Art Fair Insiders

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

Made in Ohio is always labor day weekend, held in the historic living museum known as Hale Farm and Village.  Hale is a representative of an 18th century Ohio farmland village, made of buildings brought to the property.  From the parking lot you can see the Hale house and Barn, and through a short trail you walk into a village green lined by vintage homes and buildings.  For labor day weekend this bucholic sight is embellished with 100+ white tents filled with amazing art, handcrafted furniture, clothing and so much more.  Its a favorite event of ours - but i have to say we always take a deep breath at the start wondering what the weekend will hold because some years have been stellar, others a drought of buyers.

But this year surpassed our expectations.  The organizer and promotor went beyond expectation with her efforts to publicize the event, and her efforts showed with substantially larger crowds than usual.  And they were buyers.  By the close of the first day we had exceeded sales for the entire weeked the year before.  Sunday was the icing on the cake, with brisk sales.

Im not sure of all of the dynamics that made this such a great weekend - I can tell you the weather was perfect mid 80s sunshine with a gentle breeze, and everyone was enthusiastic.  but i am wondering if one thing i did made a difference -

I paint silk - in the studio i drew the outline pattern on a piece of silk, then stretched it on a stretcher, and dragged it with me to the show, and spent the weekend painting it, and allowing kids try their hand at painting inside the gutta lines.  Amazed how many kids were entusiastic to try (and a couple adults too...) and overwhelmed by the crowds that would gather, ask questions, watch, etc. 

So my question is this - do you (if you are able to) demonstrate your work at art shows?  If you do, in your opinion might that have an impact in increasing sales? 

I loved the experience, and learned so much watching and talking with the patrons that weekend.  As an introvert this was quite a challenge to step out of my box, and provide a visual education of what i do.  I was stunned by one guy that said "oh heck, you actually paint your silk scarves? I thought you just buy them that way and sell them."  My only thought is if i offered a touch of education to that misguided person Yeah!!! 

If you are ever considering this show in Northern Ohio on labor day weekend - go for it. 

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Comment by Kathleen J. Clausen on October 5, 2016 at 8:24pm

Suzanne, I love your idea.  If I came to your booth I'd really enjoy seeing how your art works!

Comment by Barbara Pitorak Bloom on September 19, 2016 at 9:23pm
Thankfully I am not alone- my husband shares the booth and handles sales while I paint. Honestly I sold a number of pieces as a direct result of displaying the procesd
Comment by Suzanne Beavis on September 19, 2016 at 6:18pm

I think it is a great idea to do some demonstrations if your work allows. It does demonstrate to the public that we do indeed make out work. I make glass beads and do metalsmithing. Not easy to demo at art fairs. But what I am going to do is get one of the frames that constantly show images and put pictures of the steps of my work in progress. I think customers enjoy seeing the process and in a small way participate visually. After explaining my work customers often make a purchase when they know I made made it. thanks for reminding me of this.

Comment by Christina L. Towell on September 19, 2016 at 8:47am

Demonstrating your art is an excellent idea if, as Sandra says, you can sell too.  I applaud you for the effort and think I might take some knitting along to my next show, see if it helps.  Enjoyed your review, Barbara, thanks.

Comment by Sandra J. Atkins-Moran on September 17, 2016 at 12:29pm

Great idea.  Sounds as though you were a hit!  The public as a whole just doesn't get the idea that we actually make this stuff and this gets the point across beautifully and gives them a memorable experience.  I've had a few shows where I've demonstrated.  It worked for me only if I had someone with me in the booth to help me sell.  Otherwise, it was an educate-the-huddled-masses event and I didn't make much money which was, after all, the point of the exercise.

Comment by Barbara Pitorak Bloom on September 15, 2016 at 10:45am

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