Art Fair Insiders

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

Here is an email I got this morning from a buyer at the art fairs:

Are there any art shows which only allow original work… no prints of paintings, nothing mass produced, must be gold/silversmiths hand fabricating each piece, photography that is numbered (we were at the South Miami show and a photographer next to us didn’t know where his photos were taken)…no more pretty photos of Venice.   The promoter would need some sort of system that insures that the artist has hand fabricated their work. Maybe along with jury photos,  a set of fabrication photos as well showing the artist at work?  How difficult would that be?
I know many artists who would be interested in participating in such a show.  I think the promoters would sell less  booths, but they could charge more and if the fraud were eliminated from the shows, buyers would be more eager.  We visited Naples 5th last weekend and the show had a huge amount of buy/sell. I guess they are just trying to sell as many booths as possible.   I think the jury photos were probably good for these booths, but the stuff is buy/sell…fabricated in another land.   Equal emphasis on jury photos and on fabrication photos would help to eliminate this. 
Do you have any answers for her?

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I have been up to 5 hours away from home in Houma, LA and I know of none that have ALL originals.  I know a canvas artist that does impasta (sp?) style painting.  She does all the painting herself.  Of  her originals, she also has matted prints, matted/framed prints, gicles (sp?) and maybe other available formats of her originals.  I guess in a show that is strictly for originals and no prints she would be excluded, though her originals are often priced (and sell for) $1,000's.  For those who are interested, her Esty shop is found at .... https://www.etsy.com/shop/StaceyFabre?ref=ss_profile

Some come close: Cherry Creek Arts Festival in Denver, for example.

This is their main statement, but they do allow some limited edition signed prints.

Rules of the Show
1. All work must be original, handcrafted work. Artist guarantees the accuracy of the description of the works presented and the authenticity of the work as the creation of their own hands.
2. Work done by a production studio is not acceptable. All work must be designed and executed by the accepted artist.
3. No more than two artists may collaborate on work. Both must be included on and sign the application. Both must be present at the Arts Festival.
4. Artists must be present with their work for the entire three days of the Arts Festival. Representatives may not attend in place of the artist. The Arts Festival requires photo identification at check-in to ensure compliance.
5. Artists may only show work in categories and body of work selected by the Jury. All work exhibited must be of the quality, category and body of work of that shown in the images juried.
6. Absolutely no reproductions are allowed (see special notes per media category).
7. Evolving Artwork: The CCAF allows for a small portion (no more than 15%) of ‘new work’ as a gesture to allow artists to keep evolving into other bodies of work. In order to respect the decisions of the jury, here are the rules for an artist that would like to participate: new work may only make up 15% of the exhibit space; the work must be within the same discipline as the work juried into the show; and the ‘new work’ must be original, handcrafted work. The goal of this new program is to allow artists to continue to grow and change while maintaining the high artistic standards of the show jury process. If you have any questions or concerns please contact us at visualarts@cherryarts.org.

Details (which can be found at the link) for each category, but here are highlights:

Digital Art: This category includes any original work for which the original image, or the manipulation of other source material, was executed by the artist using a computer. Work in this category must be in limited editions, signed and numbered on archival quality materials. Traditional photographs taken through a digital media should apply in the photography category.

Fiber: All work crafted from fibers including basketry, embroidery, weaving, leatherwork, tapestry and papermaking.This can be wearable or non-wearable. No machine tooling, machine-screened patterns or other forms of mass production are permitted.

Glass: No forms of mass production are permitted.

Painting: Works created in oils, acrylics, watercolor, etc. are in this category. Reproductions of all kinds are prohibited.

Photography: Photographic prints made from the artist's original image, which have been processed by that artist, or under his or her direct supervision, are included in this category. Photographers are required to disclose both their creative and printing processes.

Come see me in Chattanooga April 11-12, 4Bridges Art Festival.

