Back in 2009 before Facebook was even a glimmer in Mark Z's eye, there was ArtFairInsiders.com ... an exciting place for artists to discover. So many of us work alone in our studios and it was fun for all to share the life of being a creative who stands on the streets of the U.S. selling our soul created work. The post below had over 60 comments from artists across the country dishing on the Krasl Art Fair, Magic City Art Fair, Coconut Grove Art Festival, etc ... If you've got the time to read, you'll find lots of interesting information from the good old days when people stood in line to buy art ...
You'll find so much good information, such as this excerpt from Jim Parker:
"... the weather was excellent for the most part. My sales were about what I expected for this economy. Ann Arbor has been four days of work for two days pay for several years now. Too many artists, a confusing layout with lots of dead ends, and waning interest on the part of the public for real art bought from real artists in favor of Walmart and Costco crapola. Canvas prints haven't helped this at all, nor has cost-cutting and lower pricing structures from certain groups of photographers in a vain attempt to compete on price alone.
I bucked the trend this year and only showed split-toned black & white digital photographs at a higher price point. I've been at the same spot three years running, at a slower area of the State Street show. Previous customers do know how to find me and email marketing pre-show helps a little. I was on Channel 7 news on Friday, and a few people mentioned seeing me. Publicity was great.
My sales were about the same as the past two years in this location. However, my newer work does not look like the cookie-cutter Tuscan landscapes, or the national park sh... "
"In the interest of getting all the show reviews in the same place we are incorporating the Show Reviews section into the Blog. Please post your show reviews here. One of the advantages is that you can add "tags" at the bottom of each review so it is easier to search the reviews for specific events.
This is the place! Tell us about your art fairs, short or long reviews, we all want to be in the know.
Please include your media as, for example, a jeweler's experiences may not match a painter's. Also, include the state in which the event took place. There are way too many cities with the same name!"
And here's where you can find the rest of the story:
Arts, Farts & Applecarts
A Blog about Being an Artist
I published this blog in two parts on my website. It is mostly directed at people who buy art, but I thought other artists might find this interesting as well.
There are a lot of different kinds of art fairs. Typically, they are gatherings of artists, usually outdoors, where artists can exhibit and sell their work. In recent years, the New York City-centered, gallery establishment, has co-opted the term, “Art Fair,” to mount expensive and extravagant exhibitions by high-end galleries from around the world. That’s not the kind of art fair I participate in. I’m talking about grass roots, artist-centered, localized art fairs.
These days, local art fairs are sprouting up all over the country. Too many, in my opinion. These art fairs originate in two ways, by arts organizations and civic groups, or by entrepreneurs and promoters.
The majority of art fairs are profit-making enterprises organized by promoters. It is a business for these entrepreneurs, who depend on us artists to pay entry fees and booth rentals. In return these promoters guarantee an audience to buy our work. These entrepreneurial businesses provide a service to us artists by bringing artists and customers together. But, the more art fairs they can organize and sell to us artists, the more profits they can realize. Some of these businesses have 100 or more art fairs going on in any given year. Some of these art fair promoters are good, with a healthy respect for us artists. Some are not so good. But, in an effort to make more money, they continue to organize and establish ever more art fairs, diluting the market for buying art.
Art fairs organized by arts organizations and civic groups are the other category. These are non-profit art fairs run, mostly, by volunteers, although some of the big ones have a paid staff that work year-around to organize and promote their art fair. The goal, in most cases, is to provide their communities with access to the arts. The best of these community-based art fairs have a long history and tend to draw the best crowds. Over the years I have participated in both promoter art fairs and community art fairs, but I prefer, and do better, at art fairs run by arts organizations and community groups.
In my art gallery I might see a couple dozen people on a weekend. At an art fair, I see thousands. Art fairs are a terrific venue for selling art but they are expensive to do. Some misconceptions about art fairs:
First, art fairs are not all alike. There are thousands of art fairs around the country but only a handful will provide the audience and the income to satisfy the professional artist. The good ones can be very profitable as long as the weather is good.
The good art fairs are difficult to get in to. Artists have to apply to art fairs with samples of their work. A jury reviews the samples of all the artists who apply and selects only the best artists in the application pool. A good art fair may have up to 2000 applicants but only 150 booths. Only a fraction of the applicants get to exhibit.
