selling art (10)

An Artist Looks at 76

9730883254?profile=RESIZE_710xMonday, October 25, I turn 76. Will be starting my 46th year in the art show biz.

In the photo above, that is me at my first art show in Hawaii in the 1970's while in the Army.  Only made $25 but I was hooked for life.  I am the one with the camera,

Yesterday, was a whirlwind of medical activity for-me.  I got "nuked" and "pinned."

I have a new heart doctor now that Ilive in New Smyrna Beach.  She had me undergo a nuclear stress test to see the condition of my heart.  Remember nine years ago I had open heart surgery with four valve activity.

In this test, you are injected with a nuclear isotope which ends up stressing your blood vessels and your heart, makes them get dilated. It is no biggy if you can withstand a minute or more of shortness of breath, mild nausea and a little dizziness. Four minutes later your body is back to its normal rhythms.

Later I-went to Walgreens to pick up two prescriptions. I casually asked if they were giving booster shots yet.

I got my two Moderna vacs back in the spring. The clerk said they had the Phizer booster. So I got it in my right arm and my annual flu shot in my left arm. Did not even feel the prick of the needle.  I was lightheaded for about 10 minutes.  That was all the side effects I got.  Slept well all night and I have a slight soreness in my right arm ( the booster one.)

So, you are probably asking what does this have to do with show biz.

I would say,"a lot."

Will feel safer now with the booster at shows.  Will wear a mask if mandated at a show, otherwise, will keep my distance.  After all, we are outside in moving air, and nobody is standing around in your face for a long time.

After 46 years I am finally starting to cut back on the number of shows I do.  For years, I routinely did 27-33 shows a year. This year I did 21.  For 2022, I hope to do 18.  We will see how the jurying goes.

What helped me this year was getting into three of the biggest, Winter Park, Des Moines and Kansa City Plaza.

Sales from these shows equal three or better of the routine shows we do, where you are grinding it out to make 3-4K$. I did well enough at the Plaza that I cancelled my two October shows.  I will do three in November and take December off.

I have three in Florida in January, will probably do 2-3 in Feb, see how the jurying goes.

I love doing the outdoor shows.  I find it so much more rewarding talking directly to my customers.  Sales online, and galleries are nice, but not nearly as rewarding, plus they will not pay the bills.

As I age, the only part of the biz I do not like is the show setup.  At my age the setup wears me out big time. Usually it takes three and half hours to setup, that is erecting the booth with all tarps and awnings and then stocking it.  I usually need a solid one hour nap, or more, to recuperate.

TEARDOWNS are better, only one hour and a half.  I still am exhausted. I will drive home if I can make it in two hours or less. Otherwise I am staying in the hotel.  I always get a good meal, good sleep and a early start the next morning.

For you younger ones, you do not have to deal with failing night vision yet.  It is a serious factor when driving.

I had cataract surgery in my left eye last year.  Plus I get a shot monthly in that same eye to combat macular degeneration, the wet one.

Oncoming car lights create a hard spherical glow.  It is difficult to see clearly the middle road line.  So I keep my eyes on the road sideline.  An old trick I learned in Drivers Education back in 1962.

For the first time in my career I paid a tent guy to setup a Lightdome with Propanels, did it at Winter Park last May.

The $300 for the rental was money well spent.  For a biggy shows where you sell $5K or better, the cost is neglible.

I just bring the art and hang it.  Teardown is easy-peasie . Put the art in the van, then take the money and run.

I plan on doing this the rest of my career.

We are in difficult times with rising expenses  in every category--show fees, jury fees, fuel,cost of goods.

Only the good and smart will survive.  I plan to be one of them.

I still get the thrill of making a sale, no matter how much it is. It takes me back to my first show in Hawaii in 1975. By a waterfall, only made $25 that day, but I was hooked for life.

Still feel that same spirit.  I am a lucky man.

Aloha, look forward to seeing you all in the upcoming months.

Stay safe, stay focused and make great art.

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Art Fair in Your Backyard? Why Not?

8869206068?profile=originalWe're all looking for ways to find our customers. Ready to get on the road? Or maybe, stay at home and turn your yard into an art fair. In Ferndale, MI, 13 artists have gotten together to show their work in a socially distanced safe setting in their own yards. The 13 artists live in a radius of five miles of one another. 

"The hyper-local art fair includes 13 artists in 10 yards in a five-mile area of Ferndale. Guests are asked to wear masks and maintain social distancing to curb the spread of COVID-19. Cash is preferred, but individual artists may accept other forms of payment."

