Art Fair Insiders

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

Mark Loeb of Integrity Events in Detroit runs multiple events in that area and has also been involved in the art fair business for many years. Since Covid he has had to cancel all of his events, but he keeps trying other ways to provide income to artists and engage buyers. Late summer and fall he tried hosting small invitational events in hotel suites in the area, also a holiday event at a popular event site at the fairgrounds nearby and for the holidays he hosted what he called a "live online" event. Here is his analysis of that event:

Dec. 9, 2020
We just completed our first fair on Eventeny. Actually it is ongoing throughout the month since there are no extra charges to leaving the site active.  It was put together with only two weeks of preparation after my last event of the year was cancelled.  The show included our general mix of fine arts, with a few more crafty items to reflect the season.

Eventeny was great to work with.  They were very responsive to me but less so to the artists with questions.  Some artists reported waiting 24 hours for responses.

We had about 12,000 unique visitors, but the average visitor shopped fewer than 3 pages.  To me that indicated that the page was not enticing the way I had it laid out.  You can view the page at MiArtFair.com - however be aware that I have made some changes since the "live" fair is over.

The video feed at the top featured short demonstrations and interviews with artists.  I have changed it to a rapidly repeating view of artists work from the show which I feel will be better for engagement.

Some Site Features-

The top of the site can be static- with one large and four small photos, or a video feed and four small photos.  We felt that the sire was not completely intuitive so we used some of out small photo spots for informational slides- How to find things, how to pay.

The schedule is the next optional feature.  We scheduled some demonstrations and Santa visits.  During the six days the schedule was only used fewer than twenty times.  Perhaps if we had more dynamic content?  For the ongoing site we have removed the schedule.

The next section is the Features section. We started off with listing all of the event features and the slowly removed them to the point where none remain.  One insight- if you have an odd number of features the first one is two columns wide.  Otherwise all are one column.  This gives the first feature extra prominence.

Booths are listed in three columns and separated by medium or application type.  It may be possible to get other divisions.  Note- when editing the application- the added questions feature is the only one on the site that requires saving after each new entry.  I found this out when the added questions were completely missing on one app.  We have one application for those that needed jurying and a different one (hidden unless artists had the URL) for invited artists. Medium separation works even if on multiple applications. Glass artists were together regardless of application.

You can create additional booths to host additional features, though only one booth per user id.  We had two- one for Santa and related items and one for DIY Craft projects.

 

I started with the assumption that this was not an online version of a live show.  I needed to capture as many live advantages as I could while also including features that are not practical at a live show. 

• We marketed this event as a "live online" event.  (Personally I don't like the term virtual)

• Everyday we did a 30 minute Facebook Live broadcast featuring three or four artists plus food items, musicians and a craft project.   Attendance to this was low.  We prerecorded it live for broadcast to allow for repeats at other times.  (This was done using Streamyard and iMovie).

• We put up two hours of artists interviews and demonstrations for people to watch if they would like.  this changed daily to cover all artists.   We started out with this in the "schedule" but then migrated to the top of the page.  Why did I move it?  First, if you are listening to anything on the site it continues to play sound, so it's easy to have two or three sound tracks going. Secondly, even with instructions at the top of the page and in the "features" people were not figuring it out.  Third, when you click a link in Eventeny you open a new page.  The way to return to your original page is by closing the new one.  Many people reported trouble figuring out how to get back to the previous page.

We did online interviews with more than half of the artists that were then included on these pages.  Interviews were done with StreamYard and the edited in iMovie.   Artists appreciated the effort though I cannot tell how much effect it had.

• We had Santa live by zoom for two hours a day.  He and Mrs. Claus also recorded stories that could be played at anytime.  Very few visitors.  The stories were hosted in our Santa shop which also had the opportunity to get a letter from Santa and invited people to Email Santa@IntegrityShows.com

• We had a DIY shop with four free activities.  Each included a YouTube video and a supply list.

• Each day a Santa Bear hid in a different artists shop.  Patrons were invited to find the bear and report his location to Santa@Integrityshows.com.  Each day there was a drawing and one patron won the bear.  Not much response to this.

Some quirks-

• I forwarded my MiArtShow.com site to the Eventeny page.  Next time I would do this differently for two reasons. First, if people go to my page and then click on to Eventeny I get an even better accounting of who attended.  Secondly, some patrons received the dreaded "unsafe" message that browsers give when you go to a site that does not appear secure.  My site, URL and Eventeny are all secure but that did not always translate.   (My domain is through GoDaddy, site through Wix.)   I spoke with all of the parties and no one was able to completely solve the issue.  We still had some folks being discouraged through the entire event.

