I have 3 more shows coming up: a 10x20 spot, a 10x10 on a corner, and another 10x10 (most likely mid-row) so there'll be some editing and changes for each. Opinions are welcome, you guys are the experts!

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Hey Sheri, Thanks for the compliments! This past summer was really fun and very enlightening. As I said in my initial post, I'd been promising myself for the last 20 years or so that I'd give art fairs a try one day. I'm not sure I'll do this again next summer; we're restoring an old Airstream camper and may take a long road trip instead. Of course, that opens up the possibility of doing some shows in beautiful, distant places, too, but it would depend on whether or not I could create new artwork that isn't Chicago-specific, and if I could water down the display to just one or two functional "mood pieces" for the display. In our scenario: living within an hour from where the shows were, and splurging for a Uhaul van... this setup / breakdown was as quick and practical as everybody else's, despite its different appearance. We also had as much open floor and wall space as everyone else, and the gallery feel seemed to magnetize people into the booth. I don't think I would change anything, though more mild weather would've been great. We had a couple scorchers that KILLED attendance. Best of luck to you next summer, you're already the right path by starting your research and planning now. All the best!

Ah, you're doing what I actually have been fantasizing about. A long road trip around the U.S. I love Airstreams. I thought it would be good to do in the winter to escape the cold. I'm currently on a trip around the world for a year and stocking up on my travel photos along the way. I totally think you could branch out and do other illustrations besides Chicago. It could be national parks or stuff out west, etc. Or sticking with cities. Anyways, thanks for the input and all the best to you too!

I have been doing art shows for a few years now and still I am tweaking mine! 

My first booth was a reflection on my heart and soul and like you wanted to show that in my display.  Does a booth have to be mundane?  Over the years I have gotten rid of the vintage suitcases- got rid of my bright and carefree colors and props.  I conformed to the like everyone else's professional setup with black and grey polished unsurprising booth.  I conformed by a heavy heart.

My question to you and everyone out there that juries art shows is it not TIME to move into another era that the cookie cutter style set ups are not the ones that are excepted?  I know under reason, that your setup (booth image) should not over power your art but for jury selection is that not what the 3-5 single images are for?

The typical  booth shot in my opinion is suppressing the true imagination and creativity of that artist.  His art should also reflect that feeling  in how he presents his art to his day all of these "ole time jury staff" will retire and be replaced by hopefully  a newer generation that can see that in a grouping of art that is confined in a single or small space is a true expression of an emotion AND an extension of the art itself.

Brad, my advise to you is take all props out for the jury and for the art show add them back in.  Customers would be WOULD draw them in, it would intrigue them to come in to your booth to explore instead of walking right past a boring uninteresting tent.  It comes down to marketing and having some type of edge or might say "gimmick" over the artist next to you selling paintings.  Look mundane or make money, the choice is yours...I think I need to look at my booth again. lol


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