Call for Artists, Making Money at Juried Art Fairs, Craft Shows and Festivals
Ive done a few shows this past May......and oh oh.....the economy is so bad!....everyone is saying, no the weather was bad......but really I can tell....there were a couple of nice Saturdays and no crowd.......
Face it .....it will be a long year.......and I will enter less shows.....and do shows close to home.....hope the recession will be over soon.....but really with the goofy politics in this country and the electorate electing the bad guys way to much......it will be a while before things return to profitablilty for us artists....
Good for you!!
You evidently found something that nobody else at the show has. And that's the secret to a successful show.
And if you're happy with your sales, that's all that matters.
What Meredith also brings up is the variable costs associated with different shows... While some events have booth fees that are $400-$600, others are $50-$100, and more easily recouped. However, not every kind of art sells at every venue. At most of the art fairs I have done so far, my high end pieces are getting tried on like crazy but I'm only selling earrings. I think the middle to upper end market is scared, quite frankly, and is holding on to what little disposible income they have out of fear of the unknown of what is to come financially... We DO have luxury/non-necessity items (at every price point), so as someone else said, we're the first to be cut from the budget and the last to return. The question is, however, do we continue to do the shows as scheduled and lose $500+ (sometimes a lot of "pluses"!) each time, pull out of shows and just take the loss on our booth fees, or do the shows as scheduled and keep everything crossed that you'll work your guts out to just break even and if we're really lucky, make a few dollars in profit? That seems to be the question we're all toying with... Who knew we'd have to think about what's the best way to LOSE money in a summer?!? Craziness...
There are some, a few, who are doing well at shows...I have surveyed vendors and out of the 30 I surveyed at the last 3 shows....only about 6 were happy with sales.....what I am saying is that those who are doing well are to be congratulated on having a great product, etc....but they have to also realize that others are NOT doing well......because of the economy....vendors who are doing well need to have compassion for those who are not.....promoters too....hey promoters......consider lowering your fees!
The only good strategy is to stay close to home, do low cost shows, develop a smaller cheaper product, and/or do some other type of work too..like selling used cars....etc...there are other options too.....several are listed earlier in this blog....
Wrong david, on most accounts.
First off, we are not vendors. Those are people who make and sell popcorn, don't put us in the same league with them. OK. Got that one straight.
You can stay closer to home, but gee, you won't get into any shows of stature where you can make real money at.
Sure, develop a low cost cheaper product. That means you will look like every other artist/craftsman out there. Better to come up with some real, original work that stands out from the rest.
Promoters are not going to lower their fees, so get over it.
I make a living at this. I am not alone. I know lots of people on the circuit making a living right now. None of us are thinking of selling used cars.
David, you are retired. You have plenty of time on your hands. Come up with something new. Your present product is nice. But there dozens others doing the same thing.
Please don't refer to yourself or others here as vendors. We are artists. Been one for 36 years and have always made a living at it.
I agree, Amy, that this is what I am seeing too here in Australia - and one customer summed it up at my last show ( a couple of weeks ago).
She and her friend had a little unit going encouraging each other to buy things (don't you LOVE it when that happens!). She had selected 3 items and so did her friend. She gave them to me and said "I'd love to have these, but I want to go and have a look at a bed cover first (in one of the other booths). It was only a small show, so I held on to them for her and hoped she would return. (Her friend purchased her selection immediately but left them with me to collect later).
She came back half an hour later and told me that "I'd like the earrings AND the beds cover but I can't afford both - I have to think about it more". I told her I understood and she wandered off again.
She DID return another half an hour later and bought the items I had held for her stating "I decided I'd wear the jewellery every day, but the bed cover would only be seen by me once a day, so the jewellery wins".
Looking back, this is so indicative of the economy at the moment. People DO have some disposable income to spend on themselves/their homes/their collections. But that amount is limited - some artists will 'win' at a show and some will 'lose' the sale.
We've just got to keep being different and hopefully they'll decide that they can't go home without OUR item that day.
I have been a full time artist for 7 years but I have only been doing outdoor festivals for the last 3- 4 years. These shows are the only venue that has made me any real money. I can't speak about how shows were before the recession because I was still new when the recession started. I refuse to contract my business because of bad economic times. I refuse to take steps backwards. I have worked too damn hard. Every year I look at what I have done and determine where I made my mistakes and what I did right and I make necessary improvements. Never in my planning have I thought doing less shows in less cities would help me expand my business. Instead I have worked to improve my work and get into better shows in more markets. The better the shows I do and the more people that have a chance to see my work, the better I do. Each year doing festivals my sales stayed steady or improved. So far this year my sales are up.
As far as having a cheaper product, I am tired of that being a complaint. I now have a painting at a smaller size than in the past. It is at a lower price than the bigger ones, but it is a better painting than I have produced in the past, at any size. I can say that for every size painting I create. All of my new pieces are great products regardless of size, otherwise I would not sign my name to them. Having a range of price points to satisfy your customers is good business, and if you do it right, does not cheapen your work.
As far as politics and the current batch of nit-wits with no business experience... Wait, when has anyone in politics ever had any real business experience, and when have they been any real help to me? Never. I enjoy political debates when they are philosophical, but I have no hope ever that some politician will be able to do something that will make me a more successful artist.
I saw somewhere in this thread that an artist asked 30 people about their sales over 3 shows and only 6 said they did well. This is too small of a sample, but even if these numbers play out somewhere close to this, what is the problem? I saw a statistic that only 1 in 3 businesses survive their first year and that is regardless of how good or bad the economy is. I try to ignore what most people are doing and pay attention to what the successful ones are doing. This works for 2 reasons. First, I can learn something from more experienced artists' successes and also I will stay in a positive mood.
Well stated Dan. I find myself also in 100% agreement with Nels.
I see many of the artists at shows not connecting with customers, because they are grumpy about sales. Customers feel this and go where there is more positive energy.
Promoters lowering their fees:
Ain't gonna happen. As long as the spaces are filled, there's no reason to lower the space fees. It's that simple. When the spaces don't get filled, many promoters will open up the show to other exhibitors. "Vendors" if you will. Lower quality art/craft, the dreaded B/S, or even antiques!
Chris, Nels.....Unfortunately you are right, the promoters will not lower their fees.....wanting the buck is more important than us vendors...
Nels.....come on, it is possible to be an artist and a vendor at the same time......Nels, what are you doing at your booth?.....lol.....selling I bet......you are selling or vending art.....
Everyone......I can talk about how bad the economy is......and still be as happy as a lark.....it is not negativity...it is being realistic...I m happy, friendly and dont talk about the economy with all my customers at my booth...I do it here at artfairinsiders...in fact right now I am singing to myself right now .....I m very happy on a personal level.....but it is a bad economy....