Art fairs are expensive for an artist to participate in. Besides the application fee, which ranges from $30-$60, a 10x10 foot booth fee will range from $400-$1000, depending on the show. Add the expenses of lodging, transportation and meals and an artist’s investment in a given weekend show can be over $2000 before selling a single piece.
Art fair equipment is also expensive. Most professional artists own their own tents and exhibit panels. The best setups cost $2000-$3000. And then, there is the vehicle for getting all that equipment and artwork to the art fair. A reliable van or a trailer and SUV devoted to the art fair business can easily cost $20,000 and up.
How can artists afford to participate? Here is a short statement from the application prospectus for the Cherry Creek Art Fair in Denver (one of the best):
…historically very high art sales potential, estimated at $19,400 per artist in sales for 2021…
Yes. Art fairs can be very profitable.
Another misconception is that us art fair artists travel en mass from art fair to art fair… like a circus. All artists are different in their approach to art fairs. Some travel with RVs to sleep in. Some use hotels or B&Bs. Some seek out nearby campgrounds. But, no, we don’t sleep in our art fair tents. It is a gypsy lifestyle, but each “gypsy” has his or her own agenda and interpretation of that lifestyle. I know art fair artists who sleep in their cars and brush their teeth at a local gas station. And I know art fair artists who travel with an entourage of helpers and stay in the best hotels. I know a high end jewelry artist who travels with an armed guard to protect his gold and diamonds.
Art fairs are a lot of work, and they are also very stressful. The work is setting up the outdoor art gallery, and the stress comes from the uncertainties of weather and the mood of the buying public. After renting the booth space, reserving a room for the weekend at a local hotel and traveling hundreds of miles to an art fair, an artist might have $2000 or more invested before selling a single item. Hopes are always high among artists before an art fair begins. We are an optimistic breed.
If severe weather hits the art fair and the public stays home (or the art fair is cancelled for safety reasons), there are no booth fee refunds and the hotel still has to be paid. All art fair artists have their own personal horror stories about those lost weekends. Marcia reminds me of some of the more memorable disasters that we survived over 20 years of exhibiting at art fairs… the tornado warning sirens going off in Columbus,… cowering in a campus building watching the wind and rain batter our tent in Ann Arbor,… sloshing through puddles up to our knees, in Winter Park, Florida,… hiding with our fellow artists in the brick rest rooms with tornado sirens blaring in Peoria.
I especially remember one show we did in St. Louis. This was before we invested in a heavy-duty tent. After setting up the booth on a cloudy, threatening day, Marcia and I went back to our hotel and had a nice dinner as the rain and wind picked up. Early the next morning I got a phone call from the art fair. “You better get down here. Your tent has been knocked down by the storm.” We rushed to the art fair and, sure enough, the tent was all bent out of shape and lying on its side with all my art scattered around… my precious framed artwork lodged under the devastation. Volunteers from the art fair sprang into action. They showed up in force with towels and tools to dry off the artwork and help us get the tent back up. After we realized the tent was a complete loss, the committee, somehow, found another tent that we could use. With the help of about a dozen volunteers, we got our booth set up again. Lots of artwork was ruined, but a lot was saved as well, thanks to a terrific art fair committee.
There were a couple camera crews from local TV stations recording the destruction caused by the storm. We weren’t the only artists who had storm damage, but, apparently, we were the most photogenic. We were featured on several local newscasts and, over the weekend, we were the beneficiaries of a sympathetic audience. We sold lots of artwork and had our most profitable show, ever. Yes. The bad with the good…
I now have a 10x10 foot Trimline tent; a dome-style tent that is one of the best brands for withstanding foul weather. But it is expensive and very heavy. It is a beast to set up. I use 7-foot tall pro panels (carpet-covered walls) in my tent and I’ve designed and fabricated many additions to display my artwork and to keep my tent from blowing away. It typically takes me about five hours of back-breaking labor to set up my exhibit. I prefer art fairs that have an extra setup day before the art fair begins (which also adds an extra day to the hotel bill). Although no tent is impervious to bad weather, this heavy Trimline tent gives me a little peace of mind when the wind picks up.
A long time ago, when I made my living as a TV producer, I produced a documentary called “Art Fair.” It opened with scenes of artists setting up their exhibits at an art fair in New Smyrna Beach, Florida. One of the artists tells this story:
“Two ladies were admiring all the art exhibited at the art fair. One asked ‘All this beautiful artwork. Where do you think they find the time to make all this art? The other one answers: Well, you know, they don’t work!’”
