Art Fair Insiders

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

Maitland under the stars--Starry,starry nights with no Art Bites

Show was last weekend in a wealthy Orlando suburb.
Les Slezneck convinced the Rotary Club to run this show til 10 PM on Friday, and 9 PM on Saturday. God knows why.
Big awards attracts big time artists, the show has 150 exhibitors, and all of them are good.
Unfortunately the same cannot be said for the crowd it attracted.
This is a long-standing show, and in its day, sales sizzled.
Ah, those are the days my friend.
I showed up Friday morn for setup and found out I was the only artist in the show who got to set up on a downhill ski slope. Yep, 25 degrees downhill. My sales ended up being more downhill than that--in fact, they were pretty darn near invisible.
On Friday in four hours I did $400, I was ecstatic. Saturday, in 11 hours I made three sales for $120, Sunday, I topped that with a whopping $165.
Luckily I got to stay with my favorite photographer (besides me and Edward Weston) Steve Vaughn.
He always sells,he has the Golden Touch. Well, even the Great Vaughn did not sell. Tells ya something.
Good thing was I got to mooch off him and wife Rene's wine collection. We properly drowned our sorrows each nite.
Let us do a little analysis now.
This show should work.
Lovely location around a lake. Night time is very romantic with all the booths lit up. Yep, the Rotary gives ya free electric. Also free bottles of water, and a free breakfast every day.
Small show, only 150 competitors. Notice the noun I used. We are all rivals for the diminishing dinero these days.
But, very few people came, and very fewer bought.
It was advertised. There was ample signage everywhere. But most of us were lucky if we learned $1K. Pathetic.
Ok here is why it may be the way it is.
There were three shows on in the general area--one in Kissimmee and one on in Lake Mary.
There was a big car show on that weekend.
The thing is,on any given weekend in Florida there are a gazillion special events going on. A ribfest, a blues fest, a flower show,beer feasts, car feasts,perfects, they just keep getting more and more.
We are just those guys (and girls, a maybe a few transgenders) in those white tents. If they miss us this week, they know you will be somewhere else next week. There is no longer an incentive to buy now.
Welcome to Art on the Street in 2015.
It isn't pretty.

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Comment by Virginia Dauth on November 21, 2015 at 8:25pm

Hey Nels, I am pretty much out of the art show business but since you mentioned Edward Weston, One of my all time favorites too. I had the pleasure of hearing a lecture by Weston"s Granddaughter Cara, photographer in her own right the same as her Dad and Uncle, equally as good as Granddad also lecturing or more story telling was photographer Bob Kolbrener. The special event was a a show called Ansel Adams: Before and After at Booth Western Museum, here in Georgia. The icing on the cake was to have Dr. Micheal Adams, Ansel's son talk about his father and stories of his work and how he would go with him on shoots packing in on burros. into the parks and wilderness. If you ever get to the Atlanta way, going to the Booth Museum in Cartersville ( 50 miles straight north of Atlanta )is a must. It will blow your mind that this is a private 5 star Museum that is privately owned, building, paintings, sculptures and all by one man. This is a class act place and a must see if in the area.  Happy Shooting, Virginia

Comment by Cindy Welch on November 20, 2015 at 1:07pm

I am sorry for the set up on a slope and dismal sales for all your hard work.  I have been there and done that with some of the shows I've been in, dismal sales that is.  Setting up on a slope has never been an issue and I am glad for it! <vbg>

Comment by Paul Flack on November 20, 2015 at 9:48am

Young Nels, I read the first line in the email and knew it was you. Xcellent observations. A few logs to throw on the fire. 1.) For the past 8 years interest rates have been held artificially low. There is no where for people to "invest" money and draw 10% interest rates. Ergo, no funny money. Ergo, people are NOT spending principle. 2.) People are spending money on art and entertainment like never before. My entertainment expenses (cable TV and interest) are a significant outlay...  The standard TV size is now 60" inches. People are looking at the walls, but not at the art on the walls. Also, people are buying art and literally putting on their sleeves - the tattoo buz is booming.  I think  if we are to survive we need to operate tattoo booths out of our 10s x 10's and offer a memory stick with our greatest hits on it if we 2-d'ers are to survive.

I'm just sayin.

Comment by Matt Estrada on November 20, 2015 at 8:28am
On a positive note Nels, it was great to finally meet you on Sunday. My weekend ended up ok. Just ok. Friday night really helped out. I sold more that night than I did Saturday/Sunday combined. Saturday's hours were brutal. Exacerbated by the lack of a crowd. But hey, at least we weren't at Artnado.
Comment by Barrie Lynn Bryant on November 19, 2015 at 8:31pm

Last year I sold five major paintings at this show. I'm sorry I cannot come back to Florida anymore, or I'd a been here. I don't ever do well with the Slesnick Jury System, so I'm not sorry I wasn't there to see him and his cadre of judges. He's one of the reasons my award average goes down. But hey, I killed it at this show last year. We're talkin' five figures. The committee actually called us on the telephone several months ago asking for us to come back. Sorry we couldn't. And sorry your show was crummy, Moe Pho. C'est la vie.

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