Call for Artists, Making Money at Juried Art Fairs, Craft Shows and Festivals
My name is Becky Bibro and I am new to this site. I have only been exhibiting at art festivals for two years, a total of 5 shows. Hoping to do 5 next year! So far, I'm sticking to within driving distance so I can be home every night as I have two and a half dogs that need me!
I am really enjoying reading the various discussions and learning from such seasoned veterans! I appreciate your sharing the ups and downs of your experiences and look forward to interacting with all of you.
It’s funny how the comments from the discussion of ‘what’s the worst question you’ve been asked at an art fair?’ are so universal over all types of art…I too have heard ‘Oh I can make that’ or ‘Did you really make all this’ or ‘How long did it take you to do all this’ ad nauseum at just the few shows I’ve done.
What I have learned so far :
Low expectations. I am grateful and excited for everything I get and try not to listen to others who expected much more from a show. When I add everything up, if I have covered my expenses, YAY! If not, oh well, it was a fun weekend and maybe I learned a little about what will and won’t sell. AND I was actually doing what I wanted to do rather than my crappy regular job (I should clarify that this is just a sideline for me at this point). I greatly admire artists who are able to support themselves doing what they love. I hope to get there one day.
Bartering. During a slow time at one show this year, I walked around to my neighbors’ booths, and ended up trading some of my pieces for theirs. Later after a local hairstylist bought a few small pieces but really admired a larger, more expensive piece I had, I exchanged it for a cut and highlights for my niece! And I ended up with a new friend and hairstylist to boot!
Honor and ATM. I don’t take credit cards, but I do practice the honor system and I try to know where the nearest ATM is (a fellow artist taught me these tips!). I have probably made 10-15 sales to folks who originally tried to pay with CC but had no cash or check. I just write the information down and tell them to send me a check the following week. So far, only been burned once for $23. Knowing the location of a close ATM has come in handy for the more expensive items that I have not been as quick to part with on just someone’s word.
Appreciation. I have yet to get tired of hearing folks say how much they like my work. I often look at other artists’ work and think WOW, I am just not as good as them, but when somebody says they really like my stuff, it makes me realize that’s part of the reason I do it.
What I need to work on:
Rejection. After my first year of two shows, I decided I would try to get into 4 the next year, including 3 I had not done. I applied to one and was rejected. I was crushed. I had already applied to one (and was eventually accepted), but the rejection caused me not to even apply to the other one because I was so dejected. I have to try not to take it personally but it’s very hard for me.
Clutter. I want to show EVERYTHING I have! I like to offer variety and am struggling with finding that balance between just enough stuff and way too much.
Pricing. Like many others, I have heard some of my prices were too low and I’ve seen cringing at some prices being too high. I know there is no magic formula, and I would really appreciate some insight into how I should try to set prices.
Manymany other things, just can’t put them all here!!!
Hello Becky and welcome. We are glad to have you here with us. I had to laugh a bit about having 2 and a half dogs! What half is it you have? lol
I hope you find all the shows that you want for next year and aybe even a few new ones, too.
Jacki, I have two of my own dogs, and am on my second foster, so I consider her my 'half-dog' (in more ways than one because she is very small too)!
That makes sense. Good for you for trying to help out a dog in need.