Yeah... I just started publishing a blog on my website. It's called Arts, Farts & Applecarts. It's about being an artist and it is designed to drive traffic to my website as well as a place for me to vent. This is my first blog entry. I thought I'd share the blog here on Art Fair Insiders as well. This first entry is called:
I’m a “professional” artist. All that means (to me) is that I make my living by selling my art. When most people think about “professional” artists, they picture the elite, New York Gallery artists who sell paintings for many thousands of dollars. I’m not one of those. Most professional artists aren’t either. We work hard to, not just make the art, but to promote it and sell it as well. We make and sell the art because we have to… to make a living.
How do I sell my art? Lots of ways. I have my gallery in downtown Douglas, Michigan… the LebenArt Gallery. I sell some art at the gallery, but not as much as I sell at art fairs. And I sell my art at other art galleries around Michigan as well. Then, there is the Internet. I sell art online, but not as much as I would like. I’ve come to realize that most people like to see the art first hand before buying it. Most of my online sales come from people who have already bought my art, or from people who have seen my work at other places… either at other galleries or at an art fair. I sell my art to pay the mortgage, to buy groceries, and, (HA!) to buy more art supplies. Most “professional” artists that I know fall into this category. Making and selling art is a challenge and a necessity. It’s our job. But… it’s a job that we love.
Now… you should realize that I’m using a very narrow definition of “artist” in this blog. Of course there are a lot of different ways to be a professional artist. Commercial artist, for example. Lots of different kind of ways to make a very good living as a commercial artist. I was one, myself, for a long time. I sold my “artistic” talents to my clients, creating logos, brochures, designing sets for TV productions, creating animated sequences for educational programs, producing programing for corporate clients… all very profitable and satisfying endeavors. But, in all these commercial endeavors, I was creating someone else’s vision… the vision of my client. So now, as a “professional” artist, I am creating my own vision. I’m making art and putting it out there for the world to see. No client. Only myself to interpret the vision. If there are enough people in the world who appreciate my vision… appreciate it enough to actually spend their money to buy it, then I am successful. I’m a professional artist. It’s the best kind of freedom.
I’ve noticed that there is a pivotal point in every artist’s career when, for the first time, a stranger actually buys a piece of their work. Not a relative… not a friend… not even an acquaintance of a friend… but a bonafide “stranger.” A stranger who buys the piece because it means something personal to them. That is a moment worth celebrating. That is the moment when the artist sees his or her potential to actually create a vision that others can share and appreciate.
If you would like to follow my blogs on my website, here is the link:
Please notice that the “a” in artist above is a lower case “a.” It should have been lower case in my previous blog about being a professional artist. I’m proud of the fact that I can make a living selling my work. I’m proud that there are enough people in the world who consider my work relevant enough to actually pay me money to buy it. That makes me a professional artist. But that certainly does not make me a great Artist. Upper case “A” I reserve for Artists who history deems to be “Great….” Artists like Picasso, Dali, Georgia O’Keefe… you know the ones. I know a lot of professional artists who make a living selling their work, but are (in my opinion) terrible artists. So, “professional” is about money. It’s only about my art-making as a job.
I’m pretty prolific. I make a lot of art. I sometimes wonder if I would work so hard at it if I was rich. If I was rich, would I be making the same kind of art? Maybe I would be more experimental. Financial independence provides a lot of freedom. If I was rich, would I be making art at all? Necessity and, even desperation… are great motivators. (…the mortgage is due… I gotta sell some art!). Maybe I need a little panic to motivate me.
As idealistic art students in college, we looked down on artists who had actual jobs… especially jobs that had nothing to do with art. Even our teachers were suspect. There’s an old adage… “those who can, do; those who can’t, teach”. But, I’ve come to learn that teaching art, to some, is a passion equal to making art. The question still remains… if those artist/teachers were not teaching and not receiving that paycheck every week… would they be more highly motivated to make and sell their art? It doesn’t matter at all for those dedicated teachers who have a true passion for teaching. My only point is that desperation is a great motivator.
