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

Awhile back I was at a show and was looking at some fine craft. I admired the work and then was told that the "artist" only designed the pieces but they were actually made in Europe.  That was a first for me, and I didn't really consider it hard core buy/sell. What is your opinion? Is it really any different from a domestic production shop? Is this why some shows limit number of studio employees? 

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I don't know if I would label it "Buy / Sell". I see Buy / Sell as something the vendor (not artist) just purchases and then sells. Not really being a creator.

However I do not believe what you mentioned should be allowed in a Fine Art Show. I feel that the Artist must also be the creator. They must be the inspiration, designer, and hands that make the finished artwork as well as the one selling it.  Many will argue with me as I am opposed to photographers who enter shows wherein it states the photographer must print their own work or directly supervise the printing, yet the photographers just have some print shop do the printing for them. The photog is not at the printing shop. Does not have direct involvement with the printing process. Is not supervising anything.

So, I don't want to hijack your thread, Richard. As I know you and I create our own work. I don't believe you would draw up a saddle then send the plans to a shop in another country. Let them make the saddle and ship it back to you. Then you sell it at a venue as your work.

So, back to your question... It might not be buy/sell. But it is NOT artist made artwork. It is just like any production shop items. Might as well go to Walmart for designs that someone thought of and had a production shop make, then sell.

Larry, about photogs who print elsewhere.  Without the image, there would be nothing to print.  It all starts with the keen eye for subject matter and skill to get it photographed correctly.  To me that is the art, not the method or location of printing.  Maybe it's just me?  <shrugs>

I know a show in Shreveport, LA that requires everything to be handmade.  I have never visited it as a shopper so I don't know how strict they are.  I did apply when I was doing only coasters.  I use tumbled travertine and put designs on them myself.  I was on the wait list the year I applied.  They never asked if I made the tile itself, which I didn't.  I bought the blanks and did the rest myself.  So my question to you,are the coasters handmade?

I would not attempt to critique your medium as I don't have expert knowledge of it. Nor do I know the rules regarding your medium.

Many Fine Art shows declare in their rules that if entering the category of Photography - the artist must do their own printing or under their direct supervision.

Therefore if the photog is having some printshop do the printing for them, they are NOT the artist or printer for representation at that show.

I agree with what you state about the keen eye, etc being art. However the printing is extremely important to the final artwork.

There is a tremendous amount of effort, skill and creativity that can be applied during the printing process. Also time and costs. I have tried samples of letting others print some of my work. A HUGE difference. Print shops may have equipment that is beyond the affordability of many artists. As well as expertise that is beyond the scope of the ability of the artist, thereby affecting the finished artwork. Furthermore the printshop is doing such volume they can reduce costs, making the final artwork different in cost than the artist alone can do. Furthermore the printshop doing the work frees up the artist from that time and effort thereby making the whole scenario very different. Imagine if you had the idea / concept / vision & artistic mind to conceive of how to re-purpose a piece of furniture. Then you sent it out to a shop for them to do the sanding & finishing. While they had it there they would adjust the colors to what they perceive is correct to be what you wanted with the results of how the wood absorbed and reacted to the application. Meanwhile you, not being committed to the time and effort of doing that part of the work, were able to search for other pieces of furniture.  In said scenario the finished product might be the idea for the artist BUT the artwork is NOT from the artist.

Just trying to get the concept across. If the artist is not doing the entire process, they are in a different category. Is it Buy / Sell? I don;t know...but it is NOT artist made.

There is a reason fine art shows specify certain things in the rules.

There is a reason many shows are going down hill.

There is a reason more artists are being called vendors.

There is a reason more and more shows are having Buy / Sell.

Let's stop giving them a reason.

Ouch... I just stumbled while getting off my soap box  :-)

I don't think a photographer who takes a picture, sends the file out to the aluminum company, and gets back a product so beautiful and shiny that it hurts my eyes to look at it (think Andalusian Dog) is any different than buy/sell.

