Art Fair Insiders

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

As I continue towards one of my goals of balancing my events of 1/2 my current events I do, I wish to include 1/2 shows of my finished Fiber Art Clothing and accessories. I have been hesitant, one reason is the timeline I see for shows I am interested in. How does one begin to plan inventory on a maybe up until shortly before the event happend? My work is not fast to create. I must be doing something wrong.

Views: 505

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

Hi Carol:

Not sure I understand your question(s).

You are saying there is not enough time between acceptance to a show and having the work ready to sell? I think how most people handle this is to always have pieces in the pipeline. What is not ready for show # 1 will be ready for show # 2, etc. The work you start between show # 1 and 2 will be ready by show # 6, etc. 

You don't expect to have all your production for 2019 ready for the first SHOW of 2019. 

Also don't know what you mean by " my events of 1/2 my current events". 1/2 of what? 

The way I see it is that if you love what you're doing, you should be making art all the time, like having a full time job. Then you always have enough work for the shows you get into. If you're only creating work for the shows you get into you'll never catch up.

Larry Berman

Perhaps it is just me, but I am having a hard time understanding this question.

I also make fiber art wearable garments and agree with Linnea and Larry. I am working every single day. My last show of any given year is in December and my first is usually in May. I work like crazy January through April. I have so much inventory right now that I won't be able to take everything to my first several shows. I schedule shows so there are usually a couple of weeks between them, but not always. If I am not packing or unpacking a show, I am in the studio. I keep a checklist so I know what sells, so if I sell five scarves or two jackets at a show, those are the first things I work on when I start back working. I also try to take care of sales tax and other paperwork as soon as the show is over--that helps!

I agree with having a rolling production ...several things in the pipeline many they may each be in various degrees of completion.

i am cutting back on shows because I have a booth that is in a vintage/antique/repurposed mall.  It is open every Friday through Sunday, barring major holidays like Easter, Christmas, etc.  This is much like having a show every weekend, minus the set up and tear down.  I need to have things ready to sell at all times from small things to furniture.

So I am always searching for things to upcycle.  I usually have 2-3 projects as “works in progress”.  I have to allow time for cleaning them up, prep work (sanding, priming, etc), painting, sealing.  Most steps require dry time before moving to the next step.  i also love two hours from my booth.  I have e to think about when I can drive over and work on my booth.  I simply cannot what till something sells to work on the next piece.

To me, waiting till you get notification to start your pieces is putting you in a situation where you’ll never get caught up.  You are putting yourself behind the 8 ball so to speak.

I appreciate asking for clarification, i have been doing shows with my current lines for 14 years on the road, witha non-stop replenishment production. I am working on a massive overhaul (for me) and wish to go the route I explained originally. Part of the issue is funding the time to transition while still doing what I have hostorically done. My current shows are 90% prepay for the following year at the current one. It is an auto accept with a caveat the organizers have the final say so. I am used to a year out. Carving put the time and applying for “maybes” and dedicating the amount of time to have enough, not over apply amd possibly get to be accepted and suffer from stock outage I am struggling with. Do most apply to say 50 shows knowing you may only get accepted to say 20-25. If they overlap and you take one and not accept the other is it common you never get back in? They are different from the ones I do now, and I am insecure in making it work. Does that make more sense Larry? I am at a crossroads. I want to go after designing which was my life plan 50 years ago.

I can only base my suggestions on how I ran my business. For about ten years I drove a box truck and did about forty shows a year. What I did was work to keep the truck full, not necessarily replace what I sold at one or two individual shows. That also gave me enough time do other things and not take away from the time I needed to create inventory. Having the truck sitting next to the house gave me a place to store my inventory also.

Larry Berman

Thank you, I appreciate everyone's input. I am struggling with time I believe more than anything and no one can give that to me. I currently supply high-end fiber and yarns I have total control over from the production to the hand dyeing and then "supply" for others to finish in the textile arts and crafts.

