Art Fair Insiders

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

Here are a few thoughts on the show, while they are fresh in my mind:

Manayunk, June 22, 23, 2013.


Large street show, variety of work, good quality and some ok work.

Nice area, nice atmosphere.

Interspersed in between booths- commercial booths- 5 Hour Energy, Geiceo, etc.

Also gave out tons of free yogurt near me- tons, so people were carrying entire BOXES of cold yougurt, hands full, and I would say no longer shopping as they just received some free food that had to go home and be refrigerated.

Load in is not easy,tight, but everyone seemed to be ok with it. A trailer , which is what I have, no use trying to get anywhere, we had to walk far and dolly but it went ok.

Crowd- plenty of people, people who looked like they could and would perhaps purchase a few items. Lots of younger people, ages 25-40 I'd say was the majority of the crowd.

Weather-very hot.

Hours- My setup arrival time was 5:30 am, others were 5 am, and 6 am.

I left my booth up overnight, it was safe.

Sales- here's the problem, at least for me and my area of artists. Those that I spoke to were not happy and said they could not afford to do it again.

One artist in my area was very happy with sales, 2D.

I saw people in booths, primarily the jewelry.

My sales were not good. I won hon mention, which they called 2nd place in my category, glass and clay, I also had one of my pots featured on their webpage AND in the arts fest tv commercial, so I was well received.

So I have been analyzing this.

I usually check last year's exhibitor list before I apply to a new show, and I did for this one, and that is where I took my chance. I did not recognize any names, and there were not many potters, which is normally a bad sign for me.

So, lots of people, looked like a younger, educated, middle class crowd, not much buying, at least not in my area.   ????????

I should have been able to do better than I did, so that disturbs me.

I KNOW for a fact that people still buy lots of pottery, and normally like my work, and it is affordable.


Views: 1687


You need to be a member of Art Fair Insiders to add comments!

Join Art Fair Insiders

Comment by deborah potash brodie on June 30, 2013 at 1:13pm

same thing happens to us in jewelry.  if he likes something and wants to buy something -- he will always defer to her -- if she doesn't like what he picks, they walk.  if she likes and he doesn't as much - he usually says - it's up to you -- you're going to wear it -- and also why did you ask my opinion if you disagree and already know what you want?  a few weeks ago we had a gentleman who spent a lot of time looking -- he didn't want too much talking on my part (which makes me the introvert happy) -- and he picked out 2 pieces - for his wife and daughter.  he thanked me for giving him the time and patience to pick out the right pieces.  made my heart a-flutter!

Comment by Mark V. Turner on June 30, 2013 at 11:09am
I am afraid I disagree. In watching people at these events, my wife and I have seen the jewelry buying trend over and over. We have also watched the second buying dynamic dealing with art purchases. If a man and a woman are shopping for art together and the man desires the piece and the woman doesn't care for it, the piece stays with the artist most of the time, as the man will defer to the woman to preserve peace. If the woman desires the piece and the man does not care for it, there is a better than 50% chance that she will get her way and the piece goes home with them. Once again, this is because the man wishes to keep the woman happy and will defer to her purchasing wants.

So please understand, I am at these events and I am watching these buying behaviors in my direct vicinity. My wife walks the shows and being a PhD scientist, she is constantly gathering data in this regard, too. There is an overloading of less than fine jewelry at these events. It does pull revenue out if the attendee budgets and this does hurt other fine artists relative to purchases which might have been.

The blame, as such, is not with the 'jewelers'. Rather it lies with the people making the show exhibitor balancing decisions. But it is my opinion that cheap off the shelf component costume 'jewelry' doesn't belong in fine art shows in the quantities in which it is currently appearing. Gold and silver yes, hand made high quality costume pieces, yes. Fewer overall 'jewelers', absolutely
Comment by Susan Bishop on June 30, 2013 at 1:01am


Being a jewelry artist, I wouldn`t want to do a show where there was an overabundance of  competition in my category. That being said, I totally disagree with you on the buying trends of the customers. The customers that come out to these shows, whether they are the top shelf shows, or not, are women. Women will bring their husbands/partners. They are not buying either/or. If a woman wants a "trinket", she will buy it. And chances are that her husband/ partner will buy 2 or 3D art. If you take the woman out of the equation, you are losing a potential customer. She will still go to that Jewelry and wearable art show with her girlfriends and I doubt if her husband will go by himself to the fine art show. Women will always treat themselves to a piece of jewelry, even in a bad economy. They just might not spend as much on it, which is why even most jewelers will have something that is a bit lower price point. And even if it`s not gold with precious stones, doesn`t mean it is not art.

My partner and I are collectors. We collect fine glass and 2D art. We have gotten to a point where we really have to LOVE something for the house, because we will really have to work to find a place on our walls. I don`t think we are unusual in our buying - I support other jewelers, and buy from them, and we also buy other art for the home. We don`t buy at every show we go to if we don`t find something we want to own.

