Call for Artists, Making Money at Juried Art Fairs, Craft Shows and Festivals
Welcome to the Cooper studio, Jefferson, Iowa, where I've recently arrived after exhibiting at the Geneva (Illinois) Fine Arts Fair.
Do you remember a month or so ago, when on these very pages, I posted a blog article titled A Walk Through At The Des Moines Summer Arts Festival? No? Well, here's a link:
Basically, I gave the good folk at the Des Moines Arts Festival a bit of grief for the carnival-like atmosphere I encountered there, just as a visitor. Maybe you thought I was targeting them, but no, they were just a convenient example. In fact, in that very blog post, I contrasted the Des Moines Arts Festival with events like Krasl Art Fair On The Bluff, and Geneva Fine Arts Fair. I said both Krasl and Geneva seem to be successful art events focused strictly on visual art. No two blocks of food court, no Habitat For Humanity House being built at the art fair, no beer garden, no big stage music venues.
In that same blog post, I said I was concerned that too many art fairs are turning into carnival settings where the artists are just another facet of the entertainment collected to treat people who no longer come to buy art. But rather just to be entertained.
One commentor on the post said that we have to "educate the next generation of art buyers". Another commentor called Krasl and Geneva "regional shows". (Did I detect scoffing? Yes.)
And now you are all pumped and primed for the afore promised review, eh?
The Geneva Fine Arts Fair, ably managed by Erin Melloy, and crew, was professionally organized from check in until check out. Load in and out was simple - drive right up to the booth, drive out, and park in closely located (1 block from my booth) free parking. The normal artist breakfast of bagels and coffee, an ample supply of artist awards. Booth sitters available, although I did have a time mid afternoon on Saturday where I struggled to find one. One came just before I resorted to calling one of the numbers included in the check in info. For all painters, note that Geneva is an all originals event, no reproductions, giclees, none of that stuff. (thank you Erin, I truly appreciate that factor - it's how you first got my attention, back when) There are several cafes/restaurants on the street where the event happen. Probably a few more dogs in attendance than necessary.
Should we talk about patrons now? You know, they were pretty focused on seeing the art. Lots of good conversations, some people wanted to talk art styles, some people wanted to ask questions about what they were seeing, how it was done, why it was done that way. A nice mix. Lots of adults/parents/grandparents with kids in tow, taking time to point out interesting tidbits to said kiddos.
Did I mention that art was being sold? Much art. Large paintings walked out, both days, and yes, thank you, several of them mine. I was pleased with sales for the first time all summer.
For the commentor on the original Des Moines art festival review insisting that we needed to entertain people, draw a crowd, to educate young art buyers, I would like to say there were young people in good attendance. In my booth at least, they seemingly came to buy art rather than drink beer. Surprise, surprise. And it causes me to ask, what better way to educate future art patrons than to give them good art to look at, rather a food court or a big stage music event?
Time to close. Thank you Erin for a well run art fair. I hope to exhibit with you again next summer. To art fair directors elsewhere, please take a good hard look at your events. Are you running a carnival, or an art fair? Maybe next year, pare down the size of that food court. Remove that lottery wheel corporate sponsor. Yay for sponsoring a Habitat For Humanity House build, but do it where it belongs. Think about it. And thanks for reading.