Art Fair Insiders

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

Review of San Diego Festival of the Arts - 2017

Hi all,

The San Diego Festival of the Arts is a large show held in downtown San Diego on the waterfront in a park called Waterfront Park.

The jury selection of artists is very good with top quality artworks and no toe-rings, T-shirts, or soap-on-a-rope booths to be found.

Booth spaces are not too expensive, for California, and there is no commission charged on sales.

The show is setup in quads and some artists (quite a few) get the full quad for their booth for (I believe $850). I got a double for $650.

Friday is setup day and it goes well - if you are patient and can relax. You wait in line with other artists for a space to open up along the curb. When a space opens you go to the space and back in and unload to your booth. You are then asked to move your vehicle to the artists parking lot about 1 mile away where you are then taken back to the show grounds by a shuttle.

You set up your booth and stake it down really well and also use weights - you never know the wind conditions on the waterfront. You can hang your art and close up your tent.

On Saturday morning it was wet from raining the night before, but it dried out pretty fast. It was cloudy all day Saturday and I think it hampered the show attendance.

Saturday night it rained a lot and was very wet in the morning. It cleared up by the time the show started and the sun came out a bit more. Sunday was a good day for an art festival.

For some reason I did not do as well this year as last. I thought the crowds were very good both days, but people just were not buying MY art this year like they did last year. The glass artist next to me had a fantastic Saturday (probably near $10,000 - sold at least 5 $2000 vases) and then a $0 on Sunday - go figure.

One bad factor of the show is that in this area of San Diego it is "almost" impossible to find a parking space in "Little Italy" (The area near where the show is held). Only if you are lucky will you find a space where you can then pay the meter and head down to the show, remembering that you only have so much time to spend at the show.

Rooms can also be expensive in this area because it is a tourist destination.

I don't know what was different this year from the last except weather (Last year it was spectacular weather). The tourists are there none the less.

Load out is always a bit of a struggle, but as I say, just stay calm and take your time. I take down all my work and walls then go get my van. You wait in line with all the others to wait for a space on the curb and hope it comes soon - by the way, a space always comes - and you will get it!

Show closed at 5 pm on Sunday, got my van at 6 pm, began loading at 6:30 pm, was out by 7:15 (All dolly load in and out). Time for some dinner.

If you want to try this show, I do recommend it. I know that some artists did very well and some artists did very poorly - but you never know what's going to happen at any show these days. The show management is extremely good and really takes care of the artists - great communication throughout.

If you do want to do the show and are accepted, book a hotel room fast. The area just above the waterfront is called "Little Italy" and there are a TON of restaurants to go to and enjoy. The are also a bunch of hotels / motels nearby but they can get pricey in the spring/summer.

Hopefully this review will help you make a decision on this show if you are contemplating doing it. It's a physical load in and load out - so bring your stamina and your patience.



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Comment by JEFF LEEDY on December 4, 2017 at 1:52pm

I need to learn more about CA. shows since it has been a long time since I've done any. Long way to drive from Boise but if it's worth it, I'll do it. Best crowds for me are tourists and people who still want wall art. Jeff, the other

Comment by Jeff Owen on July 3, 2017 at 8:02pm

It was held June 10-11, 2017. Here is their website: showing a good photo of the grounds. Thanks Connie.

Comment by Connie Mettler on July 3, 2017 at 10:46am

Solid review, Jeff. Thanks so much. I know next to nothing about California shows so this is really helpful. There is a lot in the review about the setting up and the parking ... really helpful because as we know setting up in cities, parking issues and loading up again can be very trying. But you're right, patience helps a lot, and eventually everyone is loaded up. I was surprised to see from your photo that it was a grassy area. I hear "Little Italy" and just imagine streets and asphalt. Sounds like a great place ...

Oh, what is the date of the show? and who runs this show?

Comment by Beth Zoschak on June 21, 2017 at 12:18pm

I am a jewelry artist and it was my first year for this show.  I want to agree with Jeff's review but go a little further to commend the management.  I was not able to set up on Friday so I notified the proper person and was told that it wouldn't be a problem to set up Saturday morning as long as I was sure to be ready on time ( that was not a problem because I am a local). After I set up I realized that I was in the rear of a quad and in a "row" all by myself.  

Within a half hour I was moved to a nearby spot , set up and ready to sell.  Thank you to all the people that helped.

I think the weather did play a part in what I was told was lower than usual attendance but there was a lot of art" moving "throughout the weekend. I did not break any personal sales records but I had a good show and I would definitely like to do it again.

Comment by Christina L. Towell on June 19, 2017 at 9:11am

Thanks for your review of this show, Jeff.  Sorry you didn't do as well as last year but, like you say, weather can play a any event, other artists will learn a lot about this show from reading your recap, thanks again.

Comment by Melanie Rolfes on June 16, 2017 at 8:38pm
Great review. Love to hear about west coast shows. I went to SDSU and have friends who live in little Italy. Would love doing this show.

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