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

I wish they would put a notice in the shows leaflet or a sign at entry points, that taking pictures of Artists 2D work is something they should ask permission to do.

In my book, taking a close up photo of an image is stealing.  They can take it home and print it, or toss it all over the internet.  At least ask.  I don't want to give people a hard time but I do want directors to help educate the public.

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I wish they would instruct people NOT to ask/say:

Did you make this?   [no, child laborers in China who work for slave wages made it!  grrrr]

I could make that.   [maybe, but would you?]

I could make it cheaper.   [maybe, but would you?]

You (their friend who is with them) could make that for me.

Would you take $___ for it? (a much lower price than what you're asking)

Seriously .... I wish they would vet applicants much better to keep the buy/sell out of shows.  It cheapens the work of the artisans and craftsmen who made it into the show to say it's the same.  That right there is insulting.  When all someone does is monogram a name on to a bag made in China or Taiwan.... that is not art or a craft.  What creativity is involved by typing in a name, choosing a font, selecting a size then hitting "run" or "go"?

Ask for photos of the person actually working in their shop or studio.  Not just photos of their hands "working" but photos of them crocheting, painting their canvas, running woodworking machines in their shop, making the greeting cards/soap/etc., painting/staining the furniture, etc.  If 2, 3, or 4 photos were required to show the artist at work and a photo ID for check in, it might help cut out the buy/sell.

It would be our job to have people not photograph our work with a simple "No photographs please" sign prominently posted in our booth.

But as a recovering promoter I know there are a couple of things they wish exhibitors would stop doing.

The biggest offenders are the "Buy/Sells NAZIs". These people patrol the show just looking for trouble in the belief that they are "helping" the promoter weed out undesirables. They have no physical proof, but they want the Veeblefetzer exhibitor tossed because they "know" it's B/S.

Concentrate on your own booths! If somebody else is making a killing, the customers weren't your market to begin with.

I say this because I have a long standing friendship with a tinker who sees the crap from China and makes his own version, only much better quality. But he is accused at almost every show of being a B/S merchant and is getting real tired of the busybodies.

Then there is the exhibitor who doesn't like his placement at the show. I have seen grown women and men literally stomp their feet when the promoter won't move them to the better spots because those empty spots are taken by somebody who hasn't arrived yet.

Do the show, do your best, and if you aren't successful,  just don't go back. It's not rocket science.


I agree that there are some who spend more time looking for buy/sell than tending to their own booth.  My issue is when a show is billed as ALL hand crafted and I know it's not.  How do I know it's not?  From getting to know other sellers at shows.  Just by having a simple 'get to know you' conversation, which often starts of innocently enough, you can find out stuff about another seller that you possibly didn't even want to know!  LOL

B/S has been the bane of this business for far longer than I've been in it, and will always continue to be. If anybody thinks it will be eradicated completely they are dreaming.

So what do we do? Easy. Deal with it. When we do a show that is billed as no B/S and it's there we do the best we can that weekend and then decide whether our sales were good enough to return. If so, I don't care what else is there, I made money. So I will probably return. Because I concentrate on my booth and my booth alone.

I cut my professional teeth at Country Folk Art shows. And I in essence grew up with B/S all around me. I competed with it! I saw what they did and saw ways to outsell them. I pissed a lot of them off by having a simple sign in my booth: 

"What's made in China, should stay in China! Made in Vermont." 

I take pride in the fact that one October I did 5 figures in 3 days surrounded by B/S merchants. I was the one with the line, not them. The one across from me didn't even make his $600 space fee.

Today when our group of fellow exhibitors goes out for dinner on a Saturday night after a show we'll discuss the B/S merchants we've encountered and tell about how we outsold them.

Why is everybody so afraid of them???

I hear what you are saying but if no one complains then isn't it likely that the situation will get much worse. I assume many promoters would be slightly less diligent about B/S if they never heard about it.



I agree.  Especially if the promoter is really putting out the effort to keep it all handmade.  Sometimes it is hard to tell if a product is handmade.  I remember hearing about some who buy children's clothes ready made, cut out the label, and put their own label in.  This is deceitful.  It is also theft, because the person is saying someone else's creation is their own.

The burden of proof in on you. if you accuse an exhibitor of B/S you had better have proof, not just that you say it is. What proof will you give the promoter when you make your accusation?

I have one question. When will exhibitors realize promoters are human? Nobody's perfect, not even promoters. They can and will make mistakes, but somehow that's not allowed. Why?

Then we have the definition of "handmade". Just what is the promoter's definition? That's the only one that counts. If an exhibitor purchases a tote and does something to it like paint it or embellish it, isn't that still "handmade"? Isn't painting a canvas tote the same as painting on a canvas?

What about the crafter who purchases 12 inch Christmas trees from CWI and decorates them? "Handmade"? Yes.

Lighten up people! Unless you see the offender actually opening previously sealed boxes from China and removing the "Made in China" stickers, s/he deserves the benefit of the doubt, just like my Tinker friend.

I spoke with one exhibitor at a show about her flags.  It is those little flags that are roughly about 18"x24".  They had 3 consecutive booths of them and went very verticle too ... going up about 18 feet.  I asked her if she sewed all those flags.  Her response was "oh no, not me".  She said they were bought.  That is what I dislike about b/s.  When it's flagrantly obvious because the person readily admits it.  I am no longer doing this show because of that and several others who I KNOW had b/s but it was overlooked and this was billed as handmade.

Of course that's the show you want to avoid. The promoter is "selling real estate". You don't make a scene, or tantrum, or anything like that. The promoter knew who they were letting in if they juried. You simply toss next year's app into the circular file and go on with your life.

The only thing that should matter to you is did you make money?

Chris.... This past weekend I had no less than 3 signs per wall in my booth and had to fend off photographers 1 per hour.  The public just doesn't understand it is all.  They don't realize it is stealing.

I don't think it is the directors JOB to do this, but I think that educating the public would HELP.

Chris.... I am glad to hear you are a recovering promoter, but I think you need some more recovery time.  :)

Photographers are just part of the game that we deal with. Your work could be photographed with a camera 30 feet away and you'll never know it. But are they stealing, or just taking photos of their day at the show? 90% of the photographers are the latter.

You will never stop them from photographing your work. It's a downside to exhibiting it.

I was a little ways away from my booth earlier this year and saw a guy with his kid at my flip bin. I thought he was going to compare a couple of pieces when he set one up at the top of the bin, but then he whipped out his cell phone and copied the damn thing. By the time I got to the booth he had already moved on. That was no record of the day, that was flat out stealing. I have signs up that say no photos but some folks still are jerks. I just made up my mind to be more vigilant and stopped four people trying to copy the work at the next show. If anyone thinks "it's just a cell phone", all I can say is that I have three large 20x30 photos in my booth that sell on a reasonably recurring basis that were taken with a cell phone.


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