Call for Artists, Making Money at Juried Art Fairs, Craft Shows and Festivals
If I had a $1 for every compliment or every business card I passed out at this festival I’d be one happy artist! This was my second year at the Gig Harbor Summer Art Festival. Last year I sold one original and not much else, this year I sold a number of smaller items and only one very small original. In both cases my total sales and the outcome was the same. I broke even, give or take a little. I really like this show. The town of Gig Harbor, WA is beautiful, the show is well organized, easy to do and the booth fee is reasonable. However, unless I get some follow-up orders, it doesn’t make financial sense. In talking to other artists at the show I got, "just OK" to not so good. Since the show I’ve heard reports of good sales.
I had some good moments at the show, like the one woman that really wanted to buy some original work, but couldn’t afford much. She ended up purchasing a little 5x7 and a box of note cards. She was so happy it warmed my heart. And then there was another local artist, not participating in the show, that introduced herself by saying that she had liked my facebook business page and how much she loved my art. She was just starting to do shows and was looking at doing this show next year. We talked and she bought a couple of boxes of cards... and there were others. The bad moment came near the end of the show when a woman was trying to get even more off a framed metal print I had. I had already discounted it quite a bit because it was a size I decided not to carry. I was happy to get it out of inventory. But she wanted to pay cash and skip the sales tax. I told her I wanted to stay above board. In the end I took another $5 off. It left a bad taste to what was an otherwise pleasurable show (even though I wished for higher sales.)
About the show... Gig Harbor is a nice little upscale town outside of Tacoma, WA, just west of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. As the name suggests it’s a harbor. The show has easy set-up and tear down, They give you a set-up time for Friday evening depending on which side of the street you are on, drive to your spot and unload. Spaces are EXACTLY 10 ft. wide but there is storage behind the booths. Fortunately it all worked out and everyone fit. They provide coffee and doughnuts on both days and a number to call for booth sitting. I had some pot holes in my space which I was mostly able to cover with my table and I filled the rest with sand. The art was variable in quality and type. There was soap and oils mixed in with the fine art. There was also some amazing work there. To me the mix seemed a little heavy on pottery and landscape photography. The attendance seemed down on Saturday from last year but picked up on Sunday.
I have learned from this show... it’s probably not the right fit for me, maybe I need to tweak my artwork, which I’m already in the process of doing, I need to work on my sales technique which I’m also doing and I need to learn to not let customers get to me. I’ll give this one a rest for a couple of years and re-evaluate. On to the next show...