I had applied to this show back in the early spring and when then results from the jury came back, I found that I was placed on the wait list. By the week before the show I had assumed that I was not going to do the show and made other plans.

Well, on Thursday, the first day of the show, I was called and asked if I wanted a booth space as I had been on the wait list. I think they called me because I live here in Virginia Beach (just 10 miles from the boardwalk). I accepted, and Thursday evening at 6:30pm we were setting up. I had a 10x10 space. I use the ever so maligned caravan tents. It was really windy, and began to wonder if having the caravan (an ez-up variant) would work and not blow away. It was gusting to about 25mph. The boardwalk has these embedded large aluminum railings and so I just strapped the tent back legs to the railings and used about 60lbs of weight on the front legs. I also tied in my homemade propanel look a likes to the tent frame so that it worked as a whole. I survived the weekend as it stayed windy! I learned that these popup tents can work if you just put enough weights on the legs and have hold down straps.

I am a photographer, so my booth has matted prints in two sizes (based on Larry Berman's advice which has worked well), framed photographs as well as canvas gallery wraps. And because I live here in Virginia Beach, I have a lot of local photography which worked to my benefit (For those interested, my website is davidcotephotography.com).

Friday turned out to be like most other shows that I have done, OK, but not great. The crowd was good, and there were a lot of people. The booth was almost always occupied by customers.

Saturday was the bomb. My booth was filled with customers from about noon until 6pm when the show closed. I sold the most on Saturday than I had ever sold. A lot of matted prints and 20x30 canvas gallery wraps and a few triptychs.

Sunday was almost just a busy as Saturday. I was amazed, I have never had what others perhaps consider a good show as I am just starting out (only been doing the art show scene for a year and a half, and seriously doing the shows since January when I was laid off from my former job). I know most don't talk numbers, but as a emerging photographer I sold over 4K, and have about another 2K in orders. I am shocked and very well pleased. I would absolutely do this show again and will work hard on my booth photograph and images I submit for judging and hopefully get in next year. 

Issues I have with how the show is done is that there is no artist parking, one has to pay for parking in either the local garages or the various lots that dot the landscape on Pacific Ave. The other issue is that parking for trailers are only available at two locations on Baltic Ave down at the Harris Teeter and Farm Fresh down by 30th street, so if you are at the 19th street end you have quite a trek to get from your location to your trailer. As for RV's, I am not sure as live local and slept in my own bed (definitely a benefit of doing a hometown show)!

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  • The truth about the Boardwalk Art Show produced by the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA):

    The advertising states it has 275 artists and 250,000 tourists and locals "attending the show".  Perhaps 275 artists, but under 15,000 walk along the boardwalk, while the show is going on.  The majority of these people are low to moderate income vacationers who came to Virginia for only sand and surf.  Since the show was going on while they were there, they would browse for the novelty of it.  It is not a good show for a serious career fine artist seeking to earn a living.  

    I estimate less than 3,000 visitors are interested in purchasing art.

    It should be at best, a local arts and crafts show.  

    NOTE: The weather did not affect the lack of attendance. Most of the professional fine artists were first timers, had poor sales and have no intention of returning.  

    What is bothersome is the advertising deception of a museum who hopes to save the show from changing its former historic significance.  This show "did not survive the passage of time". Time to change it to a local arts and crafts show!

    A large number of new artists are mislead by the advertising, apply each year, and do not return.  This is only a fund raising concern for the museum.  

    The majority of professional business artists met with disappointment participating in this show.    

    In conclusion, a career fine artist who depends on outdoor juried fine art shows should not apply to this show, unless you are ok with a financially breaking even situation (at best) while you enjoy the beach for 5 days.  

    Why Sunshine Artist ranks this show within the top 40 is incomprehensible.


  • Congratulations David on a wonderful show result. :)

  • Great on the sales!  I didn't get a chance to talk to you Sunday because you were busy with sales.  I'm glad it went well.  The show seemed better than in previous years.   There were probably less artists than before, but that made the show easier to walk.  The center section was less junky with the food vendors and other vendors than before, and definitely better than the Neptune Festival!   

    I use a Caravan too and love it.  It's withstood 25-35 mph winds and probably more.  One thing that helps mine is the sta-bars from flourish.com.  I also use steel gridwall panels which stiffen the tent and add weight.  My top and sides are worn out, but I think they'll get me through the rest of 2012! 

    The one complaint I heard from the painters at the show was that they couldn't sell limited addition prints like the photographers.  I think the Boardwalk show is the only one in the area that doesn't allow prints of painted pieces.  Technically, everything a photographer does is a print, so they have to allow it to a certain point.  Parking, etc. was the other complaint. 

    • Dave I agree with everything. I think that painters and other 2D artists should be able to sell prints of their paintings under the same rules as for photographers, i.e., limited editions. I really am a believer in providing art in as many forms as possible for the customer. As I said in a blog I wrote last week, art is in the eye of the beholder, and I love to share my photography with as many people as I can. That is what keeps me going when sales are not there, the fact that many like what I do and enjoy the results as much as I do. So I keep plugging on . . . 

      • It's called reproductions because the paintings already exist. Photographs are not reproductions because nothing exists before they are printed.

        Do not refer to reproductions of paintings as prints. Call them reproductions and then the definitions are less confusing.

        Larry Berman

  • Congrats on a record show for you! How lucky you are to live local and cut out the horrible hotel expense, being a vacation spot we had to drive 10 miles west to get a hotel for 100 bucks a night(we have dogs so we are somewhat limited). This was our second year and the weather was so much better this year and it showed in sales we actually did good in 2011 but did more then 4k better this year. I do wonder you say you were selling prints, I thought this was an original only show? Being in clay we don't have that issue so I could be mistaken. But again congrats on a great show!
    • Scott,

           Photographers were permitted to sell limited edition prints. I have limited editions of 45 for each size I offer (2 sizes). I only do 45 of each print size largely because I get bored with the print and I am always taking more photographs so it allows me to bring in new stuff on pretty regular basis.

      - Dave

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