Call for Artists, Making Money at Juried Art Fairs, Craft Shows and Festivals
I just completed another 2 shows which wraps up my autumn (fall) season. I usually go into winter hiatus now working and start shows again in spring. My first was a private school annual fair. The area is semi rural to rural, lots of horsey people (as in, into horses), horse studs and coal mines nearby where the workers gets paid extremely well so generally a well to do area. The women are traditional with a little fashion thrown in.
Looking down the "market" lane during set up ... before the crowds arrived.
The market area of the fair has grown substantially over the years - I've been going there for six years now and every year is different. Four years ago I was in the street all by my lonesome... while there wasn't any other draw to pull them out, I did quite okay - the lack of competition probably helped! The last three years they've built the booth numbers up and this year there were 57. About half of these were buy/sell and half handmade. There were two other people with jewellery in my price range and both also sold other women's goods - eg. scarves and clothes also buy/sell. There were three other lower end jewellery booths as well- two handmade and one buy/sell. A lot of handmade children's accessories, some gourmet food products, womens accessories (not jewellery) and house products. No art per-se. Definitely set up with booths aimed at mother's day which was the next day. Set up was from 6.30am for a 9.30am start, although most people didn't arrive till closer to noon. You couldn't leave before 3pm although I didn't start to pack up till 4pm when most people had left. You could drive in and unload /pack adjacent to your booth but had to move your vehicle asap out of the street.
I was in a prime position near the front gate of the school (the market is on the street adjacent to the school entrance) on a corner, and masses of people went by entering the school and looking around. However I had a the two buy/sell jewellery and women's accessories products close by - one as a neighbour and one a walkway and extra booth away. My neighbour had a brilliant day going by watching her count out her $50 notes half way through the day! She probably did twice my sales, but most of that was in brightly coloured Chinese made scarves and wraps.
As it was for a school there were lots of children around, and the day before mothers day I had little girls coming into the booth with $25 asking if I had anything they could buy for mum. (As an aside, I haven't had time to check my stock, but I hope there were no light fingers around - I know I stopped one little group of girls (about 9 years old) who I overheard say "there's no one here, I guess we can just take one"! Then they saw me hovering between my booth and the next (I was minding the neighbour's for a few minutes) and they laughed nervously, got embarrassed and ran off! My neighbour suspected one of her bracelets was taken by a young girl later in the day. )
There were some mums buying gifts for themselves, and others doing last minute shopping for mum. And a few bought for themselves. Lots of lookers, but most carrying bags of some description. All in all I was pleased with the day's sales -it wasn't mind blowing but it was definitely a good show. Booth fee was $100 and I comfortably made 10x after expenses.
The second show was a one-off art festival in a remote but known to be "arty" country town about 2 hours drive away. I was asked by the organiser to attend as she had seen my work somewhere else a few years ago and had kept my card. I had the option of indoor or outdoor and chose indoor with electricity. Everyone else had chosen outdoor though and it was with many misgivings after I received the site plan a few days prior that it was just me and an art exhibition in the hall. I hoped someone would come in to see the art!!
They wanted people set up from 10.00am but when I arrived at 8.30 there wasn't a soul in the streets. I stood out there a few minutes in the sunshine (it was a very brisk morning!) and someone drove past and screeched to a halt. It was the organiser and she wasn't expecting anyone till around 9am as everyone else was at church (which got out at 9am). She drove away and came back a few minutes later with the keys and told me to set up wherever I liked and dashed off. We looked at the exhibition and picked a nice sunny spot near a window since it was rather chilly to set up in. One of the ladies arrived shortly after and so did the other stall holders. There were 30 booths and what a mixture - local products (eg wine, emu oils, wood), books, good coffee, local lamb for lunch, an artist with her work and painting at the same time, some folk music, etc.
We had positioned ourselves in amongst the art so that if anyone came through, they would see us. We found out the art on display was all from the local area and most was for sale - from $30-$850. This fact brought all my ideal clientele in - rural ladies over 40 - with some husbands too, and they sold quite a few pieces of art during the day, (I believe the top price paid was $650) - including one to me!
I had steady sales throughout the day - more sales than the day before, but most of them were of a lower value. Most were buying for themselves (including a number of the organisers who kept dashing past me) but a couple of younger harried looking mums were cross at not getting a mums day pressie and bought their own!
I did hear that the non-art and non-food people didn't do well at all. The wind had increased and it stayed cold (but sunny) and this probably impacted on people's spending - they kept their hands warm and in their pockets! The people who were there came to look at and buy art rather than products it seemed. Booth fee was a mere $25 so not much to cover in expenses.
After such a good weekend I can now rest happily and gaze at my new painting .
So who's coming to live downunder!? Buy/sell is rampant but the customers still buy art :)