Art Fair Insiders

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

I know this is a little late, but the information within is designed to be bipartisan; understanding of the investment from the artist and understanding of the logistics from the promoter.

I live in Philadelphia, so it's hard not to love Pittsburgh...we're distant, competing cousins of one another.  Last year was my first year at Shadyside and most artists would have considered my booth "stuck towards the end" (towards Bruegger's Bagels), and I still had a decent show: expenses plus some and some more for the bank. 

Logistically I would say that the show is a) lucky to be there and b) a set-up/break-down headache; and I would follow that by saying that a set-up/break-down experience is only remembered through the lens of how much money you make.  Has anyone done Three Rivers?  I had to dolly two blocks and the entire length of the park to get to my booth, but the money I made quieted my critical claims.  The parking situation is cumbersome, but only if you don't read your information packet.  My husband was a marketing grunt in a law firm in Philly, so all emails are treated with immediate responses: I haven't recieved one email from a promoter that was not worth opening--information packets are worth the time to glance over...DVR your show, and read on.

So I'm done setting up, and I'm parked at the "school" parking lot and before 10am rolls around I have people poking around my booth asking how much things are and if I'm going to be around tomorrow; sure sign of a veteran art fair walker.  I made my first sale around 10:15 (thank you square) and it was enough to almost cover my booth, not a bad start.  The energy of the neighborhood is young, and it rewards people who are not afraid to take chances with their medium.  I met allot of doctors, engineers, and young professionals (teachers, nurses, business folks, and masters students) who were not only interested in my work, but the whole picture of who I am as an artist--and that's rare.  My sales for Saturday were stronger than Sunday, but after Saturday I could have easily gone home happy.  The thing I like most about Shadyside is the people; of course I won't lie and say I don't like their money, but I am just as excited to bring them new ideas and designs, as they are to receive them.

If I could offer criticism to the show it would file under the "knit-picking" range: flower pots that block the sidewalk, sewer ranges that smell, trash cans that overflow, cars passing by three out of seven main avenues...but again, living in Philly makes my offer this caveat: if you're concerned for you and your clients well-being in a city environment to the point where an abundance of patrons is a negative factor...then don't do city shows.  Having done Rittenhouse and Manayunk in Philly I can tell you that the abundance of stress for set-up/break-down are well worth it for the sheer number of people that descend on the location.  The same can be said for Shadyside, and many other Howard Alan shows.  Who among you wouldn't go through the same trouble for Alexandria or Delray?  I can't wait to wipe the sweat from my brow this coming Saturday--and I know it's going to be a humid mess--to parade my work to those people who will spend their day off and hard earned dollars, on my work...and I know I'm throwing my hat in for Shadyside next year.

Anyone been to the Chinese place on Walnut?  Their $2 won-ton soup is OUT OF CONTROL!!  All my best to the community of artists who don't believe in the word "recession". 

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Great review! Interested to try this one...

Oh yes, Luisa. We've done both shows. Three Rivers was outrageous for the loading in and out. Do I recall pushing a loaded cart up the driveway from a parking garage? Actually, being crotchet-y we stopped doing all shows where we couldn't drive up to our booth. We just found easier shows to do.

Glad you also had a good show Luisa. Next year the Saturday hours will be ending at 6 or 7


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