Art Fair Insiders

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Check In and Set Up

My wife and I participated in the Atlanta Arts Festival this past weekend. This was our first time doing this show and we did not know what to expect. We drove into Atlanta Thursday afternoon and got caught up in the largest rush hour traffic madness I have ever seen. Being from a small town where 50 cars backed up in the afternoon is heavy traffic to us…well, it made Atlanta traffic beyond words…or at least any words I would be allowed to use on this review..

Artist check in was at 9am in a parking lot about a half mile from the fair and usually for most shows we do that means 9am or anytime afterwards. We checked in right at 9:05am (it took us at least 30 minutes to drive from our hotel where everyone told us it was a 10 minute drive… and were immediately told to put or emergency flashers on and follow the police escorted caravan of 20 or so vehicles to the Park for set up. With the heavy traffic everywhere I can easily see why it has to be done this way.

Once in the park we unloaded the van and started our setup but were not able to finish because the motorcycle police came by and told us to move because the next group caravan would arrive shortly.

I drove to the artist parking lot that was a block away from the artist check in and parked…then walked back to the park to finish setting up.

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The Show…etc…

No one could have asked for any better weather. The temperature was great and the humidity was low.

The Artist hospitality tent had some delicimious muffins, fruits and juices for their breakfast and also some tasty ham and turkey rolls, chips, etc. for lunch. Plenty of cold water and soda pops. We definitely didn’t go hungry..!

Crowds were very sparse in the morning and picked up as the day progressed. I rarely ever saw anyone carrying any packages or any form of purchases during the day…with the exception of the beer and ice cream on a stick.

As I walked around the fair I did not see many artists with that gleam in their eyes like you would expect to see when sales are very good. Most artists that I spoke to said sales were really off and disappointing.

If I could charge a dollar for every great compliment I had about my sculpted wood boxes I wouldn’t even need to sell any…but unfortunately we sold nothing.

I heard from many people, both artists and visitors, that there was another art show in this same park -Piedmont Park just a few weeks before this one. Not Good..

Sunday was another beautiful weather day but sales were not there for us or many of the other artists who still did not have that gleam in their eyes when asked how the show was going for them.

I am not sure who was putting on the show because no one ever did come by the booth and introduce themselves…but they could have been the people at the artist check in or the people at artist hospitality…I am not sure.

Load out was fairly easy...not bad at all….We took everything down, packed it up and against the curb and then went to retrieve my van. It was nowhere as bad as others had led us to believe. We were out of the park in about 90 minutes.

The show organizers did a fine job…especially with the logistics of doing everything in such a highly congested traffic area. I cannot fault them for my poor sales.

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Comment by Melanie Rolfes on September 23, 2013 at 10:36pm
In my area we all had a good show and many of us had great shows. The lowest price point I brought was $650 and I sold all my higher end pieces. Saturday I only sold 2, but Sunday was crazy starting at 1pm. I was near the 14 th street exit and lots of stuff walking out and being loaded into cars. Even have some appointments for commission work. Julie Tepp and Nancy Musser are wonderful to work with. The weather was perfect. What a treat.
Comment by margaret luttrell on September 18, 2013 at 1:17pm

hey Greg, Next time we will meet up! I'm sure we will cross paths again. I know there is the Sandy Springs Festival but this fall there is also the Festival on Ponce and the Chastian Park show and probably others I don't even realize. I personally think that is downright ridiculous and it just kills the market and the promoters get rich. This is my pet peeves about Atlanta, since I live fairly close and really like doing shows there. It used to be a great market but when they water it down so much....nobody wins.

Comment by Nancy susaneck on September 18, 2013 at 12:04pm
It was my first year as well. I felt the staff did a great job with load in and out. The police escort made me feel special. Never had that done before.
Saturday was the day for me. Interested patrons and brisk sales. Wonderful day all in all.
Incredible weather and venue. Joggers and athletes in abundance made for great viewing.
Glad as many that pets were not invited. Big animal lover but there is a time and place.
Sunday was slow for me but there were still interested parties and sold a few important pieces.
Found the crowd to be very communicative and interested in my work.
I was wait listed and notified there was room. Happy that I was able to partake.
Would definately return.
Comment by Greg Little on September 18, 2013 at 11:35am

Margret...sorry we didn't get to visit with you at the show..if Carol and I would have realized another AFI were there I most certainly would have stopped in and said hello.

I realize all the promoters want to make money but I agree that too many shows over-saturate the market. One in the spring and one in the fall is much more sensible. A friend who does glasswork was there and he told me that he  was doing another show around there (Sandy Springs) the following weekend.

Comment by Greg Little on September 18, 2013 at 11:27am

Donna...glad to hear that you had a good show....one of your best shows ever...

I can't really complain about our slow show...just make note of it because in the last three years we have not had a single unprofitable show with the exception of this one. I agree about not allowing dogs in the festival area....first time some dog pees inside your tent you will know why...but even with the no dogs allowed signs there were still a few people in there with dogs and they most certainly were not service dogs.

Comment by margaret luttrell on September 18, 2013 at 10:21am

So sorry that the show wasn't good for you Greg, the guy two doors down from me had the same fate as you....there were a good amount of artist's that went home empty handed. I would have been with you except that I had lower priced mono-prints and small original pieces in a bin that saved the day. I did sell some moderately sized pieces but the whole weekend was mostly spent wrapping up smalls. If it had just been only the two moderately sized ones, I would have been in the red. Atlanta is a gutted market, too many shows put on by promoters out to make a buck. The Atlanta Arts Fest, the Dogwood, Inman Park  and the ACC Show at the Galleria are the only shows that that been around for a long time and have a history and a following. I know I am probably ticking some people off when I say this, but honestly, when a town or city has too many shows, nobody takes them seriously, they become dog walking or kid playing venues and the art is put on the back burner. Florida is experiencing this kind of glut, everyone on AFI talks about it. I've seen it myself- it is not a pretty sight. I came out OK with a profit but the Atlanta Arts Fest was certainly not my best show. Would I do it again? Now that another group (sad) has infiltrated Piedmont Park two weekends before and upstaged this wonderful fall version of the Dogwood? It's debatable. The promoters of the AAF were first rate, they did everything right ( except for maybe that issue with the slit tents, which I didn't even know about). It is not them, they were top notch. I'm so sorry about your weekend- there is probably very few people that get on this sight that haven't experienced the same at one time or another, me included. Believe it will turn around, because it does.

Comment by Donna Marie Thome on September 17, 2013 at 6:14pm

I also did the show and had the opposite result. (sorry, Greg, for how the show went for you; I have been there) 

I had one of my best shows ever. I agree with you about the crowds being a little thin esp on Sunday. The ones that came seemed to appreciate art.

I loved that dogs were prohibited. I am an animal lover; however dog walkers in general don't buy in my experience.

The logistics were extremely tight. I was 25 minutes late for my 3pm Friday check in. driving from Raleigh , nc  (400 miles away), it was hard to judge my arrival time and I then had to wait for the next group to drive into the park and set up at 5:30pm. Being my first time at this show, I was not aware how tight the check in time was.

The show producers did a good job with the load in and out of the show. Piedmont Park is gorgeous.


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