Keeping up on the art fair news is one of my duties here as chief moderator/bottlewasher. I regularly read several other forums and belong to other organizations. Recently, member
, posted a thorough show report on the Telluride (CO) Festival of Arts both here and at Larry Berman's yahoo groups for art show photographers. Read it here:
Toughing it Out in Telluride
. Shortly after that another report appeared about Telluride at the yahoo group written by
. While Mark's report spoke of the excellent amenities and the beautiful location it also reported absolutely minimal traffic. While many artists would just chalk this up to fate (and decide not to come back next year), Maria surveyed the situation and that evening went back down the mountain (yes, it was held in a ski resort and you took a gondola to get there!!!), got herself off to a copy shop, made flyers about the event and posted the flyers on bulletin boards, windshields and any other surface she could find.
The result: Maria brought her own traffic and walked away with
than pleasant memories of a few days in the mountains of Colorado. I am so impressed! How many of you when faced with this situation would have reacted as Maria did? In a similar vein, I run the art section of Arts, Beats and Eats. This event is very popular and they report up to a
million in attendance.
, a Florida potter and photographer, has the first booth on the right hand side coming into the art fair. (To those new to the business, this would be the most highly trafficked spot). He stands in front of his booth in a sea of people from 3-9 on Friday, 11-9 on Saturday and Sunday and 11-5 on Monday and talks to everyone who comes past! He is amazing he just goes on and on. He does not have a helper. He is so pleasant and thorough that sometimes I expect him to show up on Tuesday :) His demeanor is a lesson to us all. Ralph and Maria may be extreme examples, but when you consider the high overhead of participating in this business you can see they may be working harder, but they are also working smarter! Here is Maria's story:
I wholeheartedly agree with Mark on this show's assessment but I ended up with a good show. I did the same show plus the Vail Arts Festival (on the previous weekend) 2 years ago. In Vail, I handed out invitations to the Telluride show since not many Colorado people were aware of the then 1st-year show. My "invitation" postcard had a 20% off discount on the back and my calendar for the remainder of the year. Out of about 60+ handed out, I got 12 buying customers in Telluride! Usually I don't get that good return on these, truth be told. At Telluride, same experience, oh so great the food and help on load in, oh so lovely the ride up in the gondola, oh so lonely "up there" with hardly any customers. So on the first night back in the town proper and while my fellow artists dined and wined, I spotted a copy shop tucked in downtown and light bulb!; I made a flyer right then and there with the aid of one of my woodcuts, some magic markers, a friendly copy-shop attendant and a spur of the moment creative rush: 1000 flyers for 50 bucks. I spent the rest of the evening walking around historic downtown dropping off stacks of flyers wherever I was told I could. I put the rest on car windshields (Lord forgive my intrusion, I was desperate) parked in the main public parking lots in the town. I went back and spent some time on Monday before departing picking up discarded flyers, case anyone wonders. Well, I'd like to say I made out like a bandit on the next day but that would be exaggerating a wee bit. I did almost what I had done at the Vail festival though, around $4800 gross receipts and $11K for the entire trip. The best part? I saw a bear on the ski slope on the way up to my booth on Sunday (I get up early) and I spent a glorious 10 days NOT in the heat of Las Vegas. Ditto Mark's comments on the mountains.
Maria Arango For those of you who don't know much about woodcuts, lovely as they are, these are not a high end product. This wouldn't have been a few $500 sales and maybe an $850 and trickle of other price points. For Maria to have racked up all those sales is a lesson to us all. What a breath of fresh air! I'd love to have your comments below. Either feedback on Maria and Ralph's assertive sales efforts or your own stories. Tell us.