Call for Artists, Making Money at Juried Art Fairs, Craft Shows and Festivals
I've been puzzling over this question, and thinking about how I will handle art fairs going forward. All those people coming into my booth... coughing, sneezing, pawing through my print bins. I don't know... maybe art fairs are just not in my future any more. Or, maybe I just need to rethink how I do these art fairs.
I'm a digital artist. I sell prints of my digital paintings. I'm a printmaker. Most of my sales are packaged unframed prints. Packaged in plastic bags... perfect surfaces for a virus to cling and hang on for hours and days... perfect for infecting the next person to pick up that plastic-wrapped print.
I also own a gallery in Douglas, Michigan where I have the same nightmare scenario. Print bins everywhere. This has got to change in the aftermath of the Coronavirus. But how? Sales traditionally depend on touch and feel. Getting a product in the customer's hands is essential. Even my framed prints. Chances of a sale increase if I can take the picture off the wall and hand it to the customer. They hold it and it becomes an ownership thing. I can't do this any more either...
Then, there's the masks. Do we wear them in our booth? Do we ask our customers to wear masks? Yikes!
Some solutions I'm contemplating:
Maybe I'll eliminate the unframed print bins. Maybe I'll exhibit only framed prints representing all the images I'm selling. Maybe I'll make it clear that all these images that they see on the walls are also available unframed in several sizes. Maybe I'll have my unframed prints in boxes that only I can access. When a customer points to a picture they like, I'll retrieve the print and show it to them (but, no touch!). If they do touch it, I'll wipe it down with disinfectant (after they leave the booth).
Maybe I'll eliminate on site sales and offer only shipping of prints they might be interested in. They want to buy a print (either framed or unframed, in a certain size) and I'll ship it to them. I have met a couple of photographers who regularly use this method of sales with success.
Maybe I'll quit the art fair circuit and focus on my gallery and online sales. Surprisingly, since the virus has closed down art fairs my online sales have increased (perhaps only because I initiated an aggressive sale to my email list). Who knows? The gallery is a much more controllable environment. Far fewer people wander through on a given day and there is a lot more room to maintain safe distances.
Have other artists been thinking about these problems and how to solve them? Will art fairs become a thing of the past? Any other ideas out there?