Art Fair Insiders

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

Trouble and Joy at the Old Town Art Fair

Here is some interesting reading by an art fair lover in Chicago, Lisa Canning, who blogs about the arts and entrepreneurship at Please read.

We spent the better half of the day wandering around from booth to booth. Much to my surprise, out of maybe 70 booths we poked around in, and perhaps 40 that we actually spent significant time in, only 2
artists took the time to come and speak to us. ONLY 2!!!! Simply

She clearly loves the arts and artists and even buys art at the fairs...

In addition she notes the lack of websites among the artists that she was particularly interested in.

Last month I attended the East Lansing Art Fair with Chris Ritke, the man who developed, a digital uploading system. As we walked the show you would hear people asking artists if they had websites and the invariable, "no, I do all my selling at the art fairs". After a while Chris was shaking his head and asking me why a person wouldn't take advantage of any way they could to let people find them, if not now, at least for another look at the art.

Me, I can understand about wanting all selling to be done at the shows so other things can be done when you aren't there. BUT -- some day you may not want to do that particular show, you may be incapacitated and unable to do art fairs, you may need supplementary income...someone who loves what you do and has never met you may stumble upon your website and come to find you at an art fair. I don't know about you, but a website can also be a sort of insurance policy.

My husband, photographer Norm Darwish, stopped doing photography and art fairs altogether in 2006, yet we keep his website online because phone calls and emails do come in from time to time that result in sales.

Views: 124

Comment by Sharon Meriash on June 14, 2010 at 11:16am
With such reasonable priced and great web site companies like pay $8 a month and have total control of my makes NOOOOO sense. I don't sell art over my site either but it is a great tool as a portfolio, plus I have my show schedule on there which really helps my customers. Plus in this day it gives you an air of professionalism and seriousness to have a web not have one gives customers just the opposite impression. I work with and rep several dozens artists around the country and the web site is mandatory to be a client. Again is really is so easy to use. Check it out!
Comment by Megan Martin on June 14, 2010 at 1:18pm
Connie, I just wanted to say thanks for the link to the Institute for Arts Entrepreneurship via the blog article above - they have some super useful resources for newbies like me. :)

FWIW, I do have my own domain, it currently forwards to my Etsy shop while I finish building the website portion, but it's something! I can't imagine having nothing available for people to preview, follow up with, etc. I might like your stuff, but I'm not going to traipse across the country and track you down for it....I doubt most buyers will!
Comment by Oscar Matos Linares on June 14, 2010 at 4:20pm
Connie don't why people are surprise about people not having a website. A website is an electronic portfolio. As an owner of website I had never sold anything from there. I just upgrade to store website and still waiting for that first sale. I believe that people do not see the return so is hard to spend 30 per month in good website and not see $$$ in return. I see the need of having one and it a form of advertising.
Comment by Oscar Matos Linares on June 14, 2010 at 4:41pm
I greet people or say thank you for stop at the booth. Most people just walk around inside the booth do not browse the print bin and do not even ask for my information. This goes over and over and over. It is hard in your moral but when some spend some time I reapproach tell if you ask any question I just outside (to give room). I also mention if you purchase to images you 30% off and one frame piece we can talk. Most people laugh and just walk away and do not buy anything. So here and now f they can not read I will stop doing that but then again it had generate some sales. Some people ask why do not put my bin facing outside and my conclusion if they can not see the bin they are blind b/c I five feet wide bin and two feet deep should be spotted in the middle of the booth plus those are that see the bin are the people that may buy something.
Comment by Whitney Peckman on June 17, 2010 at 8:28am
Pat, I agree with you. I have never had a sale as a result of someone going to my website first, but it is great reinforcement and I've definitely had sales as a result of someone seeing my work at a show, going home to check me out via my site, and then returning the next day to buy. Selling anything these days requires much attention to many things, not the least of which is the actual person IN your booth. I'm not always "present" to the extent that I should be, but I also recognize that that moment may be the lost sale! Perhaps the website helps compensate for that lack of attention, but I doubt it. I think the website REINFORCES what you have already created in the mind of the prospective client.
Comment by Linda Anderson on June 17, 2010 at 4:12pm
Let's face it.... we do art shows for the sales. Someday, I hope to drop out of the art show schedule I now have - every weekend. I have a local gallery and I have a website. I get substantial sales from both, but certainly not to support me in the manner I prefer - thus the shows. For me, the website is a must. Sales have slowed down quite a bit, but they still exist. I have found the trick to people accessing your website is to market yourself well so you are found by search engines. The first couple of years, I paid search engines. Now, as I am on the "list" and due to better marketing strategies, I no longer pay for those services. I've found it takes about two to three years to become known by the many search engines. Each year, my url moves up the list - it's no longer on page 12. The more hits you receive after a search, the quicker your site gets to the top. A huge factor is not only signing up with all the free engines and forums, but I have found writing blogs and cross linking with other's sites also improves someone finding you. More than half of my hits are the results of random searches and more than half of my website sales result from those searches. I do however get some sales from past customers and art show patrons that just did not have the time or the money at the show to purchase my art. Two recent customers were the results of a show. One was a business owner that purchased quite a bit for his office. So, you are right Patricia, to each his own. For me.... I would never go back to the time I did not have a website.
Comment by Jim Parker on June 20, 2010 at 6:22am
I've always said that doing shows is by far the best method of advertising. No where else do you get qualified prospects coming through your booth in the sheer numbers that you do at shows. Dollar for dollar, shows are a very effective medium for letting people who are interested in YOUR work know what you do.

But when the show is over, a website is very important. Just like a business card, it lets those who were interested in your work follow up with you on their own time. It's all about relationship building. Pat's example is a perfect illustration of how a strong brand can be reinforced through social media, websites, and personal contact.

Getting off topic here, but two thoughts:

First, if you haven't registered your name or your business name as a URL, DO IT NOW. The best way to get good ranking in organic (unpaid) search engines is to use your own name, if it's available, or a very memorable brand name, such as "Tattoo Dreams". Search terms like painting, artwork or photography are never going to get you high in the ranking -- they are too generic, and there are way too many competitors, for a general search to turn YOUR name up in the top ranks. And if your name is unique and memorable, it will be that much easier to own it in the search rankings. Buying your way to the top is just not an option for most of us.

Second, if you already have a domain name, get a personal email attached to it. is much stronger branding than, for example. Why? Because it says you take your work seriously enough to extend your brand from your booth to your website to your email. Domain hosted email is inexpensive, too, about $20/year, from hosting providers like GoDaddy, and takes about fifteen minutes to set up. If you don't want to give up your old email address, you can forward the new emails to the old one, and keep both.
Comment by Kathy Laga on July 1, 2010 at 1:13pm
I am pretty commonly asked - are there pictures of your work on your website? I have found that people who ask that go home and show their spouse the piece online and many times come back the next day to buy.
While we don't actually sell from our website, we have had occasions where we have gotten emails from people after the show to place an order for "the piece they just couldn't get out of their mind!"


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