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Edmonds Art Festival Review 2013. Perspective from a painter, Edmonds WA

This was my first year at this show and is my 3rd full year doing shows. The show ran from Fri-Sun, June 13-16 with setup on Thursday June 12th. Edmonds is a northern suburb of Seattle, WA located on Puget sound. I was a bit apprehensive about this show since I hadn’t done well at the Belleveue Festival of the Arts in 2012 and I expected the demographic to be similar. Also, the weather is iffy in the Northwest in June. I always joke that summer doesn’t start until the 4th of July in the NW and that’s usually true. Fortunately this year the weather was flawless, not too hot, not too cold and mostly sunny! The booth fee for Edmonds is $150 plus 15% commission (more for corners and larger spaces.) Other artists I know said this was a good show so I applied.

The Nitty-gritty

The show sends booth location and set-up time around the end of May. I was on "the field" in the fine art section. I had a 12-2pm unloading time so I decided to drive up from Portland on set-up day. I arrived around 1:30 pm and waited about 40 mins in line to be let in to set up. I had planned to get there earlier, but it turned out just as well since I heard those that were there earlier had an over 2 hour wait in line. Set-up wasn’t as bad as I feared, maybe because I was there late. There weren’t many other vehicles in my row. I unloaded and parked the car across the street. On show days there was a shuttle lot a few blocks away (but with a steep hill.) The shuttles ran often. My biggest gripe was that there was no storage space or wiggle room. The spots were exactly 10x10. This gave you no place to put your stuff, other than in your booth, while setting up and one artist in my row had to be moved because there wasn’t quite enough room. Next time I will set up my canopy first, if possible, and then unload. As it was I had to work around a pile of artwork, etc while setting up the canopy. I must have been brain addled by the boring 3.5 hour drive up I-5 not to realize this. It probably added over an hour to my setup.

I took my time tearing down because I had heard it was hell and I had given up hope of driving back to Portland on Sunday night. That was a good decision since I didn’t get out of there until dark. On the plus side, by the time I was ready to load up, there were no lines to get my vehicle onto the field. So I can’t comment on how that went for those that were speedy other than I did see a number of people dollying out rather than waiting to get their vehicle on the field.

 

The show

The show ran from 10am-8pm Fri and Sat and 10-6 on Sunday with an artist dinner Sat night. For me, each day showed less in number but larger sales and total sales higher than the day before. I sold cards. LOTS of cards! More cards than I’ve ever sold at a show. I sold out of one of my boxed sets. I only sold one largish original (on Sun), but I sold so many small items that it made for a decent show and better than any show I did last year. In the end, they got a good commission out of me. Attendance was good and people seemed to be buying. All my neighbors seemed to be happy. The metal sculptor next to me almost sold out. He sold a lot of yard art but he also sold most of his larger pieces. There were times I was very busy, early, around lunchtime and again in the evening. At one point on Sunday I thought I was going to have a blockbuster show, with several people discussing sales of multiple paintings. Unfortunately this didn’t happen but I’m happy with my sales and I will reapply next year.

Views: 1038

Comment by Jacki Bilsborrow on July 11, 2013 at 2:03pm

Thank you Lisa for your report.  What do you think about the commission thing?

Comment by Lisa Foster on July 11, 2013 at 2:22pm

I'm ok with it for now. It seems like the Seattle area shows are expensive and this is an alternative to a large upfront payment. If you don't sell, you don't pay. In this case I ended up paying just about what I would have paid for a good show (although less than many of the Seattle area shows) including commission and booth. Now, if a few of those late sales had come through I might be singing a different tune! Maybe a graduated scale would be easier to take and be fair to both parties. Do you think that maybe the organizers have more of a vested interest in bringing in buyers at a commission show? If they don't do their job, they don't make money.

