Art Fair Insiders

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

I have learned so much from people on this forum. One of the best things about being in art shows are the friends you make. Lately a couple of friends have confided in me that they NEVER make money at shows. I was shocked. Everyone has bad shows but I don’t know how people can put good (and hard earned ) money into shows that never pay off. A couple are newbies and I get that, but one couple I have seen in regional shows for years.

Since I do ok, they ask me for advice. I’m not big on this but as I look at their booth the one thing that is obvious to me is the lack of visual continuity and artistic vision. And by that I mean drawings are pencil and some water color, flowers and then landscapes. Some are framed and some matted. Wood frames and black frames and most smallish. Two photographer friends have the same problem. Some nature shots, some urban shots, some flowers and a few tiny bugs.

I would really like to see my friends do better. Is there somewhere I could point them? I suggested they walk around and look at the other booths and identify the visual themes and the display techniques that help unify the artist’s point of view. But I could tell they didn’t see what I was talking about.

One suggestion is kinda my limit when people ask for advice. I do not see myself as an expert, more as a student who is always willing to learn. So I guess what I am asking is, where could I point to, so that they get the help they need to turn a profit?

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Here's an excellent reference text that should be required reading for anyone contemplating a career in the arts, How to survive and prosper as an artist without selling your soul. I mentioned using this as a text for a grad class back about 15-20 years ago and the faculty advisors looked at me as though I had horns growing from my head. The book addresses many of the points in this thread.

Thanks I'll check it out. It's funny I started this to pass it on to my friends but I find myself interested in all the advice. Robert, will I see you at Madison Chautauqua or Midway?
My next three shows are in August starting with a little one in Noblesville, IN on the first weekend, then following week in Kettering, OH, then Levi Commons up in Toledo, OH. After that, it'll be the Garlic Festival on Labor Day weekend in Bloomgton, IN, then Penrod in Indianapolis.
I guess I should have said I won't be in the Madison Chataqua, or Midway. I'll apply to Francisco's Farm in Midway again next year. I have a couple of shows in October; a new little on Monument Circle in Indy, then the last one of the year is the Bluffton Seafood Festival in South Carolina.

Wow - I made a lot of mistakes starting out.  Learned by watching others.  I'm putting together a list of tips for some friends just starting to do fairs and shows.  I would welcome any suggestions.  Even pretty basic stuff, like tablecloths, plastic bins for storage and transport, snacks, etc.  Thanks


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