Art Fair Insiders

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

Let's do it as a top ten: My number 1 is


"Did j'all make this"?

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Ah yes - the old - that price must be for everyone else except me! When I explained to some ignoramus one day how much it cost me to exhibit at a recent event, her eyes popped out of her head...she just thought I was offering my hand-created items for the fun of it. When I explained my $750 gas bill for the barge just to get there, not including my booth fee (what? you had to pay to show here???) finally hit home - doh?

Okay, so I just had a great show in Hyde Park (Chicago) this weekend (I wrote a review) and I am reading this thread and laughing my butt off. One of the comments I have a good response to is: "yeah, my sister (aunt, mother, daughter, etc.) makes jewelry, too."  My answer is always exactly the same: "Ahhh, well then you really know the good stuff!" This has resulted in a number of sales.

Carol -- I had a man say something similar to me at my last show. He was asking me if I was going to be in the Boardwalk show (here in VA Beach) -- because he was in love with my art and wanted to bring all his friends.

I mentioned that despite having applied many times, I have not been accepted (yet). He was shocked -- and said "I thought artists just showed up and put up a tent. What do you mean about being "accepted"?

He had no idea about a show being juried - or even that we pay a booth fee. He honestly thought that artists just drive around and show up, put up their display and have a good time.

What a concept.

There are those who know, and honor us by purchasing, and there are those who no matter how many times they are told...still believe it costs nothing...and should cost them nothing. Those needing to be educated hopefully will come back someday and realize the value they are truly getting - to see/hear/touch/enjoy in person. If I am fortunate enough.

This is all very true, that many fair goers don't know the ins and outs of the art fair business. I sure had no idea before I started just 6 years ago.    I also think that sometimes we forget the tough financial times many people are facing today.  They covet our art and do LOVE it, but they cannot afford it.  Many times I go into other artist's booths and admire their work but can't afford it.  Often I plan in my mind that I will buy others' work when my work sells.  It's kind of paying it forward.  I've acquired a few art pieces that I really love that way. 

My all time favorite is when someone came into my booth and said "You are so lucky that they just gave you this spot on the street and set up all this beautiful stuff for you so you can display your jewelry"  "Gave" me the spot?  Set up the booth?  Don't I WISH!!  Very politely I explained that the spot wasn't free, I had to jury in, be invited and then pay for it.  And all this "beautiful stuff" I own which takes my hubby & I 4 hours to set it up and 2 to take it down.  I uploaded a pic of my booth just for fun.

I just wonder how many visitors to these art shows think this and just don't voice it.  Probably alot more than any of us realize!


I think you're right.  Beautiful booth!  Love the ceiling fan!

Thanks!  We use an inverter & deep cell marine batteries to run the ceiling fan and the lights since some shows don't allow generators due to noise & gas.  Plus the battery set up is alot cheaper than a generator.

I had a lady ask me if I made all this..I told her elves did it.. My hubby almost did a spit take!

A Michigan show...this lady went from booth to booth looking for something to match her "blue topaz earrings"  and lucky me ..the  lady came into my booth and  showed me her Kohls mystery metal and blue stone earrings...earrings and asked if I had any "blue topaz" to match.

I showed her blue topaz and she declared that they weren't blue topaz because they didn't match her earrings...They weren't blue topaz, not sure but looked like some sort of dyed blue opaque quartz maybe...

She asked if I had anything for $15 since a ring only had one stone and her earrings have two and cost her $25, so understandably a ring should be half that right? ...

I told her cheapest item was $100, she asked why it was so expensive...I told her because it wasn't made by Chinese slaves for Kohls...

She finally left...

Meant to reply to the discussion itself -- still learning how to navigate here.
To attract young buyers I have a rounder of $5 earrings. At least once per show someone asks if they're sterling silver.

And last week a lady returned to my booth twice to try on a bracelet priced at $33. The clasp consists of a handmade pendant and a wood button, which I mentioned. She actually had the nerve to ask me if I would take $20 for it. When I explained that the components cost more than that (an exaggeration, but I was annoyed) she left. The worst part? I recognized her from other shows and I know I'll see her again this summer.

I make quilted wall hangings and they vary in size from 11X14 to 36X48.  I do heavy machine quilting that takes anywhere from 1 to 6 hours or more.  I have had people ask me if I quilt them by hand. I stifle my chuckle, and politely respond that I quilted them by machine.  Maybe they're relieved. It would take months to quilt some of them by hand.  I frequently get asked where I buy my fabric or how I did a certain technique.  I don't mind answering, usually they come from other quilters who are inspired by my work.  I love sharing but I know that my skills have been honed over many years and the folks that say "I could do that" are bluffing for the most part.  I love what I do and I love talking with art fair lovers. Here's a peek at one that was not hand-quilted.


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