Art Fair Insiders

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

How I Research Art Shows – Part 3, The Last Part
Up until now we have had lists of shows and reviews to read to evaluate which shows in our geographic area are going to be the winners. If there are no reviews, the next best source of information on AFI is the Blogs. Some artists equate writing a blog with writing a review but very few blogs contain all of the hard data found in a review. Blogs are a lot more personal than a review, and this make them interesting to read. It is in the blogs that you will learn about all of the buy\sell vendors who had no business being in the show, how great or how miserable the weather was, and tales of helpful artists as well as the obnoxious sods next door. Read the blogs and glean what you can from them to assist you in you decision making process.
What do you do when there are no show listings, no reviews and no blogs and a big blank space on your map of geographic possibilities? Here are ways to find shows that may be winners but which are not widely publicized.

Town or City Web Sites. This is a good place to start as communities like to advertise their events to attract visitors. An arts organization may be listed and this is another lead to follow up. A potential winner in my mind would be an art\craft show put on by an arts council in a medium sized town with a college campus. The latter is a plus because academics tend to buy art.

Web Sites of Other Artists. Most artists post the shows that they will be doing during the calendar year. Many leave these lists up for several years and here is where you can mine a lot of information. First what shows did they do in your area? Second, how many times did they go back to the show. If the show was a dud, it’s not likely they would return. Shows attended may not be advertised but they may have a web site which gives you another lead to follow.

Internet Search for “Town + Art Show + Craft Show”. I am not a tech geek, but I know that there is good information on the internet if I can find a way to access it. Searches such as this might turn up listings for obscure shows that can be further researched as described above.

Search Local Organizations Service organizations like Rotary and Kiwanis often put on art\craft shows that are not advertised to artists because they have been around so long that “everyone knows about them”. Here is where your network with other artists can help you find these events. Social organizations like “XYZ Women’s Club” also put on events that are not widely publicized. I am currently helping the ladies at my church participate in a holiday craft bazaar which is a big deal in town but I never heard of it before, because “everybody knows the women’s club puts this on every year”.

Specialized Events Grouped here would be conventions of professionals where art events are set up for spouses, sportsmen conventions or shows like those for fishermen and hunters, wildlife events, car shows, music festivals, and etc. These are events that are not directly promoted to artists yet specialized art would fit in with these events. For example a friend who carves birds, displays his art next to the binocular sales booths at ornithology conferences.

Local Publications Don’t overlook the arts and entertainment section of your local newspaper. Calls for artists for shows and galleries appear hear as well as advertisements for shows. It may be to late to apply for an advertised show, but it’s not to late to walk the show to make an evaluation. Fliers announcing events are commonly posted at the Post Office and grocery store. It is not unusual for promoters to hand out fliers about their shows at other established shows. Sometimes these guys blanket the show and at other times the seek out selected artist.
Just today, my wife Jean and a friend went to what is best described as a trunk show at a private home in an upscale neighborhood. Both spent money there, but she came home with a county wide newspaper that listed nothing but fall art\craft shows, and trunk shows at boutiques, galleries and at upscale neighborhood club houses. I was amazed at the number of events, and none were listed where I usually search. If it is too late to apply to these event, walk them and talk to the artists and promoters to see if your work would be a good fit next year.

The first two resources might turn up a show of interest to an established artist. Many of the other events found by the above methods probably would not meet those requirements, but for someone new to the business, shows found here will get you started and give you the experience to move up. Generally they will be less expensive to do as well.

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Thank you Richard.  This is good info.  Some how I missed the first 2 parts to this.  I will have to go on a hunt.

Another resources that new artists may not realize is two of our websites.  We have www.callsforartists.com.  This is a great website to find shows that are looking for artists.  It is a great resource to have lots of shows listed all in one spot  -  for free!!

Also, www.artshowreviews.com.  We now have lots of art shows listed all over the country thanks to many of the great artists here.  We also welcome artists to write reviews.  Our reviews are written by the artists and they are the ones who really know what information is important.

Great lists!  My fave is checking out other artist's websites.  I've found some good shows that way!  If I like their work, I end up on their website and it's a natural progression to check out what shows they've done and then determine if it might be a fit for me...  thanks for putting these lists together!

Hopefully this will answer the question of newcomers about " where do I find shows to do". This morning while reading the paper there was a piece on a show being done in Palmer Lake, CO town hall, just a hoot south of here. They have been doing it for 39 years. I have lived here for 30 years and never heard of it before. Not my cup of tea but it's obviously working for some folks.
This is a post script to this discussion. I have been helping the ladies from church with their holiday craft shows which were included in this discussion. This morning I cut a 1/4 page out of the Denver Post listing upcoming craft shows. Some are still open for exhibitors. Those that are full become a resource for next year and ones to be walked this year.
Crazy! I edited "itch" to "with" and in didn't show up in the post but shows up on mine. I'm not about to itch any church ladies. LOL. Now the change shows up.

Ha ha, Richard the church ladies may like you to itch them.

Good thread Richard! Every year when I start planning my ideal show shifts. Lately I've been to good shows with lots of foot traffic and nice promoters but the people just don't have any money to buy.

I've really started researching the area's economy before I go and yes, college towns are usually great.

Thanks

Thanks, Richard...there's a wealth of useful information here that I will remember and refer to as I navigate my way through the Art Fair jungle.  

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