Yes the economy is poor. A good promoter will balance the artists so all groups are represented. Stop blaming the jewelers - we are not taking away your business.  

Comment by Mark V. Turner on June 28, 2013 at 8:48pm
You fail to filter the economic noise to unveil another new retail dynamic. Sales are down due to the recession. However, they are worse b/c of the influx of jewelers into the market during this situation. You will note (and I am sure you have) that many older exhibitors from many disciplines have ceased exhibiting in the past few years. Promoters had to take up the slack to make their money. They weren't seeing many addl fine artists step up. They took those whose checks cashed. Pick your fav shows that publish the exhibitors year to year and check the distribution of exhibiting disciplines. Look for the shifts to wearables over traditional fine arts
Comment by Paul Flack on June 28, 2013 at 8:27am

Sheesh, thank God for the internet, I thought the horrible economy was to blame, turns out it is jewelers! 

Comment by Donna Marie Thome on June 27, 2013 at 8:10pm

p.s. I do not make $3-5K per show. I may have done $3K before 2007 but no more by any means. People maybe swarming in my booth at times but they certainly aint all buying

Comment by Donna Marie Thome on June 27, 2013 at 8:08pm


I agree with you for the most part. I work with sterling silver in all my pieces and other materials are added. I believe even those of us who work with precious metals are also hurt by competing jewelers who have nonprecious items and lower price points.

I guess I misunderstood you in your previous post in that you thought there should be no jewelry at art shows.

That all being said, some of the non precious jewelry is ART. 

what to do what to do

Comment by Mark V. Turner on June 27, 2013 at 7:34pm
Donna, I respectfully disagree. The non precious metal/stones 'jewelers' I see consistantly get lots more traffic at non-top shelf premier events on downward in artist quality. This is traffic that doesn't come to other booths after they spend their money on some trinkets to wear. My wife and I both watch where the traffic goes. Yes the economy plays a part, but short of jewelers with nothing but artisanal quality precious metals and semi/precious stones, I think that wearables should get their own shows and really compete against each other. Right now, in these non-premier level shows, there's 30-40% jewelry capturing the bulk of the revenue at many events if consistant booth traffic is any indication of purchases. The jewelers and wearables appear to be using the draw of the event and hurting the other fine artists who attend. If you think that jewelers don't like competing amongst each other, try watching the rest of the fine artists compete against jewelry and wearables as a group. I do a show that I make money at each year, but I have had trinket jewelers using no precious anything and cranking out pieces of dubious skill level make $3-5 k on an event selling 20-40$ items. Meanwhile, I am taking the ribbon for the painting category and not even seeing $1000 in sales selling all original paintings starting at 40$ and up. Something wrong with that show balancing act. I see the same thing over and over. Jewelry and wearable overloading may hurt jewelers, but it hurts the remaining fine artists more so.

Having strictly wearable events will still draw a good crowd of buying public (most of whom are.....women as we mentioned the typical art show customer gender is). But it allows this customer gender segment to spend that revenue in a place where it doesn't hurt fine artists. Again we aren't talking precious metals and stones-type jewelers. We are talking about the less art show qualified wearable artists making lower cost costume pieces. Several shows I have seen require items to have a minimum price, which helps a bit with evening the playing field. The concept of non-fine jewelry in fine art shows is part of the dynamic that is particularly hurting other fine artists.
Comment by Mark V. Turner on June 27, 2013 at 6:50pm
For sp many shows, it's about filling more booth slots-quality be damned. Once a show slides in quality, but keeps the same number of booths, they can't fill them with quality exhibitors. So they take those that apply whose work at least nominally fits the model of their event and whose check cashes. At least I have not seen any hotel starving artist sales recently

But in all sincerity, the key to success in a decent juried show is to bring the buying demographic public to the event to show some love and some of their assets. Now that you can do specific targeted advertising via the post office and get decent rates, there's no reason this isn't do-able. This does im
Comment by Donna Marie Thome on June 27, 2013 at 6:39pm


we already see the problem with too many jewelers at shows, we don't need our own show to find that out, thank you very much.

I agree that show promoters often let too many jewelers in to fill spots.

But I disagree that jewelry purchases take away from 'art' purchases.

We are all suffering low sales for the past few years (at least most of the fellow artists I talk with), not just 2D artists and its not because of too many jewelers necessarily - its the economy

Fiber artists -- use this resource to find new buyers:  Advertise with Reach over 60,000 fiber arts lovers.

Our 50 Best Art Fairs

Look Inside the 2018 Art Fair Survey:
Who Won and Why

Join the MasterMinds Group for personalized coaching on your Internet Lifestyle Business! 

60 Page Report - Best US Art Fairs

Click Here to
Learn More


  • Add Photos
  • View All

© 2020   Created by Connie Mettler.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service