Art Fair Insiders

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

Dunedin Art Harvest--Not much art was harvested

I am a photographer (41 years in the biz) who does both color and black and white hand-colored images.
Have done this show,off an on, since early eighties.
This show is a shadow of its former self.
It is too large(250 exhibitors)with too few art buyers. They don't advertise well and it shows in the dismal attendance.
Here are the main reasons to do this show.
One, there is big prize money and all the heavy hitters come out for it.If you got the goods then step up to the plate. Warning. The same buch of artists win mostly every year. Good luck breaking in.
Two, if you sell chuztgy stuff like art on the stick, Giiclee coasters with tropical scenes,painted lazy Susan's or painted clocks then you will probably make money.
If you sell real, original art, well your chances are slim to none here.
Granted, there are always lucky few who sell good art. But the majority of artists die here. They are lucky if they even gross $1.5K.
For years this was a premiere show in the fall to make money at. We all could do $1.5-$4K here.
Times have changed.
You have a volunteer committee that changes yearly.
They mostly care about renting 10-foot square pieces of land. They don't care about what you do with it.
There is no enforcement of the rules and that is why you see the coasters,magnets and clocks at the show.
The serious buyers are very few. Most collectors stopped coming here years ago.You have artists jury inn with paintings but who are really there to sell lazy Susan's and painted clocks--and, they dare call this a fine art show.
There are a lot of great artists here, but most don' t make much money.
A sculptor two booths away from me sold four large pieces, all with a nautical theme. He pulled $10K out of it. He was one of the lucky few. A talented Atlanta painter down from me sold a couple of nice abstracts. Again, one of the lucky few.
We got thru Saturday with no rain and on Sunday the deluge came around 2:30 and pretty much ended the show.
I made way less than a thousand in sales. The only good thing I can say about it was I was able to die at the show but sleep in my own bed.
Frankly, on this date the only real show to do is the Pensacola one. They got hit with big rain on this weekend and it killed the show.
Next year, if I don' get into Pensacola, I might do the Ruskin seafood festival instead of Dunedin. That's how low Dunedin has sunk in my humble estimation.
Increasingly in Florida, we are seeing too many shows, with too many exhibitors, with too few buyers. It is putrid business model.
The shows don't care. As long as they rent out all their spaces they are happy. They make money while most artists die,they could care less, because there are plenty of more fools lined up at the gate ready to shower them with money.
I really hate what this business has turned into.
Art is the last consideration. I really fear for our future prospects.
Not everybody can get into Winter Park or Saint Louis.

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Comment by Bonnie Eastwood on November 13, 2015 at 6:57am
I sell original gourd art, a hard row to hoe in general, I did the old good as we say, i have done the show for years and always do well. I also promote the show myself, advertising at my other shows. I do agree with layout, junior women should ask artists regularly doing shows. I do one every weekend, 48 last year I am 66, and maybe I can pay my bills at the end of the month, besides at my age I may forget how to do it with a weekend off, and they give us a name tag. I also love my work and doing shows, 38 years oh I also try not to do Promoter shows so one must put up with junior women's clubs
Comment by Dave Piper on November 12, 2015 at 8:23pm

Nels... I always love hearing your comments about a show.  You are a refreashing army of one. A man willing to call a turd a turd.  I too have way to much experience in thinking a show that has started to suck will stop sucking.  It seems that bad only gets worse.

Comment by Connie Mettler on November 12, 2015 at 9:58am

and speaking of that show, I just got this notice of another show held last weekend in Sebring with the list of prizewinners:

Is that a possibility for a place to make money. Where is Sebring? Near Ocala?

Comment by Connie Mettler on November 11, 2015 at 7:39am

Now I know this was a bad show. When you, Nels, can't even say, "I paid some bills and now I'll play golf," you know it isn't working. Hope this is the low point of your winter season.Thanks for the dismal news.

Comment by Joel Lockridge on November 9, 2015 at 11:50pm

Ouch. Way too similar to a recent show I did in south Florida. Sorry to hear you did poorly -- I'll add that one to my list of ones to avoid. Anything with art on a stick that calls itself a juried show is a long way from being one.

Comment by John Alleman on November 9, 2015 at 8:35pm

Thanks for the review, I did Art Harvest and saw what you did. Since my wife and I are new to the art show experience, I am never sure if I am seeing what the experienced sellers are seeing. As for the discussion on where to sell art other than art shows I have been asking the same question. 

Comment by Kate Hetzel on November 9, 2015 at 12:24pm

I agree with Nels review and comments.  Judith Jones, your comments were spot on IMO. I was there and won't be back, even though I live only 10 miles south.  Driving there & back, I saw only one elec. sign on Michigan Blvd. & Alt 19. Didn't see signs in downtown Dunedin, or any others along Alt 19 either.  Maybe they were posted on the east side of the show? I remember the days when shows actually gave you a list of where their advertising budget was spent.  Haven't seen that info from shows in yrs.  

Comment by Judy Jones on November 9, 2015 at 11:25am

Thank you for your comments about this show, Nels. Your comments are right on target with what is happening around the country as far as Fine Craft Shows. I've heard these comments said time and time again from artists. I've even said it myself way too many times about shows I have been in. In my opinion, these shows that used to serve us well for sales are a dying breed and our buyers know it! They too are a dying breed. Shows are no longer the place where buyers go to buy art. Showing up at an art show is just as risky for buyers in terms of what they will find there as it is for artists selling their work.  It's a complex issue. 

I believe that fine craft shows are no longer a viable way to sell work. That way of selling has become a dinosaur. The innocence of the shows from the 70's, 80's, and early 90's when buyers loved meeting the artists and finding out about their work is gone. While the economy is beginning to do a turn around, our buyers have looked elsewhere to satisfy that need for art/fine craft. This is one of the reasons why I am backing off from doing shows. We as an artistic community must find better and more current ways to get our fine craft work out to the public again. We also need to educate youth about the quality, uniqueness, and sustainability of what we do so they will cherish the specialness of a piece made by and purchased from an artist.  I'm still tying to figure out what the "new" way is - especially when the new way may involve technology I am not comfortable or expert in using! I'm looking for the alternative! Any suggestions or thoughts anyone?

Comment by Oscar Matos Linares on November 9, 2015 at 10:54am

Thank you Nels, I hope to see you next Feb. I start to see that doing shows between Oct and Early November is not worth it. 

Comment by Alison Thomas on November 9, 2015 at 9:40am

I did this show back in 2011.  It is too big and the layout is confusing.  I paid extra for a corner and ended up a couple feet from the pond and if I had leaned back too far in my chair I would have gotten wet.  My first though upon seeing my space was - I paid extra for this?  I've tried the two other shows that are this weekend besides Pensacola, Lake Mary and Halifax.  I agree with Nels, Pensacola is the only decent show this weekend.

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