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Still recovering from 8 days in Oklahoma City.  This has always been a good show for me, and this year I was the poster artist.  I had a good spot in the show, and it always gets good crowds.

A couple things were different this year, mostly because of construction beginning on Hudson Street, where the show has been held  for years.  The print tent was no longer, and we were able to sell prints in our own booths.  While I always found the print tent an oddity, I actually sold more prints there than in my own booth.  Go figure.

I did well.  Not as well as other years, but the weather was strange.  It wasn't really bad, but the weather people made it sound as if it was. 

We had a great opening day, and it was my best day for sales.  It is a long day - 14 hours, but it was a good one.  The next day it rained all day.  The following day it didn't, but it looked like it was going to rain all day.  Friday, historically a great sales day, the weather prognosticators delivered doom and destruction forecasts, so people stayed away.  Saturday was crazy busy, and Sunday pretty respectable. 

This show isn't like any others.  The festival has its own tents and you get a quarter slice of one.  It includes hanging walls, so you only have to bring your work if you want.  Most of us bring more.  You need lights.  They provide 2.  I have a light system now and used all of it.  The show is open until 9 every night except Sunday.

You do not need a Square or anything else: the show handles all sales and takes 20%.

Even so, most of us do quite well here.  My buddy Jill Grau Tortorella and I have been neighbors for 3 years.  We weren't jumping up and down, but we also didn't wish we'd skipped it. 

Load in and load out is fairly straightforward, because there are only 144 people and no one is setting up tents.  Also, you have two full days to choose from for set up and if you can, choose Sunday.

The quality of the artists is quite good.  There is a system for requalifying which seems to involve how many years you have been there, so there are some issues with that, except for the local artists.  Most people with a wide range of prices did fine.  Some with only high priced original work, not so much.

Again, the biggest issue for most people is the duration of the show.  They get out the people, and many of them have money. 

Next year the event is moving because of the aforementioned construction, and no one really knows how that will affect attendance.

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Comment by Carol Joy Shannon on May 12, 2015 at 9:30am

Thanks for the ribbon, Connie!  We are all children at heart when it comes to ribbons. :-)

Comment by Carol Joy Shannon on May 12, 2015 at 9:29am

Yes, Barry is right about the reason we sold the prints ourselves this year.  Many things were moved due to the construction, including the kids activities and the sculpture garden.  There is some discussion of a permanent location of the festival down near the river at some future date, too.
Jacki, the 6 days is not too much of a stretch as far as attendance is concerned.  After 40+ years, pretty much everyone in central OK has a day they come into OKC for this show.  Schools bus kids in on Wed. and Thurs.  Retirement communities come on Thurs.  Office workers downtown come by every day at lunch and bring their families on weekends.  About the only time there aren't crowds are the days when the weather is bad, or the weathermen say it's going to be.  When you like in central OK, you stay close to home when the weather is bad.  Tornadoes are not to be taken lightly.  One of the reasons OKC has their own tents is the extreme weather. So, our Friday this year was very slim (usually jamming) because there was a chance all afternoon of ugly weather, which, lucky for us, did not pan out.

Comment by Barry Bernstein on May 12, 2015 at 8:42am

The reason why you got to sell prints in your own space because they tore down the building where they used to sell the prints. There is a highrise going into that space. In fact, the show is being moved back to its original location by the art center because of future construction of tall buildings. Devon Energy is not going to be the only tall building in that area.

I got my money on Tuesday morning.

My show started slowly and picked up at the end of the week with Saturday and Sunday being my best days. Last year, Tuesday was my best day. Go figure. I didn't get any purchase awards money this year, the only year I never got any. Last year, the Thunder was in the playoffs and were in Memphis. So were a lot of the OKC fans. This was one of my better years sales wise.

With 6 days, I always have a couple of slow days and a couple of really good days. They are not ever the same. It changes from year to year.

Comment by Jacki Bilsborrow on May 11, 2015 at 10:35pm

Great looking poster Carol.  I can see why they chose yours.  Thanks for the great review.

