Art Fair Insiders

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

First show of the new year—Downtown Naples on Fifth Avenue.

It was good and I made money.

it was colder than you know what. Setting up in the low forties while handling cold metal parts sucks.

Naples Art League runs this annual show on the first weekend after New Years.

Setup is early Saturday morn with 300 artists jockeying for Position, it sucks too.

But that is what you tolerate in order to make mucho moola here.

They charge $450 for the booth fee and you have to park your van miles away and take a shuttle back.

January in Naples is never cheap. Hotels are $150 plus per nite, drinks are high($15 for a Makers Mark Manhatten, on the rocks, at Chops).

The artists who make serious money at this show are the ones selling high end items.

People who rely on quantity sales at low price points do not do well here. There are not enough customers within the surging crowds to do that. On the average, you are lucky if you get one out of forty to come in your booth.  They are too busy petting their prize dogs.

These are mostly well-coiffed midwesterners.  They look great, but most of them do not give a serious rats ass about art.

The ones who buy go for expensive pieces of jewelry, think $2K and up.  They love big gaudy metal wall pieces.  They love big Florida-Drek photography, they never met an alligator or palm tree they would not buy. Big, in ceramics or anything sells here.

If you are relying on $30-$75 sales here, forget about it, not enough customers .Also the show is about six long city blocks in length with booths setup in quads. Everybody gets an open side with about two feet of rear storage.

That said, the layout does not encourage bebacks.  You get one shot, make it memorable.

Last year inclement weather sunk the show.  I barely sold $1200, this year I did seven times booth fee. Not bad, but not great.

That was the general consensus I got when I talked to fellow artists.

I think this could be a great year for big sales. But I am a little worried about our middle class patrons, they seem stuck in a cycle going nowhere forward.

Well, I will keep you all posted on my goings and on this year. I am almost 73 years old and in my 43rd year of doing shows. I never lost my love for them, I still get excited about them.  I keep coming up with new work and love selling the hell out of them.

Later gators, Bonita Springs is calling me this weekend.

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Comment by Connie Mettler on January 23, 2018 at 10:44am

Setting up early in the morning would perhaps be more comfortable, Nels, if you'd forgo the shorts for longer trousers.

Yep, I agree these "shoulder season" shows have the well-heeled in town with a little time to spend after they've walked the dogs. We tried these shows a few times and the results were the same: our work did not match the couch or the Florida colors. But our neighbors who sold sculpture and some wonderful lighting fixtures did gangbusters, high end. Later, heading into later January the rest of the people show up, new second homes, they're kids to visit and shop, etc. The dogs not so important.

Do you do many of these Naples shows?

Comment by Nels johnson on January 12, 2018 at 4:10pm


Comment by Robbie Curnow on January 12, 2018 at 3:53pm

Pardon my ignorance of the East Coast shows especially Florida. I am a Jeweler on the West Coast and would like to do a few winter shows next year in Florida. I’ve tried looking up the Naples show you did. There are many shows in Naples. I’m not exactly sure which one you did. The only show that I found in the first week of January was called New Year’s Eve Naples art festival… Is this the show you attended ?
Comment by Christina L. Towell on January 12, 2018 at 9:44am

Thanks for the recap, Nels...going to Naples in February for the first time, then up to Long Boat Key. Looking forward to it as this Michigan winter drags on and on...Best of Luck in Bonita Springs!

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