Art Fair Insiders

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

I hate to ask... but hey, that never stopped me before.

So, It's the first day of July and I am about to finalize my Fall schedule of shows and organize my whole life until Christmas. It certainly isn't a impetuous life we lead in this business....always thinking 6 months ahead and trying to make the funds to do that... while still making art and paying for that too. It's a roller coaster for me...I'll admit, with a great show, intermixed with some not so great and the wheel keeps spinning around.

I love it, it fits my temperament, but I always think I could be much smarter about it....that I could be doing more and doing it better. Which brings me to the question at hand.

I have really appreciated all the input that goes into this site and the wisdom of the many sages that populate it. So, I was wondering about your take on a couple of shows I have been juried into....if they are worth the drive and expense to do and if they are a proven good risk. I have done a few first time shows this year with some iffy results so I want to ask before I barge ahead and commit.

I am a contemporary mixed media artist, and I realize we all have pretty different experiences based on the local of a given show, booth spot and the economics of an area. I have looked up Peoria but I haven't seen all that much, what I have seen is good but I'd like to know if it's worth an 8 hours drive. I just got in off the wait list and if you could give some feedback about your experiences there it would be so helpful.

OK,  so now I'll just dump all these at your feet...what the heck, I'm already in too deep. I am wondering about Greater Gulfcoast in Florida and Centerfest in Durham and while I'm asking, might as well ask about the Covington Art Festival.  

I hate to throw this out there to the group (been done so often) but I have looked up the available info (thanks Connie) and haven't found any recent reviews and was wondering if these shows are still good choices, although I know a lot goes into that assumption for every different artist. Thanks in advance and I hope your Fall Schedule is wonderful and carries you through to your spring that wheel keeps turning.

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Comment by Jim Parker on July 1, 2015 at 10:29am

Peoria tends to be conservative. There is money there, mostly from Caterpillar and related industry. The show itself is pleasant, fairly easy to do, and in a nice park between downtown Peoria and the river. The volunteers are helpful, and there are hotels across the river in East Peoria that are a bit less expensive than staying right downtown. There is a day lot for parking, but parking a trailer near the show can be problematic unless you stay at the Mark Twain. (which is super nice, but spend).

I have done okay at Peoria. I've done it three times, and each year sales were about the same. It's not a big money maker for me, but it is a stop on the way to Dallas to do the fall Cottonwood show. The other shows I can't speak to.

Comment by Barrie Lynn Bryant on July 1, 2015 at 11:14am

I'll be in Peoria. I'm coming from Wyoming and our art ain't conservative. We're staying in the newly renovated Red Roof Inn five miles from the show. $270 for four days.

We're not traveling South any more. At least not right now, anyway. We've always done great at Pensacola Great Gulf Coast. It's a dynamite show. We have been consistent award winners there, but health reasons are keeping us from traveling South again. Our normal market is Florida and the South East, with Pensacola high on the list. Pensacola is also a conservative community.

Search AFI for the blog about the show by Nels Johnson, a.k.a. Moe Pho. It's a big review.

Comment by Kendra Bennett on July 1, 2015 at 11:41am

I'll be at Covington and was there last year. For me it's a great show. 2nd best I've done in the last several years. Load in and out is easy. The staff is great. Cute small town just north of New Orleans lots of people live there and commute to NO for work.

Comment by Kathy Oda on July 1, 2015 at 2:24pm

I personally like Centerfest in Durham. This will be my 3rd year. It’s a college town and they support this show. The show is well run and organized. It’s under 150 artists and that size of show works well for me. I’ve done well in the $115-$245 price point but not with my larger glass pieces. I did have repeat customers last year. With a $195 booth fee and a discounted rate at a nearby Quality Inn, it’s worth a 5 hour drive for me. Not my best show of the year but not my worst.

 It has a Saturday morning set up due to their not being able to shut down the streets until late on Friday night. This is in a downtown location. Security consists of off/on duty policemen and each of the multiple street entrances is manned after hours and they really do pay attention to what’s going on.

The big sound stage is located well away from the artists. Another one for Carolina singer/songwriters is located in a parking lot close to the artists but the sound is down and it’s appropriate for the show. The food is set off in its own area. The show does provide a box lunch from a local caterer each day.

Quality of art? Overall, it’s pretty good. You can see the last 5 years of artists on their website. There are some who don’t match up to the pics on the website but that’s not unique to this show. I see a lot of 3D walking out of this show but don’t pay much attention to 2D so can’t speak to that. You might want to reach out to some of the artists on the website and get their feedback.

I know some locals who won’t do the show and I know some locals who are dying to get in. Like every show, your experience will vary…

Comment by Barry Shandler on July 1, 2015 at 5:16pm

These shows are all rated in Sunshine Artist.  Fair.  But that does not mean much. I do great in some shows rated 3 and terrible in some rated 8 and vice versa.  Its depends on a number of factors that I have never been able to figure out in 30 years.  Just go and exhibit and call it market research for the future.

Comment by Kirsten Hausman on July 1, 2015 at 6:30pm

I've done Centerfest the past two years. It's a well organized, pleasant show. Good community support and the location in downtown Durham can't be beat. However, I lived close by and thus didn't incur travel or lodging expenses. I did well enough both years but not good enough to have covered those extra costs. It's definitely more of a festival than an art show -- there are multiple stages and a beer garden and lots of families come to be entertained which could be good or bad depending on what you create.

It's off my list now that I've moved a few states away. Honestly, I would add it back on if I was in that area in September and it worked into my schedule, but that's mostly out of nostalgia for my old stomping grounds. 

Comment by Joel Lockridge on July 1, 2015 at 8:32pm

Maybe the Greater Gulf Coast show will be better -- I've had two barely-break-even shows in the Pensacola area. I'm close to writing off the panhandle area, but maybe that's just my work!

Comment by margaret luttrell on July 1, 2015 at 9:23pm

Thanks Kristen-Good to know about Centerfest, sounds like I should keep that one. Greater Gulf Coast sounds good too... although you are not the first person to tell me that the Panhandle area has dried up for sales Joel..... I really appreciate the input guys.....Barry, you probably have it right but I wish there was a better rubric. 

Comment by becky blair on July 2, 2015 at 7:59am
Hi, Margaret. I was juried into CenterFest last year, but ended up doing another show; I will be doing it this year, though. So I have no useful info to share, but if you are doing it, I hope to meet you. I think you may know my friend, Laura Nigro.
... And hi, Kathy Oda! Hope to see you there too!!
Comment by Frances Fontaine on July 2, 2015 at 9:16am

Greater Gulf Coast was a huge dust storm last year. My paintings were covered in dirt. I talked with show director and he said city was supposed to put pine straw over the dirt, but failed to do so for last two years. Potter next to me said some of her unglazed pots were ruined. Hate to see what would happen in the rain. YUK, and only sold a few paintings. Disappointed....


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