We just returned home from an amazing week in South East Florida.  We attended the Zapp Conference in Deerfield Beach/Boca Raton and showed at Coconut Grove Art Festival. 


First the Zapp Conference.   Connie has already done a review, here is mine.   I could write a full review on each session but here is a condensed version. 

This was our second conference.  The first one we attended was in Houston.  This year they changed it up after getting  feedback from artists and administrators.  The Houston conference had two tracks,  one for artists and one for admins.  Many of us felt torn on which session to go to.  I know many directors learned a lot from the artist sessions and I know I learned a lot about the admin sessions I attended.  I wanted to be two places at once.  This year they had one track.  Everyone I talked to preferred  the one track.  It was great to have the admins and the artists together at each session.    We also had more time between sessions.  This was great because we could talk, meet, visit  other artists and admins and exchange thoughts about the session.  Each session has a ton of information and it was nice to get some thoughts together before the next one.   There was a session on Wednesday for new admins but the main event was Thursday and Friday.    The first day the sessions were much more artist based.  I asked every director I talked to how they felt about this.  They all had very positive things to say.  They learned a lot and enjoyed it.  The second day many artists had to go set up for the art shows for that coming weekend so the sessions were geared more towards admins.  We were not able to attend Friday, the second day, since we left to set up for Coconut Grove Art Festival (CGAF).    We were disappointed to miss the second day but fortunately NAIA was able to do a live feed on their Facebook group and we were able to watch the other sessions. 


The conference started off with the opening presenter, Communicationg the Value of Art by Amir Jackson.  He brought some fresh ideas on interacting with the community.  


Up next was Chris Dahlquist with Get Your Story Out.  What a powerful speaker and motivator.  She is a pretty decent artist as well J If I ever grow up or am reincarnated I want to be her.  I could go on and on about this session.  She blew everyone away.  The session was a very mini version of workshops she does for artists.  Michael and I have known we needed to get refocused on many things concerning our art and the business end and she was exactly what we needed.  We broke off into mini groups throughout the session.    The thrust of the session was differentiating two different questions, why do you make art vs how you make your art.  This is a very short description but  this session alone was well worth the time and expense to attend the conference. 


Next up was the Mock Jury.  I love this part.  Artists were able to send in an app for a panel to jury.  It was free, you didn’t have to be there and you could send in up to three apps.  The app was projected.  Many of us can see what a monitor app looks like but a projected app we cant.  We sent in three apps.  If we were going to spend money and time to be at the conference we were going all in.  Michael and I were separate artists first and now a collaborative team.  Collaberating on the art is not a problem but agreeing on what images to use for apps is.  A mock jury is perfect for us.  It’s a great chance to have direct feedback from set of jurors.  Plus we learn from each and every app they critiqued.  This session is a must for artists.  After the session we were able to continue talking to other directors who were at the session and get their feedback as well. 


Last session for the day  was Mystery Unmasked: An inside look at the Jury Process.  The panel consisted of four directors and an artist.  They talked about how they run their jury process, many other directors at the conference also shared what they did.  This session was a great example of the benefit of artists and admins being in the same room.  Artists could ask questions and not only the panel would answer questions but all the directors could as well.  The directors learned from each other and how they each ran their jurys.  Another amazing session and now we wrapped up the day.


Ending the day there was a cocktail Reception.  There was so much information to process we were all ready for a drink, or two.   This year the reception was held at the Hotel where the conference took place.  I loved this.  We were able to go right to the bar with everything fresh in our minds, relax some and have quality time with everyone.  I hated to see the day end but honestly I don’t think my mind could take anymore new information that day. 


If you have a chance you really should find a way to attend a zapp conference.  The Zapp team is really amazing.  Christina, Nancy, Joann, and Kate know there stuff and are available the entire time to answer any questions and receive all feedback.  They really do listen and implement what the admins and artists want.   The directors were extremely generous with any questions or concerns  the artists had.  Everyone was there to help each other.  It was so refreshing to see artists, directors and admins work together to better the art fair community.


We were sad the event was over for us but it was time to refocus and get ready for an art show. 


CGAF was next.  I have written two other reviews on this show.  http://www.artfairinsiders.com/profiles/blogs/coconut-grove-art-festival-miami-fl


For more info on logistics you can reference past reviews. 


