Art Fair Insiders

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

Hi
I am moving from the sunshine state to the mountain state for the fall and winter. I am planning to build enough inventory to begin art fairs by spring. Anyone have any tips or suggestions on shows in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Ohio, Indiana, Virginia, West Virginia?

I would like to know if there is a listing of fairs online? What type of licensing/insurance requirements are recommended? How do you handle sales tax?

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Welcome! I went to your profile and you do photography, oil painting, woodworking and jewelry. In order to be successful at any show I believe you should choose ONE medium. And please don't make it jewelry. You'll be in the toughest catagory out there! Then decide if you want to be fine art, fine craft or a crafter. What are your prices? Under $25? Or over $125? That makes a big difference in what show you choose. Then attend as many shows in your media as you can! Starting this weekend. Go to art shows as well as craft shows. Look at what's there and decide what direction you want to go in. Up in the area you want to exhibit in, there are more craft shows than art shows. Look at the exhibitors and watch how they work the show. Look at displays as well as canopies if the show is oputdoors. They could be your neighbors at any show, so you must be able to sell next to anybody you see.

As far as listings, Sunshine Artist magazine has listings so subscribe to the magazine. Also there are a few online sites. Festival.net is one and craftlister.com is another. Craftlister has the largest database of all but they list EVERYTHING. Even events with no exhibitors, so you must edit your priorities.

You are entering the business at the best time possible! When the economy is soft. You have the perfect opportunity to make your mistakes, and I guarantee you will! But when the economy rebounds, as it always does, you will be prepared for it with knowledge and experience.

Chris in VT
Hi Angela,
Welcome. I started doing crafts shows last spring and am still learning. Where is your base or are you just traveling from show to show? I sell jewelry and live in the Pittsburgh area. You will have to get a sales tax # in each state in which you will be selling. I agree with Chris that Sunshine Artist Magazine is very good. Also I concur that you need to pick one category to exhibit in. You will have to list that on your applications and I think that a booth with too many different types of arts gets very confusing. Display is very important as well as getting a good tent with weights!
I am still in the process of choosing shows that fit my price points and that is important. If you are high end in a low end show then you are not going to sell anything. The economy is not good but I figure starting now, I have to go up next year. Best of luck to you and I may see you at a show in Pa.
There are a few shows coming up in Virginia that you may want to check out. The last weekend in September is the Neptune Festival with an Art Show on the Virginia Beach Boardwalk. October has a couple shows in Norfolk. The 47th Ocean View Art Show is October 10 & 11, and is always a good event. It's put on by a group of artists, and they keep the fees low. The following weekend is the Stockley Gardens Art Show. It's a little larger, and is usually sold out by this time. Fees are higher there, too!

I'm not sure where you'll be "home based" out of, but if you're close, come on down to the Norfolk/Virginia Beach area of Virginia. If you need more information on any of these shows, send me a message and I'll connect you with the right people. If you are travelling from show to show, especially if you are camping in between, the back to back October weekends in Norfolk, VA, would fit nicely.
Hi Dave! I read your post which to my surprise answered a question that I had just posted a few mins ago! Thank you! I am looking into both The 47th Ocean View Art Show and the Stockley Gardens Art Show; do you have any suggestions or advice as to whom to speak to? I will be in the Neptune Show; will you be there? It would be a pleasure to meet you.
PS,
Meant to mention sales tax in my other post. The law in my part of Virginia is that the show promoters have to pass out a tax form. Some do, some don't. If you do regular sales in the state, you do need an account, but "occasional" vendors do not.
Hi, Angela - I am a newbie also, hoping to do a few art fairs next summer. I do pastels, mostly landscapes, and am also in the process of building up inventory. I have so many questions I don't even know where to start, but this site has already answered a lot of them. Can anyone tell me what type of support for paintings is best? I noticed grid-like supports, and also some fabric covered panels, mostly white. One had dark green, it seemed to show off the work better. I plan to stick with the downriver Detroit area and Traverse City area at first.
Greetings and welcome!

First, are you moving because of art fairs only or are there other reasons? Because if that is the case you better do your research first. We are in dire times with the economy and if you are not rolling in money think quick about how you are are able to get money to pay for all of your bills - gas, electric, rent(mortgage), cell phone, internet/cable, vehicle repairs, hotel stays, display, canopy, stock, office supplies (cash box, paper, business cards, etc.) etc. if shows don't work out. I just worked a weekend show and only made $180!!! And I was of the lucky ones! I also live and do shows in Maryland.

Second, shows during the Spring are usually the worst. Quite a few number of artists do not do Spring shows and use that time to build stock for Summer, Fall and of course Winter shows. I might be way off base, but from Chris' post you do "all kinds of art work". Entering into the art fair world doing all kinds of things, again during this economic time when no one is really spending like they used to for fear their are going to loose their home, isn't wise. It isn't wise to try doing something one month and then try something another month. Business doesn't work that way, and doing shows is a business. Also know what the difference between juried shows are and non juried shows are - and make sure you have good jury photos of your work.

Let's say you are not one of those people - things are all planned out and you just need some tips on finding a show. This brings me to point #3. I do shows in Maryland and there are only a few shows that are ok/good. Artscape in Baltimore tends to be a good one. Check out events held in Chantilly, VA. One of my favorite shows I go to as a customer is Kutztown Festival in Kutztown, PA - a 9 day show that is in July and really is amazing - simple fee and about 15% commission on sales. Many people make at least $5,000 there, but it is hot, well juried, and long days. I also recommend checking out publications like Art Show Yellow Pages (smartfrogs.com), Sunshine Artists, local and statewide dept. of tourism sites.

Good luck! - Michelle (www.quickcraftartisttips.blogspot.com and www.bythebaybotanicals.com)
I thank you all for your advice. I am moving to WV permanantly to be closer to my family. As for the types of mediums, I understand that it would be best to just pick one. My mother in law is the painter and photographer. My husband is the woodworker, and I am the jewelry person. We will do our research to determine which product will sell. It is our dream to do a few shows a year at first. I will definitely look into the shows nearby for ideas in addition to the websites suggested.
There is great advice in this thread.

Be aware that nearly all shows have a requirement that only one type of art/craft can be sold in a booth. So if you were planning on paying for one booth to exhibit painting, photography, woodworking and jewelry, that won't be possible. You would each need your own booth, entry fee, jury fee, etc., so plan accordingly when you budget.

Also, be aware (if you are not already) that many fine art shows may not accept woodworking, or even jewelry or photography...depends on the show. Which means on some weekends you might all be doing different shows.

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