Art Fair Insiders

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

Dear members,
It's great that together we have built a friendly, open community where people can discuss the issues important to the art fair business.

I hope that we can continue to do that.

However, recently there has been a lot of discussion that has been less than kind, to say the least.

I'd like to remind everyone that typing here in the Forum is not that different than having conversations in the real world.

For example, making statements and accusations about people or businesses that are untrue, defamatory, or damage a business can lead to legal liability.

Informed opinions, polite argument, and even a certain amount of gossip is no problem.

Libel is a problem.

Definition of Libel  (abridged from
To publish in print untruth about another which will do harm to that person or his/her reputation... It is a tort (civil wrong) making the person or entity open to a lawsuit for damages by the person who can prove the statement about him/her was a lie.

The primary examples we are struggling with lately here include discussions where people are stating that others are engaged in fraudulent business practices.

If you are making accusations for which you don't have supporting facts, I'd encourage you to please consider the tone and potential impact of your rhetoric to help reduce its potential for getting you into legal trouble.

I'm just running a Forum here - it's not my place, desire, or job to pass judgment. 

When defamatory statements are made here there may be consequences.  Those consequences may simply be removal of your posts, suspension of your membership, or even legal action.

Some of you may want to quibble with my legalese here but the point is really not up for debate.

Unfounded accusations are not welcome here and can get you into real trouble. 


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Comment by Linda A Shields on September 4, 2012 at 2:25am
This past weekend I did the new Third Ward Show by Amdur Productions in Milwaukee, WI. I Walked the entire 150 artists and saw no buy/sell.

I state what I see. Some may call it brown nosing but I've been at at least 200 other shows with horrid promoters that made my life miserable.

It was gusty winds nears Lake Michigan this past weekend. We had 400 lbs holding the tent in place. But suddenly my tent blew 5 feet up and backwards. Amy's staff had heavy water tanks there within 10 minutes so I could get back to work.
We all have preferences. I believe in civil discourse. People certainly get more attention by being sarcastic and inflammatory. I have found that the eccentric, just as in grade school, get overly noticed.
This blog was a warning to us all to watch our words.
I feel we should watch the source and energy of the words. Does it really help our sales to listen to negative rants and personal picks against another artist?

As Connie's post listed there are positive learning experiences available to all of us. When anyone wants to share a great article, isn't this the place?
There is no place like Connie's.
Forget the naysayers.
AFI may have its ups and downs but we return for our friends and the valuable information , again and again.
Comment by Connie Mettler on September 3, 2012 at 12:57pm

Thanks for that vote, Will. I agree with you. It is a balance for a show organizer: bring in new artists, new buyers, keep the old crowd interested enough to come back, some entertainment but not too much so they'll stay longer, keep fees low, find enough sponsors so they can pay for the support services (police, security, trash cleanup, advertising). The best events are focused on the arts and cultural programming, the rest are where artists have their problems.

Comment by will connor on September 1, 2012 at 8:31pm

All the things Connie mentions are great.  Every artist should think about how to improve their marketing, their presentations, their salesmanship.  And then she mentions   "show directors trying just as hard to stay ahead.  Looking for the next idea to bring people people to the shows."  I agree there are show directors sincerely trying to make successful art centered events.  The problem is , and I'm afraid the TREND is, for many show directors, and boards, is NOT to focus on art centered events.  The trend  at many shows (think Columbus, Coconut Grove) is more sponsor centered events where to many show directors the number of bodies on the street equals success, not the number of art buying patrons.  As this trend continues, quality goes down because the crowds brought in are increasingly not there for the art.  And the cycle becomes vicious.  

I have an, admittedly vague, sense that artist forums such as this could start to have a cumulative  effect on some of the anti-art practices at shows.  That is, as long as this forum is about more than tent buying advice and "Call to Artists"...  The status quo is just not good enough.

Comment by Oscar Matos Linares on September 1, 2012 at 11:23am

Hi  Connie

Just to let you know yes I had listen to some or all the podcasts.

Comment by Connie Mettler on September 1, 2012 at 11:09am

Hi Oscar, good points from you. Thanks. Try as I may, like politics, there are so many opinions and ideas that I am not going to get people to come to agreement. Have you listened to any of the podcasts? The intention of those is to do exactly what you are suggesting, bring information to the members that is useful to their careers. The next one is with a man who teaches artists strategies on selling. Coming up soon.

This is also why we have discussions about marketing -- using social media to bring people to shows, having a Facebook page where you can alert visitors to your next show, having a website that can drive traffic to your shows. Creating work that satisfies both you and your customer, finding where your customer might be hanging out, studying the "big boys and girls" who get into a lot of the good shows.

The other thing that we just can't get around is that the the bulk of they buyers at the shows just don't have the income for buying like they used to. High end clients show up though and the artists who position themselves to attract them seem to be selling better than the rest. It is definitely an "art not a science" though to figure this all out and what works for you may not work for me. It is not a popular thing to say here, but I speak with show directors, but they are working just as hard to stay ahead. Looking for the next new idea that will bring people to the shows -- you can help them by doing your own marketing and bringing people to the shows. Helping them helps you and vice versa. (I know you've heard all this before, just want to make sure you are listening).

I take the point about making this "private". As Annette stated we don't know who is reading here. But if we take conversations private then lots of helpful information never reaches the people who need to hear it. The fact that anyone can read here has an impact on people's behavior.

