Call for Artists, Making Money at Juried Art Fairs, Craft Shows and Festivals
I am newbie here. I have been doing art professionally (i.e. full time) since 2007 but only recently started getting back into doing art festivals (I used to do a couple every year, mostly lower end ones, when I was starting out but ended up quitting as I wasn't making a profit on them - this was probably around 2012 or so when I did my last one). The two biggest I did were the Brandywine Festival of the Arts in Wilmington, DE, and once I did the Manayunk Arts Festival in Philadelphia in the "Emerging Artist" big tent.
However, I have recently decided that I need to start doing them again, and to focus on higher end, fine art-oriented ones with good marketing, as opposed to smaller ones that have crafty type items in them. (I remember at the Manayunk festival my neighbor, who was making a killing, melted wine bottles into spoon holders.) Though to be fair, I believe (hopefully) I am a better and more experienced artist now and have better display for my work, which I think will help me sell.
To that end, I kicked things off by doing the Outdoor Fine Art & Fine Craft Show in Rehoboth, Delaware, this past August. I wrote a review for this site, but I guess it can take a couple of weeks for it to be posted. I also am signed up for a Sugarloaf holiday show in Oaks in November, and I plan on applying to Longs Park for 2019.
Anyway, this is my review of the Rehoboth Show.
First of all it's held on the campus of the Rehoboth Art League, which is a beautiful setting, about a ten minute walk from the beach, and surrounded by a very wealthy neighborhood with some year round residents and some summer only residents. I first learned about the Rehoboth Art League when I applied for (and was accepted) to have a solo show there in September 2017. When I heard about the outdoor art show there, I decided to apply as it is an ideal location.
The show runs two weekends, but you can choose to do one weekend or both, and if you do both you can leave your tent set up all week between shows if you desire.
Set up was the Friday before the show started and you can drive your car right up to your spot.
It's a VERY Well run and the staff treat you well. If you are from out of town they will pair you up with a host to let you stay for a nominal fee in their home ($50), as opposed to paying high prices for staying at a hotel during high tourist season at the beach. Our hosts were wonderful people and the home was lovely. They also provide free fruit and bagels on Sat and Sun morning (plus an artist reception Sat night) and have an air conditioned 'comfort station' for artists during the show (free water, a real bathroom) and they give out phone numbers for staff if you have any questions and can't immediately find a volunteer.
The show was also well juried in that every artist there was of good quality, even if not every artist was to my personal taste. Every one of them deserved to be there; I didn't see any amateurish looking art, or cheap crafts. They also policed for buy/sell and misrepresentation (while I was there they kicked out one jeweler who misrepresented herself (she was selling work by a bunch of other artisans, not her own work). So they were doing good quality control. I thought they also had a good mix of more contemporary styles vs more traditional work (disclaimer: my work is more contemporary so I tend to want to avoid the super traditional shows as I don't fit in well).
It is my first year doing the show and I am a newbie at doing outdoor stuff. I have done a few smaller outdoor events in previous years but not a big outdoor fair in many years so I may not have the experience to say what they should be doing. However, I am very happy with the show even though my sales were moderate (I made close to $1100, and booth fee was $450 for a single weekend plus $50 for staying at a host house). I feel it has good potential for me and I did well for my first time ever there (and no major art following in that area).
EDIT: I forgot to mention they also had volunteers coming by fairly often offering cold water for the artists and, for a fee, you could have lunch delivered to your tent (they sent out order forms for food options before the show started).
I do think the show could have utilized social media a little better (there was maybe one or two mentions of the show during the week it was on) but I know most of the volunteers are older so it's possible they are not comfortable with it, or else they need a full time person managing social media (to be fair, I would say the same about MOST shows and galleries I've worked with - I always end up doing way more promo for the show than they do :)
However, as I said before, I think they staff were WONDERFUL to work with and really did a great job with organization.
One thing to note: You are not allowed on the grounds before 8:30 AM due to some HOA restrictions (the venue is in a residential neighborhood). It's also at the beach in August so it's VERY hot and humid and can be rainstorm season (I know we had a storm the first day I was there, which drove out traffic unfortunately, so be prepared for HOT and HUMID weather and for thunderstorms, which can be very heavy at that time of year. WEIGH YOUR TENTS :)
You are also given a parking pass to leave your car at a neighbor's house near the campus during the duration of the show (after unloading you move your car there). My spot was about a block and a half from where I set up.
Overall I am pleased with this show. I will be going back even though my profit was modest because I think the show has a lot of potential for me. My work is somewhat unusual and distinctive and so people need time to get to know my work, in my experience. I had a lot of positive comments and people who were taking my cards so I am hopeful that if I keep going back to the show I can build a following there.
I also learned a lot by looking at other artists who were selling higher priced paintings. I noticed that their tent was sparser than mine so on Sunday I ended up reorganizing my wall space and taking down some work go give it more focus. My artwork ranges in price from $150 mini paintings up to mid to upper 3000 for my largest works. It's also highly detailed, mixed media paintings, and from what I could gather, I had a good price point for that show (though I pretty much sold works for under $400 - however, I saw higher priced works by my more seasoned neighbors being bought. So I am hopeful that as people get used to me and my work they may invest in a larger, more expensive work in the future there. Knock on pro panel ;)
Here is a photo of my set up (my tent is borrowed from a friend of mine. I do have graphic display panels with fabric covers, however, I did not bring them to this event as they took up too much room in our car along with everything else. Instead we used my friend's mesh panels which could be rolled up and stored better. For the indoor show coming up I will be bringing these stand alone metal display panels along with pipe and drape (and lighting). If I do enough of these outdoor shows, I may invest in a used trimline or something for future. But for now I am going to continue to borrow my friend's tent.
And here is some of my artwork up close. As an aside, if anybody knows a good show for me, for my style of work, that is a reasonable distance from Philadelphia area, please let me know!
These are all ink and acrylic on cradled 2-inch deep wood panel, varnished with a glossy UV protective spray / varnish. Sides are finished with paint. Sizes range from 6x6 inches to 30 x 40" (although I only brought out one 30 x 40" for this show, the big pig you see in the back, and a 30 x 30" horse piece) Mostly I brought out medium sized and some smaller works, and then some long tall verticals.
I love your colors. I would come into the booth just to investigate that!
hey thank you Kathleen