• We did Peoria last year and it was great.  We make moderately priced silver jewelry and had sales of over $8k.  We were disappointed when we did not get in this year.  The crowds were consistent all weekend and the people were very friendly.  We will try to get in agin next year.

    • I want to thank everyone for their frank and informative discussions to my post. I have decided to do the show and combine it with a visit to a close friend in Chicago. I will post a review. By the  by of anybody is doing the show and wants a roommate  
      to my posted question. I have decided to do the show.  If anybody else iis doing the show and needs a roommate, I don't smoke or stay up late and am faiy neat, contact me. 
  • I've done this show several times and will be doing it again this year. What works for one person may not work for someone else, but here's my take on Peoria. It's not a real big market (population-wise) so for me it works best to give it a rest every now and then. It is often the same weekend (as it is this year) as the Plaza in KC. I alternate between the two shows. Funny thing is I have consistently done a little better in Peoria than at the Plaza, they are fairly comparable in sales for me. I've never done over about 7K at either of the shows but they are both only a one day drive so I don't have to sell as much as I do in places like Sausalito or Miami for instance. Most of my work ranges in price from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand. I don't need massive crowds for a good show. Six to eight people can make a show for me. Peoria is also the Corp Headquarters for Caterpillar who is doing well this year. I look forward to another good show in Peoria and hope to see you there.


    Good luck - Jay

  • Well, again... I didn't want to seem like "sour grapes" because I don't do the show, but I honestly wish I could hear from folks that have done fabulously at it because I honestly "don't get it".  How are they doing so well?  Yes, I see lots of folks there, but are they all buying?  If I were to wager, I'd say the median price on things that sell would be... $20-$75.  I'm sure there are the occasional upper end sale or two, but I can't imagine that people do $4K+ at this show... maybe they do but I'd be really surprised!  The Guild has done a great job treating the artists like kings and queens, however, and I do think artists will overlook mediocre shows to be treated well.  From my own experience, I have kept a smaller show on my schedule that's on the lower end of my "performance scale" simply because it's so easy to do and the art's organization that puts it on treats us SO well!  So, maybe putting on a kick ass party is putting the show on people's list!  (And, what does it say about how we are treated at "promoter driven" shows that we CRAVE to be treated nicely!  Craziness...)


    The art "show" show that's in Bloomington is the Sugar Creek Arts Festival and I have to say it's a mixed bag.  It makes no sense whatsoever.  They seem to have very inconsistent jurying, in my opinion.  Some years they select amazing artists, the next year it is full of total crap.  (I know some of the artists they accepted this year and it looks to be a crap year!  One of the jewelers doing it is a total "beader" with a very poor display so I have NO idea what the jury was looking at because it's not stuff I would expect to see at a better "art show"...)  I did it for 3 years and each year it was the lowest performing show I did so I dropped it from my roster.  However, I have a great client base there and actually, if I'm not doing a show on any given weekend, I'll drive over to do their Saturday morning market.  On the Sugar Creek weekends, if I do the market, I'll usually make in 4 hours what I made in 2 days each of the 3 years I did Sugar Creek.  CRAZY!  So... to me, it's just not worth doing that show.  HOWEVER, the community in Bloomington/Normal is very supportive of the arts and in supporting local art, so if I am looking at doing a trunk show or some type of gathering, I look there...  I guess it goes back to getting to know where your stuff sells and who is a good audience for you and, as we're learning, finding out the REAL info about shows, not just what's on the glossy postcard or slick website!

    • I can't speak to the Peoria show because they've never accepted me and keep annoying me every year to send a jury fee. I quit applying to them several years ago - sometimes it's just best to not apply to a show that has demonstrated it doesn't want someone's work.

      I can and will gladly speak with regard to Sugar Creek.

      It's a show that has managed to keep booth fees and jury fees way down. The town has weathered all kinds of economic maladies locally and nationally while pulling out all the stops when it came to giving their uptown district in Normal a major, major facelift. Their art center is a gem in the middle of Illinois and their director is a straight shooter - as far as I know at this writing he's not enjoying a cake job with an inflated salary, a sorry-ass ego, and a bully-swagger while grabbing all kinds of funding from the damndest places like local city governments - it does happen out there - we are in a sleazy business sometimes, but not in Normal and not with Doug. Doug is the director of the arts center that puts on the Sugar Creek show. He's a stand-up guy putting together a pretty good, affordable, quality show that I have been privileged to be part of over the years on a fairly consistent basis. Many artists supported Doug and the other staff at MCAC by standing with him when the show was held in the old uptown and during the renovation. I've done shows there in the middle of a construction site, in the quad of the college, etc. while waiting for the show to return to the street. Sure sales took a dive, but my long-term outlook on the Normal-Bloomington market has not, nor my relationships with some wonderful, outstanding people that also collect art.

      Some people didn't show the event very much love over the years and despite their lack of support - I know Doug is the kind of guy that will make sure the jurying is fair and impartial, something that does not happen in too many other shows. Even when some folks do trunk shows and parking lot swap meets - I know that Doug and the people at MCAC wish them well and sleep well at night knowing they helped keep art in the spotlight in Normal-Bloomington over the years despite the benefit to ancillary vendors.

