Art Fair Insiders

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

Hi to all,

I am writing this to make all Artists, crafters and vendors aware of agreements/contracts issued by show promoters.  In talking with several other artists, it seems that a lot of them do not really read the fine print.  I can not say strongly enough that you need to read and understand what you are signing.  If you are not sure what it says, ask your lawyer.  It is very important. 


The shows that I am talking about are in the Chicago suburban area, but this could occur anywhere.


I just received the second solicitation from a promoter that I have never heard of before.  The first solicitation to participaate in their show indicated that this is  a first show for them.  (red flag)  Show was going to have over 300 booths.  (red flag).    Cost of booth was between 250 to 700.  (red flag).  Show had an admission fee of $5.00.  (red flag).


Let me explain my impression of the red flags.     A first show;  What is the size of their data base to attract customers to the show?   Over 300 booths;  Filling that many spots with a first show could result in "sponsors" or buy/sellers to fill the spots.  Booth cost of 700.00 for a 10X10 means that these would be corporate or sponsors most likely.  A 5.00 admission could keep a lot of buyers away.  It is unknown if there is a parking fee. 


Then I received another solicitation from this promoter for a remodeling show coming up in a week.  Saying that they had 16 booths available for arts and crafts at the show.  Cost was 200 plus 200 for electric.  ????  Like I am sure that someone going to a home remodeling show is going to buy some art.  LOL


OK that is what has been received from this promoter.  The application and agreement that they want you to sign is included and of course there are no refunds if you dont do the show.   Now let me get to the meat of this blog.  In reading their agreement I noted the following:


Distribution of samples and printed matter of any kind, or any promotional material, or staff associated with your company is restricted to the confines of the exhibit booth. No noise makers or anything not in keeping with the character and high standards of Show Host may be distributed or utilized by an Exhibitor in the exhibit area. Orders only may be taken at the show; no individual sales with exchange of money.  (emphasis added)


I re-read that several times because I could not believe it.  After seeing that on the first solicitation, I wrote via email to the promotor and asked if that was true.    She did respond timely, and answered my questions but said she would have to get back to me on that point.  Now she is the promotor and cant answer this question????    Like I am going to pay $400.00 for a front section booth to pass out brochures.   LOL    In your dreams.  Well as of today, which is 24 hours later, no reply to my selling question.  Then I received the second solicitation for the home remodeling show at Arlington Park and it has the same agreement. 


So if you get an application and agreement from a promoter be sure you read it carefully and fully understand it before agreeing to it.   I know a lot of artists that would be terribly upset to find out that after they stock their booth, they could not sell their product. 


B. David Kruser

Views: 1080

Comment by Geoff Coe on October 16, 2012 at 5:57pm

David, is this actually an art/craft show?  Or something else? 
I have attended plenty of "home shows" that are intended to be marketing events, where the intention is simply to solicit future business, but not to actually transact business and exchange money. 

Now if the promoter implied in his cover letter that it was a sales opportunity, and then buried the reality in the fine print, that's a different story.  Anyway, could you clarify?  Thanks.

Comment by B. David Kay on October 16, 2012 at 6:15pm

The first solicitation was for an art/craft shows.    Although all through the flyer it did say exhibit. 

The second solicitation was for a home remodeling show and she had 16 booths for arts/crafts. 


Comment by Geoff Coe on October 16, 2012 at 6:55pm

Thanks for clarifying, David. 

Weird.  It's hard enough to sell art at an art show where you can take money, let alone at a home show where you can't. :-)   Maybe this is a new "great idea" she had without thinking it through. 

At any rate, your general point is right on the money: Always read the fine print. 

Comment by Melanie Rolfes on October 16, 2012 at 7:04pm

There are many shows that are just order writing shows, cash and carry shows (more like an art fair) and marketing shows.   They can be great shows if you know how to work it with your art, but they are VERY different then an art fair.  It seems whoever you talked to doesn't understand her market to fill the booths.

Comment by Greg Little on October 17, 2012 at 9:56am

I would not participate in a show that did not allow me to sell at the show. Future orders are fine and I have had great sales from people who kept my card from a show and purchased later. However, I still would like the ability to recoup my expenses an not lose a sale to someone ready to buy now. What would the advantage be to the promoters if I did not make any sales at their show???

Comment by Geoff Coe on October 17, 2012 at 12:03pm

Melanie knows a lot more about this scenario than I do, but one thing that occurs to me is that some municipalities require a show promoter to buy a special sales license and/or pay a local sales tax if on-site sales are permitted.  (Said another way: The promoter would pay a  local municipal tax, while the artists/vendors would pay state sales taxes.) 

Comment by Debbie Ditton on October 17, 2012 at 1:39pm

I have a question on this topic, as a new Arts Faire Director... In the past, our Application on Zapp has all the exhibitor requirements, etc... and by applying the artist agrees to those terms.  Is that typical?  Would artists prefer to receive an electronic or hard copy of it after they are accepted?  We have also only had them sign a "Hold Harmless Agreement" when they checked in... I would love some comments on best practices here. Thanks in advance for your ideas.

Comment by B. David Kay on October 17, 2012 at 2:03pm

Debbie, let me ask you a question.   If an artist applies and pays the fee, then when they sign in, and refuse to sign a hold harmless what do you do?


As far as I am concerned, I prefer to have a copy of all the paperwork involved with entering a show. 


Comment by Debbie Ditton on October 17, 2012 at 2:10pm

I am not sure that has ever happened. 2013 will be my first rodeo. Last year, I just watched and helped, etc... and I agree that fine print only on an application and not sent in an Artist's packet or email is awfully risky to both parties!  Do you prefer such documents to come to you by email, if you have applied online, or by mail?

Comment by Steve Cebula on October 18, 2012 at 11:58am


Does the online information state that accepted artists will be required to sign the hold harmless agreement at check in? If so, does it further state any actions for failure to do so? Just a few thoughts to avoid a messy scene at check in.


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