Thanks to everyone who has been supportive in this thread. Just as you are working to earn a living in a creative way we are sincerely working to make this community one of the tools that can help you, and I know it has. Thank you.

Comment by Annette Piper on August 31, 2012 at 9:41pm

I have stayed out of this as I am not in the US so can't really be a valid contributor to the thread.  However I see this boils down to 2 points

*Connie doesn't want anyone posting here to get slammed for libel (including herself) and

*Artists are still concerned and want to identify potential sellers of buy/sell and bring them to the attention of other artists and en masse make the promoters see that this line is folly for everyone concerned (except maybe the buy/seller).

The first issue of libel is a valid one and as this is a completely open forum then ANYONE can read the posts and identify the poster.  The only reason they need to sign up is to POST.

The second issue is very valid too.  No one wants promoters to short change the artists and allow buy/sell to take over.   There are many emotions tied up in this and as we all know a typed comment cannot always be construed in the manner in which it was intended.  These comments then can leave the poster open to legal action for libel.

The only thing I can suggest is that a PRIVATE section of the forum be opened for more open discussion of these topics.   This could be set up perhaps as a private GROUP within AFI - you have to apply to the owner of the group for membership and there may be qualifications they want to see - eg. number of posts, long term membership of AFI eg Geri who gives much valuable information, confirmation of artist status, even confirmation as a valid promoter if they want to be aware of what this group is finding.   This would NOT be visible to all and sundry and would keep the libel issue to a minimum if at all. 

What do you think?

Comment by Oscar Matos Linares on August 31, 2012 at 9:24pm

It has take me a while to think this point.

The fact is that we all know that we are getting more applications to show because we see people applying to shows because they need a second income. We all know that there are to many shows in the area. We all know that people tell us they will come to next show. We all know the buying power is less and soft. We all know we are working harder and coming with a economical line to cover that impulse purchase. We all know that what we hope from a show is way less than four years ago. Then you add all the no, no at shows and you get this topic.

We need a source or forum to express our frustration. We all feel that promoter are letting us down. I think that promoters tell us that you have no idea what it takes and they not get enough from this all year process. 

Here is my challenge to you Connie. How can you help us to come to neutral ground where we all get a good deal. How about telling us what else we can do to improve our sales. What marketing we need to add in top what the promoter do.

As soon as our sales start going up all these issues will go to side.

Do not forget that we all getting older and very few new bold is coming in. To many of us are loosing everything we work hard to get.

Think about that and you will see Munks, Geri, etc points.

Comment by Bruce Meyer on August 31, 2012 at 9:22pm

As I readied a post here I saw Will's words, "I really appreciate Geri contributions here and elsewhere.  And Munks statement was a breath of fresh air.  This forum could possibly be a force for change in the art fair world." and agree completely. 

Many entities have spring up to attempt to speak for the needs of the artists who are at risk of offending some show director or another.  NAIA made an attempt but have been too hesitant to confront egregious policies that have become the paradigm of art fairs.  That shows actually resell a booth space of an artist who has cancelled (at ANY time for ANY reason) is among the worst of these.  Yet most shows will not listen to reason on this.

A word to those who "are bewildered...blah, blah" about Geri's sharing of her thoughts on the venue.  Her words are so much more cogent than those who are sycophants or worse yet those who bury their heads in the sand.  Rather than condescending and juvenile requests for her voice to be silenced, I would encourage her to keep listening to the voices of artists who are concerned for the future of the venue and sharing their words.  Her detractors indeed seem bewildered by much and they have offered nothing of substance that could work  the change the paradigm that exists.

As Will said, this website could have been a force for change, but has dropped the ball as so many others have.  Being safe and taking no stand will maintain the status quo.  And a voice as eloquent as Munk's will always be heard by those who think.


Comment by Oscar Matos Linares on August 31, 2012 at 8:49pm

Okay Will did I read this right. You are saying that Amy Amdur allows buy and sell. I think if Amy see buy and sale and she 90% she may let the artist finish the show if she is 100% sure I know she will throw then out or ask them to paid the sponsor fee ( the fee make our fees look like pocket change).

Comment by will connor on August 31, 2012 at 8:01pm

I really appreciate Geri contributions here and elsewhere.  And Munks statement was a breath of fresh air.  This forum could possibly be a force for change in the art fair world.  Connie created this site but the site is nothing without the artists who choose to be here.  If AFI is going to be safe, controversy-adverse, and advertiser-friendly then it really won't be worth much to anyone.

When something needs to be addressed whether it be obvious buy-sell, poor security, inept jurying-- all the art-hostile conditions present at all but a few shows-- there seems to be a contingent here that wants to say "Just don't do the show anymore."  The problem with that is that we are running out of good shows.  I believe we need to confront the problems, privately and publicly before there are only 3 good shows left with 5000 applicants each.

It worries me that we are losing our audience.  The general public more and more views an "art show" as somewhere to see something cheap, dumb, derivative and likely buy-sell.  And sadly, that would be mostly accurate.  There are still some patrons, an aging population,  enthusiastic about art shows.  But we need a few hundred thousand more Geris.  Listen to what she has to say.  When she sees Amy Amdur, for example,  letting buy sell into shows, it pisses her off.  Once people like her stop caring, we are lost.

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