Call for Artists, Making Money at Juried Art Fairs, Craft Shows and Festivals
In 1995 a group of 25 artists met informally in Chicago at the Old Town Art Fair to discuss concerns and interests of the current state of affairs in the art and craft show world. The concept of the National Assn. of Independent Artists (NAIA) was born out of that meeting and the organization was officially formed and named in March 1996. The stimulus for this meeting was a near riot at an art fair in Charlotte, NC, that April. What sounded like a gunshot went off and the huge crowd stampeded down the street smashing tents and artwork that was in the way.
Artists decided that it would be a good idea to adapt some "best policies" to present to art fairs in order to avoid this kind of occurrence happening again. I was at this first meeting and it was exciting to join the group to see if working together artists could improve our working conditions. The NAIA has done a lot of good things for artists, but to artists the most invisible one is the Show Director's Conferences.
I've attended most of these conferences, always held in conjunction with an art fair so the directors can see how events are held in different parts of the country and to learn how they can improve their shows. Last week they met in Indianapolis with our sponsor being the Broad Ripple Art Fair. In attendance: (photos below)
Dave & Carla Fox: Art in the High Desert
Sharon McAllister & Jeanne Seehaver: ArtFest Fort Myers
Jay Snyder & Craig Thompson: ByHand Cleveland
Brian Wood: Cedarhurst Center for the Arts
Antonia Lindauer: Cherokee Triangle Art Fair
Terry Adams & Tara Brickell: Cherry Creek Arts Festival
Vaughn Griffith & Mary-Sue Bartlett: College Hill Arts Festival
Peggy Finnegan: Colorscape Chenango Arts Festival
Stephen King, Angie Lolbet & Beth Johnson: Des Moines Arts Festival
Patty Narozny & Elise Richey: Hot Works
Sara Shambarger & George Barfield: Krasl Art Center
Georgie Kelly & Mary Fourhman: Madison Chautauqua Festival of Art
Nichole Smith: Newport Arts Festival
Linda Beckstrom & Lynn Pritchard: South Shore Frolics Festival of Art
Lisa Konikow & Connie Mettler: Arts, Beats & Eats
Sarah Arnold: Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival
Lisanne Robinson: Sebastian Art Festival
Leah Charney: Zapplication
Artists: Les & Ella Slesnick, Marji Rawson, David Rosenberg, Rich Fizer, Kate Strong, Teresa Saborsky, Carroll Swayze & Mary Strope, Admin for NAIA
As you can see from this list it is an excellent mix of events from the big name festivals to smaller volunteer run events. This makes for great dialogue as, depending on your point of view, just about every issue has a different answer.
This year's conference was a dialogue among the attendees addressing what artists feel are the most important topics at today's shows.
The first presentation was on the costs of doing art shows presented by Terry Adams (the guy with the really big budget), Sara Shambarger (smaller budget) and two artists, Carroll Swayze and Rich Fizer (really small budget). The budget for Cherry Creek is well over $1,000,000 and Terry presented a pie chart for where the money comes from and where it goes. How much is funded by jury fees? Make some guesses in the comments below.
The next topic was Booth Images, facilitated by Carla Fox and Stephen King. Everyone weighed in on what the booth image meant to their show and how important it is. The general consensus was that shows use booth shots for two purposes:
They also agreed that indoor shots or outdoor shots were not any kind of a deciding factor, they just really wanted to see how your art would fit into the finest possible presentation to the attending public.
This was followed by a cocktail party. We were asked to attend as our favorite artist, work of art, or style of art.
Leah Charney as "The Lady in the Hat" by Matisse.
Would you believe that this is the face of Zapplication?
The next entire day was spent on buy/sell, identifying imports and production work. Carroll Swayze presented a paper with excellent research to help directors identify imposters and buy/sell people. Some show directors google every applicant to make sure that the applicant is the actual artist. We all shared our personal experiences and resources for finding buy/sell. All agreed it was best to find out these agents before the show and allow them to make their case rather than wait until they were in the show, causing disruption on many fronts.
That evening we rode a school bus to the Preview Party on the lovely grounds of the Indianapolis Art Center. Congratulations to Patrick Flaherty, the new director of the Broad Ripple Art Fair, for this excellent gathering. Then back to downtown Indianapolis to make some last connections with one another and promises to weed out the buy/sell.
Almost all of us returned on Saturday to Broad Ripple to see the show, meet friends and BUY ART!
Summation: much of substance does get covered at these conferences but nothing beats the interaction with fellow directors and the networking that continues through the year.