I think this is a conversation we all seem to have at one time or another, again and again. I’m a beader and create crystal suncatchers using antique, vintage & new lead crystal made for/or having been on chandeliers, combined with the same beads and gemstones used in making jewelry. I don’t make the beads, the crystal, the thread or any of the components I use in my creations. But I do consider my work art, fine craft, handmade by the artist. My work is unique and each of my pieces are one-of-a-kind. I don’t know about photography but my sister is a wall artist and her stock includes originals, limited edition prints & giclee. She doesn’t print the prints or giclee, all of which are from her original artwork. Most shows will limit (or prohibit) the numbers of prints & giclee she can have at the show. I have a friend who designs jewelry, but doesn’t actually make the pieces. Not buy/sell, but definitely not handmade by the artist. She gets into some shows, but not in others, so that distinction seems to be in the discretion of the promoters. It seems it would also depend on the medium. But I agree with Larry: I see buy/sell as something purchased and then resold, as in a retail store.

Richard, I'm new to these types of Art Fairs, but familiar with fine art and gallery sales. As an example of this type of "Art Creation", Dale Chihuly comes to mind.  He does the conceptual design and the employees in his studio create the pieces, with some of that work selling for tens of thousands of dollars. Would he be allowed in that show? As another example, bronze sculptors typically create the original piece of art and the foundry produces the specified number of limited edition copies from a mold. In some instances the artist never touches the limited edition pieces made from the original, but is given credit for them because he created the original. Is this fair? I'm of the opinion that an artist should create and produce the work, or at least create the design and have their "hands on" during some part of the production. The only exceptions to this would be photographic prints or lithographs/art prints, if they're going to be sold as original art with the artist's name on it. Unfortunately, the art world has accepted this type of "creation and production" without ever asking for my opinion...so I'm glad that someone finally gave me the opportunity to state it (for what it's worth!).

For me, defining buy/sell is pretty straight forward.  The "purported artist" purchases the items and resells them under the guise of "being the artist".  This is no more than smoke and mirror retail.

I take equal exception to those who again purport to be the artist when all they do is design the work and do not have their hands involved in the finished product.  A design is an idea.  Art is the creation of an idea.  An artist is one who makes/produces/has their hands in the process of the finished work. No doubt each medium has an element of where the hands of the artist starts and could stop.  However, no one would call me the artist if I told Monet I had an design idea for a painting of water lilies. 

I do not consider someone who designs something and has someone else  make it a craftsperson. Whether "fine artists" think someone who designs something and has someone else make it, is actually the artist, is not a subject  I will venture into. A craft show should only have the person who made the work. The last Smithsonian Craft Show (2019) had an exhibitor in my category, decorative fiber, who imported  towels, etc, from Turkey. Her website made this clear, that she had never woven anything in her life. When  I alerted the show coordinator to this fact, she said she would  look into it after the show was over. 

All  I can say is that if I go to an art or craft show, I do not want to see work made by a factory or workshop,  I want the person in the booth to have made what is in the booth.

No difference in the beliefs of this "Fine Artist".

I do every single step of the process. Even cutting my own frames, cutting my glazing and polishing it to the amount of reflectively I desire. cutting my matting, all developing, printing, mounting. Even make my own padded bags.

Of course there are limits that most others will draw the line at. For me and many Fine art shows...photography MUST be shot, developed and printed by the photographer / artist. Anything other than that is NOT works created by the artist.

So in my not so humble opinion, Craft & Fine Art share the same rules / guidelines.

Thank you for the interesting replies so far. As expected there are different rules/traditions for different mediums.  I remember way back processing all the B/W photos for my doctoral thesis on jade deposits. I can only imagine what is involved for the color landscapes I admire at shows.  The bronze sculptor uses a foundry yet the silversmith usually does their casting themselves. Size is a factor here.  In my medium, I don't raise, process or tan the hide of the critter, but I do have to have the knowledge to select the best leather(s) for my work then cut everything by hand. I look forward to comments from other mediums.

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