Art Fair Insiders

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

*** Disclaimer ***

Let me start by stating I have nothing against Jewelry nor any other form of art. I have admiration and respect for artists of myriad mediums.

I do not claim or insinuate any medium is superior to any other.

*** End of Disclaimer ***

Now on to the issue:

I am still trying to understand why people will spend the same money or much more at a show, for Jewelry (just one example) than photographic art.

The Jewelry will often sit in a drawer and only be seen / used once in a while. Unless it is one of very few pieces the person owns.

The photography will hang on a wall and be viewed constantly for many years, regardless of the occasion.

Appreciation / depreciation in value can be comparable. Both have as much usefulness. Longevity can be similar. Price points similar. Photos need wall space, if no room then a piece must be removed from the wall to allow a new piece. Jewelry needs body space, if need one must choose which piece(s) to wear that day.

This is not just a "salesmanship" issue. It is evident from how many Jewelry vendors are present at shows compared to photogs etc. jewelry does the numbers. Why?

is there a great method of using the jewelry allure to aid in photog sales?

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It's very simple. Jewelry is small.  I don't have to wear all of it at one time.  I can always use more if something catches my eye.  On the other hand you need walls to display photography and there is a limited number of them.  I am trying for an upscale look so I don't do it but a lot of photographers offer coasters, bookmarks, and other small items.  I once bought a mini painting from an artist that sits on my kitchen window sill.

People buy what they like...myself certainly included. 

Everyone has different likes and is drawn to whatever catches their attention...whether it is jewelry, photography, painting, wood art or whatever of the many creative works discovered at shows.

Photography can be duplicated and every piece of jewelry is an original.

While I agree some parts of photography can be duplicated / STOLEN it is not the same. If someone were to take a photograph of my finished work, on display, it would not be able to be printed exactly the same as my original.
1) Are they going to use the same quality rag paper?
2) Are they proficient enough to capture the image well enough to duplicate the original with all the gamut?
3) Will they have the equipment to produce the quality?
4) Will they have the expertise to control the color and put the image to print?
5) Anyone trying to set up the equipment to do so at my both would be caught. (No one could do an great job with a cell phone).
Therefore it is a lot like Jewelry. Anyone could take a picture of the jewelry and have someone make a "knockoff" however it would not have the same quality nor be the exact same thing as the original the artist made themselves. I cannot even buy the mat board I use easily. No one locally even carries it including the framing shops.
Photography can be done as original works.
This is NOT to compare jewelry to photography as far as which is more valuable, harder to make, truer art etc. There is great art in many mediums and I appreciate many of them.
I am not capable of, nor talented enough to make artistic, great, jewelry. Many do not posses what it takes to do so in photography.
Perhaps that is part of the reason. As most people have had cameras in their lifetime. They do not perceive it as challenging?

"...whether it is jewelry, photography, painting, wood art or whatever of the many creative works discovered at shows...." Yes, we all have different likes. However there are far more jewelers doing well at the shows than any of the other mediums you mention.
Analyzing why may enable us other artists to be able to increase our market share.
I'm just looking for opinions, ideas, thoughts to work with.

Jewelry is an emotional purchase made by women, almost the same as a great piece of clothing. You can wear your jewelry just about anywhere for others to see and admire....hanging wall art not so much. Thinking I read similar elsewhere before, though it escapes me at this time. Just a thought......

Larry, I have to ask this one question. How many shows have you done? I went to your profile and I see this is your first year. You have so much to learn! And frankly, you will get your biggest education just by observing others.

I do plenty of shows with photographers. Some are artists and others are photographers with a great eye. I do shows with one photographer who does wildlife and he travels to Alaska to shoot his photos. His work is fantastic and it has a very broad appeal. He also knows what shows to do and what shows not to do. That only comes with experience and the dreaded trial and error. Something we all must do.

Another example of trial and error was the time I did a show here in Vermont and there was a photographer with great shots of the Jersey shore. He was amazed that he didn't do well. Get my drift? That show wasn't his market.

So here's your first lesson. There's a difference between art and craft. It's something I have believed all the years I've been doing this. Art is something to be admired. 2D, photography, sculpture, chainsaw art, etc. Crafts are useful. Pottery coffee mugs, fiber, and yes, jewelry. These are craftsmen. And no, that's not a dirty word.

So what you're doing in your post is comparing something to be admired vs something useful. Once the show begins, both are equal.


This is the second time you have admonished me for ... this being my first year.. my being new, etc.

I am not going to post a resume, I hope to present my work well enough to let my ART speak for itself. However I am new to marketing my art at fairs and shows.

