Art Fair Insiders

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

Ive been an graphic and digital photographer for 29 years for an nuclear station. I'm retired and I now produce my own art and photography on canvas and framed. I would like to travel and attend different art and craft shows around the country. I do community service  in my city, and all of my art and photography is faith based. My art and photos have faith based scriptures on them and some of them with the name of Jesus on them. To those who have been out there for a while who have been accepted at different shows, will this hold me back by the committee from being pick, need honest input.

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My personal opinion is text on a photo detracts and instead of having a photo that a person can look at and have their own meaning , they are forced in to only seeing it one way. A strong image is a universal image or  deeply personal one that others connect with. A picture is worth a thousand words as the saying goes.

(as an example, I think people like to have the work mean something personal to them. A quote is not personal. I have made paintings that meant one thing when I painted them, and then a customer came up and thought it was about something else and I shut up and didn't say anything because that other thing was what sold the painting to them). If you have text spelling out the image's meaning right on top of the photo you are narrowing down your audience considerably.

I don't think many fine art shows would want works with quotes written on them, whatever those quotes happened to be, unless it was a painting or photo where you incorporated the typography or words as an actual design element (without looking kitsch). It's a fine line.

That being said I do know religious artists who do 2D work and are in fine art festivals. Some may incorporate a line from scripture as the title of the work and then let the image speak for itself (which is what I would recommend). 

If you are images are strong, they don't need type on top of them. IMO. 

Let the image talk instead.

Just my deeply discounted two cents.
Good luck whatever you do.

PS Here is an example of an artist I know who specializes in religious imagery. NO text on any of his images. He doesn't need that. https://www.neilsoncarlin.com/  

(I'm agnostic and I can still admire the work he does)

Wow this is such a good reason. Maybe it's super cliche, but there is that saying that goes along the lines of, when you label me you negate me. In the sense of a piece of art, that piece is doing work to everyone in their own way. It's not just a stimulus : response. It is stimulus : interpret : respond. Catchy sayings and quotes create a sort of short cut, if not a wrong direction altogether. Some people want a short cut, to be sure. But that's where Target or Macy's have you beat anyways.

I recall a piece of art that I acquired and it really moved me in a personal, symbolic fashion. If it was labeled with anything, it would have changed the entire dynamic and that natural connection that my brain somehow stirred up would have been so utterly diverted.

I think everyone for your replies, all this is helping me to refocus my direction, to redo my work or to lean toward trying different flee markets in my area first to see what works.

Be careful with the feedback you receive at flea markets if your ultimate goal is not to sell at flea markets. I would absolutely encourage you to do flea markets if that's where you're at. But just be aware that there are marked differences in what the client wants in each scenario.

Forget about flea markets unless you're selling 16x20 prints for $5. It is not your market as those are lowball venues with no appreciation for fine art. You might consider spending some money for a consultation with the guys who do Art Fair Source Book. They have a service that evaluates your work and recommends which fairs are a good match for your work.

Robert... "markets unless you're selling 16x20 prints for $5." That is exactly what I ran into at a show that I did. It used to cater to some good artwork. Then at the last one I did, they had a double booth setup where a "Photography Group" was selling 16x20 for $5.  20" x 30" Framed for $30 etc. My complaints fell upon deaf ears.

However myself and some other fine art photographers were very unhappy about it.

I posted a reply and now I don’t see it. Where did it go?

There is a post by you a week ago on page 1. Is that it?

Ok, flee markets is out!!!

I realize flea markets varies a lot in what that actually means. But I think a lot of people that do art fairs started out doing small shows that today we would not consider. However, when I look back at some of the worst shows I did, I'm glad I did them at least to start. At least for me, these starter shows are both closer to home and a lot less expensive.

Don't travel 6 hours to attend some random event, but if there is something 45 minutes away and costs fifty bucks to enter that you MIGHT think could work? I say go for it.

If someone asked me: should I take a weekend seminar on how to do a show for $450 or should I do a weekend show for $100? I would tell them to do the show.

Whatever show you do, you'll learn a lot.

I thought I'd add a postscript to this; I just got results back from Broad Ripple Art Fair. I was wait-listed for photography but accepted in mixed media for the poetry/photo work. I agree with the consensus that quotations on top of images doesn't fly well, although Duane Michals has worked images for years with his scrawling penmanship in the borders as narratives.

This is typical of the format that I use. I would suggest something similar but if using Biblical text, I would suggest doing in your own handwriting to give it "authenticity". Your handwriting doesn't have to be formal cursive, just legible. it's a doubly tough genre to work, but refine it and call it your own. As I said, here's a sample of the format I use with the bordering to separate each section and yet tie them together.

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