Call for Artists, Making Money at Juried Art Fairs, Craft Shows and Festivals
I feel I have learned some in participating in shows, but mostly I feel like a failure. I have literally only sold two items last year that I participated in. I've changed my prices, my sales techniques and anything else that has be suggested. I'm broke and exhausted. Finally I decided to be a part of a co-op with it's own gallery and even that was a disaster. I think it really could be true that you just can't create works of art and hope someone will like it enough to buy it. The rejection is hard to take. I enjoy people so much but, no sales makes me feel like a loser. I haven't met anyone in my position, and I feel like I'm the only person who has had this happen.
I think this changes an artist when this sort of thing happens, I know it's changing me. I've been told by other artists that I cant be authentic, that I need to have a distant attitude. Is art really like this? Does it really come down to recreating things you see on Pintrest that people liked, because your creative voice is speechless.
My new game plan is not a winning plan, but just a childish desire to not let my art sit inboxes in my shed. Yes I may sell my work at the lowest bidder, I may even give it away, which I have been doing. Yes, I may change me just so my hands can continue to feel clay in my hands. Today I'm actually borrowing 25.00 for a box of clay cause I am so broke from all of my efforts. I'm frustrated. The level of bad experiences are so bizarre I can't begin to understand them.
I haven't seen anyone sell an item over $300. this is even in shows like La Quinta. Is all artwork like this? does only inexpensive art sell? is this everywhere? I only can figure that I must do simple blobs to sell anything. Should I try it? should I make a mockery of this whole art thing? should I roll out some clay and virtually play out the" Emperor with no clothes". Make blobs and convince people this is great, and see if it sells. What do I have to loose? haven't I already lost everything?
What do you think?
No the see horse has not sold. But Thank you. The Seehorse has been a show stopper. People stand in the aisles and pile up to look at her. It makes me feel good. But frankly I want to kick her to the curb and move on to my next piece.
Yes, it's strange, I have sold Items on Etsy that have boggled my mind. A tiny picture doesn't quite explain my work. But, I have had a librarian buy 2 large pieces. I even sold to a guy in France, who is director of the Garfield cartoon. So why can't I sell my work in person?
I have been told it's my area, that the money areas here are too conservative for my work. So, perhaps I should try a show in the eastern states.
One artist said this, and this I believe relates to Larry Sohn comment about how you feel and believe. I think the lack of sales has affected me, hurt me. I feel things very strongly. People can feel my emotions in a room if something hurts me. It's crazy. I can be hurt by something and put my all into not showing it even bothered me, but people feel it. Maybe that is something I have to figure out.
I know I must work on lower priced items, it's a fact. I can't live in fantasy when it comes down to prices. So I will work on that this month, it will be my focus. It's worth more effort right?
I believe my style needs a look at. Perhaps I need to adjust it.
I agree on the East Coast thing -- too risky now. Good Luck, Kara!
I agree with the others, so I won't reiterate all those good suggestions.
I have seen friends forced to quit because they were priced out of the market, and would not make a few lower priced pieces.
I am thrilled when I sell a large, more important piece. But it's the smaller things that most often pay the bills. The better pieces bring people in, so it's not that it's a waste to have them there. You know that a person may love your work and want it, but not be able to afford a large piece. I had a show last summer where the small stud earrings I make accounted for half my sales. They made the difference between a slow show and a decent one. I make sure I remember that when I am in my studio, dreaming up new and adventurous ideas. There are a wide range of potential customers out there. Why SHOULDN'T people take home something, even if they have limited means?
Remember that the potential customers are buying a little piece of YOU. So put a bit of you into those smaller pieces, and they can find that, and take it home to enrich their life.
For small piece ideas: how about some wall pieces? They might also be easier to pack. I see faces in your work, and leaves: maybe something along the Green Man (or woman) idea? You could make a mold from some of your original leaves to make these faster to produce. In the pottery class I take for fun in the winter, I wanted a series with repeated stylized flowers and twining leaves. So I made a few originals from bisque. Now I can make all the leaves I want to attach to my work. My instructor mentioned I can mold them in latex if I want, which would make repeats even easier. I've also carved my own stamps from bisque. Give some serious thought to time savings if you want to make work that is less labor intensive for some pieces.
I know a woman who is a fabulous potter. Her large carved sculptured wall pieces are breathtaking. But I proudly use the MUG I bought from her, every day, and it's a joy to me. Every day I touch it, the carving feels good in my hands, the colors make me happy. It's right at my hand as I write this. It keeps her wonderful work in my mind. Someday, someday, when I see her again at a show; I will be taking home a wall piece.
Linnea, I totally agree. Having items in a certain price range and only that price range can definitely hurt us in the long run, as you have shown with your mug. If the "fabulous potter" had never made the mug, which was at a lower price point, then most likely you'd still have just a "wish list" for her pieces and not actually own one.
I do make some trinkets boxes that I sell for $25.00 but I have sold only 2 in 5 shows. I think there is a lot of information with all of these comments. I will chew on them and go forward toward some new ideas. Thank you so much.
I'll add my 50 cents here also. This is after almost 40 years doing shows. Proving it can happen to anyone.
My latest body of work is different from all the other bodies of work I've created. It got me into a few of the top tier shows but didn't sell, at all. The only sales I made were a few smaller prints which didn't cover my expenses at any of the shows I did. I got into Cain Park, Boston Mills, Long's Park and St Louis but I had to back out of St. Louis for medical reasons. I made more money at all of those shows shooting booth pictures for other artists.