Another ongoing conversation I had with one of my professors in college, was the concept of the “selfish artist.” To be a great artist, do you have to be so self-centered that the art takes precedence over everything else? Maybe your family, or your students, or that 9-5 job you have, are distractions from your true calling… making art.
Personally, I’m distracted (happily) by my family, my friends, my dog, my cats, my house, etc…
When it comes to photography, some would argue that there is no need to define what really is and what may not be fine art, which leaves the question open to interpretation. However, while fine art photographers may take any subject, their aim is very different in contrast to how commercial photographers depict subjects aimed at showing or selling a product or service, for example. This says a lot about the intentions of both types of photography and we can see that there are differences between the two.
When it comes to photographic trends, we will rely on images with powerful 'black & white' and impactful colour that really draws one into the subject matter in order to depict our deepest desires and duality of life. The growth of surrealism and philosophical subjects fuels the popularity of fine art photography and photo manipulations that tell compelling visual stories. Creative uses of makeup make a huge impact because now artists can photograph their favourite sketches onto an already finished portrait.
Let's explore the premium quality wildlife luxury wall art for decoration.
Deadline: January 10
- All sales proceeds
- Average $6,500 in sales (based on past participating artist surveys)
- On-site Artist Hospitality Tent and Artist Relations team during ALL hours of the Art Fair
- Booth sitters available during ALL hours of the Art Fair
- Continental breakfast provided (Saturday & Sunday at 8:00 a.m.)
- 24-hour on-site security
- Indoor public restrooms available
- Electricity included
- Event widely advertised in the greater St. Louis region
- Listing in printed event program (7,500 printed and distributed)
- Listing on Laumeier's website
- Potential on-site media opportunities
- Early set-up available (Thursday, May 5 at 12:00 p.m.)
- Discounted rates at nearby hotels
- Patron art pick-up services
Contact: Nicole Orlando email@example.com
Larry Berman's Zoom Meeting - Today (Tuesday) at 4PM Eastern time
Art show artists, tell your friends and feel free to drop in.
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 433 889 5789
Anything art show related can be discussed.
Various Midwest Locations
November 8, 2021 -
February 1, 2022
May 21 & 22 Northbrook Art in the Park
May 28 & 29 Barrington Art Festival
June 4 & 5 Lincolnshire Art Festival
June 11 & 12 Brookfield Arts, Crafts, & Drafts
June 18 & 19 Gold Coast Art Fair
June 25 & 26 Valparaiso Art Festival
June 25 & 26 Deer Park Art Show
Deer Park, Illinois
July 9 & 10 Whitefish Bay Art Fest
Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin
July 15, 16, & 17 Millennium Art Festival
July 23 & 24 Glencoe Festival of Art
July 30 & 31 Art at the Glen
August 6 & 7 Wheaton Art Walk
August 13 & 14 Printer's Row Art Fest
August 19, 20 & 21 Evanston Art Fest
August 27 & 28 Port Clinton Art Festival
Highland Park, Illinois
September 3 & 4 Third Ward Art Festival
September 10 & 11 Art on the Fox
September 17 & 18 Fall Bayshore Art Festival
September 24 & 25 Burr Ridge Art Fair
Burr Ridge, Illinois
More info: https://amdurproductions.com/
Contact: Caitlin Pfleger firstname.lastname@example.org
My first blog in 2022.
This happened last November, it did not go well for most.
A little background.
This was a show produced by Howard Alan Events in conjunction with the United Arts Council.
Howard first produced the same kind of show in the same location last January,2021.
It was a first time show and it was very successful, everybody made mucho moola.
Knowing that, I was eager to try his first time Thanksgiving show at the same location.
The show is held on paved streets next to Route 41 and also on street with Condos behind booths. It is a beautiful location.
It had a late Friday afternoon setup, so no getting up at 3 am.
As always, Howard does a great advertising campaign. He has strong show managers taking care of the artist's needs.
There were more than140 booths, everybody has rear storage. All the artists had fantastic work. There were no buy sell there.
We were ready to make mucho moola come Saturday morn.
The trouble was, not many people came. Sales were spotty for most.
As always there were exceptions, people with big work making big sales. But they were a small number compared to the rest of us.
At the end of Saturday I had not even topped 1K in sales. I was not alone.
As usual, early Sunday morn,I walked the show talking to fellow artists, getting a feel for how they had done. Not many were happy, but we were hopeful that Sunday we could turn it around.
