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Why Some Art Fairs Thrive and Others Flop

We know it's true, don't we? I've just finished reading this article on the website Artsy, Why Some Art Fairs Thrive—and Others Flop. Although it is about the "big" art fair scene, many of the ideas apply to our smaller street art fairs (and indoor events also) that are not big news on the art scene.

What factors in an art fair's being successful? Not surprisingly, location.

I particularly thought this was interesting:

"But a fair’s success depends on more than situating it where none previously existed. Friedman said he researches the potential local market, talking to collectors and gallerists to determine if a given region has the potential to sustain a successful art fair. Next year, he’ll launch the Denver Fine Art Fair. He described Denver as “an untapped market” that has a “strong collector base with young professionals who have discovered art collecting in a fast-growing metropolis.” While Friedman takes a pioneering attitude toward fairs, he said that having too many fairs in a city or region can be counterproductive because “it gets watered down.”

yeah --- Denver, oh no! Of course we all kind of already knew that, didn't we?

Read the rest here and let me know your thoughts:

Views: 379

Comment by Richard L. Sherer on September 17, 2019 at 1:57pm

Sounds like it is open only to galleries. $2K down payment. Good luck with that artists.

Comment by Richard L. Sherer on September 17, 2019 at 2:04pm

IMHO it seems like new promoters look for where there have been established successful shows and "coat tail" their event a couple weeks later, i.e. Crested Butte, Golden, Cherry Creek in CO. Due diligence for location, demographics of audience, time of year, competing events....... seem to be overlooked.

Comment by Connie Mettler on September 17, 2019 at 2:14pm

This is not our shows, Richard. These are big international gallery events, but interestingly they have some of the same issues which is interesting. Our lessons apply to theirs and vice versa.

Comment by Len Jagoda on September 18, 2019 at 9:18am

Connie - Richard.  That difference between Art shows for artists versus Art shows for galleries is significant.  The pioneering idea (a new location - untapped market so to speak) might be true for gallery shows but not so much for our artist shows. We are not likely to draw serious art collectors looking at art as an investment.  We are fortunate if we can draw serious people willing to buy something better than poster art or $100 paintings.  The higher the price the further you are from an impulse buy and with a typical two day show there isn't much time to think about spending a significant chunk of money.  First time street shows are seldom as successful as those who have developed a following who look forward to visiting each year.  I have found that with my price points, the second show is the real test.  The first year people see the work and if they like it and you follow up with announcements in your newsletter, they come back and look for you in year two. They know what they are going to see and if they are serious they know what to expect to pay. If I have a piece that strikes their fancy - they buy.   

On the other hand the point about market saturation is valid for us.  If there are other shows that weekend in that market the same weekend (i.e. Virginia Highland in Atlanta a couple of years ago) your chances for sales are weakened.  In addition, market demographics are very important. 

Doing a show in a low income area is not a good choice either, even if you have lower price points.  It is hard to find shows in which your art is a "good fit".  I do paintings of famous race horses; most shows located on or near the beach are usually not the best places for my art even if the financial demographics are strong. 

There are many issues to consider when doing a show. This article points out some of the issues to consider and although their conclusion my not be the right one for us, the issue is still the factor to consider.  

Comment by Richard L. Sherer on September 20, 2019 at 2:32pm

I think I have found my niche in Colorado. Reviews have been posted. Even the "new shows"  that turn out to be bummers are still profitable, but just not meeting minimums. LOL I doubt I would sell many spur straps at a beach show too.


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