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

I did the Temple Beth El fund raiser Art Fair for the first time this year. This event has a stellar reputation among career artists because they bring in the money. Their members do a pre-buy in the form of purchase awards and they support the event. The week before the show I talked to one of the committee members who told me they had $145,000 in money spent in purchase awards. They take 35% of your sales, less than a gallery. It is set up as a gallery. I'm not sure whether you can apply to this show. The committee goes around to many art fairs and finds work they like and invites artists. You still have to fill out their forms. I think you can send them images asking to be in the show. Actually, I am not sure of any of this except for the people they invite. You'll have to google it to get the info.

Setup and take down are really easy. All you do is bring the work, or, ship it. They set everything up and have a storage area for backup pieces. If you have fragile work they let you set up your own work. They have pedestals and pegboards. My work looked better in their gallery than in my own booth.

They make an effort to have a top quality show. There is a main gallery room with work $500 and up and a "boutique" room with work under $500. Since my main work starts at $250, I had all my work in the main gallery. I believe that as long as the majority of your work is above $500 they let you put some under $500 in the main gallery. I had a number of pieces at $90 and $125 that were supposed to be in the boutique room. By the time I was ready to bring those pieces in, that room was filled, so, I couldn't show those pieces. In fairness to the committee, they want you to A) get your work to them on Tuesday so they can plan where they go and B) send your inventory sheet at least a week in advance so they can print out their proper labels and prices. I did neither partly because I didn't know what to expect. Next year I will do things differently if I get invited back. I won an award so I believe I'm invited, but, nothing is etched in stone.

They do a very good job of presenting the work and there were very knowledgeable patrons. I had some extremely good conversation and the people who bought my work knew what they were getting. I didn't do as well as I thought I would do. It seems that clay and glass did OK. 2D, 3D wall pieces, and jewelry did extremely well. However, the potential for doing well is sky high. I will go back next year if they have me and I will bring pieces based on what I learned. I expect to do much, much better, next year. A third of the artists were there and the rest shipped work. I could have dropped my work off and done another show, like St Armand's Circle. I would suggest being there to talk about your work, but, it isn't a requirement.

I forgot to mention that they took care of us all weekend. There was no shortage of really good food, even on the setup day. I, also, forgot to mention that I saw some old friends and fellow artists that I haven't seen for a while, potter Jan Richardson and jeweler Barbara Sucherman.

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Comment by Connie Mettler on February 1, 2017 at 12:20pm

Heck, Barry -- all this good writing and details, but where is it held? I believe there are more than one "Temple Beth El"s in this country.

Maybe you don't want to post their website ... but maybe you do.

Comment by Barry Bernstein on February 1, 2017 at 12:25pm

St Petersburg, Florida. Silly me. 

I forgot to add that they have host families that will put you up and you can save the $100 or so a day while you are there.

Comment by Melanie Rolfes on February 5, 2017 at 9:38pm
Nice review Barry happy it was a good show for you. As a 2 D artist my take is different on this show.

The show opens on Saturday for members and open to the public Sunday and Monday.

First of all the people who run the show are some of the most wonderful people to work with. They are very accommodating to the artist and very patient with all of us. Lots of great food and a ton of people ready to buy art. The place was full of buyers.

For 2 D they offer a 4'x8' peg board, horizontal not vertical. For larger pieces they hang from walls. I wouldn't compare the set up to a gallery setting but more like a packed framed shop. We made smaller pieces to be placed on the peg board but that didn't make it into the show. Two of the pieces did hang on the walls each in different rooms. They were up high so difficult to see. Not every piece can get a prime spot so I am not complaining. We decided, like Barry, to attend the show so we could explain the work. It was so crowded and there was no way we could be near our work so instead of being in the way we left the initial opening. Saturday from 1-4 and again from 6-10 they had a private open for those that had pre purchased. We retuned on Saturday right before the evening opening and saw a TON of red dots. Most of the work, if not all, that had prime location and lighting had sold. That was exciting since other events we had done like this would replace the sold work with unsold pieces in storage. This event does not change out sold work. Sold work stays up for the entire event. For the pieces that aren't displayed they tell you that your work will be in the back where they can show interested buyers the rest of your work. This also didn't happen for us because only one piece was in the back that could be found. The rest were somewhere else during the show.

This show makes a ton of $$$ and if you get a prime location you can kill it. Like Barry mentioned there is a learning curve for artists to figure out what to bring and learn how the show works.
Comment by Connie Mettler on February 6, 2017 at 10:37am

Thanks for the other side of the story, Melanie. I'm looking at that list of award winners and see that it is a "who's who" of our business. Selling 2D also, I have been in a couple of spots similar to yours. Location ... name of the game.

Btw, I hear there is another wonderful Temple Beth El show in Nashville, TN. Do you know anything about that one?

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