There is no place I would rather be in February then Miami.  We love this city.  We were thrilled to be accepted again in to CGAF.  Hurricane Irma hit Coconut Grove, where the show is, pretty hard.   If you listened to Connies pod cast you heard the interview with Kat pretty soon after the storm.  I don’t know how they were able to do all they did with the short amount of  time after the hurricane but if you hadn’t been there before you wouldn’t have realized a major hurricane had hit the area.  Actually I spoke to at least 3 artists about the hurricane and it hitting The Grove and they asked me “what hurricane”  How soon we forget.    There were a lot of trees missing and some of the area had construction but over all it was all good. 


The weather  was great.  It was warm on Saturday and Sunday if you couldn’t find shade.  Monday morning we had some rain but it cleared and there was a nice breeze.  Saturday many artists were complaining that crowds were down and I agree they were but still many people.  Here is a pic of my street on Saturday around noon. 


Big enough crowd for me.  We had our best Saturday at CGAF.  If sales would have been over from Saturday we would have been happy.  Sales on Saturday were from customers not from the Miami area.  Everything we sold will need to be shipped.  It is nice to have an audience from not only around the country but around the world.  The boat show also is happening at this time and many of those people attend CGAF.  They buy.


Sunday it was packed.  Here is a pic of the same street on Sunday. 


I could barely get back to my booth after a bathroom break.     We had some good talks but no sales.  Our neighbor killed it on Sunday.  Monday started with rain but ended by 11.  Monday is traditionally slower and the bargain hunters come out.  There is something about Miami and last minute sales.  We have been doing shows in Miami for over 7 years.  I remember being told by other Miami artists that sales happen at the end of the show in Miami.  I know we hear this all the time but it really is true in Miami.  Every show we have done in 7+ years we sell in the last 5 minutes and often during break down.  It happened again.  5 minutes before close we had another big sale.  They didn’t even ask for a discount.  Don’t give up at the end and don’t be in a rush to get out when you are in Miami.  Attitude has a lot to do with this life. 


Sales were all over the place for artists.  One of my neighbors, a potter,  just made expenses and traveled far.  Her work was not a match for this show unfortunately.  Another neighbor, sculpture killed it.  A 2d artist friend of mine didn’t make booth.  This wasn’t our best CGAF but pretty darn close to it.  So there you have it, sounds like most art shows. 


Breakdown was pretty easy considering the size of this show.  It closed at 5pm.  We had our vehicle at the broken down booth (damn I wish more artists would break their booth down before coming in to a show) by 6 and out by 6:20.  Not bad considering Michael had to leave 5 minutes before break down to close the last sale in the condos behind out booth. 


Hope we are invited back next year. 

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  • Excellent review, Melanie. I get so overwhelmed at the conferences, seeing old friends, renewing acquaintances, meeting new people, making reports, learning things for myself, maybe getting some photos or a video. The time flies I missed some of the things you reported. Thank you. 

    Ah, the Grove ... usually the best show of the winter for us. If we didn't get in then it was beans for dinner every night, well sort of. Its a beautiful place and the cross fertilization of people from around the country and the international crowd makes it exciting. And the good neighbors nearby, cool artists who you've known for a long time and there is enough time to do some catching up behind the booth. 

    I think you and Marge hit it exactly on the head about the sales, up and down and everywhere. We were there right after the devastating Hurricane Andrew and people were standing in line to buy because everyone had money to spend: insurance checks had come in for homeowners, the tradesmen of all kinds were having banner year of work so they had $$ to spend. I was hoping this would be a repeat of that spending. I'd bet there was some of that. 

  • Marge you know I don’t have it down pat.  As soon as any of us think they have a handle on this business it changes.  It was great to see you.

  • Thanks for the review Melanie and thanks for the feedback from the Zapp Conference. My experience with Coconut Grove was just so-so. I made expenses but not a lot more. There were so many people but saw so many without anything in their hands throughout the show. Not sure if I want to return. this was the end of three shows that were all average and expensive to do. It is what it is, and I realize that..... but I need to retool and figure out the logistics of where and when to show. You seem to have it down pat and I commend you. 

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