Alas, Sunday was just like Saturday. Slim crowd, slim sales.
Here is my take on it.
Cannot blame Howard, he did a superb job, as always, Elaine and the rest of the crew took good care of us.
But, historicaly, Thanksgiving weekend has never been good for sales.
In my 46 years of doing shows, I have tried Naples Thanksgiving weekend shows with at least four promoters. They all ended up being stinkers.
Here is the reason. It is too early in the season.
Most Snowbirds have not arrived yet. The year round locals see shows there all year long.
Most do not buy much anymore.
It is as simple as that.
Come January thru March, the buyers are there, people make serious money, but not in November.
Sorry, Howard, you best let this turkey stay in the oven, stick to the January one.
Just saying. Anybody got a comment to add, please do it.
I have a super winter spring schedule with dynamite shows like Vero, Winter Park, Mainsail, Ft. Myers, Images, Bonita Springs and Artisphere.
I will blog them all.
Ridgeway Loop Road
Friday 1pm-6pm, Saturday 10am-6pm, & Sunday 11am-4pm
Deadline: January 5
Application fee: $25 Early Bird Booth fee: $325
- Exhibition is on an asphalt road with easy load-in (drive up to space).
- Once again, to accommodate any lingering covid concerns, all booths will be open on 3 sides, with 10' between.
- Admission is free.
- Food trucks & bar are onsite and integrated with artists' displays.
- We do not seek to attract the largest crowds, only those who might buy art.
- Artists' sales are the focus of our event.
- Chris Armstrong, Felt Artist, Nashville TN
Artworks Foundation's shows are always of the highest caliber and attract a sophisticated demographic; they enjoy shopping for high-quality fine craft. The juried artists can hope for strong sales from a buying public. During the pandemic, the director has gone out of his way to provide plenty of social distancing, sanitation stations, masks and signage to keep everyone safe and healthy.
- Thomas Spake, Glass Blower, Chattanooga TN
More info: http://www.artintheloop.org/home--art-in-the-loop.html
Contact: Greg Belz email@example.com
I was doing a lot of shooting in Key West. There was a famous emporium there called Fastbuck Freddys. That is were I met the Penguins. I bought four life size
plastic ones. Being a Nordic kind of guy, I named them Sven, Ben, Ken and Len.
I took my tribe everywhere and set them up in front of Niagara Falls, Sloppy Joes, Miami Beach, the Deco district.
With silly putty I attached small plastic flamingos on them, sometimes had them hanging off their beaks. I made lots of clever images and some actually sold.
Then I had a great idea. At the art shows I would sometimes "Penguin" one of my favorite artist' booth. I loved hiding in the shadows early in the morn and watching their expressions when they discovered I had "Penguined" them.
Got a little rep for this over the circuit.
So, I was doing the Crosby Gardens show in Toledo, about 1985.
I had seen Norm at many shows, he always did well. But he was not an easy man to get to know. I always smiled big time at Connie, she was a beauty.
So I got inspired and decided to "Penguin" Norm's booth early Sunday morning.
He showed up and saw them and he was very annoyed.
Well, I humbly gathered up my tribe and quietly slunk away. I noticed Connie smiling. She was amused.
Thus started my long association with Connie and Norm. He would put up with about three sentences from me and then tune me out. We were not going to be best buds.
But Connie always smiled.
Years later Norm retired from the biz and passed away.
Connie was on her own and needed some way to make income.
She started ArtfairInsiders.
I was an early convert.
It was a forum where I could blog about the shows I did.
People followed my posts religiously and often commented their opinions back at me.
Soon found out I had a real flair for this, and I loved writing.
God bless Martha Pence, my eighth grade English teacher at Southside Junior High in St. Petersburg. She taught me well. I can still remember how to diagram a sentence.
Connie encouraged me to write as often as I wanted. And she rarely edited any of my prose.
With her retiring, I feel I have lost my muse.
But, I still have plenty to say and I will keep on, I am only 76.
Not ready to retire.
The Penguins still remember Connie. They would chirp at me, asking, "Hey did you get a great smile from that blonde?" I would smile back--and then we all would eat sushi.
Aloha, Connie, keep on smiling.
PS. Sven and Ben are in the photo with Buzz the Wonderdog, circa the eighties.
Len and Ken booked off to Sweden with Ursula Andress for cheap sushi.
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