Art Fair Insiders

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

Why aren't there many high end art festivals in New England?  Besides Bill from Paragon, who's fairly new, and Denise Morris Curt, why no biggies like a CocoGro or the South Florida string?  I'm originally from Long Island, and I know the demographics are there, all the way up the coast.  So why???  Is it because all the art collectors think "good art" only comes from a gallery?  Is it that the real estate is limited for a show (then how come the monster truck venues, hmmm...)?  There's tons of craft shows, fairs, and then there's the NY Expo which out of reach for me.  I'm just scratching my head here because I would dearly love to do a prodigal daughter returns home kind of trip.

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Great question.  I live on Cape Cod and have been wondering about the lack of fine-art shows in New England.  The area has a rich fine art history with lots of galleries, museums, etc.  Maybe Florida and the Midwest don't have as many options for buying fine art as there are in the Northeast, so they support shows.  Who knows?  

I'm new at the art show business, but my guess is that there are very few shows that are going to support $5000-$10000 paintings, especially these days.  Paradise City looks like the only reasonable prospect in this area.  I'm curious about Paragon shows.  The one on Cape Cod did not do well and has been cancelled.



I tried the Cape twice this past summer, once with Paragon's Hyannis show, which was so bad that Bill scratched the venue, and then at Chatham, "the show people plan their vacations around".  It was the worst show I've done, and sorely disappointed many other artists as well.  The only shows I'd even consider doing again are Bar Harbor, Rose Squared (not because I did well, but because they really strive to put on a fine art show) Armonk, Wickford, Westhampton, and Old Saybrook.  I still don't get it.  Here in FL you can't swing a dead cat without hitting a fine art (well...) show in the winter but these same people who travel back to their summer homes up north don't go to fine art shows there?  Hard to wrap my mind around.  Haven't tried Paradise City, but heard good things about them, and they are expensive.

Oh yeah.  The Mystic Seaport show too.


It's supposed to be the best fine art show Mystic has to offer.  A photographer friend of mine did it and said the quality was very good, but, alas, as everywhere else right now, many people kept there hands in their pockets.  It's well attended, and adjacent to some well to do CT towns.

Speaking as a born and raised New Englander- Mainer, I have to agree with Chris....most of the people buying in New England are tourists- people who aren't here year round. And not many of them are still buying like they use to in this economy. These "damn Yankees" are unique mindset! Chris has hit it right on the head. Not to mention the weather. Add it all together and you get New England. It's pretty, a great place to visit, but we pretty much have 5 months for outdoor shows, and I know here in Maine, the indoor shows are an extremely expensive, and often times difficult proposition.
Have you guys tried CastleBerry Fairs? They organize quite a few New England Shows, I visited the Bar Harbor one, but have been unable to book it yet, as I have always had more local shows, when they have those scheduled.  They seem to be fairly on the ball, and have a decent schedule of shows.

I call Chris & Terry the "Class act of New England".

But you must remember, they promote craft fairs. Yes, they get exhibitors from all over the northeast, but they are primarily quality crafts. There are a few fine artists who do their shows and they do well.

Here's a page with who is in their show this weekend so anybody can see what type of exhibitors they have. I've done this particular show with them for over 10 years and have made anywhere from $2,500 to $6,000 depending on the economy.

Oh my, that's a flash in the past.  What a bunch of ####.  If you have high quality art, you will be disappointed, unless most of the stuff has been juried out. At the show that was billed to be the best,  I was placed next to a woman who made, with her 13 year old daughter, hair barrettes with ribbons glued to them.  The guy across from me made "wall art".  It was wall paper sections glued to a board and then put in a shrink wrap.  It was just one piece of wall paper, he didn't even bother to make a collage out of it.  At one show, I had a woman across from me hacking her wares and would actually call to my customers to come look at her mirror, because it was larger than mine.  She made things (maybe) that competed with mine.  I would never do those shows, again.

That was Providence for me with Festival Fete.  Ugh.  Dog collars and doggie hat vendors.

oh oh. I'm going to be in a festival fete next month. It's okay. I'm home. I've got a month to add something dog to my repetoire...


When and where was that show?


Was that the Boston Gift Show? Isn't that more of an "anything goes" type of show? And just a note, this was our last time in Essex. It has degenerated to a nice $300 show that she wants $525 for. It's sad too, because as little as two years ago we walked out of there with over $6500. This last time I only did $1600. And next year she's gonna integrate antiques? No thanks.


Usually the Boston show is the topic of conversation during setup at Salem. And the past few years the general consensus was the show has gotten "terrible".

Let's face it. The people just aren't spending. And next year the Presidential campaign will be one of the dirtiest and nastiest in history, and they'll close their wallets even more until it's over.

As long as you have your "real job", keep it.


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