Art Fair Insiders

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

Affordable Arts Festival Denver, does it again!

Feel free to search the main site for "Affordable Arts" reviews from the past. I wont retread what's already been said.

Reflections on this years show: The "promoters" job, after we've paid what continues to be exorbitant and rising booth and jury fees is to do just that, promote the show and get buyers there (by the way this is NOT one of those overpriced shows). Okay, enough editorializing.

Maybe it is the nature of this particular beast ($100 or less) but Jim Delutes continues to bring in a buying crowd. Does there need to be 300,000 visitors to make a good show? Not if the ______K (fill in the number Jim)  that do show up actually BUY! My sales at this show, unlike the others I've done this year, have been consistent. Not to say I wouldn't mind having them trend up but given the paucity of sales I've experienced at other shows I've done this year it was a welcome respite. The few other artists that I spoke with felt it was a worthwhile experience as well.

Jim has continued to make adjustments to the show to keep them there. This year there were two food trucks (Indian cuisine and pizza) as well as an ice cream vendor and water sales. Additionally, there were three tents set up as, what I'm calling,  a "shade station". Boy did they need it! I saw a cluster of patrons amassed under the shade of one tree late in the day. Given that the temperature was in the mid 90's with nary a cloud in sight, if these amenities were not available it would have been a very short show! Just stepping out of the shade of my tent made me sizzle! So cudos to those patrons who stuck it out and made the show a success. I saw one poor woman trying to carry a framed piece of art that was almost as tall as herself! Which, if suggestions are about a "large item art pickup" sited in either of the parking areas north or south of the food area? That might also be cordoned off as a handicapped parking area?

Jim doesn't have a large staff of people helping so what he manages to do with what he's got is commendable. In the past I noted that there was some booth sitting relief. If they came around this year I didn't notice it but I was sweating so much I didn't need the break!

Parting shot: This morning, as I write this, it is overcast and 20 degrees cooler! There is NO justice! ;-) LOL By the way, I haven't been paid a promotional fee to say nice things about this show.

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Comment by Jim DeLutes on September 11, 2015 at 3:09pm

Thanks Susan for being part of the festival the last 3 years. It will only grow from here! And Brian, thanks for bringing up something that I hear each year from artists and that is the after show sales at full price. I've had artists that have done $1800, $2400 and even $7000 in after show sales. Sometimes it helps to 'prime the pump' with the clients and get them collecting your work at $100 and then they may turn into being a long term collector.

Comment by Susan Spohn on September 11, 2015 at 2:34pm

I have participated for 3 years at the AA. (painting) My first year was fantastic, and my last 2 years have been good. I was skeptical of this show at first... but it has been wonderful to sell older works. I have clients who come back to this show year after year to purchase from me. Many that bought from me (at this show) in the past stop by to simply thank me for selling them a wonderful painting now displayed in their home or office that they enjoy so much.

Jim does a great job advertising, more folks waiting in line to buy every year. I have only good things to say about this show and Jim as a promoter. 

Comment by S Brian Berkun on September 9, 2015 at 12:13pm

Those are exactly the pieces that I sell at the AAF. Works that I no longer show, or are too regional in scope. More recently, as I'm trying to get out of the glass and frame business, I'm moving those pieces. Why do I need to have a basement full of work that someone can enjoy? Retailers, as well as galleries, offer or negotiate discounts why should I, as an artist, be hamstrung by the idea that I shouldn't as well! I'd much rather have my work adorning the walls of an admiring patron than in a box in my basement! I had a patron contact me just the next day to purchase, at full price, a piece that they saw on my website after admiring my work at the AAF.

Comment by Jim DeLutes on September 8, 2015 at 12:31pm

Yes, Brian, it can work for artists with inventory like that. Also, good for experimental pieces that just didn't quite make the cut, old styles of work that no longer fit with your current body and I also see painters creating pieces just for this show with  maybe a bit less details, etc. The other part that has worked for many artists is the follow up with clients after the show where even more work is sold at full price. The patrons know that the prices they see are good only for the 6 hours of the show.

Comment by Brian Billings on September 8, 2015 at 12:21pm

Thanks for the info Jim, I now have a better understanding of the show. I am a painter and I am gallery represented, so I already create smaller works just for festivals. Moving paintings from place to place they sometimes get damaged, stay in inventory too long and often galleries won't accept a piece if it has the slightest imperfection. I usually sell these paintings at a large discount at a local show or donate them to charity, but sounds like they would also be good for this show. This would be great for locals or those doing a show backed up to it. I don't think their is anything wrong with this concept and think it's a win win, but probably wouldn't list it on my CV I give to galleries.  

