Call for Artists, Making Money at Juried Art Fairs, Craft Shows and Festivals
I just found out I got accepted into this show! I was excited... It then I read the reviews here! Ha! I applied because it is listed in the top 100 shows in "Sunshine Artist" for 2015. Anyone done the show recently? Say the ?last three years? I create jewelry ( enamel, metal work & bead weaving). Thanks for any opinions!
There is one thing many people are not aware of about the SA "top" shows.
They are ranked by sales numbers only! And those numbers are gathered only by those who report to the magazine either by sending in audit cards or online audits. People can exaggerate their sales all they want, and many do. Sometimes even the promoters will send in a bunch of false audit cards just to get a ranking.
The shows are not ranked on how nice the show is, or how the exhibitors are treated, or whether or not the show is even juried, so even flea market people can send in cards.
No, only subscribers get a ballot for the 100 Best Shows, it's attached to their mailed magazine. Audit cards and online audits are used in writing reviews, not in figuring the rankings. So the only way a promoter could rig the ranking would be to have access to lots of subscriptions. True, only sales figures are used to rate shows, and there are a lot of reasons why we think a particular show is great, but I guess the sales are really the bottom line.
So I guess the new owner changed things, and that's great. But still, even flea marketers can subscribe and plenty of B/S merchants do also.
You see, I cancelled my subscription many, many years ago when I noticed that the major advertisers never received a bad review. Back at the time one of the major advertisers was Country Folk Art, and they were/are 70% buy/sell. One year they were #12 in the rankings.
Just returned from the Wells Street giant beer party (masquerading as art fair) over the weekend (June 11-12, 2016). Won't be returning next year. The impression is, it is an event organized to promote beer sellers, with artists there to provide a visual amusement. It is an "art fair" with no art awards, no booth-sitters, no water for artists (Saturday was 95F), no breakfast, no snacks, no booth map, no list of participating artists. It required getting up at 4am to get there for a 6am setup. Very long hours on both days. Saturday from 4am to 10pm back home, Sunday 8am to midnight. We were able to unload on the spot, it was tight, but worked. Booths were packed too tight, literally only an inch or so from neighbors, on all three sides. That meant keeping all your stuff inside the tent. Tear down worked too, but was much more of a hassle. You have to tear down first, then go get a car, leaving all the stuff unattended. Although my parking spot ($75) was just around the corner, I had to drive around to get to their single entry point a few blocks away. That required negotiating a maze of one-way streets, dead-end streets, driving through alleys at 11pm, driving several blocks around in order to approach the single entry point from the required direction. GPS is of no use, as it kept directing me through Wells street and adjacent streets, also closed for traffic because of the festival. All this time your stuff is on the street unattended.
In other words, a typical Chicago Special Events show :-(
I wonder if the OP, Heather, decided to do it or not?
Slobodan, we have similar events down here that the main feature is alcohol, or possibly food such as a gumbo fest or something like that. They throw in the arts/crafts for visual entertainment. We usually skip those events.
About the amenities. Out of the things you listed that were absent, most of them are absent from just about any show we have done. If we depended on amenities like those as a test of whether to apply and participate, we would never apply. In other words, I have been to one show that had awards in the form of ribbons but no cash. No other show I've done has had awards. The rest of the amenities are nonexistent. It does not keep me from applying. Since I've not had any shows offering such amenities in close proximity (to my knowledge), I don't know whether I'd even qualify.
About getting up at 4 AM, been there done that. I don't like but occasionally it happens so I can be a show. It's just part of the business at times.
None of the things or amenities that I mentioned would be a deal breaker in itself. I do only Chicagoland shows, and most, if not all, had some sort of amenities mentioned. My complaint about Wells Street show is the combination of negative factors: high booth fees ($550+$75 parking), long show hours, lack of amenities, non-art buying crowd. None of which would have mattered had the sales been stellar, alas... I haven't even made the booth fee, and from other participants I know (photographers) I heard they struggled too. It is possible that my photographs are not that good or sellable, but in the last show, in Deerfield, just a week earlier, I had $2K, and my best show last year (La Grange) resulted in $4K.