Art Fair Insiders

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

This past weekend, I did a small, one day, art/craft fair, “Art in the Park”, in St. Louis, Missouri.  This is a yearly art fair with the proceeds going towards the maintenance of the park where the art fair is held.  This fair is held in Francis Park with the booths being along the two sides of a long, rectangular water lily pool.  The fair is held in late September and I have been told that for the past 5-6 years, the weather has been almost perfection, although this year, it did get a bit warm.  The cost is low and the artists are mostly local to the area and it is just a fun day in the park.

This year, I had a visitor to my booth, a young lady of age about ten.  She immediately was drawn to one of my larger images, a 20x30 inch flower printed on aluminum.  The piece was several hundred and she offered me about three dollars and wanted to pay it off over time.  Shortly thereafter, her mother arrived and said that we have to talk about this.  The lass offered to clean the yard of dog droppings for a year if she could have the image. 

After a brief discussion, the mother left and the girl remained and attempted to protect the image from all potential buyers for over an hour.  I had promised the girl that I would not sell it to anyone else but she resumed her protective posture for about another half hour before saying that she would be back. 

Again, in about a half an hour, the girl and her mother returned and more discussion occurred and again, the mother departed and the girl remained.  About a half hour later, the girl said that she was going to get her father and would be back. 

At this time, I placed the image in the back replacing it with another picture.  About a half hour later, the girl’s mother returned and was horrified that the picture was gone.  I told her that it was in the back and retrieved it.  Shortly there after the girl returned and the mother and an aunt split the cost between them.  I offered the girl one of my smaller prints as a bonus and she was one happy little girl.

Was rather nice to see someone like one of my images this much and especially so, someone this young.  Makes a person enjoy being an artist.  I am not getting rich from art fairs, but it is quite enjoyable to meet the public and see the reactions ones work evokes.  More sales would also be nice but money is not my prime motivator.

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Comment by Charles T. Dana on October 5, 2014 at 11:59pm

I have found that the fellow artists are amoung the nicest people that I have ever met - full of helpful advise, willing to assist, etc. and 99+% of the attendees also are above average.  But most of the children are very special - they still have the ability to see the world with an uncluttered vision and with a sense of wonderment that most adults have lost and without a lack of pretense.

Wonder what it would be like if a panel of children rated the entries for an art fair?

Comment by Jacki Bilsborrow on October 5, 2014 at 11:49pm

What a great story Charles.  Thanks for sharing.  That was a special little girl.  However, her mother and aunt were special, too.  I know that as a kid if I found a piece of art work I liked there is no way any of the adults in my life would have bought it for me.  And that would have been the end of it.  So, that whole family was special.  How nice that they happened into your booth.

Comment by Charles T. Dana on October 3, 2014 at 11:41pm

To balance matters, at an art fair about two years ago, a boy also about 10, stopped by the booth and proceeded to spend about 5 minutes giving all of the reasons why all of my work was vastly over priced.  He did this in a rude and insulting manner, in front of his father, and I hate to say, left me rather speachless and without a good come back.  I got the feeling that his father though that it was cute.

Thankfully, the rotten apples are quite rare.


Comment by Connie Mettler on October 3, 2014 at 2:59pm

I see, Cynthia, that you and 9 others found the "like" button. 

Great story Charles. Thanks for the tale. 

Nothing in life is only about the money.

Comment by Cindy Welch on October 3, 2014 at 2:54pm

I wish we had a "like" button here!  <vbg>

Comment by Lois Anderson on October 3, 2014 at 2:27pm

I am crying, this is so beautiful. Yes, these are he kind of things that keep me going back and back and back. Thank you for sharing. I'll remember this the next time I am starting to feel burned out.

Comment by Cindy Welch on October 3, 2014 at 1:10pm

Awesome story.

Comment by Joan Pinkus on October 1, 2014 at 9:54am
Such a nice story. I ended my weekend show selling my hanging fused glass fish scene to a boy who was paying with his own money.He did not ask me to discount the item but I did it because he appreciated it and purchased it.
Comment by Jane Meade on October 1, 2014 at 9:40am
My husband and I always enjoy when kids stop in our booth and ask questions about our work. It's always special when they buy a piece. Congratulations
Comment by Richard L. Sherer on September 30, 2014 at 11:28am

Sometimes it kids reaction to your art rather than a pile of $ that make a show memorable. Kudos to you and her adults. You never know the impact you can have on young people until you hear about it 40 something years later. 

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