Call for Artists, Making Money at Juried Art Fairs, Craft Shows and Festivals
From everything I'm reading on the forums and blogs both shows (St. Stephens and Artigras) are going downhill - there doesn't seem to be much positive news on either show. I'm juried into both and need to make a choice. I'll be staying with friends in Delray Beach, so the commute would be about the same to either one. Sunshine Artist ranks Artigras slightly higher, but I know that's meaningless. Any thoughts?
Really good question, David. St. Stephens is adjacent to Coconut Grove, it is free to attend and gets the overflow from that show as well as people who think there are better "deals" on the art there and that the art isn't as expensive. The layout is in the parking lot of the St. Stephens Church and it is a warren of aisles and wandering around. Pretty charming, really, and that is not a drawback except for unloading and loading. I've never heard great sales figures.
Artigras is in an affluent area and the show is in a large open parking area making it very accessible for everyone. There is a gate fee, which shouldn't deter people who live near here at all. "Used to be a solid show" (oh no, heard that before?), and it still works for some. My personal choice, albeit subjective, might be to go to Artigras, because it is the main show and the roll of the dice might mean you could snag sales from the affluent crowd.
Thanks Connie - I appreciate the quick response - I'm leaning that way at the moment.
St. Stephens is a mish-mash of wanna-bes who didn't get into Coconut Grove. Last time (and only time) I did it, they charged a couple bucks at the gate. I don't see that on their web site, so maybe they stopped charging. The layout is confusing, and the load-in is horrific. Artists are placed on the grounds of the church school, on the walkways, and in the parking lot. The artists in the parking lot are the last to load-in and the last to load-out, as the rest of the artists need to use the cramped space to dolly into the show. Some spots were in an alley, next to the dumpsters, and not connected to anything. Other spots faced a hedge. It's a nightmare of disorganization. There is some interest from patrons coming from the Grove, but generally the high end sales are done at the Grove, not at St. Stephens. The year I did it, I was competing with potpourri vendors (and the smell) and soap. You won't find that in the Grove show. My sales were pretty close to zero, not zero exactly, but plenty low enough to lose money.
It's expensive to stay around the Grove, too. Most artists end up in Coral Gables, or out near the Miami Airport. There are some very nice hotels right in the Grove, but terribly pricey.
Parking around the Grove is horrendous too. You can choose to pay another school a few blocks down, or take your chances on the street. The year I did it, the school wanted $75 a space, so I paid for two (one for the truck, one for the trailer), and after the show, they decided that I should pay more, and sent me a letter saying so. Ridiculous.
Artigras, on the other hand, is on the streets surrounding Abacoa Town Center, in Jupiter, not a parking area. It's adjacent to Roger Dean Stadium, home of the spring training camp for the St. Louis Cardinals. Load-in is a relaxed affair the Friday before the show, and most artists can drive in and unload close to their space. There is also a small field with the hospitality tent and some garden crafts next to the main show, and associated with it. The show itself runs Saturday, Sunday and Monday, same as the Grove and St. Stephens. The layout is essentially two long streets that intersect. Best spots are near the intersection, but I have done well at the end, and horribly near the middle. The crowds do come, but last year it was the worst crowd I've ever seen there. Buying was down, interest and energy were down. I decided to give it a rest for a while.
The economy has taken its toll on Abacoa. Many of the shops in the central district adjacent to the show have shuttered their doors. The Starbucks has gone missing, which tells you something. There is a nice little bar that serves up a decent hamburger.
Sales at Artigras have slipped in recent years. I've done the show several times, and it's never been stellar. But I have managed to make money there. I never made money at St. Stephens. On the whole, Artigras is easier to do, has plenty of parking for artists and patrons, and draws a crowd that doesn't want to struggle with the traffic and troubles of central Miami. If I was choosing, I would never go back to St. Stephens. I might consider Artigras, if I had to pick one of the two.
Oh, I almost forgot. At St. Stephens, the priest and some of his acolytes come around on Sunday morning with the censer and bless each artist and his tent. He will swing the censer around your booth, which, if you had some customers, will surely cause them to run like hell for the Grove. Nice thought, though.
Friday evening after setting up - arrived at the appointed time to find most of my section already set up, I'm not the best at maneuvering the van but I'm pretty sure some of the things they wanted me to do were impossible, taking 1 hour to drive to my motel 6 blocks away, and eating from a hotdog cart because all restaurants in the area had a 2 hour wait, paying to park at the hotel, paying to park at the show ($25 / day and they too sent me a letter wanting more money) I called my husband and said
If I ever apply to this show again or mention moving to Miami, shoot me, I have gone crazy" Being a spiritual person it was kind of neat to get my art blessed but it didn't help sales any.
