Call for Artists, Making Money at Juried Art Fairs, Craft Shows and Festivals
Well, drove home from Texas in raging rains for two days last week, then cranked like hell for two other days to be ready for Mainsail Art Fest in St. Petersburg. So there was no time for blogging.
Here it comes. I realize there has been an excellent piece written by an emerging artist. I just wanted to give a more finished perspective--and a few, Nels' insights.
It is a long journey from Tampa, FL. to anywhere in Texas, especially Ft. Worth. Most times it is two days with a stop-over in Baton Rouge or Lafayette,LA.
This year, I cranked til late Monday afternoon and made it to Tallahasee that night.
Next day it was a mellow ride thru Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana to Shreveport. Then I was in FW before noon for setup on Weds.
Most of the show, booths are setup in big covered tents, high enough for you to set up your natural booth with roof.
The tents usually have a corner booth, a middle booth and then another corner. Then the pattern is repeated behind. So there are six booths to a tent, crammed in tight, back to back. There is maybe a two-foot common area behind to share. Storing inventory is always a challenge.
People love the corners--when the weather is good-because of the extra exposure and room for some browse bins.
Trouble is--the weather is Rarely ever good at FW. This year personified it.
There is one area of the show where tents are out in the open, called the Artist Square.
It replaces what used to be a parking lot where artists set up. There was generous storage areas here--but the winds could be extra fierce here too. The new Square is beautiful. All on concrete with nearby restaurants and a specialty pavilion. Storage here, is alas, tight now. But artists there seem to love it.
So, if you do this show, you bring your booth, you bring great weights and you bring electricity (lights, they supply the current).
This is a tough show to get into.
Many are called, few are chosen. Only a couple hundred exhibitors.
Your customers have ample disposable income. Lots of gas, oil and tech money. You even see young people with money, which is sadly missing at most shows in Florida.
The show runs four days, Thurs-Sunday. Starts at 10 AM and runs to at least 8 PM and then artists can choose to stay open as late as they wish--and many do, especially on the weekend.
SO WHAT HAPPENED THIS YEAR.
Weatherwise we were challenged two out of three days we were open. We never got to open and sell on Sunday.
Thursday we had strong 20-30 mph gusts all day that shook booths all day and send inventory every which way.
Friday, we had perfect weather. Clear, not too humid with gentle winds.
Saturday was okay with growing gusts, the front was expected to hit us that night, and there was an almost 100 per cent chance of bad storms forecast for Sunday.
Sunday morning, I got an ominous call from the show around 7:30 AM.
"Mr. Johnson you better hurry over to your booth in the 800 block. There has been several booths over-turned and art damaged."
Well jeez, you never want to start your morning hearing that.
No Starbucks coffee, no NY Times for me. I galloped as fast as I could from my hotel which was two blocks from the show.
I rounded the corner of ninth and Main Street (where the booths are) and saw up-turned booths everywhere. Even those long v-shaped food booths were lying feet-up on the pavement.
I approached my tent area with great trepidation--yeah, I was worried too.
Both the corner booths by me had been hit. Some damage to the art, but not major. My middle booth stood intact, my canvas covers were still zippered, my walls were straight up and no photos were on the ground fast becoming watercolors. I instantly threw trepidation out the window.
I saw a van about four booths south of me in there loading up. I thought, shazam!, I am gonna get my van and do the same. Ten minutes later, I had my van in there and started the load-out.
The lovely Rhonda, our block captain, came over and told me the show was not cancelled at that time. I understood, and kept packing. I figured at worst, I would get all the framed work in the van and leave one table with print bins in my space--to make a showing.
About 30 minutes later, Rhonda came over and told me the whole show as cancelled, and to continue packing. I did, and was out of there an hour later.
SO, HOW GOOD WAS THE SHOW THIS YEAR?
Put it this way.
On Saturday, I made more sales there than I did in three days at the recent Winter Park show.
My work was appreciated, and so did my bank account.
I think most artists did their usual very good at this show. I did not hear anybody complaining.
I would go back in a heartbeat.