Rittenhouse Square Art Show

http://www.rittenhousesquareart.com


ACCEPTABLE WORK – MEDIA CATEGORIES

This is an originals only fine art show. Only non-functional original work created by the artist may be shown and all work must be for sale. No reproductions may be shown or promoted. All work displayed must be of the same or better quality than the work submitted to the jury process.

Rules/Regulations
UNACCEPTABLE TYPES OF WORK

No Reproductions
No reproductions of any kind may be shown, displayed, sold or promoted at this event. Only original artwork is allowed. Other excluded work includes, but is not limited to: photography, calendars, note cards, digital or computer-generated art, posters, books, or limited-edition print reproductions.

No Functional Work
No functional work of any kind may be shown, displayed or sold at this event. Excluded work includes, but is not limited to: jewelry, t-shirts, clothing, hats, pottery, dishes, lamps or furniture.

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There has to be a customer base for an all originals show. Lots of artists out there do what they do because there is a huge customer base wanting items that are around that $20 price tag. Lots of artists struggle with trying to create originals that sell for that price tag. Hence part of the reason for the creation of repros & what looks like mass production to some. If the customer base is not there to buy a piece that runs up in the $100's - $1,000's then the artist either tries to cater to the customers or stops doing the shows that don't support them in favor of the shows that do. I Honestly think that a lot of what gets into the shows is what the customer base of the show is supporting. If customers are paying $100's & $1,000's the artists would probably be more than willing to leave the nickel & dime stuff at home anyway. They are just trying to make a living and not have a zero show. Most take inventory that shows well & mostly what sells well!
Nothing feels worse than doing a show and everybody around you is selling their $20 items all day long & customers eyebrows jump when your cheapest price tag is $75........let's not even discuss the highest priced item in your booth. That leaves me with two options.....repeat the show with cheaper priced items or cross it off my schedule?
Mel

Rittenhouse Square might be on my list if it wasn't in the hot time of year. I like the idea of no photography and pottery and fiber and stuff.

Funny thing on their application states NO ITEMS PRICED UNDER $35. Darn the luck, right? We seldom ever have any original for less than $1,250. Sometimes a $600 piece, and last week one at $300. We don't have a formula for making something "original" in an hour or less. That hardly constitutes an original work of art in my mind. It's insignificant work, don't you think? And it's really an art product designed with competing for sales in mind.

Nels Johnson complained in his review of Winter Park Sidewalk Art Show last year that patrons wouldn't even spring for $35 original art! My complaint about all of the originals only shows has always been that 9 out of 10 artists will have $35 art in their booth and that the majority of sales will range from $35 to $200. And Rittenhouse Square isn't helping the matter, except they don't allow functional work, so it gets billed as a FINE ART FAIR. I certainly appreciate that. There are dozens of shows that are CRAFT ONLY, like Smithsonian, etc. We need more like Rittenhouse, but lose the $35 lower end.

So are there no outdoor art fairs with a bona-fide original art clientele? Probably not, because all of the artists are trying to outsell their neighbor with lower priced stuff. But the outdoor art fairs are where I'm finding original art buyers with my higher end originals, and I do very few of the bigger shows that tout ORIGINALS ONLY.

>>Funny thing on their application states NO ITEMS PRICED UNDER $35. Darn the luck, right? We seldom ever have any original for less than $1,250. Sometimes a $600 piece, and last week one at $300. We don't have a formula for making something "original" in an hour or less. That hardly constitutes an original work of art in my mind. It's insignificant work, don't you think? And it's really an art product designed with competing for sales in mind.

Well, I would miss out on all counts and what I do would be considered a total waste of time.  All my prices are mainly in the $20-30 range.  My products can all be made in under an hour and they each are original.  My crafts are also functional.  Add all this up and it is all insignificant. So there you go.  I am totally wasting my time and the money I have made is nonsense.  (Okay, I am trying to not get my feathers ruffled!)  Just because it can be completed in less than an hour, is less expensive than my neighbor and is functional, don't write it off as not being "real" art.  I don't do what I do just to be competitive.  My prices tend to be higher than others who do the same work ... any where from 10-50% higher and it still sells.