Load in and out from van. No dollying. Pricelined a Residence Inn for $25 / night. A pleasure to do but not a whole lot of money. Enough to go home with some profit but I had made more in 2 day shows that were less highly touted.
Personally, if I had a lot of travel expenses I wouldn't do either, but if you're going to do one, definitely go for Artigras.
Disclaimer - for several years I did apply to Coconut Grove (never got in) figuring the insanity of Miami would be worth it for Coconut Grove. After reading reports last year I'm not so sure anymore and didn't apply this year.
In ten years of going to St. Stephens, I have bought maybe two or three things. After checking out over 300 really good artists at the Grove, you kind of wander through St Stephens in a daze. The quality is noticeably lower at SS. It still costs $2 to get in and they still have a totally disorganized booth layout.
People from Palm Beach County will drive down to see the Grove show but not too many drive from Miami up to Artigras. Don't know if this tells you anything.
Good luck with your decision.
Well, I am hoping that there are some good reports about St. Stephens and not just the negative ones that I've just read here. I was just accepted and plan to do it. A jeweler who was next me at another show recommended it and she had high end pieces. So far the show committee has been really helpful, sent hotel recommendations with free parking and breakfast. Five miles away but then knowing the area is busy that weekend with the 2 (3 shows - didn't know about Artigras) and there are 2 hugh boat shows the same week & weekend, one power & one sail, which we have been to, I figured it was a good bet. I'd like to know if any other members have anything good to say about it. I've been to Coconut Grove years ago as a visitor but could not afford the show fee on top of all of the other expenses so I thought I'd give St. Stephens a try. I will have to let you all know, mean while I hope I hear some good news from some of you.... thanks and have a wonderful safe holiday everyone!
Jacquelyn, I've never heard anything positive about the St. Stephen's Show, yet it continues to carry on and there are people who go back year after year, so someone must be making money, besides the church. I'm hoping you will be one of them.
For a couple of years our booth was on a corner on McFarlane at the entry to SS and there was a steady flow of people going in and out. You won't be alone for sure.
Hi Connie, thanks for the reply, I hope this isn't a very costly mistake but when I looked it up on AFI I did not see a review so I proceeded to accept the invite and book it. I did notice in reading the negative reviews that they were all from photographers? After reading these I searched the site and I did see an AFI member that made clay dragons & incense burners that raved about the show in 2010. In my years as a potter I have done all kinds of shows, a few that had everything and anything but mostly shows that were fine art & fine craft, they were all large shows, well attended and sales were always good. I've only just started back into the A & C show scene in May 2012 and down here in FL so it's all new to me and I appreciate all the feedback I can get to make a smart decision. I'm hoping that there might be a couple of members that will respond positively about the show. I'll be watching the site, meanwhile if you have any contacts that might have additional info, please let me know. Thanks again and have a great season! Jackie
hi jacquelyn, I was curious on how st. stephens went for you, I do jewelry and was waitlisted, never got called. like you, I never found anything very encouraging about st. stephens. I hope though it went well for you!!!
Hi Sabine, I did very well at the show. I found the quality of the artwork was very good, the volunteers and the committee were very friendly and helpful, the location was right across the street from Coconut Grove. Quite a few people walked both shows. The artist from Illinois who was directly across from me sold 2 $1800 yard sculptures plus other pieces and the painter next to him sold well and received a $15,000 commission to paint a wall in a private home. I don't know how anyone else did. The show layout was very nice and there were private bathrooms for the artists. The committee furnished breakfast treats as well as a spaghetti dinner Saturday evening (a la wine) while handing out cash awards. I was lucky and won a 3rd place and $$. The weather was ridiculously cold almost all of the 3 days with 2 days of hardly any sunshine. The one glitch in the whole thing and this applies to Coconut Grove also is the parking... there isn't any... I have no idea where the visitors parked. We were lucky enough to stay with a friend 30 minutes away which quite a few artists did, however the show did advertise some hotels that had rooms for $119/night and you could leave your trailer there while at the show. My husband Bill, brought his bike so he would drop me off, park the truck and return via bike. I also met a really nice pottery couple from the Tampa area who invited us to stay with them if we did a show over there - very nice ! I wish I would have had the time to visit the Coconut Grove show so I can't tell you how anyone did there however my friends walked it and said it was packed. I hope this helps you out, let me know if you decide to do it next year.
Hi, Coconut Grove definitely attracts the larger crowd which could possibly result in higher sales. If you really want to do a show in that area then applying to both would seem to be a good idea. FYI, I did like the "blessing" of the art, I'll take any blessings I can get. On the whole I thought St. Stephens was a friendly show and I would do it again. If I had the inventory and the $$ to support applying to the Coconut Grove show I might apply. Good luck, hope this helps, let me know what you decide to do next year. And as Jim Parker mentioned there is parking for $25/space per vehicle.