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

How do you handle the fluctuation in income of your art business?

We are great at squirrling away some of the profits of the booming sales leading to Christmas, however it seems like some of the down months (January, February, March) when there is little of any art events going on, and our income drops sharply is just when all of the big applications are due.  We had thought we planned sufficiently for those costs, as well as operating expenses but this year we have underplanned, and find ourselves scrapping together funds to apply for shows.

1. How do you handle the cost of jury / booth fees for upcoming shows?  

2. How do you carry yourself through those dry months?

We have been working at this for 5 years, and are still surprised by unexpected expenses, and a budget that runs super lean. I value all of your input. 

Views: 1280

Comment by Barrie Lynn Bryant on January 30, 2015 at 8:19pm

I peeked at this earlier today and thought I would come back now and comment. I've been at this a lot longer than you have, and my wife has coined the following phrase:

From rags to riches, but always back to rags.

No matter how hard I try to keep money in the bank, I sometimes get to the point of having to rob Peter to pay Paul. That's not this case this winter, but it's been the case more times than not. The cost of doing everything has nearly doubled since 2008. The only difference today is that gasoline prices have plummeted, but only very recently.It will rise again, I'm sure.

My mortgage payment went down somewhat last year, too. And the interest rates have fallen even more since last year, so I could push the matter and get the payment down even a few more dollars if I wanted to try.

What to do in the dry times? Work harder and make better stuff so that you can kick butt in the shows. Don't go out much. Eat at home. Turn down the thermostat. Live like a pauper. Review monthly bills and work to eliminate some. Don't go to Starbuck's. Become a vegetarian since meat can be expensive. Don't smoke or drink alcoholic beverages. Drink water if you go out to eat. Don't drive your car very much, so don't go out very much. Shop in thrift stores, but don't get addicted to the hunt. Cook in your hotel room and take your food to the shows. Ask shows to hold your check if you have to.

Comment by Barrie Lynn Bryant on January 30, 2015 at 8:28pm

Don't buy name brand sodas and seltzer very often. Get Kroger's for $2.50 a 12-pack. Don't have a car payment. Pay cash for a used car. Shop in Aldi discount grocery or other discount store. Don't shop in Whole Foods unless someone is getting the tab for you.

Etc. Etc. Etc.

Comment by Barbara Pitorak Bloom on January 30, 2015 at 8:52pm
Barrie, thanks. We are doing a lot of that....and I do value your wisdom.
Comment by Thomas Felsted on January 30, 2015 at 9:05pm
Read "Into the Wild" by john krakauer. Not about art shows, but the idea that living on by the seat of your pants leads to a more exciting, fulfilling life, and the appearance of a salary 9-5 job is appealing, but is a mirage. A good read.
Comment by Barrie Lynn Bryant on January 30, 2015 at 9:56pm

Yeah, that's something else, isn't it TF? That story is available online as a free ebook HERE AT LIVESIMPLETHEBLOG.

Comment by Richard L. Sherer on January 30, 2015 at 11:48pm

Diversify sources of cash flow.

Comment by Savina Francisco on January 31, 2015 at 1:22am
I wish I had suggestions to add here - Im really interested to see the responses though! But I have to say, it's really heartening to hear from other people who would rather do what they love and live lean than be strapped to a desk. I've owned my own business for years, but finally realized that I just can't do what I don't love anymore. Fortunately my husband is my biggest fan & he and I have decided it's more important to be happy than it is to be unhappy and STILL live paycheck to paycheck. We'be recently started putting aside a third of everything we make, as if it doesn't exist. That made it possible for us to have a Christmas this year and still pay bills...It doesn't seem like much but it adds up!
Comment by Cindy Welch on February 3, 2015 at 3:35pm

My advice goes back to what we started doing back in 2008.  We took Financial Peace University by Dave Ramsey.  His principles work no matter what you do for a living ... they are basically the common sense your grandma would tell you.

I would say the biggest thing is to get debt free and stay that way.  Plan a budget for your household and business and live by it.

My biggest temptation in my business is all the pretty tiles I use and rubber stamps.  I have to stay out of stores to resist touching and feeling all the pretties.  I could spend all my profit on new stamps!  LOL  But it really isn't funny.

I just buy what I have to buy for my business.  I am not going to do without supplies but I resist the urge to buy too many extras.  I am learning to watch cash flow so I can have money for jury and booth fees.

Buy quality supplies & equipment so you don't have to replace it as often as cheaply made stuff.

I like Barrie's ideas.  We keep our thermostat at about 68º at most in the winter.  We can turn it down and plop ourselves in front of the fire place or cover with more blankets at bedtime.  In the summer we keep it at about 77-78º.  In our short lived spring and fall seasons we open the windows to air out the house.  I try to wash only full loads in the washer and dishwasher.

Guess that is it for now.  Would love to hear others' ideas.

Comment by Barbara Poole on February 4, 2015 at 9:00am
One of the things I do to pay for my shows, is that during the year prior to the shows, I look at what I spent on shows, and after each show, I set aside a percentage for next years show so that I'm not surprised and I have the money even if I don't get into the shows I still have the money
Comment by Cindy Welch on February 4, 2015 at 9:14am

Good idea Barbara.

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