Parts of that production are becoming to physically demanding and my heart tells me to start the design line while I still can - but there is a bridge in-between the two, making sure enough is coming in which the current situation is a guarantee but eats up all my creative time v, building and having enough to start - okay I think that was the piece people weren't understanding - "start" the other line - have enough for shows, if I get accepted into them...and the time line is totally different. This isn't about me not putting in the hours, this is about managing the hours. I can appreciate if you are already established within the Art show circuit and value your vast experience and knowledge - because I always do when I see your posts. I am not there - yet. So, that time line of new stock and applying for related shows v acceptance or not and balancing my sure thing shows against the new...I mean everyone started at point A to get to B which most of you are at. I am also at Point B in my current production. It has been so long, and it's a different type of circuit...I am struggling with that initial balance of stock v show v timeline.

 I understand where you're coming from Carol. I'm a fine art photographer (with a separate fulltime job) who does about a dozen shows a year. It's all I can do in the summer to keep up. I try to pre-load popular prints and wall art so I can have extra inventory, but sometimes you never know what's going to sell.

This year I was hoping to do some shows in a completely different medium and I've worked over the winter to increase my skill and build inventory in that one. But I just can't get there. Having enough art in two different mediums to fill two tents is proving to be a bridge too far for me this year. So I'm hoping to do one show in my new medium while I continue to build inventory in the second and keep the first moving in a positive direction. Oh, and not get fired from the day job! 

My advice, do all you can to keep the first priority moving and be realistic about the second. Sometimes you gotta draw a line and say: anything beyond this is just insane!

Thanks Carol for the clarification.

As far as inventory goes, I guess I am like a lot of the other artists that replied on here earlier. I am always working on several pieces at the same time to in order to maintain my inventory. Recently it seems I'm just maintaining my inventory and not increasing it.

For me, its a full time job, if I'm not at a show, I'm in my shop at 10am every day and leave my shop about 6pm every night, Monday-Saturday. Yet, I still find time to mow the lawn, go to my grand kids baseball games, and take care of household chores. Thank goodness for daylight saving time. If all the young aspiring artists knew how much work was involved to be an artist, they may reconsider.  

I still enjoy doing shows for several reasons, but one reason is just to get a break from "making art". (Even though I still enjoy that part of it).

I apply to quite a few shows a year and am lucky enough to get accepted to most of the ones I apply to. For that reason, I don't over apply in anticipation of not getting accepted to some. I don't know if there is any truth to the matter that you may not be accepted to future shows if you cancel or don't accept an invitation. It might just be a myth. :)

And I also understand you wanting to be a full time designer and would like to leave the other part of the business to someone else. But as I mentioned earlier, being an artist (designer) is not easy street. After you conceive your design, you must design it, make it, market it, distribute it, and then finally hope that someone buys it. And don't forget, after the sale, you now have sales tax, p & l statements, business expenses, reordering supplies, and then start the process over again. Don't get my wrong, I've been doing this "art thing" for 50 years and still enjoy every day of it.

One final thought, you may want to consider wholesaling your designs or getting a rep to help you market your product. This cuts into your profit margin, but it also frees up some time.

Thank you Fletcher Dean... you hit the nail on the head. The two styles of shows have very different time lines. My current is a year out, so 6 mos before I am planning out seasonal colors to add. Art shows din’t have that luxury, so it’s current stock you have when accepted. Very different production concepts and scheduling.
Sorry for typos, new glasses sorely needed coming in next week.


Fiber artists -- use this resource to find new buyers:  Advertise with Reach over 60,000 fiber arts lovers.

Our 50 Best Art Fairs

Look Inside the our latest Art Fair Survey:
Who Won and Why

Join the MasterMinds Group for personalized coaching on your Internet Lifestyle Business! 

Video Website Reviews

60 Page Report - Best US Art Fairs

Click Here to
Learn More


  • Add Photos
  • View All

© 2021   Created by Connie Mettler.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service