• As some others have said, the shipping fees are inadequate.  One artist with a large 35 pound sculpture trusted the system to set her shipping and ended up getting $8 to send it across the state.  Not even enough for her packaging.  I have addresses this with Eventeny as have others, but they remain confident that the site estimates are accurate.

• Many artists were initially unable to figure out how to place items in their shop and / or how to set up zoom calls.  I prepared a quick email template to explain it to them.  Connecting to Stripe for payouts was also confusing and the system will not let a shop sell anything until Stripe is properly connected.  Artists were initially unhappy with having to use Stripe but compliant.

• In the booth search it finds words within the artists text in addition to selected keywords.  So if an artist wrote "great for hanging jewelry" their booth would appear with the jewelers in a search.  Great feature for finding every possible connection but often returns twice as many booths as desired.

Mark never stops, you know how it is: "will this work?" or "maybe this will work." At present he is working on a Valentine's Day themed event.

What have your experiences been? What have you tried and what about Mark's experiences above. Are they similar to yours?

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Comment by Kathleen J. Clausen on Tuesday

Thanks to Mark for trying and for keeping such detailed information.  Your willingness to try this out is truly appreciated.

Comment by Barry Bernstein on January 10, 2021 at 7:20pm

If Mark wants his online events to work he would dump eventeny and do it himself. I've done 2 online events with art fairs that have used them and I sold one piece between the two shows and that was to my own customer. All they are is software that takes a huge cut of your profit margin. It reminds me of the days when I was in high school and someones parents would go out of town and the guy would host a poker game with a number of tables. The host would take a "small" amount from every winning pot. At the end of the night, the only person who made any money was the host. eventeny works for balloon festivals, junk sales, and food festivals. They don't work for artists. It starts with calling us vendors and calling our work products, two terms that are an insult to any real artists. It's a clue as to how out of touch they are with us. Jan's experience is what I have experienced and seen for myself. Nobody sells anything through their platform. Plus, after the first 3 days you can forget about selling anything. To quote Jan "I went through Cape Coral's online booths looking for a "sold" notification and didn't see any." That has been my experience.

I don't get that all these shows are using them. The show directors didn't seek input from artists. Now the directors are putting the blame for these shows not working on the artists. "Your images aren't good enough." "You need a video." "You need a Zoom address". On and on. Total baloney. What we need is for shows to dump eventeny and do it themselves. Let every artist have a page on the shows web site where they can see our work and contact us directly through our web site, FB business page, Instagram, and the other social media sites. Then we can talk to them directly sending pictures in real time. That's why we all have smart phones. Plus, I use the Square. Jack Dorsey created the Square because he was fed up with corporate owned merchant services. I jumped on it because I felt the same way. Stripe is a function of Wells Fargo, one of the corporate entities I want to avoid. I could go on, but, I am in the middle of glazing and firing night and day before the cold weather really sets in. We have been fortunate that the weather has been mild and will be for another week. When I have the time I will do a blog post outlining in detail what I think of them.

I happen to be doing two other events that they are hosting. I want to see what happens when a show does some heavy promoting. Plus, they are both offering prizes of some sort. I don't expect to win anything, but, I want to see how this plays out. I won't be doing any more ev.... events after that.

So far, the only virtual show that was successful was Artisphere. They did their own thing. targeted their own customer base, and people sold. There's only half a dozen shows that are considered the best of the best. They all have one thing in common in that the artists come first. So, it's not rocket science to understand why Artisphere's online event worked and the others have not. One show director raved about how successful their show was through ev... I guess have a few people sell a few things $200 and under was a success, if you ignore the 80% that sold nothing. Just in principal, I probably won't do their art fair ever again even though I was invited back. 

Comment by Jan Herman on January 9, 2021 at 4:05pm

I'm participating in Eventeny's Cape Coral online art show since January 4th. Fortunately I can continue to make changes as I continually find out new things. Reviewing everyone else's "booth" has helped. And, then I have to figure out how they did it.

I've made a slideshow of my own art show photos, added music and put it on Youtube (that was a challenge to figure out). That Youtube link is my "cover photo" in my booth. But the music defaults to OFF. You can turn it on if you want to  This event goes to January 31. Next month I'll be participating in Eventeny's platform for Gasparilla/Tampa. During a Zoom meeting with Gasparilla I learned quite a bit more about setting up an Eventeny booth. I understand there is flexibility in how the event people set it up. This should be interesting. 

I know photography is key, but there is only so much a low rez, tiny thumbnail can do for expensive wall art. I went through Cape Coral's online booths looking for a "sold" notification and didn't see any. 

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