Art Fair Insiders

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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.

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

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

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