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

Just did the OOAK Show in Chicago, this is a very well run event. For those who are not familiar with it I will run through the basics. Included in your booth fee is a 10 x 10 approx space with walls, carpet, lights (6) electricity and trash can. The walls come in white and you can request and pay for colors. The way I have found is to bring rolls of colored paper and staple or tack it up yourself to save the painting fees. Any way, you show up at the loading dock and the union labor carts all your work and display up to the show floor to your booth. After setup you tag your emtpy containers and they fetch and store them until end of show. You get the services of an electrician to aim your lights for you. Over stock can be stored with access on the floor below the show to replenish your booth. You can bring your own wall panels if you desire. Hanging your work involves driving nails or screws into walls which by the way you must remove at breakdown ( they patch and repaint) Almost anything to do with displays can be had for a fee if you don't want to cart in your own stuff. They do also have a central cashier system which you can use. Artists are given access to materials for promotion throughout the year including passes for admittance to give to your clients. At shows end your empty containers appear at your booth, you break down and they cart it all back down to the loading docks for you. Crowds are large and enthusiastic. Smaller gift items sell well although high end work does too! Now for this years news.....

We were asked to attend an artist breakfast on Friday morning prior to opening. A big announcement was to be made. Well, the announcement was that they were going to re merchandise the show by placing all the jewelry booths on one side of the show with the fashion booths. In addition, jewelers would have to re jury with a jury fee, and returning artists would not be guarranteed booth placement requests with early sign up, one of the past perks for re signing. Needless to say these items were not well received by those in attandance. When the meeting opened up for Q & A I was the secong hand up to comment and after a good twenty minutes of not getting selected to speak I needed to find a way to get noticed. Hence the "man on the chair was born" I ended up gaining some height and was chosen to say my piece. Basically I commented that in my opinion most of us benefitted from a mix of booths via impulse sales from those patrons seeking for example their favorite jeweler and passing a booth with great pottery, bingo pottery sale! Or conversly heading for that painter they love and passing a great pair of earings at a jewelry booth and presto jewelry sale! This would cease to happen as often with grouping of the fashion and jewelry. Many of the patrons would not walk the show as they do now, simply heading to the one section they had in mind and beaming on out afterwards. It is a very large show and takes time and dedication to pass through all the ailes. Human nature is such that when asked, patrons would of course say they like the grouping idea to make certain shopping easier but why the do grocery stores put things like the milk all tha way in the back? So you will pass many other items on the way and bring a few out with you of course. After much comment, almost all of which seemed against the idea of change, the meeting was ended with promise of new thought to the whole idea. Loh and behold the plan was scrapped, booth placement was put back in for early sign up with the exception of jewelers who must re jury for next year. Returning jewelers no jury fee and new applicants have a jury fee. I felt that the people (artists) had spoken and the powers that be listened. I would like to add that the staff as a whole is excellent to work with and does a wonderful job of getting us all in and out for this show. My claim to fame now lies in being the "man on the chair" as I got visits the rest of the show to shake my hand etc for "standing up".

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Comment by Jacki Bilsborrow on December 18, 2011 at 10:49pm

Thanks Steve for your post.  I had no idea how the load in and load out worked.  Sounds like they have a great system.  As a shopper I also wouldn't want like things grouped together.  I would completely avoid the sections that were jammed with way too many people.  I would hate to miss out on a whole section. 

Just for the record, I walked the whole show and my feet did hurt, but I enjoyed every bit of it.

Jacki B

Comment by Carol Larsen on December 15, 2011 at 9:14am
Comment by Marina Terauds on December 15, 2011 at 1:04am

 @Wendy - $200 for regular and a corner up to $400 more if I remember right. Carol, I understand "mega serious" thing. I rememeber my fears/serious thinking 7 years ago when I did this show for the first time(price was around $1000 - 1200). I am still doing it and I love this show except the price.

Comment by Carol Larsen on December 14, 2011 at 10:03am

Well "man in the chair" could be "man in the mirror"...I digress. Thank you so much for sharing this information. I am seriously considering it as another avenue...and with the fee...that needs to be mega serious.

Comment by Wendy Zumpano on December 14, 2011 at 9:36am

They raised the booth fee from $2000?  What is it now?  I've heard good things about this show, but GULP.  Is the booth fee worth it??? 

Comment by Marina Terauds on December 14, 2011 at 12:19am

Part 2 is that they raised the booth fee, but who cares or remembers, right?

Comment by Connie Mettler on December 13, 2011 at 7:07pm

Good for you, Steve. So good that they did listen, although I had another artist (nameless here) say that she thought it was a kind of bait and switch... saying what they knew no one would like so they could get some other less palatable idea accepted. Right now I don't recall what part 2 was. 

This is the kind of action artists are always asking each other to do! Boycott that show, show that show director who's boss, refuse to line up hours ahead of time, make them listen to us -- well, it seems the artists spoke up and it worked. As I attended the show I kept being buttonholed by artists who wanted to tell me about it. It must have been quite a scene -- and now I'm glad to know who the guy is who brought it to closure.

Also, wondered while I was looking what those pay stations were all about -- now I know. Artists who didn't want to handle sales could use the MMart system? That is very nice. 

Additionally, I'm with you Martha on that!  Let's fact the facts folks, if there were no wearables or jewelry at an art show there would be no customers. 

Comment by Martha Giberson on December 13, 2011 at 1:12pm

Guess these folks have been to ACC Baltimore retail.  This is how it's done there and as a jeweler I have to say BRAVO for standing up and being noticed.  When you "ghetto-ize" a retail show like this everyone suffers.  At ACC Baltimore I kept overhearing "we spent too much time in the other part of the show and now I don't have enough time to look at jewelry/clothing".  Let's face it, jewelry is beautiful to look at BUT it's a lot of very small objects to look at and when you're doing it all at once you get tired fast.  You get visual fatigue from looking at a lot of small things over and over and after awhile it all starts to blend together and you feel like you've just seen it.  It's the museum fatigue syndrome.  When a show is laid out in a normal random fashion the eye travels over many different media as it moves from booth to booth, large, small, soft, hard, stone, metal, clay, fiber, etc. it's constantly readjusting and more impulse buys result.  Or maybe not impulse but the result of the buyer actually stopping to look because they can take the time to "see" it.



Comment by geri a. wegner on December 13, 2011 at 10:41am

Wonderful to hear that common sense prevailed.  You made the perfect case against grouping and they actually listened.  Congrats to the "MOTC"

Comment by Bea Lilly Hatala on December 13, 2011 at 6:57am

Great story!

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