Were you busy all six days?  Did shoppers keep coming or did that seem too long to keep pulling people in?

Comment by Carol Joy Shannon on May 6, 2015 at 10:19am

FYI: my money was in my account this morning, exactly 10 days after the festival finish.  Pretty respectable. 

Comment by Connie Mettler on May 6, 2015 at 9:44am

The organizers did a presentation several years ago at the NAIA Conference in Winter Park. The event is truly one of a kind, and I know artists wish it could be replicated elsewhere. Wouldn't that be great? It sounds as though they spend the year promoting it and it is "the" show for the area and people look forward to it all year. That is the secret for a great buying event, plus they promote the uniqueness of the art.

Comment by Carol Joy Shannon on May 5, 2015 at 7:28pm

Thanks for showing me off, Connie!  This was the last year on Hudson Street, and they were quite specific about what they wanted in a poster.  I was happy to oblige.

Yes, Larry, it is pretty much the same.  The children's tent is an optional percentage or full donation.  Limits on the print tent were $100.  They do invite people back who make them nice moolah, but they also try to shift the artists in the various mediums around as much as possible. A lot of us who were juried in 3 years ago, may be in the open jury pool again next year.  Last year's poster artist was waitlisted this year because her medium was crowded.  Starting last year, they do a direct deposit.  (You send them cancelled check and routing info etc.)  The contract obliges them to deposit within ten days of the close of the festival.  It should be in my bank tomorrow.

Larry is also right about the opening day, certainly as far as big purchases are concerned.  But another factor is the proximity to the downtown crowd, who come out during their lunch hours all week, to eat the excellent fair food and shop.  Many sales are made over the course of this repetitive viewing.  I've made some great friends with these potential collectors.   How the future venue will affect office lunch crowd remains to be seen. 

As for costs: most of us book as inexpensively as possible and probably half the artists bring their lunch (or dinner.)  With two meals a day at the show, for six days, it adds up if you eat the on site food.  Nothing is cheap because the food is fundraising too.  With the festival getting a cut and a fundraising group associated to each food tent, few items are under $5 and most are in the $6-$9 range.

They feed the artists a dinner on Monday night (after load-in) and a breakfast on Thursday morning, and keep us plied with the usual pastries throughout.  Very good about coming around with waters and sodas, too.

It is a great formula for a show.  The trick is keeping all the parts fresh and interesting.  I saw a little change in the crowd this year, and will wait to see if it was an anomaly.  I have done this for 3 years and usually have a great interaction throughout the year with these collectors. I wish I could do ten shows just like it, and call it good.

Comment by Larry Berman on May 5, 2015 at 6:17pm

If things haven't changed, the show has a three year jury as long as you hit the minimum sales of $3500.

Besides the print tent, there is a children's area that they handle the sales for. 20% from that area also.

The reason sales of reproductions are better in the print tent than the artist booths is that the public is trained to look there for inexpensive reproductions. I think there was a $75 maximum when I did the show. And a $3, $4 or $5 pricing in the children's area.

Like I said, if things haven't changed. I did the show back in the mid 1990's and never received a check under 10,000. And I knew other artists who easily did three or four times (or more) as I did. For most artists that was their best show of the year.

Tuesday (the first day) is historically the best day because that's when the purchase award money comes around. Throughout the year they hold dinners and project the artist images so most of the corporations pledge money months in advance and know who they will be purchasing from. A great formula for a show.

Larry Berman
http://BermanGraphics.com
412-401-8100

Comment by Connie Mettler on May 4, 2015 at 2:54pm

Thanks for the report, Carol. Hope you don't mind that i edited your post and added your wonderful poster so everyone could see it. You did a great job of capturing the festivities.

How many years have you done the show? I was under the impression that people were reinvited based on the amount of sales they brought it (and since there is a central cashier it is easily monitored).  Is that incorrect?

How do you get through an eight day show? It seems you'd have to make a very decent amount of money to cover the 20% plus food and lodging for at least 8 nights. How soon do you usually get your check?

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