Larry, it sounds like you were given lemons and made lemonade! vbg
Although I don't do a show just to make contacts for future use or that sort of thing, that schmoozing can add a little lagniappe to any event, especially if it helps find a show you previously did not know about or consider, adds to the bottom line at year's end, etc.
I’ve been following this post for the last couple of days thinking how to articulate my comments in order to be helpful to your cause. Since you’ve started posting about being a novice art show artist, I’ve been ‘rooting’ for your success from the sidelines. You’ve received great suggestions by the other artists so I’ll come at this from more of a business perspective.
I read the posts from this site regularly and one of the things you can always count on from the veteran successful artists that post here is that they understand their business. They understand which shows work for them, they know their demographics, how to market their work, how to present it and how to price it. But keep in mind this comes over time. There is a percentage of time these veteran artist spend time on art versus business. I’m not sure if it’s 50/50 but it probably something like that. Right now it seems like you are 90% art and 10% business? If that’s the case, then that would need to change if you are hoping for financial success. One of your comments that stuck out to me is that you said you felt like a failure. You obviously aren’t a ‘failure’ at your art since it’s your passion and you’re happy with the result. You are technically skilled/gifted. Where you think you are a failure is on the side that you may not be putting enough attention to… the business side. Like others have suggested, consider expanding your price points, product lines. Keep your fantasy themed artwork as your high-end pieces and maybe broader themed items tiered on the lower end? How is your booth appearance being perceived at the shows? Are you merchandising correctly. Are you marketing correctly? Do you have a method to which you are pricing your work? Are you speaking to customers confidently? All of the little things will enhance how your artwork is received.
Full disclosure. I’m not an art fair artist. I have an art background but create designs printed onto t-shirts. I create about 4 new designs every January and spend the rest of the year marketing and selling wholesale and retail. So I spend about 10% on art and 90% on the business. It’s been a 12-year journey I never could have predicted but also my ‘dream’ scenario. I do about $100K in wholesale and can do another $75K at shows (similar to art shows) if I choose. Don’t be afraid of where your journey may take you.
I'm in a similar situation. I thought since my larger part-time job ended in 2012 I would venture into full-time art. I painted highly-detailed, realistic landscapes and did five shows a year with Ann Arbor (where I live) as my anchor show. When Michigan didn't buy I tried Long Island and struck out. Had to sell the house and now I'm downsizing further. Did only one show last year and haven't applied for any this year. Put my booth up for sale here and no bites.
I have times when I feel like a loser, but we both have quality in our work, and get lots of compliments. We need to heed what people like Loc Tran are saying and see what's missing in our overall package.
I'm not giving up; I'm backing off and re-booting. In addition to sales effort, I've concluded my art itself needs to appeal on more than one level. Beauty? Yes. But add: Meaning? Puzzle? Intrigue. What's going on here? What's about to happen?
I'm working up a series for the Art Prize with a multi-level theme.
You might consider it. Look what won $200 G in 2016: sculptures of injured dogs. Beautifully done but with the powerful edge of meaning and message that put it over the top.
But you don't have to win it all for Art Prize to energize your work and capitalize your sales effort. The exposure alone could do it and you can sell what you show right there.
I have always done art as a living, but not ceramic sculpture. I have had one bizarre event happen after another, that has seemed to step in the way of me succeeding. My art isn't easily understood by many, but most people enjoy looking at it. My art has meaning to me. The feathered, my pieces do have little parts through out that are little surprises. I think honestly after reading some of these comments I may need to explain a few things so as to help me mo get the direction I need.
My art looks fantasy although I may like fantasy creatures that was not my first intent when I created my first bird ladies. Believe it or not, my bird ladies developed from a bible verse: He covers me with is feathers, and under his wing I will find refuge. I had created previously a mermaid and a gargoyle but I was just playing around to find my direction. Mostly I had been an illustrator for children, a sign painter, and a screen printer, ad layout person, photoshop work and 3d animation and flash animation work. I exhausted myself learning every field of study. Sculpture is where I found a pleasant joy. Strangely, In art festivals I am not considered so much a sculptor but a ceramists. My first experience with sculpture was working in a foundry at college. I really didn't know how to make one of a kind ceramic sculptures until our foundry closed, for me that was a whole separate and different procedure.
So why the history lesson? I have avoided trying to fit the typical sculpture work (bronze)I see out there that is popular, because it has been done. But I have also, stayed in the fantasy because I was on a roll with my whole original theme of my mysterious garden. I like figurative work and I love costumes, I boxed myself into a theme for my work. Maybe I need to free myself and try something new. Perhaps a mix of all of it.
I don't know what you are referring to about the ART PRIZE but you have me curious.
I will work on my website today and rearrange the pages, also I think I will change the theme. I think what is going on with me, is I'm changing.
I have been told over and over again to show at fantasy conventions, this is one bit of advice that I have failed at. I didn't do it because of the very same reason my art festivals haven't done well. I was told my prices are too high for the people to buy what I make. That I need small items. Thank you for mentioning it, I can see that my art is received very differently than my intent. That I need to see my art as if it weren't mine.
thank you for your advice and the time you took looking through my website. I appreciate it.