Do you and your friends think you could pull this off? Somewhere in the archives at there is a podcast about artists starting their own events. You know how to display your work and definitely you know how to market it and seen so many shows you're full of ideas. I think you can.

Learn more about how they're doing it in Ferndale: Backyard Art Fair

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Is Anyone Here Earning a Living?

8869097853?profile=originalNext podcast: January 31, 5 pm ET

The premise: As a "new" artist attempting to earn a living at the nation's art fairs I often think about the business side of things. People are surprised that I even attempt the notion of doing it full time... without a pension! 

We speak with art fair artists who actually pay the bills and make a living, BUT they do so without a pension or some other significant source of income. In other words, these are people who figured out how to be profitable at art fairs! Are there people like that? This is a very practical nuts and bolts discussion of entrepreneurship. Creating art and earning a living with it are two separate endeavors.

Our guests will be long timers and new people just starting to hit the road.

If you would like to be on the panel please let me know. If you have questions you'd like discussed add them in the comments below. 

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8869175694?profile=originalA recent podcast with 3 artists and some callers came up with these conclusions: 

  1. having income from several sources helps a lot
  2. sometimes the rain, a terrible crowd or the fact that you may have picked the wrong show intervenes with the "earning"
  3. you've "got to love what you are doing" to make it work

Our participants were:

Marge Luttrell, encaustic painter and a former high school art teacher, who has been participating in art fairs for 7 years and who did 25 shows in 2016. Her "other" income includes teaching at places like Arrowmont and Penland. Her work sells from $350-$3500.


Jill McGannon, a realist landscape painter with an MFA who has earned her living with her art since 1988, with success in galleries and her own business (15 employees) mural painting and licensing her work until the Crash of 2007 took away that income and she came to art fairs to earn. Her prices range from $250 for a 9 x 12 to $4000 for a 30 x 40. 


Loc Tran, an artist who creates his own designs and screen prints the designs onto t-shirts. Although he is not doing art fairs, in the last 10 years he has found plenty of other opportunities, wholesaling and retailing his work at events with consistent revenue in the 6 figures.


On the podcast we talk

  • $$ - how much do you earn at a show? with $$ answers
  • great tips from Kelly Cassidy: have a helper, never discount, have an outstanding booth, consistent prices and a sign that says "I do commissions"
  • Jill does fewer shows because of commissions 
  • how to sell something with a $3000 price tag
  • Loc has no employees and has 150 wholesale accounts; exhibits and sells at "niche" markets, veterinarian conventions, dog shows, etc.
  • all have friends who earn their living at the art fairs ... you can do it too. 

8869148694?profile=originalListen or download this right here:

This was a very affirming discussion. Do you have any tips to add? Or questions to ask? 

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No one came into your booth last weekend?

Bottom line is: you need first to work on how to become irresistible to the art fair audience, how to get their 8869176661?profile=originalundivided attention, how to become relevant.

Can they get something similar at TJ Maxx or Pottery Barn? Whoops ... something missing here!

People need to understand what you are about, why does it matter to them and what is in it for them. Have any time for social media? Show off your new work on FB -- and how is that website?

If there are people at the art fair it isn't because they didn't have anything else to do (think Saturday afternoons in the fall in America ... college football comes to mind for me) and they are walking down Walnut Street or Westheimer or Meramec or State and glancing around ... 

P.S. unless you missed John Baun and John Houle's discussion about this marketing last week, here it is again:


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Podcast: Selling Art Face to Face

8869097853?profile=originalNEXT PODCAST: WED., JUNE 22, 5 PM ET

Mckenna Hallett, a professional trainer and consultant for small business, shares strategic tips from her 25 year career that has covers the entire spectrum of earning a living as an artist: developing a jewelry line, selling one-of-a-kind work to fine art and craft galleries, servicing wholesale accounts (including Neiman Marcus) and selling at a weekly retail show near her home in Maui. 

During this time she has always mentored other artists including teaching seminars on how to sell art. Mckenna has developed a selling system, the E's of Sellling. We talk about what she has learned and share her very solid selling advice. This is not about selling online, but rather how to make more sales in your face-to-face engagements at your shows.

Ever hear, "I'll think about it? " Gain confidence and learn what to DO and SAY when they say they need to think about it! Did you know you are a already a perfect "salesperson" when you are recommending a good book or a restaurant?  You share good things naturally, until it's YOUR art you are recommending. We're not talking about being salesy or “closing deals.” Listen to find out what to do next with solid tips to take to your next show.

To listen click the Art Fair Radio icon up there in the right hand corner, or this link:

Learn more before the show about Mckenna:

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Video: Learn How to Apply to Art Shows

Jennifer Rapp Peterson ( interviews Connie Mettler the publisher of,, and Connie shares some of the basics when it comes to showing your work at art fairs, how to apply to juried art shows, and how to sell your artwork at craft fairs.

