Art Fair Insiders

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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Have a profit sharing system... If we don't have a good show, they cover us by taking from their booth fee fund.

OK, unrealistic, never going to happen, not viable, not practical, ridiculous...but this IS a WISH list :-)

Here's a story for you.  I do the Great Gulf Coast Festival of Art every year.  One year one of my photographer show buddies was really upset and I asked him what was wrong.  He said he kept hearing people come through his booth saying that they had seen one of his photos on the other side of the show.  At first, he thought they were mistaken and must have just seen something similar - but he heard it again and again and again... eventually he decided he had better investigate.  Lo and behold, another photographer had taken a picture of his picture the year before and was now selling his photograph as a photograph of his own.  Can you believe that?  Outrageous!  My friend hunted down the show promoter and told her what was going on.  Together they confronted the other photographer who just simply did not give a $h*t.  He readily admitted that he had photographed the photograph the year before at this show.  He insisted he had every right to do it via public domain laws.  The show promoter ultimately made him remove the photo in question from display in his booth but told my friend they could not make him leave the show at that time, though they'd liked to have.  Apparently he threatened to sue the show if they removed him.  They did assure my friend he would be blacklisted forever.  Unbelievable, the balls on that guy...

Interesting story about the photographer. I would find some loopholes in it. A) if the original photograph was sign then it is officially copyrighted. It is not part of public domain. Anyone caught copying it and selling it would be subject to legal ramifications. If the offender did admit to this, the show would have been able to eject him.
If it had been my artwork they copied, the show would not have to eject him. They would have to call an ambulance instead.

Buy/Sell: I'm 64 years old and back-in-the-day "buy/sell" booths were quite rare and seldom a big issue. The shows were easily filled with "qualified" artists of any persuasion, and so the years went by,....  Today, the art show circuit has become an "industry" with a huge growth in shows located in every burg and hamlet across the land.  Yes, the number of artist applicants has grown also, but not at a pace to fill the shows to a capacity to satisfy the show directors.  Buy/Sell vendors are an inevitable outcome of the simple math.  My guess is, get used to it, or limit yourself to only the shows of the highest reputation and,.....probably do shows less frequently. For me personally, the buy/sell folks have little to no effect on my day.  

I go to a lot of Anime Conventions and the way they work it is that they have a vendor's room and what they call Artist Alley. Vendors are all BUY/SELL and pay significantly more than those with booths in Artist Alley who are required to make whatever they're selling themselves. It seems to work pretty good.

So, my solution is to charge Buy/Sell vendors more for their space

The Buy/Sell vendors, might be willing to pay more for their sports. Them being at the show still hurts the artist, as it is difficult to compete with them. Also they will try to cheat and get into the "less expensive" artist side.

I wish show directors would figure out a way to make previous year's sales a factor in acceptance. There are a number of shows in which I've had great sales one year, and then don't get invited the next year. I know this is an impossible wish, but it would be great if they paid attention to how well the artist's work meshes with what the buying public wants. 

In a more realistic vein, I wish every show director would come around to each artist, introduce him- or herself, and say hello. A couple organizers do this, and it is just great - and really could be done, even in the large shows, even if the director had to send an assistant to some of the booths. 

I used to sell roleplaying games at Gencon which is a huge tabletop game convention in Indiana (75,000 + people). I don't sell there anymore, because a 10' booth with no frills is $1000 now.

Anyway, they recently started using a point system based on how many years you participated. It determine your location and selection priority.

A couple years ago they started setting aside a section of the exhibit hall geared specifically towards first timers. I don't think the booths are cheaper, but it helps keep the new vendors from getting swallowed up. The artists also have their own area separate from the B/S vendors.

Basing show entry acceptance on sales, is not a fair practice. Some artists might be exceptional at their medium. They might be excellent artists, have great vision, fantastic talent and ability, do great workmanship... however not be good at sales or marketing. Perhaps just not what sold well, that year at that particular venue.  Should we eliminate that artist?  Based upon the sales criteria written of, then this would apply... in a venue of the finest culinary chefs MacDonalds would be welcomed every year and Chef Paul Prudhomme would not make the entry list.

Yes, artist work meshing with the potential customers is good. Basing it upon sales is not.

The one thing the organizers could do, if their mission was other than selling all their available space, is to put a limit to the number of jewelry exhibitors. Every juried Art Festival I have been part of in the last 6 years, should be renamed Festival of Jewelry, as this category surpasses 40% and upwards of the total. The one thing I always hear from the public, by the time they reach my booth: “there’s too much jewelry” and they move on.

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