Call for Artists, Making Money at Juried Art Fairs, Craft Shows and Festivals
I haven't written a review in quite a while......Things have been busy and I have been on the road way too much.....as all of you know the drill. But I thought I would review a show I did for the first time last weekend in Memphis, a place I haven't seen too many reviews from and this show was not the easiest to get a read on beforehand. I like to try new ones though and I have a pretty good track record with choosing smaller venues that usually are well worth it.
Even though I live in the same state, it's a six hour drive from one end of the state to the other. The show is at Audubon Park, a lovely large outdoor venue near Germantown, which is the high end residential area of Memphis. The booth price varied but I payed 540 dollars to be inside a large tent with electricity. There were outside tents, culinary tents, kids bouncy ball rooms and a petting zoo...I knew none of this until I set up. It's pretty clear to me that if there is a camel and a kangaroo at a show that the artwork is not the priority it needs to be. Rutt-Row......
Set up was non eventful but there wasn't much room behind your space in the indoor tents....there was lots of empty spaces though.... where someone failed to show or they didn't fill. The layout was chaotic at best with some people almost hidden and way too near the porta potties. Some people got zero traffic. I saw an artist who is so popular at Kentuck that she usually sells out, who was so hidden that the sales were pretty nonexistent because nobody knew she was there. The big tent I was under was almost completely filled with new exhibitors and there was so much buy-sell and Sunday afternoon painters that as a friend of mine said. "You probably just had to send in your money and you got in." It felt that way.
I was in front of a potter and the space behind my booth was tight. Usually,it's a give and take where both artist's compromise.... as I have many many times and are happy to do... Even though there was only about two feet the potter in back of me would not share and put his camo fold-out chair in my doorway. I asked politely if we could share the space and he said it was his and I was at the corner of my booth....on closer inspection- he was too and he also had an empty booth space next to him he could have spread out to. He got really obnoxious so I had to put my boxes and bags and chair tightly on the side and close my tent in the back. Sorry, but fair to say-this guy was a big jerk. If you are on AFI and you read this....try to get along with the next artist you are next to...it's not hard- a little compromise goes a long way.
The show was slow on Friday and I did average. I payed my booth fee and hotels and pretty much broke even. The show goes from 10 until 6 on Friday and Saturday and then 10 till 5 on Sunday. The consensus around me was that everyone did ok on Friday and were pretty happy. No big sales for me but I sold a lot of smaller work. On Saturday morning, the crowd at the gate seemed pretty large ( 9 dollar entry fee) but it didn't really result in many sales for me. It was a lack luster crowd that looked in from the aisle and even with small work seemed to be holding tight to every 20 dollar bill. There was free coffee in the morning but everything else was cash and carry. There also was some Merit Awards designated but the two people that won awards near me ( a metalsmith and a knife maker) didn't seem to translate into sales much. Sunday was rain and a twenty degree temperature drop( windy and cold) and that killed sales. I made 120 dollars on Sunday. It was humbling to say the least.
We didn't get down to the Rendevue but we ate one night at a restaurant called "Southern Hands" that was authentic soul food and it was great. Our hotel was reasonable and fairly close to the show. But overall.....I have to say that it was a major disappointment. When promoters let everyone in...it doesn't benefit anyone, least of all people with higher end work ( I'm an encaustic painter). Many friends, new and old, said this was a first and last show also. It seems that Memphis, a big city with lots of big companies (think Fed -Ex, International Paper and St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital) could use a high level show but unfortunately, the Pink Palace is not so regal.