Call for Artists, Making Money at Juried Art Fairs, Craft Shows and Festivals
Ann Arbor, MI - July 16-19, 2014 - 4 shows in one and plenty to see
In our part of the country it is a rite of summer. At other shows in the region artists are continually being asked if they are going to be at Ann Arbor. You know how that goes.
I started at the western edge of the show on Main St., covered all of that street, all of Liberty, part of State, part of Thompson, North University, all of the original show and the South U. Show. There were steady crowds both days I was there (like John Leben in his post I stayed with friends in a nearby downtown hotel on Wed. night) for two days.
(just want you to know that I did NOT punch up that sky -- beautiful --this is Michigan, not Colorado)
Wednesday afternoon I booth sat for Anne Schroeder for several hours as she "won" me in the Pledge Drive. Her work consists of amazing arrangements of feathers from exotic birds that are naturally shed and come from parrot rescue groups and rare bird aviaries.
The people interested in her work were an eclectic group: biologists, environmentalists and a couple from Xian, China, who wanted to know if I could ship the work there. Anne said she sold a couple of pieces last year at this show to someone from Dubai who had their own plane, to let her know there was no problem about importing these natural materials.
You just never know who it is standing in your art fair booth.
Michael Terra of Terra Cottage Ceramics
Photographer Lou Zale, always found on Main St. with his intriguing images
Dawn & Don Shurlow - for years they have done shows selling their heritage toys, finally leapt off the cliff
and brought only his fine heirloom chairs. I hope he had a good show. The chairs were lovely.
I spent the first day on Main St. and Liberty. At the end of the day I was very disheartened. There is so much "product", so much that was not special, so much commercialism that I felt like going home. Very depressing. I was with my two art fair going friends, Sandy Dunstone and Barb Burkhardt.
I asked them about what I was seeing (I was sure the quality was worse than back when we were doing the show) and they both said it was just the same. It wasn't worse and besides my standards were too high. I'd seen too much good art over the years. They thought it was fine and enjoyed the variety.
Not to say I didn't see good art in these areas. There was plenty of it, but I didn't think about half of it wouldn't be better somewhere else. It was "product."
Then off to dinner with the best of friends, Nels Johnson and Larry Berman, and Barb and Sandy.
Thursday we started up North U. and covered the "original show", where suddenly the work looked like it was all "juried." Booth after booth of interesting fine work. Another beautiful day, nice crowds all day long, people carrying packages.
Ronna telling her story to collectors (who took home one of those large pieces)
Original show: Ronna Katz "won" me on Thursday. She does mono prints and monotypes with price points from $275 to $3000. Large abstract pieces that definitely have an appeal to another demographic. Ronna is very personable and never tires of explaining her processes and has a nice connection to her buyers. She had a good sales day while I was there and later told me it was her "personal best AA" for sales. Folks, she does not take credit cards! Somehow people pull out checks and out goes the work to its new home. I saw her make a nice sale to a couple who had come from Cleveland specifically to find new printmakers.
Using the space on the ground to continue showing your work in the Street Fair
In the Street Art Fair they also have large tents where you can exhibit
You hear patrons at AA saying they only go to the "original show." Others deliberately do not go there because the prices are higher, so they'll head to one of the other sections.
Caught up with Greg Lawler on Washington St.
We participated in the State Street Show in what we called the "pants" department (because of all the merchant goods right next to the art exhibits) for 14 years and always had good sales. Then we went up to Main St., where we found had a whole other crowd of people who never attended the other sections.
Considering doing the show one of these days? Here are my conclusions:
Kristin Perkins on S. University
If I was doing shows again it would be a toss up which I would choose as each one has its pros and cons.
Out hotel, the Campus Inn, was full of well-dressed people, shopping teams, getting up early to hit the streets and coming back in the evening to show one another their purchases, all very excited to be there and who have attending it on their annual summer schedule.
Shoppers love this show. Ann Arbor is a lovely town, the restaurants are delightful, easy parking and access to the shows, the art fair unlike any other in the country with treasures every ten feet.
3 Jewelry booths for those of you who are always trying to figure out how to show off your work:
How about this (on the left) for a minimalist booth? I've seen it before -- patrons love milling around it
And please note the wheels on the bottom of these jewelry cases. Pretty cool!
Winner of the most pristine:
Please read Nels' Johnson's review of the show here: Ann Arbor Art Fair, The Guild Shows, Slow and Low
John Leben's review: Ann Arbor (the Original), Good Weather, Good Sales
Scott Pakulski's adventures: New to Ann Arbor
While writing this I came on this post, worthwhile reading for artists:
Video to come!