Call for Artists, Making Money at Juried Art Fairs, Craft Shows and Festivals
Well, Ellen and I made our first trip there for the show, we both got in. It is a nine-hour trip from Saugatuck, we broke it up and left late Wednesday and stayed in Davenport, Iowa for the night, a river town on the mighty Mississippi. Found a great restaurant--the Duck City Bistro, see my Tequila Report.
It is a three-day show with setup on Thursday. Only 190 exhibitors, and supposed to have crowds over 200,000. A recipe for moola if there ever was one.
First off, BS, no crowds of that number showed up this past weekend.
All 190 artists were looking strong, didn't see any blatent buysell.
This is conservative country, they buy real safe, tried and true, stuff here. I took a chance with my tropical stuff here, they loved Ellen's cows, but only a few bought them.
Bottom line, this is a worthwhile show to try for. You gotta show up to see what you will do. For me, it was not as good as Artisphere(Greenville, SC, see my May blog) but I still made serious moola for the three days. Ellen basically made all her money on Friday, she sat without a single sale for 10 hours on Saturday--what a drag!
So there, I have given you some meaningful meat. read on if you want to learn more, enjoy the ride.
We arrived at the show around noon on Thursday, you have an all-day to set up. Show hours are 11 AM-10 PM on Friday, 10 AM-10PM on Sat., and 10AM-5PM on Sunday. I guess they don't want artists to have fun and go out and eat dinners at night because their show hours suck! Sorry, Stephen King, the show director, you run a great show, but your hours are totally clueless. There is no REASON to be there that late--what are you thinking!
When we got there an artist who was next to Ellen but two booths away from me(Clue, Ellen and I were side by side) was already there with his van and cargo trailer, he ended up keeping the whole rig there for five hours. My neighbor, also decided to keep his rig there for about four hours. We finally got them both to move a little further apart. We then parked our vans at 45-degrees in front of our spots. Don't ya just love neighbors like that. Hint, they were both seasoned artists and should have known better, but basically, it was all about them.
We got setup with lots of weights. You are pretty much on concrete, no room for dog-stakes and tie-downs. I had 90-pounds of John Deere weights on each front corner. We each bought four cinder blocks in Davenport and anchored our rears of booth with them. Where we were located, was storm-central last year when a lot of booths took a big hit from winds. Happy to report nobody took bad wind damage this year.
Here is some info about the show layout, wish the rest of you when you blog could be little more instructive about how a show is laid out.
Basically, the bulk of booths are on two streets parallel to each other, Grand and Locust, I believe. Then at the western end of the show (the two streets are running east to west) are a line of booths perpendicular to these streets. (Gee, I hope you guys passed high school geometry) These are booths for corporate interests. At the eastern edge of the show on another perpendicular street are about 15 artist booths, they get half the crowd because everybody skips that street and crosses over the park to the other streets. You don't want to be on that row, it sucks. Stephen, put the corporate people there and the artists at the western most edge. That way everybody has an equal chance to make money.
Breathe easier now Stephen, because I an now done saying anything negative about your show. From here on, it is all pluses. It is a very well-run show.
All booths have ample room for storage behind. There is room on most artists sides to hang art.
They have wonderful boothsitters. They put water coolers behind booths so we can fill up bottles. They have a great artist party. They communicate well, you get booklet with a gazillion pages of info, from how to find a food store, to who has the best martinis in town.
They are very mindful of the weather and give lots of warnings and preparative-ness to help us.
They have an artist lodging program, which we took advantage of, where Des Moines people put up artists in their homes for free. And we are talking about staying in really classy houses, with lots of art on the walls and ample wine cellars.
Teardown is organized and fair. We got out in an hour and fifteen minutes on Sunday. Lou Zale was packed and gone in 30 minutes--that guy is the King of Art Show Getaways.
So there, Stephen, I said a lot of good things, hopefully I will get a fair shot at jurying next year. You sound like a fair person.
Thursday after setup, Ellen and I were able to meet up with Munks and Madonna, his beautiful and soulful wife, for dinner. He took us to the Flying Mango Cafe. It serves awesome Cajan and barbeque. Had the best smoked brisket with a sweet potato pancake I had ever eaten. Had my first mouthfuls of Templeton Rye Whiskey that can only be gotten in Iowa. If you are lucky to find any. Munks was doing the other show at the fairgrounds. I think he will do a report on it.
We got to stay at the home of Dean and Diane Peyton. They are recently retired, and are both living the good life. They not only put up Ellen and I, but also another couple. We all had our own bedrooms upstairs with our own bathrooms. House came equipped with Henry the Golden Lab and Jack the Cat. Dean had great wine to share with us. Diane cut up fresh fruit every morn along with tasty coffee. I must admit I was a bad influence on Dean and maybe led him down a bad path. We both drank lots of Jack Daniels, Templeton and lots of wine. Sunday nite, after the show, Ellen and I treated them to dinner and wine, they loved it. We all had the times of our lives. The artists sharing homes plan is a great bonus of this show. Frankly, it made our weekend.
A little about Des Moines.
You think Iowa. You think flat lands, corn fields going on forever. Well, that is true. But Des Moines is a lovely treed city with curving hills and beautiful architecture. They have several colleges, a lot of great restaurants, and some of the nicest people you could ever meet.
The other two nites, after we finished at 10 PM we ate at Red China Bistro. This is a sauve place with a fusion menu of Chinese, Thai and Japanese cuisine with a little Vietnamese thrown in. Plus a full liquor bar and acoustic live music. It was also a deal to eat at. We ate good and light given the time of night.
OK, back to the show. Friday we had the prettiest weather of all three days. Beautiful blue skies with wonderful clouds. Weather in the low 70s with gentle breezes. Small crowds during the day, but they surged in the evening. Many artists did $3-4K that day.
Then the show warned us that we might get really bad weather early on Saturday--like at 5 AM. Think nasty storms and evil winds. Everybody took proper percautions. I nailed down all my booth legs plus had all the weights.
Well, Sat. arrived with no bad storms at 5 AM. But then it proceeded to rain all the way to about 1 PM. It was crowd-killer. They never really came out. Sales were still made, but it was pretty lightweight day compared to what it was supposed to be. One photographer, who had his booth destroyed at Columbus, was sitting on nearly five figures by day's end.
Sunday, we awoke to clouds and chilling temps. Crowds were a mix of Friday and Saturday. Friday brought out the older corporate crowd with money. Saturday it was lots of young kids, some had money, some just were hanging out. Sunday was mixture.
I made the bulk of my Sunday sales between 1-3 PM, then it was La-La-Ville after that.
Overall, you can't knock this show. It might be in a lot of people's top ten. You gotta try it for yourself.
Well, Aloha. Gonna try and reboot my flagging golf game, and then on Thursday it is off to Boston Mills for Ellen and I. Hope to meet up with Jim Wilbat, Bob and Patti Stern and of course Leo Charrette and lovely wife Carol. We will all have a hell of a great time, and hopefully make some serious moola.