I am not new to photography. I shot the 1964 world's fair with my twin lens reflex, then went  into my darkroom, developed and printed my work. I've done photography professionally, taught it, ran well known studios, over a span of many years. Separately, I've worked the shows / markets since I was a youth. We had a family business in a different field. There are many photographers far better than I. There are many far less than I. I respect all their efforts.

I have also been going to shows, observing and researching information for awhile now.   

You are correct in that I have a lot to learn. I am constantly learning. Constantly seeking. Always listening. One method of learning is via sharing, in an amiable way, with others on forums like this. 

Being "new" is not a detriment nor something to be criticized for. Talent is not learned. Talent does not increase or decrease based merely upon time. Technique, knowledge and skill do.  I have skills which took a long time to develop. Either I have artistic talent or I don't. Any one person's opinion on whether or not my art is appealing to them is weighted as just that... one person. Your description of the Alaskan photographer's work is your opinion. It may or may not be art. It may or may not be a "fantastic" photo. 

Creating art is one thing. Marketing is another.

To assume all crafts including jewelry are useful, versus photography is merely to be admired is false. Jewelry is an art. Functionally it decorates the wearer. It enhances the appearance. It makes a statement. It may invoke ideas. My photography does this with the walls, desks, homes, offices, publications, galleries etc. it adorns. Hopefully it also invokes thought, effects change, inspires and creates dialogue. So for the home with bare walls, photography is useful. For the body without adornment, jewelry is useful. Useful is a matter of opinion, affected heavily by the personality type. A minimalist might see things very differently.

I believe many whom admire art and pay dearly to own some do not perceive it as useless.  I've been there & seen the soaring Bald Eagle, in Alaska, diving for that beautiful fish. The great colors, smooth form, shape in the fish was art. To the Eagle it was useful.

I have no negative opinions of craftsmen. I admire the work and feel many make beautiful pieces of art. I have also done certain things in this field. However I would not consider myself an artist in the field of crafts, as I do not have the talent, in that area. I have made useful crafts that earned over $100,000 however it was not art.

Experience alone is not a reason to admonish. As when I taught a gifted course, as a student displayed something very good to me, I did not criticize her and state she needed to go through more trial and error or needed greater experience. I welcomed her thoughts, questions and ideas. Perhaps she knew or understood things in a way I did not.

However I do appreciate your input (the less derogatory parts). Understanding how you view the uselessness of photography etc. is added to my collection of knowledge. Applying sales techniques to have the customer perceive art as a needed, useful thing is a method. However I do not use hard sell tactics.   

I welcome the inputs and open, pleasant discussion many offer on this forum. Constructive criticism is often useful, albeit is not art.

I am not admonishing you and obviously you feel I am, so I apologize.

At no point am I saying photography is "useless" (your word, not mine). But it is an art. And as I said that's what I was taught so I'll stand by my beliefs. Someone can stare at an image by say, Ansel Adams and say "nice picture", and have no idea how wonderful his eye was to shoot that "picture". So they'll go buy some earrings instead.

I need new jewelry for every outfit but I only have one living room wall.

Heh, I have about 50 some-odd large pieces of framed work or prints on canvas in my inventory but only have three of those hanging in my own house. Just not enough wall space. The rest of the wall hangings are small personal pieces of family photos or vacation shots. There is about seven feet of open wall space in the living room where two of my 20x30 pieces hang, one spot in the dining room, and a couple of spots in the bedrooms. A lot of homes are more open and window placement screws up available wall space. Interestingly enough I had a discussion with someone at a South Carolina show a couple of weeks ago and they made the comment that most newer Southern homes feature a lot of window space which cuts down on available spots to hang 2D work.

If you want the jewelry allure for photography, combine the two. I see practitioners of alternative process photography utilizing platinum/palladium images, tinypes, modern daugerrotypes, and glass plate images for jewelry pieces. These tend to be either necklaces, pendants, or earrings. Otherwise you're trying to conflate two different media with different uses and aesthetic values that address dissimilar markets. 

I love glass plate. Incredible effect. I've never worked with it but admire it.
Very nice ideas you propose.
I'm looking to just do the imaging process if possible. Although I do the entire process from shot to matted piece, I don't desire to do the printing, matting etc. I consider it a necessary evil for me. I want to control the quality.
If I thought I could just do the shot and nothing after that but the interaction with people who would like to discuss the finished artwork, I would. However quality and making sure the finished product reflects what was intended is paramount.
Sales are important, not as important as the other factors, though.


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