Call for Artists, Making Money at Juried Art Fairs, Craft Shows and Festivals
The Brandywine Festival of the Arts takes place in a beautiful, shady park in Wilmington, Delaware. It's a pretty cool show, with good karma, and while I didn't do well at the show, I have some promising commissions from it.
The show has a $5 gate fee (kids 12 and under get in free). It was advertised really well, on a giant billboard beside I-95, and while the show was on hiatus for a while, it has a long history.
A ton of people came to the show, and the festival-goers were friendly, interested and supportive. They just weren't buying big art - or at least not my big art.
I sold four small paintings, all less than $100, and that was it for sales during the show. I have since gotten one large commission for sure, and one for possibly sure, and a few others that might turn into reality, so that's great.
One possible reason for my low sales at the show is that I was the third booth from the main entrance. Between me and the gate was a guy selling beautiful and inexpensive glass animals, and a booth on either side selling small and medium-sized laminated wood objects, then me, with five paintings at $100 or less, and large pieces going up to $3500.
Behind me was a person selling iron-stake garden art, starting at $7, a person selling bonsai plants starting at $12, and a guy with a gizmo that allowed festival-goers to make their own silk scarves.
There was a lot of talk among the artists about this person, with the general sentiment being how the HECK did he get in, since he was not the one making the art? I am sure there's reason in that sentiment - but I do have to say that if I'd had the chance, I might have signed up to make a scarf, the same way I used to get in line to put paint on a little board that a gizmo would then spin around. Remember that?
As for other particulars, I was able to drive right up to my booth to set up, and even to take down. There is artist parking, but it is tight. You have to arrive at the crack of dawn to get a spot.
There were tons of volunteers to help with set-up, and with take-down. We all got coupons for free coffee and donuts on both mornings. The show is HUGE, and I saw a fair amount of art that I thought was really good, and another fair amount that I wondered about. Other artists told me they saw a lot of buy-sell, but I didn't get out far enough to notice that. I asked if they had alerted the show promoters, as buy-sell was expressly prohibited, and they said they had not.
I would probably apply to this show again next year, despite my poor showing. It felt like a good show, with good karma. And I did ask to be placed away from a certain area, (even a worse setting than where I ended up, I think), so my location was really at least partly my fault.
I'm posting a photo of my booth (it was afternoon, and shady), a photo of a pretty part of the park, and a crowd shot
Thanks for the review Carrie. The scarf guy must be from around these parts as I've seen him at several shows. If I'm not mistaken, Delaware still as no sales tax, so I'm assuming that you don't need to worry about that if you do this show. Would that be correct?. Looks like a beautiful setting, much like the Wheaton Festival of Fine Craft in South Jersey.
Yup no sales tax, so that's good. It was a beautiful setting, for sure. And it sure was exciting to see that billboard!
Hi Carrie. Nice seeing you again. I was just about to start my Brandywine review! Yours captures the show quite well.
We were in a spot that had me worried - a big tree on one side that was sure to interrupt the traffic flow. We were also directly across from the yard/garden SOS and the Wind Bells (at least it wasn't windy.) My concerns about traffic were unfounded. There was a steady stream both days though Sunday was a little slower and a different crowd.
Saturday was decent for us. We sold a $400 piece and a number of others in the $50-$150 range. Unfortunately, the crowd on Sunday really wasn't into buying. So overall, it was an okay weekend; we were hoping for excellent based on Saturday.
The SOS folks sold tons all weekend and loaded out in about 5 minutes - nothing to put back in the van. The wind bells guy did very well also and scarf guys needed a signup sheet to reserve a spot. They were 10 deep at that booth.
Bottom line- this really isn't a fine arts festival by any means but there were some fine art buyers in the big crowd.
Would we do it again? Maybe. As you said, the promotion was great. Also, the cupcake booth was phenomenal and the venue is really pretty. I didn't see any obvious buy/sell but there were definitely booths that had some pretty tacky stuff. With a better job of jurying and more emphasis on art, this could be a good one.
See you in Leesburg.
Hey, Bill, nice seeing you again, and I'm glad the show was at least OK for you. You were in an odd spot, but it seemed to work for you.
Looking forward to Leesburg. See you there. Where are you staying, anyways?
We got an $84 Courtyard near Dulles. You?
Something like that near Dulles. Might be Courtyard! That would be fun.
In keeping with a promise to Nels Johnson, I must say that the organizers of the Brandywine show could have left more space between the booths. It often happens that show producers jam us cheek to jowl when there really is no reason to do so, and that was the case here. In fact, by the time everyone except for two had set up in my row, there was no room for the two. So one guy was moved, and the one that was left had breathing room.
If show organizers would just count on 11 feet instead of 10, that would be great.
There was tons of room behind many of the booths, though not, I believe, behind all of them.
Carrie. A great review. I have never done the show, but I have heard about it.
You gave a great feeling of what it was like. Solid info.
I hope next year it will get better for you.
Keep up the good work.
I'm considering applying to Brandywine this year and in doing research came across your post. Did you end up returning in 2014 (or 2015)? If so, has your review changed at all from 2013?
Hi, Carolyn - A ps to the review is that after the show, I got several very large commissions, which was great! I did indeed go back in 2014, and it was a terrible show for me. I sold one piece - a pretty big one, so I made my expenses and a couple hundred $$. But it rained - poured - on Saturday night, making the grounds pretty muddy and awful on Sunday. Everyone had to dolly out, and that was a nightmare.
The show had the same odd mix of nice originals and pretty cheesy, buy-sell-type stuff. There was very little buying energy from the start, and the weather dulled what energy there had been.
I didn't go back in 2015 - I had a conflict with another show. I might apply again, this year or next, but I might not. Right on that line, you know?