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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?

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Your work is high-quality, so don’t blame yourself. Just try new things until you find what works for your art: try different shows, different states, etc.

Don’t change your work - I think you need to come at this from an impartial marketers perspective. Don’t take your current results personally so far, you need to revise your strategy. This is a niche, unique product, and uses some sub genres that are commercially well known but not always popular from year to year (mermaids, fae people). Game of thrones is very popular in the public consciousness right now - not saying that is similar to your work but it never hurts to have people interested in sort in medieval or magical themes.

Consider your region (I bet this would sell very well at a street fair in CA but maybe not in a country rural area) and also consider heavy traffic science fiction and fantasy conventions - I don’t know what your prices are but some large conventions like dragon con would have enough people who can meet them and appreciate your work. Your website may not be a great marketing tool if no one is getting there from your booth referrals - green website background is distracting, try posting your portfolio on deviantart and do some posts on Reddit or imgur - I see some fantasy or alternative craft artists do that, not sure if that is effective for them. Try cross-selling on Etsy if you don’t already. If you are open to it create smaller utilitarian pieces that people of all incomes can buy and appreciate (eg clay pieces incorporated into sterling silver jewelry or broaches). Similar to painters making small pieces and studies that tide them between bigger sales. You have a niche product and need a niche. Third just from a marketing standpoint are people going to want to buy and place heavy clay sculpture in their home? I love your work but I’m not sure if I want to carry it around a show. How heavy and big are the pieces and would you consider working in another medium like fiberglass or latex where you could get lighter results? What about using molds so you could reproduce pieces at different sizes and prices? Don’t know much about the process just thinking of how you could broaden interest. Hope this did not cause offense, I love your sculptures.

Kara, I've seen your work here before. As an artist in my 60s and having created artwork for over 40 years and having seen literally millions of pieces of artwork - your work is exquisite! But, you already know that.

I've also read down through many of the comments but not all. 

I have one suggestion, maybe it's been offered already. I would look at submitting your artwork to various exhibits across the country. For a small jury fee and the cost of shipping, I firmly believe you have monetary awards waiting for you and a high chance of selling your work. 

This is my last year for art fairs, but I will continue to exhibit nationally, if I believe the theme, venue, etc favor my artwork. My prices are slightly higher when exhibiting versus art fairs, and I usually receive some kind of award.

I just think you would excel greatly in the exhibit type of format.

"Be encouraged as you see the day approaching..."

With grace,


I did art festivals for 6 years with jewelry. Made between 500 - 1500 per show with priced to sell items. But it was not a success for me because time and $ invested should have produced a much bigger gain. I would walk the shows I was doing, check out the competition and other artists. I rarely saw sculptures of the quality and artistry you create, but when I did my thought was they were in the wrong venue. Your work belongs in high end venues such as the shows by American Craft Council or the Smithsonian. Your sculptures seem very personal, sometimes whimsical like NIADA art. Research what other artists are doing that is selling. See if you can adapt, change colors, subject matter, etc. without compromising your vision. Look into becoming a Patreon artist.


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