Call for Artists, Making Money at Juried Art Fairs, Craft Shows and Festivals
With a weekend off and dreary skies over SW Florida, it's a great morning for little except sipping coffee and...um...blogging. (Note to self: Develop more hobbies!) So, let's give a shout out to Bill Kinney and his crew at Paragon, and also to the Weather Gods, for delivering a superb show at Sarasota last weekend (1/17-18/2015). (Note to readers: Paragon uses this same venue for shows held in November and March.)
I've reviewed the January installment of this show several times before, so if you want lots of details on the show location and demographics, go here. Otherwise, suffice it to say that this is upscale Sarasota, and the snowbirds have arrived.
* Show communication: Paragon always does a great job with this, sending a nice, clearly written "SHOW ESSENTIALS" packet two weeks before the show date. Follow up pre-show messages as needed; weather update for Day 2 (always) and weather alerts (as needed), plus a Post-Show Evaluation(see Post-Show-Eval.pdf) that includes lots of statistics on reported gross sales by category.
* Advertising: Paragon releases their ad schedule, in full detail. Looked to me like they had the bases fully covered.
* Load-in: The show is small and tightly laid out along the narrow access road paralleling Gulfstream Ave. (aka US 41, for the locals) in Sarasota. The city and the promoter are very clear about what is, and what is not, a legal parking space, and the Parking Enforcement staff from the city have eagle eyes for miscreants 365/24/7. Accordingly, promoter Bill Kinney and his staff managed it well. Certain artists we notified a few days before the show that they could begin loading in at 9 AM on Friday; the rest followed beginning at 11. I arrived about noon and was at my spot about 10 minutes later. You parked as close to the curb as you could, then unloaded onto grass, parked, then set up. If you do this show in the future, try to get there before 3:30 or so, when rush hour kicks in with a vengeance. I've arrived in late afternoon for past shows, and take it from me--getting there early is WAY less stressful.
* Show days: The weather was just superb both days. Light breezes, cool temperatures, no need to run fans in the tents. As a result, crowds were very steady, beginning a half hour before the official opening bell of 10 AM. Most artists in my vicinity (on the NW side of the show) did very well both days. I had nearly identical totals both days, though the crowds on Sunday bought a bit larger: 18x24 and 16x20 matted prints. On Saturday, folks were a bit more prone to bargain-hunt, at least in my booth and my neighbors': I resurrected my 11x14 mat size for this year, and was glad I did, as I set a one-day record for 11x14 mat sales on Saturday. At show's end I had a decent sales total, somewhere in the low $2K range, and a few folks contacted me in the week since to purchase additional work.
Post-show, I learned that several of my artist friends (at medium to high price points) fared EXTREMELY well, and one nearly sold out. Again, you can drill the details in the document I've posted from Paragon.
The art quality was VERY high. Many of the artists in attendance had exhibited at the previous week's Bonita National. Further, many patrons stopping by my booth commented on the high quality, and my impression was that the customers I spoke with over the weekend were more knowledgeable than the average show-goer.
Load-out: Like at many shows, load-out is a bit more challenging owing to the tight layout and tighter time frame. I'm in the "relaxed" camp of load-out artists; home was less than 2 hours away on nearby I-75. So I just knocked down and packed, then hung out with my (great!) neighbors for about an hour until the path cleared, But these artists are show vets, and cooperated to get everyone on the road within 3.5 hours of the closing bell with no significant issues. Kinney reported that it was "beyond a home run show." As he noted in his post show communication, there were some exceptions, like at any show you can think of. But overall, it was a solid effort all around. This show is definitely on my must-do list.