      They put together a show in March as well in Bloomington that can be challenging, but I apply to it primarily because I want to support the art center as a way of saying "thank you" for building up the Sugar Creek show and teaching/encouraging the local citizenry to appreciate and collect art.

      The strongest element of the Sugar Creek show is the local support of art in Normal-Bloomington. I do shows all over the place and pound for pound I have never seen a more appreciative, inquisitive, and supportive crowd to date at any other show big or small.

      Regarding how sales are made in an unlikely setting - even though I am not supportive of the Peoria show and a few others that just have a "yuck" factor that I cannot measure or adequately describe here - it is important to remember that a show does not sell art. The artist sells the art. All a show can do is say they will try to bring people to the event and they will provide you with a space to pitch your tent and peddle your wares. Obviously there is selling going on in Peoria-type shows. That is due to the artist, not the show. That's what makes a show successful, how well the artists sell. Nothing else. The show is responsible for attracting buyers as far as the artist is concerned. Sometimes that means advertising and branding. More often for these types of shows it is incumbent upon the organizations sponsoring the show to teach and encourage the people in the area on why and how they should consider collecting or how to collect or purchase art. When this happens in a town like Normal, it should be applauded and supported by genuine artists - whether they are crap artists or not in the eyes of a Saturday morning market vendor.

      • Well, John, I'm glad you have had success at Sugar Creek and we can both agree that the McLean County Arts Center does work hard at providing artistic opportunities to Central Illinois.  However, the audience that attends Sugar Creek is not always the same art buying audience that attends MCAC shows, buys at local boutiques or purchases directly from local artists.  Sugar Creek does bring some of those, but it also brings out the individuals who like their kettle corn and their lemon shake-ups and will wander around looking at the pretty pictures while enjoying those culinary delights.  Most local area artists will agree that the audience just isn't the same, for whatever reason.  I can also say that Sugar Creek DOES have the reputation for being "sporatic" in its acceptance practices, whether that is the individual jury or not.  Again, the view is "getting in one year does not mean you have a good chance of getting in again," as there are several area artists who will do the show for 3 or 4 years and then not get accepted for 1 or 2 and then get juried back in again.  I stand by my statement that the quality is sporatic as well and there will be very good artists at this year's show along with some craptastic work.  That being said, for Chris Fortune, who is from California, it may or may not be a good venue for his/her work, particularly since that is pretty far away from Peoria.  It is up for Chris to choose, and I believe in being honest, sincere and helpful to other AFI artists.  Perhaps this is something I've learned while doing art shows... as well as a very well run Saturday morning market or two.  Funny, but when a $500 painting is sold at the Market as well as a $500 painting at Sugar Creek, in the end it's still a sold piece of art to an appreciative patron.
        • I think it would be best on my part to just watch your views float around undisturbed in the air like a heavy cloud for all who care to see.

          Doing anything else would be like shooting fish in a barrel.

  • In what way?  Good or bad? 

  • Ok... here's my two cents about this show.  As a "local artist", it's been a very long while that we've felt that the Art Guild desired "status" that is found by having national and international artists participate in the show, to the detriment of local artist participation.  So, after being ignored for so many years, most local artists don't even apply to this show!  Yes, they give a great party and treat artists very well, but Peoria is a blue-collar working town and there isn't gobs of money that are spent on anything, let alone art.  I actually go to Bloomington, 45 minutes to the east of Peoria, to do art related things, as it is a much larger white collar community with more disposable income to spend.  Having said that, we local folks don't understand how you "outside artists" keep coming back year after year! First, your crowds have to pay to get in. It started out at $1, then $3, then $5 and now rumor has it $7-$10 to get in the gate. I've actually watched people walk away from the gate when they find out they have to pay to get in. Again, we're not a bigger metro area and people here complain about even having to pay for parking, let alone participating in something! So, you're losing your audience and potential customers right off the bat. Secondly, many of you do larger venues in more metropolitan areas, and your prices reflect as such. The #1 complaint I hear from those that attend is that there is nothing there that they can afford to buy. I think photography does pretty decent (unframed and matted pieces, of course), and anyone who has smaller items that can be purchased. On the rare occasion I'm not doing a show the same weekend as the PAG show, I've gone through to see what artists I know and to look at booths/displays/etc. It's been several years now since I've gone and I know I walked away empty handed! One jeweler I looked at had necklaces ranging from $800-$1200... and she wasn't very busy. Another jeweler had really, really cool bracelets, but they STARTED at $1500. They were worth every penny, to be sure, but that is NOT something that most individuals in Peoria can buy. A 2D mixed media artist I saw had a huge primary piece in his booth that was $10K!! We're not Chicago or St. Louis and don't have the quantity of "upper class" needed to make this a successful show for everyone. So... it still puzzles "us locals" why you all come back again and again... We've sort of thought the show would falter a long time ago (kudos to the Art Guild for keeping you all coming back!).

    I know this may sound like sour grapes but truly... we don't get it!! For those individuals who have found success, we'd love to know how and why!

  • Don't do it! I did this show two years ago and it remains my level of comparison for bad shows. There are no sales at this show. All the artists I talked to said they don't know why they keep coming back- "for the party, I guess" I kept hearing.  ugh


This reply was deleted.