>>Nels Johnson complained in his review of Winter Park Sidewalk Art Show last year that patrons wouldn't even spring for $35 original art! My complaint about all of the originals only shows has always been that 9 out of 10 artists will have $35 art in their booth and that the majority of sales will range from $35 to $200. And Rittenhouse Square isn't helping the matter, except they don't allow functional work, so it gets billed as a FINE ART FAIR. I certainly appreciate that. There are dozens of shows that are CRAFT ONLY, like Smithsonian, etc. We need more like Rittenhouse, but lose the $35 lower end.

I believe the reason that sales are between $35-200 is because that is what MOST people can afford to spend or what they are willing to invest in one or more pieces.  I don't feel the average buyer has $100's or $1000's to spend at shows on single pieces.  Reality is not the top percentage of people who attend those shows like has been described with only all originals and everything costing $100's or $1000's for a single piece.  Reality are the shows that have a wider variety of price ranges and Joe Schmo spending a couple $100 the whole day ...  at least where I live and at the craft shows I take part in.  The show I am in this weekend will have 300+ booths.  There will be a canvas artist I mentioned elsewhere who sells originals for $100's-$1000's but she also has prints, gicles, etc. all in the under $50 range and there will probably be others as well.  There will be other crafters and artists in attendance who sell plenty of items in the $5-50 range.

Okay, I am really trying not to be that rankled middle aged woman who is taking things to personally!  LOL

Cindy,
I don't think he was talking about original crafts I think he was talking about original fine art. (Other than the Bob Ross thing I mentioned) I don't think I have ever seen anybody create an original piece of fine art in an hour. There are tons of people that create plenty of original crafts, one of my good buddies does it & makes a very good living at it. I couldn't do what he does and he does it very well.
The repro prints that you mentioned the lady selling is probably one of her ways of having work down in that price tag. Repros are just what the word says.
Barrie,
LOL you obviously haven't watched one of the PBS broadcasts of Bob Ross doing one of his landscape oil paintings! I'm telling you that guy is like a miracle working artist! It's amazing what he can get done in a 30 minute episode. All those happy trees! I love to watch him, it's facinating!

I spend hours just designing something.......even when I get it to my saws I don't have anything that I can create in an hour. I wish I could get a price tag down to the Rittenhouse $35 minimum that would draw attention........

I had to design a few super simple pieces that I did at around that price tag (craft more than art) and the people would come into my booth for the big pieces and I honestly hated doing those simple pieces.......they just didn't even compare to the other stuff and I felt they brought the value of my big pieces down....(I only designed them because I had paid for a series of shows by a promoter that were more of a nickel and dime show but I didn't know it until they started). I stopped making them so once they are all gone.....that's it.

I personally think an all original show with a minimum of $100 would be really great. I would definitely be in line for that.

Shows are surprising......you can read all the reviews you want but sometimes you just don't know til you try it.

I'm curious about the writer of this e-mail.  They say "photographer next to us" which makes them sound like an exhibitor not a buyer.  Also, I was at Naples and did not see buy/sell.  I didn't see the whole show, but there certainly was not a huge amount.  So I'm curious about this person's expertise and where it comes from.

They are probably artists on the circuit.
Most buyers don't call it buy/sell. Most also don't know the whole jury process enough to suggest fabrication photos to go along with jury photos.
Most customers I've encountered call it stuff bought from Walmart and Target (not buy/sell)
They also think that Jurying takes place once you are there.
I don't actually know any buyers that personally know a bunch of artists well enough to know they would be interested in doing a more all originals show.
Lots of buyers don't even realize that we pay a fee to have a booth, I can't tell you how many think we are part of a traveling show that comes to town.....like a circus.

Sounds like an artist to me.......but hey they asked so I guess we will all entertain the idea of the question.

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