Comment by Barrie Lynn Bryant on September 8, 2015 at 10:50am

I want to make one thing perfectly clear to you, Jim, since you said you don't understand what I'm talking about. I am not your enemy and I'm not an enemy of your show.

Furthermore, I can evaluate the possibilities of any show based upon my experiences (or lack of them) without ever attending the event. That's what I do to figure out where I think I should show. And I can discuss those possibilities and ideas about shows with others anywhere anytime. I've said nothing bad about your show and the artists exhibiting in your show.

And I didn't compare AA with CC painters to call you a liar.

Comment by Steve Sawusch on September 7, 2015 at 12:26am

Like others have posted, it was a good show with the people ready to buy. Jim does a lot of promotion and gets buyers to come out, unlike a couple others I know.
Reid, the sky is not falling, it is not a slippery slope.

Comment by Reid Watts on September 5, 2015 at 6:12pm

Where does this lead? $10 art fairs? $1 dollar art fairs sponsored by Dollar Tree? Nickel and dime art fairs?

If the promoter advertised such a show with a poster art rendition of the stereotypical “starving artist”, he could pull in buyers by the hundreds of thousands. Of course, everyone would want to see a real starving artist, but that should not be too difficult to arrange.

Comment by Jim DeLutes on September 5, 2015 at 10:45am


Again, I'm not sure why artists feel like they have to comment on shows that they don't do. As I said, I have PAST and PRESENT CC artists in the show. There were two 2D artists from this year's CC, I have past artists in jewelry, clay, photography, 3D mixed and others. Not sure why you feel like you have to try to catch me in a lie. I only talk about shows that I've done or I run and I would hope that people who post on here would also only talk in first person experience when commenting on the shows.

This show is NOT for everyone and no where does it say that. If you have $10,000 bronzes then please do shows that work for you. I'll have plenty of artists because the majority of the current artists are ones that have done it ALL 4 years. If it was not a good show for them, they would not return. Please don't make it sound like I'll have plenty of one year suckers that sign up for the show. 

Again, please talk about things you know so that you won't confuse people who come to this site for info from folks who have actually done the shows. Both you and Kara have never been to the show yet you want to speak as if you know how it works and who succeeds at it, etc. and to further prove you don't know the show - the highest grossing artist in 2014 and 2015 was a.......Sculptor! Second place both years was a Metal artist so your theory that only photographers and people making prints can succeed at this show continues to reveal how little you know about it. In fact, if you try to do the show with only reproductions you'll find out how quickly you'll fail. 

I'm done wasting time here trying to counter your made up info about the show. Please do not use the phrase "you know what I'm talking about Jim" since, quite frankly, you don't even know what you're talking about so I have no chance of trying to figure out what you're saying. 

Comment by Barrie Lynn Bryant on September 5, 2015 at 9:59am

I did a comparison of Cherry Creek painters with Affordable Art 2D and didn't see any of the CC's in the AA, but maybe I missed one. I don't think painters who do major works the quality of those in CC can lower their prices like some other media can do. They may never even be inclined to create work at that lower price point. You know what I'm talking about, too, Jim. You've been on the scene too long. You won't get those artists. But it doesn't matter, because there are so many artists out here, so you'll always have plenty to keep a good show running.

I really have considered your concept and might keep the idea in the back of my mind. I see so many artists competing for the less than $100 sale at all shows I do. I probably will never create anything original at that price point. I don't need to do that.

But your AA show doesn't specify all work has to be originals and allows for open edition as well as limited edition. I can appreciate that. The idea an artist could have a complete repro show with work less than $100 is probably worth doing it.

A sculptor such as Kara will not have it as easy as that. She'll have to create new work and then plaster or resin cast it, or just make it cheaper, faster and simpler.

Potters, photogs, digital artists, printmakers, and glass artists have it easier. Photogs might have it easiest. Don't think I don't understand photography, and don't think I don't understand the art and art fair biz, either.

Looks like the Milwaukee Starving Artists' show has been around for 45 years. Now your Affordable Art is 4 years old. The one in Oregon, Affordable Art for Everyone, seems to be younger than yours. I bet we see more of these shows popping up across the country. I don't know what the impact will be to the bigger shows, but it probably won't hurt them that much if at all.

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