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Your Biggest Art Marketing Mistake

by Carolyn Edlund, guest blogger


Has this happened to you?

You’ve met people who absolutely love your artwork. It might be at an exhibit or a fair, or perhaps at a social event when you share an image of your art on your smartphone. They rave about your art, showing lots of interest, and you tell them you will stay in touch. They hand you a business card, or write down their name, email and phone number.

But you never got back to them. The opportunity was lost.

You meant to do it, but either you weren’t organized, or you didn’t know what to say, or didn’t have enough time. You end up with stacks of cards, and lists of people who want to see more of your work, but you haven’t taken any action to follow up with all those interested people who could turn into customers.

Perhaps you have an art website, which took a lot of time to put together. You want people to visit, and you might be putting in hours on social media to promote it – but you don’t know who likes your work or wants to see more unless someone fills out your contact form, which is rare. You don’t have a method of collecting names of visitors for your mailing list, or if you do, you haven’t contacted them.

All the effort you put into sharing your art has been wasted, unless you choose to take further action. You must put a system into place that will collect names of people who like your art, and want to know more. Then, you need to reach out to them over and over again, because one contact isn’t enough to make art sales. As people get to know you, and learn your story, and see your work, they feel that they know you and gain a comfortable level that can lead to making purchases.



Contacting your list is best accomplished through email marketing, which is the most effective tool you can use in reaching collectors who have shown an interest. It’s far more effective than social media alone. It puts you in control of your message and when you send it. You have permission to contact them; they want to hear from you. They are your prospective buyers, and as a business person, you are taking the next logical step to turn them into your newest art collectors.

Email marketing is an incredible way to drive repeat sales of artwork, too. Once you have sold a piece of work to a customer, it’s much easier to sell something else to that same person than it is to start out “cold” again.

A regular campaign of email marketing (once a month) reaches out to all of those people who indicated that they want to hear from you, as well as existing customers. This method of communication is low-stress, because you have a “friendly” audience. Introduce them to your portfolio, talk about upcoming events, and show new artwork you’ve created. If they don’t want to stay on the list, they simply unsubscribe. They can also forward your messages to friends and others who may buy from you. Watch as your list grows and you reach more people every month.

If you haven’t gotten started yet with an email marketing program, don’t worry. You can still reach out to old lists you have, and you can always begin collecting names of new people who want to find out more about your work. Start where you are now.

Email marketing campaigns are used by businesses around the world to drive billions of dollars in sales, because it works. You can take advantage of this, too. Email marketing doesn’t have to be a mystery. Templates are available to brand your messages, and let you share your personality, images of your art, and what makes each piece very special.

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90 seconds long

I spent a few hours with printmaker Ronna Katz at last summer's Ann Arbor Street Art Fair. While I was there she made several sizable sales. Her attention to her customers and clear knowledge of her media were apparent as the afternoon progressed.

I watched her sell several large pieces to a couple who had traveled from Cleveland to purchase, specifically collecting original prints. Ronna has been in the art fair business for quite some time, having grown up behind the booth when her parents sold their work at the shows.

It is people like Ronna that collectors come to the shows to meet. 

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8869150082?profile=originalTuesday - November 11 - 5 pm ET

How do I get into the good art fairs and how do I make money when I get there?

These are the universal questions that need to be answered for earning a living in the fine art and fine craft show business. Our expert guests Larry Berman and Bruce Baker lead the way.

Larry Berman lends his expertise on creating great images that will "wow" they jury and Bruce Baker shares his experience on creating a great booth and meeting the customer. Between the two you'll have the answers and there is only one thing left for you to do: make great art.

Larry Berman has a long career in photography, including being the staff photographer for the NY Nets ABA basketball team. He has been exhibiting at art fairs for over 30 years and was one of the first to recognize the importance of digital imagery in the art fair business, and was responsible for the ZAPP image format which displays all jury images the same size. He has built a career improving jury images for artists and/or photographing their artwork. He has done seminars on jury images and does consulting with artists and art fairs.

Bruce Baker began selling his jewelry at retail and wholesale shows in the 1980's. Taking what he learned there he began consulting full time in 2005 sharing his retailing and business experience with a variety of groups ranging from Artists, Main Street Merchants, to Farm Market vendors, conducting over 600 marketing and production related workshops in the past two decades.  He leads training sessions helping artists be more productive and competitive in the international marketplace.

Between the two you'll have all the answers and there is only one thing left for you to do: make great art. 

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