Call for Artists, Making Money at Juried Art Fairs, Craft Shows and Festivals
My wife is an oil painter and over the last five years we’ve been displaying her work at local Art Festivals in New England each summer and fall. Through this time, we’ve learned a lot and noticed the differences between a well run and not so well run festival.
So here’s our list of the things that make up the ideal festival (from the vending artists perspective). Of course all of this is in addition to lots of sales from a huge crowd of art lovers!
In no particular order….
Artists - How did I do with this list? What am I missing? Let me know in your responses/comments below!
It looks good to me. I would add that the rules and regulations are only as good as their enforcement. Personally, I would pay a higher booth fee to guarantee “walk about” overnight security. Sales are more important to me than prizes. I have a whole box of pretty ribbons, and the cash never equaled my best sale.
Great sales and parking behind your booth. Nothing else is as important.
A perfect show would:
Thanks Reid! All great suggestions. Love the WiFi idea
Thanks Bernadette. Just want to ensure I'm understanding where you are coming from. You see festivals that have appropriate rules, but don't enforce them?
Related to this topic, we totally agree with no buy/sell, no tshirts, etc. But we can get annoyed when we are told that prints are acceptable, but "only one bin". We find that there is no definition on what a "bin" is, max size, etc. What a "print" is, is also up for discussion. For example, my wife sells prints, but also sells prints that she mats, frames and embellishes with a final coating. Should these be considered "prints"? At some shows they are. OK, that's my rant :)
Great list! I would add:
* Forget the prizes - they affect very few. I would rather they spend the money on advertising. (I say this as someone who just won a prize this past weekend. Take my money and print some flyers or a banner!)
* Plan load-in with some common sense. If it's a big festival, don't move everyone in on one row in at the same time; stagger them. Even numbers. Odd numbers. Whatever. Just not everyone at once and then be surprised when there is no parking and emotions run high.
* Love the idea of an artist-dedicated bathroom. When you're a solo artist, you don't want to spend 20 minutes standing (dancing?) in line with no booth sitter.
* Enforce the regs on breakdown. Please.
* Have your applications ready early. (Some shows lose potential artists because they don't Zapp their applications early enough.) And, btw, just use Zapp.
* Booths at least 12x12. Please no 10x10 booth spaces. (I'm always surprised - and disappointed - when they block you in so tight you can't put up your walls.)
* Advertise. Advertise. Advertise. Target the young people with empty walls!
* Please don't combine an art fair with: a beer tent, a wine tasting, or a music festival at the same time as the art fair. Sell the art and turn the music down so I can actually talk to customers.
* Likewise, please don't schedule an art fair when your town/city has other things going on if possible. It dilutes the audience.
* Be honest. Is it an art fair, or an arts and crafts fair? I can do either, but I need to know so I can either not apply or adjust my offerings.
* Be nice and say thank you. Artists are hard-working people. Doing a show is hard work. A simple "thank you for being here" goes a LONG way.
Thanks Fletcher! Great feedback...
This is a wonderfully comprehensive list, Tony. Thank you.
But let's say this is a smallish event trying to get started without a large budget or well-heeled sponsors. What I want from that show:
Thanks Connie. Yes, agree that to get everything on my list assumes a well established and well funded show.