Art Fair Insiders

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


As full-time artists, we've made our living on the show circuit for the last dozen years, but we've continued to have trouble finding a decent Fine Art show in January. So, in discussion with several other artists, we've decided that it's time to take the bull by the horns and create a January or February Mid-Atlantic Fine Art show, provided that we find enough artist interest. That's where you come in - please help us by responding to this survey. No obligation, of course.

The conventional theory is that once the holiday season is over, Jan. and Feb. are dead in the Mid-Atlantic. They certainly are for shows. And we've tried the Florida shows, which are way over-saturated. But folks, not everyone goes to Florida! There are areas of affluent buyers (in some places, like Chantilly, they are "showed out" by Jan., but we believe there are similar areas to be tapped).

Let us hasten to say that this would be a Juried Fine Art / Fine Craft Show with no Buy-Sell and no commercial vendors other than food. We're well aware of what happens to shows who let in with a policy of "Jury by Check". Furthermore, categories and percentages of art types will be strictly controlled -- this is for the good of the show and the participating artists. Working title "2010 Art Awards Show"; we want a title that reflects the quality of the show. My husband has experience producing shows at convention centers.

We have completed preliminary investigation of possible venues and resources, now we need to hear from the artist community -- YOU. We need your replies, and any recommendations you may have. Your answer can be as short as "1-A, 2-B, 3-C, 4-D". If you answer, we'll let you know the overall survey results.

We have sent the survey to artists whose work we saw in the past year at shows like Craftsmens Classic or Rose Squared or Corn Hill or Crozet or Berkshire show. We will be posting the discussion and info on any resulting show on

Answers can be emailed to

Preliminary response from artists we have talked with is very encouraging, and we appreciate your help. There are just 5 survey areas where we need your input: Size of the Show, Timing of the Show, Days of the Show, Geography of the Show, and your availability.

1. Size of Show
A small show usually has a sponsor (church group, community itself, civic group, private or public school, etc.). Booths typically cost $100 or less and there are generally 50 booths or less, sometimes only 10 or 12. There is no promotion budget to speak of, the fees go to the facility and the sponsor. To attract gate and buyers, we are dependent on the sponsoring organization to bring members, friends and neighbors, and to spread word of mouth (naturally, for any size show, we will also have our own website). There can be multiple events in the same general geographic area a few weeks apart. The event is usually free to the public.

A large show requires a professional crew and staff as well as professional promotion and services. Most large sites are setup to handle the services and parking (typically, a convention center). They can accommodate 100 or more booths and the 10x10 booth cost is in the $300 to $500 range. There is a large promotion budget for advertising and public relations / promotion, and the size and quality of gate depends largely on the effectiveness of the promotion program. It is important that the bulk of booth revenues go into heavy promotion to carefully targeted audiences after facilities costs are paid. There should only be a single such event in the area for the month, and there should be an entrance fee to help with the high facility and service costs, and to skew the gate towards the more serious buyers.

Please indicate your preference for a Jan. or Feb. show:
A -- small show
B -- large show
C -- neither

2. Timing of the Show
Please indicate your preference:
A -- January, first half
B -- January, second half
C -- February, first half
D -- February, second half
E -- March
F -- any of above
G -- BOTH Jan. and Feb. (different locations)
H -- none of above (tell us why)

3. Days of the Show
Please indicate your preference:
A -- Friday afternoon setup, short show Friday evening plus all day Sat. and Sun.
B -- Friday afternoon and evening setup, show all day Sat. and Sun.
C -- Sat. morning setup, show all day Sat. and Sun.
D -- any of above
E -- none of above (tell us what you prefer)

4. Geography of Show
We have eliminated Chantilly, VA because of too many shows in the area. For the rest of the Mid-Atlantic, we are open to suggestion. For large shows, we have explored facilities and their calendars, and obtained costs, for the areas shown. Please indicate your preference:
A -- Virginia Beach, VA
B -- Hampton Roads Convention Center, VA
C -- Roanoke, VA
D -- suburban Philadelphia, PA
E -- suburban Baltimore, MD
F -- Greensboro, NC
G -- any of the above
H -- other (tell us)

5. My Availability
Please indicate whether you think you would be willing to participate:
A -- Yes, if the show conformed to my answers
B -- Yes, probably for any of the descriptions in Jan.
C -- Yes, probably for any of the descriptions in Feb.
D -- Yes, other (tell us)
E -- No or probably not (please say why)

(We don't have a "maybe" as that will not help us!)

6. Your Comments
We would gratefully appreciate any suggestions.

Everyone who responds with answers (even if they can't do such a show) will be sent the survey results.


Larry and Shoshana Matthews
Classic & Textile Art
Handwovens by Shoshana

Views: 71


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