Call for Artists, Making Money at Juried Art Fairs, Craft Shows and Festivals
You can travel 'cross this entire land.There ain't no place like Birmingham. That's from a Randy Newman song.
I haven't written a review in a long time, but, I have a week before I get to Greenville SC for Artisphere. I'm sitting in a coffee shop on the border of Georgia and South Carolina in Lavonia Georgia, population 2600.
I just did the Magic City Arts Festival. I had never been to this show before, so, I didn't know what to expect. If fact, I have never been to Birmingham. Hell, I had never been to Alabama except once passing through on the way back from Florida. They used to make steel here and the show was on the grounds of an old steel mill, the Sloss Foundry, that they turned into a museum of sorts. One look and I was thinking that I made a big mistake coming here. It's not the most picturesque place for an art fair. It's in the middle of industrial buildings and manufacturing businesses. I was thinking "who would come here." Trains ran in two directions constantly and you couldn't talk to anyone when they were running or worse when they would blow their whistle. The warning sound of oncoming trains at the train crossing pinged nonstop. It only took 5 minutes to start driving me crazy. I set up anyway. Once I pay my booth fee, I will do the show. I'm too cheap to blow off the booth fee.
The show was in 3 sections. There was an "exclusive" section that had a special jury. Those booths were $215 more for some reason. I was in the yellow section which was next to the exclusive section. I saw no difference. In fact, I think the yellow section was better than the more expensive booths. They did get a certain amount of hype and those people in that section said that they usually sell more, maybe because they are promoted better. There was a third section, the blue section, that was seperated from the other two. I feel sorry for those people who got stuck there. It was a ways away from where we were. I think people just got to the end of the yellow section, turned around, and went home. People had to pass my booth on the way in and on the way out. Except for the constantly moving trains, I liked where I was. To be fair, because of COVID, they moved the show here from downtown. They hadn't worked out the kinks. The director did say they would eliminate the blue section next year.
Booths were spaced out with 6 feet in between booths. I noticed there were a lot of cheap EZ Up tents with inadequate weights. I think they let in a lot of locals who did this as a hobby probably because not a whole lot of professional artists were there.
The crowd was sparse. They charged a $12 gate fee. Usually not a good sign. However, people who came, came to buy. I had a really good show. It was better than any of the Florida shows I did this year. I did twice what I thought I would do. I was just hoping to pay for the trip, which includes Artisphere, which is maybe the second best show in the country next to Main Street Fort Worth. I more than doubled what I expected. Everyone I talked to had a good show. Most were surprised. I didn't talk to anyone in the blue section. I was afraid of their answer.
It was supposed to rain on Saturday. It only rained all Friday night and stopped at 8 AM Saturday. Perfect timing. It was a three day event and I sold about the same every day. At 5 PM Saturday, just before the end of the day, a huge storm came in that lasted only 15 minutes. About 25 of those EZ Ups and those Euromax tents went down. The booth next to mine flew into my walls and knocked over a couple of pieces. Only one got destroyed. The weather was worse in that blue section. If I had been there you would still see the steam coming out of my ears. I'd be asking for my money back. I wonder if ACT paid those people who buy their full insurance got replacement value for their damaged booths? If someone dealt with them and sees this I wish they would report on their experience. I always wonder if they really pay off or it's just a scam. They did do a podcast here extolling the virtues of their insurance. I've certainly given them money over time.
I'll probably go back next year unless I don't get into Artisphere. Usually it's the same weekend as Oklahoma City. So we'll see.