Art Fair Insiders

Call for Artists, Making Money at Juried Art Fairs, Craft Shows and Festivals

What do you do when you need to get rid of your artwork but hate the thought of giving it away after all the work and money you put into it? My stomach flips at the thought of donating the thousands of dollars in prints I had made up when I first started.

I am a photographer and tried art fairs for two years with very little success. I got in great shows, won awards, but didn't make any money. I sold my tent and display last winter and still have bins of my photography full of packaged prints. I also have large canvases in boxes as well. I've moved to a small home with no garage and do not have storage for this artwork. My parents were storing some of my work, but they are now moving and can't do it anymore. I've tried selling on etsy, but it's very slow moving.

I need and want to live more minimally. I don't want to have anxiety every time I walk into my laundry room full of photographs that didn't sell. Has anyone encountered this? Should I bite the bullet and just donate it all?


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Awww! Thanks Chris! That is so sweet of you and funny! Damn! I needed to hear it too. When you don't find success financially doing what you love, you start to doubt your skills. You think, are my friends just being nice when they complement my work? I know my mom is my biggest fan, but isn't that her job? lol. I start thinking maybe I need to switch gears. But I do love photography. I've been addicted to it since I was a kid. I don't think I could ever really put a camera down for an extended amount of time. Thank you again!!! 

Hi Sheri. I am in the exact position as you. Photographer that tried art shows at the encouragement of a friend that has made her living with it. People seemed to love my work, but no sales. It seems photography doesn’t do well at art shows. I had also heard that before I started but wanted to give it a shot anyways. Now I have all this stock that I’m tired of seeing and storing. I gifted several of my large framed pieces to my daughter and son in law. It makes me happy that they will have them in their home. But I still have a lot of matted prints and I don’t have a clue what to do with them.

i completely understand and agree with the self doubt this brings. The conclusion I came to is that I have to appreciate my gift and hold it for the reason I started to begin with. I love shooting and I do it for me. 

if you are looking for a new medium, I have discovered scratch art and love it. I think one of the reasons I do is because it is an art form that greatly deals with the light of the image, much like photography. 

I wish you lots of luck in finding new homes for your work and will continue to follow this thread. There are some great ideas on here.


I'd like to send you a PM with ideas. I sent you a friend request. 

I'd like to hear your ideas, too. Any chance you could post them or PM me, too??

Put all of your work on a flash or thumb drive.  Rent a storage shed. 

Your work is Beautiful and I would not give it away or destroy it. 

I have no idea why this post popped into my mind while taking a shower after yoga class, but here is what I came up with for fine craft. In my case it is leather, I’m 75 and nowhere ready to throw in the towel.

There are outfits advertising in trade magazines who buy up inventories, but they would only give you pennies on the dollar.

For high end western leather work, I would first contact small independent stores with offers to buy lots: belts, spur straps, tack and personal leather goods like journals. I would keep the lots small so they would appear affordable and sufficiently different from what they get from China.

For gun leathers (holsters and gun belts) I would do some local gun shows where set up is just put what you have on a table and see what sells at retail. The leftovers would be offered to local gun stores in lots. No comparison between high quality leather ones and all the nylon stuff they usually stock. Again, price it to look like a good deal and not a big cash outlay.

All the K-9 leashes and collars I would offer in lots to local pet stores. Odds and ends like business card cases, credit card cases etc. that are not particularly western, inexpensive and made from scrap, I would donate to church’s silent auction and take a tax write off.

The saddles would have already been given to my kids to hang onto until what’s out there becomes scarce and they become collectibles.  

Thank you everyone for commenting on this and for all the kind words, I really appreciate it!! I tried to give my work to an upscale consignment store to sell, they didn't respond. I then tried selling them at a garage sale. (ugh!) Large canvases that would sell for $400, I gave away for $30! I only sold 3. Talk about a low point in my photographer's journey. I sold a few more packaged prints and then donated everything else to a local Habitat for Humanity Restore. There was a part of me that inwardly felt sad, I had such high hopes for finally going out on my own and trying the art fair circuit. I had wanted to do it since I was a kid. It's a tough market. So many people said they loved my work and that it's great, but all the compliments in the world wont help financially. I would only make my booth fee, and people would tell me that was great. But breaking even, at least sometimes, does not a living make. Two sales on etsy a year, does not even pay for my printer ink. So I've decided to go back to my old way of work, graphic design. I'll still take photos, it's who I am, but I'm not going to try and sell them anymore.  I'm OK now with giving it all away. It was freeing in a way and someone will be happy finding those pieces. I can always reprint them and the cost I spent a few years ago creating them was spent and gone then. Today, in the present, I have less clutter and a weight lifted.

:-(   What a great closing shot... "What does the future hold?"

Best of luck to you, Sheri.  You have a great talent; keep it alive; share it with your loved ones and the world.  We all will be better for it.

--Chris Fedderson

Thanks Chris! I appreciate it. :-)


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