Art Fair Insiders

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

How's Your Day Today...How's Your Day Tomorrow?

My two-year old grandson likes to ask the question," how's your day today, grandma?"  "How's your day tomorrow?"  We're tickled that not only is he concerned about how our day is going but that he's thinking ahead to tomorrow as well.  This query caused me to think about the general status of Art Fairs 2015.  How is it going so far for those of you out on the road and have you been able to predict how it will be "tomorrow"?

Is the concensus one of a general uptick in the buying habits of attendees?  Or just the opposite?  Have things improved since last year, the year before or are we still mired in the overly cautious backlash of the 2008 recession?

I guess, like my grandson, I'm just curious about what's going on out in the trenches.  I certainly enjoy reading the reviews posted here but still find myself wondering what your gut feelings are about the year so far and what your expectations are for the future of producing and selling art.

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Comment by Cindy Welch on June 1, 2015 at 4:50pm

Christina, it is hard for me to say.  I did 12 shows last year evenly split between the spring and fall.  This spring I am doing only 4.  I can envision only doing 4 in the fall, if I choose them right and am accepted.

I am in the middle of looking at the fall.  In fact I got an app from a show I previously attended the last 2 years but I think I won't go back.  This arts and crafts show has band stands as well.  It is a street event with several blocks closed off.  The hours are supposed to be 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM.  In effect the arts and crafts shopping stops at 2:00 PM as it quickly converts to a music venue.  Yes, we are required to stay open the whole time.  The music starts about 10:00 AM and goes past 5:00 PM from what I can tell.  In essence there is NO shopping done after 2:00 PM and we know that from the lack of packages in people's hands.  Packages have disappeared and now they have beer bottles and mixed drinks in their hands.

Since the shopping time is so curtailed I told dh that I thought we could find a better venue for our products.  It is the 2nd weekend in November so it is prime time for craft shows.  I am wondering though if I should write/email and tell them why I won't go back.  What would y'all do?

The event I am writing about has gone on for about 15 years.  I am not sure if our experience with the alcohol has always been this way or not.  I am not sure if it is a sign of how things are going in general.

Comment by Christina L. Towell on June 1, 2015 at 9:13am

Thanks for your comments, Cindy and you think it's too early in the season to be asking this question? I guess I was just hoping for some predictions based on actual shows so far or even some gut feelings from seasoned art fair veterans...which way is the wind blowing this year? In any event, I appreciate what you both had to say and I guess we'll just have to wait and see...thanks again.

Comment by Cindy Welch on May 28, 2015 at 8:52pm

Colin, it is interesting you bring up ecommerce.   I had a stand alone website that got almost no traffic for 2 years or so.  At the beginning of this year, January 8th, in fact, my dh urged me, once again, to open an Etsy shop.  Well I took his advice and started it on that evening.  My etsy shop had sold circles around and above my standalone site.  It is not a lot of money in one given month but I am paying expenses and am certainly thrilled with the results over my other site.

I am hopeful that my ecommerce will pick up and that sales at craft shows will as well as the economy begins to turn around.  It seems people want hand made in the USA with Chinese prices.  However, I do not let that deter me in my pricing.  My products sell well at current prices and I am not giving them away.  My prices are twice what they were when I started 2.5 years ago.  I guess I am agreeing that the quality of buyers has diminished.

I am looking at encaustic art as something I might want to do.  It may be something I add to my line if I am good enough at it.  It is part of being fresh and relevant as you say.  I have found out in the last 24 hours that there is no one in our community doing this type art.  However I have found a gentleman and lady who own a framing shop that are going to give me a private tutorial in the next week or so, for a fee of course.  This will allow me to see if it's something I want to invest $$ into for equipment, materials, etc.

Comment by Colin Murray on May 28, 2015 at 10:48am

An interesting question Christina. For us, it's a little early to have an opinion about 2015. Last year was our first time we did NOT beat the prior year's sales. Overall, I think the buying habits of attendees has improved since the "great recession". But I think the quality of buyers and general traffic at shows has decreased. The buyers are still out there, but the way they are buying seems to be changing/shifting. More and more are looking on-line. Personally, we are looking to grab that buyer, with eCommerce. I am not sure we have it figured out, but to remain "in business", we are looking to shift our business model. Just like so many other businesses have done in recent years. 

Another key is remaining fresh and relevant. Many times, I see the same artists with the same work as the prior year. I think you need fresh work each year, to keep buyers interested. 

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