Comment by Ruth Finkenbiner on July 11, 2013 at 6:34pm

Just to add to this, we were one of the artists who waited over 2 hours in line to set up. By the time Dale was able to get the truck in, he was a bit grumpy.  Evidently another artist refused to move until they were set up.  As one of the volunteers commented, this show never lacks in their ability to get artists, it's one of the few June shows in the Pacific NW that is good enough to roll the dice on the weather we might have. Last year, it poured during load out, we were absolutely drenched and had a long wait to get the truck onto the field.

This year we decided to dolly out and that was a much better decision for us.  We were loaded out and back to the RV (free RV parking provided) within 90 minutes of the end of the show.  We even decided to walk to a nearby restaurant for dinner before starting the drive home which made for a late night drive through downtown Seattle on Sunday night with very little traffic, which is a real plus when you're towing a 38ft 5th wheel!

Our sales were up over last year and we left the show quite happy, it was our best show since last September so it was encouraging to us after a somewhat dismal spring. 

Edmonds definitely has some affluence and very expensive housing with waterfront views.  It's not a show where I would expect theft to be an issue but one of the jewelers we know had a ring lifted.

This shows has a lot of volunteers, we never had an need of booth sitters, but we frequently had volunteers asking if we needed a break.  They provide other artist ammenities including breakfast each day, snacks available in the artist break room all day and an artist dinner Sunday night.

We hope to return in 2014.

Comment by Lisa Foster on July 11, 2013 at 7:48pm

Ruth, were there more people attending this year than last?

Comment by Kathleen J. Clausen on July 12, 2013 at 12:21pm

Being a naturalized Hoosier transplanted from Washington, I always enjoy reading posts about the Northwest.  Thanks Lisa and Ruth!

Comment by Don Saxon on July 12, 2013 at 10:10pm

I was very interested in reading your review.  I was at the show (not as a vendor).  I had been there 2 years before (daughter lives not too far away).  We just happened to hit the show weekend both times.  Two years ago it was rainy on Saturday but they still seemed to have a good crowd.  This year the crowd seemed to be larger but the weather was great.  Too bad I didn't know who was going to be there from the forum or I would have made a point in looking you up.

Comment by Ruth Finkenbiner on July 13, 2013 at 1:24am

Hi Lisa - back to your question regarding attendance, yes, I think more people were there this year than last, but it was still pretty well attended last year.  I did see a few more sun burned attendees and artists this year, as you well know, those of us in the PNW aren't used to a 3 day weekend in the middle of June with sunshine for all 3 days. 

I will say the line for the ice cream from the company from Lopez Island (which BTW was absolutely delicious ice cream) was much, much longer this year than last year, I had to treat Dale to ice cream for Father's Day.  Last year, the line was really short on Sunday and they hadn't run out of any flavors, this year the line was long on Father's Day and they had run out of 3 flavors.  I'd say that was somewhat indicative that the crowd was bigger this year than last year plus the weather was so much warmer.

 

Comment by Carol Caldwell on July 24, 2013 at 2:03pm

How is security handled for 2 day shows? I'm cautious about leaving my product out overnight.

Comment by Lisa Foster on July 24, 2013 at 2:12pm

Most overnight shows have security that walk the show. They were very obviously present at Gig Harbor. Some artists take their work with them overnight. The show prospectus should say if they have security. If it doesn't, ask before you apply! If they don't have security, I won't do the show.

Comment by Ruth Finkenbiner on July 25, 2013 at 1:34pm

Carol - most of the shows in the PNW, I do not worry too much about security, places like Edmonds and Gig Harbor seem to provide a reasonable amount of security.  We do remove all our of art each day since we work in precious metal.  However, 3 shows to be very careful with include Seattle's U District, NW Folklife and Fremont.  All 3 of those shows have higher than average theft rates, U District in particular is known for college student antics that have included theft, booth vandalism, etc.  All 3 of those shows are now off our list of shows for 2014, Fremont and U District were off our list after 2011, we hung on for 2 more years of Folklife but the hassle factor of a long 4 day show at the Seattle Center, increasing booth fees, a 15% commission and decreasing sales have told us it's time to take Memorial Weekend off.

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