Art Fair Insiders

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

Buy Sell Artists & What Can Be Done About it.

The other day I posted for the very first time.  I asked Connie if she thought this might be a subject to move to a separate blog.  She thought it was a good idea, so here is the initial blog I posted yesterday.

 

Uptown ended up being a good show for us this last weekend.  It was hot but not miserable like in Ann Arbor this year.  Sunday though the heat broke and was wonderful.

I don't usually add my two cents worth but I though this time I felt compelled.  I have one huge compliment and one small complaint about Uptown.  My wife and I have always taken pride in making our work by hand, and by just the two of us.  A trait that I am sure is felt by most of us trying to sell work that is not only a "product" that we sell to make a modest living, but also something that is meaning because it is made by our own two hands.  Anyway, Sunday I had learned that a wooden watch artist had been kicked out of the show for selling work that was not made by them.  I have seen their work at other fine art festivals, and had a gut feeling that was true.  It is a shame that they got into such a good show, taking away a space that could have been used by an artist who is trying to make a living with his/her own two hands.  Not just buying a bunch of stuff from South America and selling it as their own.  I applaud Uptown for having the guts to take the steps they did.  I went online last night after the show to check out more about them.  They an international website this is a fickin' company not two guys selling their work.  If your interested check it out.    http://www.mistura.com/

While talking to other artists I also heard that they are going to be at other high end shows including Bayou City in Houston in the fall.  One of the directors I talked to from the show said when they were checking out the work the watches even had barcodes on them.  What??????  No kidding.

BRAVO, UPTOWN

 

There were lots of comments, and maybe some of the bloggers could add what they said to this blog also.

 

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Comment by Angela Jones on November 22, 2011 at 12:39pm

I see Mistura at shows all over the country. It is always someone different repping the product. Sometimes it is one guy, sometimes two. I have even seen two girls selling them. These people get in highly reputable shows in places as diverse as Tuscon, Dallas, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Chicago, and Miami. I think we as artists should begin collecting what info we can about Mistura and booths like it. Show directors need to be aware, and it is up to artists to help maintain show integrity. Here are some ideas I have had - compile lists of shows Mistura has been to and the dates, checking to see where they are doing more than one show a weekend. Suggest to shows that they ID the person in the booth, some do this already, but these guys show up late and avoid being ID'd. Keep photo evidence of the person in the booth if you can do so. These people are getting booths at great shows, shows that should know better. Even a cursory glance at their website should be enough to dispell any notion that this is just two guys working hard. As an example - a two year warranty on their products, and a "repair center" you can send your dysfunctional watch to.

 

I also think it would be a good idea for shows to start screening websites. After the jury process has been completed, they should do a run through all the artists websites and if it is questionable or describes a "designer who produces work" or "made by the finest artisans", the show should re-consider letting the booth in the show. If a booth is kicked out of a show or doesn't have proper ID, they most certainly should be put on a list of automatic "no's" in the jury system.

 

It is a shame that so many real artists are losing much needed income to people like this who are clearly not hand-making their product themselves. They should stick to merchandise markets and trade shows where they belong.

Comment by Connie Mettler on August 26, 2011 at 10:47am
Carroll, here is another extensive website where goods can be bought cheaply for resell at art fairs: www.ThaiTradePoint.com.
Comment by Sharon Jeter on August 16, 2011 at 7:19am
Ditto Larry, Donna and Patricia. The last I checked, the paperwork that I fill out and sign in order to participate in a show was a contract and if I do not live up to that contract I am in the wrong. This forum is in place to help artists communicate what shows live up to their end of the bargain and which do not. If Carroll has the motivation to put together a publication to help spot these hucksters and their antics and put a stop to their invasion into the world of true art and craft - then it would behove the rest of us to assist.
Comment by Carroll Swayze on August 15, 2011 at 7:34pm

Larry.  My number is (941) 266-6434  SwayzeArt@msn.com

I am at my cabin in northern Michigan and have spotty, if not invisible, cell signal most days though.  I will be back in the real world after the first week of September.   

Comment by Donna Bell on August 15, 2011 at 12:24pm
I wish more shows would have the boldness to follow thru on the rules they make. Nothing frustrates me more than to work hard preparing for a show and seeing buy amd sell items. Especially after paying a juried fee.
Comment by Larry Berman on August 15, 2011 at 12:14pm
You need a better contract with your artists if you don't think you can legally throw them out.

Larry Berman
http://BermanGraphics.com
412-401-8100

Comment by Mark Loeb on August 15, 2011 at 9:31am

I wish that I could just throw out anyone that violated the buy-sell rules, but it is just not that easy.  When they refuse to leave there is not much that I can legally do about it.  Sure they are violating the rules, but that is not enough to get police assistance.  We all have heard how hard it is to evict a tenant, this is no different.  The police are not there to enforce your rules.  If anything they will protect the rights of the booth holder.  Touching their things to move them would be a criminal act, while their refusing to leave is at best a civil matter for the courts to decide.

 

It's just not practical to evict in most cities.  If the non-artist does not want to leave, the law is generally on their side. 

 

What I can legally do is:

1) Make sure I find good jurors.

2) Educate myself as much as possible on all mediums.

3) Listen to artists when they report problems and concerns.

4) Research all complaints.

5) Attempt to enforce on site.

6) Not permit violators to return.

 

I am sure that in some cities the police are more helpful than in others, though in doing so they may be opening the show and the city to potential law suits.  Tenant rights trump contract law.

Comment by Donna Sauers on August 13, 2011 at 8:59pm

Glad you brought up  the rep issue also Larry.  I was at a show and was happy to see the promoters ask the rep to pack up the booth because the artist wasn't present.  They didn't care if there was an empty booth space.  I have been at shows that someone had mentioned that they were at 3 shows that weekend... um... wish I could clone myself to do that!  Buy/Sell drives me crazy at shows.  The average person probably does not know that the "art" they are buying really isn't art.  It hurts the true artists at the show.  As a jeweler I am disturbed when I am across from a booth selling low cost (b/s)jewelry and people are waiting in line to get their bargain.  It hurts all of us because customers then wonder why our pieces are so much more expensive.  I try to tell myself that the people shopping those booths aren't my customer anyway, but I think it sends the wrong message at an art fair, especially what is supposed to be a jurried show.

 

Just a note on wholesale.... some people have a wholesale line and also a line for the art fairs.  So, just because someone is doing wholesale doesn't mean that they don't create the pieces in their booth by hand.  I know you sited specific cases, but just don't want to make a blanket statement of those that wholesale and do the large wholesale shows aren't also artists.  Some have production lines and also one of a kind.  However, with the retail market as it is, more people that just did wholesale have added art fairs as another source of income.  It's when the production line that is done by employees or outsourced creaps into the shows that becomes the issue.  Hmmm...hope I'm making sense, stormy show tired me out.

Comment by Larry Berman on August 11, 2011 at 10:07am
How, posting on a public forum?

You've been around long enough to know who double or triple dips.

What's your phone number.

Larry Berman
Comment by Carroll Swayze on August 11, 2011 at 10:00am
Yes, reps are a big problem.  Give me names.

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