ART SHOWS 101: Survival Tips for Show Artists and Crafters
Volume 1: DO YOUR RESEARCH!
So you’ve decided to sell your work at art and craft festivals? Good for you! Making that decision is step one of a long, sometimes crazy, journey :-)
But where do you start?
This is the first of many posts aimed at offering a bit of insight into shows and festivals; it's NOT meant to be an all inclusive HOW TO guide. There are as many show experiences, opinions, and suggestions out there as there are exhibitors. I encourage experienced show artists to share their knowledge and experiences by commenting and adding on to this and future posts.
Okay -- here are some of the basics:
Getting Your Feet Wet: Shows come in all shapes and sizes. If you’re just starting out you may want to visit a show or two before committing to exhibit. Fees for shows range from $5 to $10 for some local markets, to hundreds and, in some cases, thousands of dollars. Your set up can be as simple as laying down a table cloth and your product on a table that is provided for you -- to setting up a fully stocked street corner boutique! I suggest starting out small before investing large sums of money on a canopy, display walls, shelves, and expensive lighting systems.
A Juried show requires prospective exhibitors to submit images of their work along with a non-refundable application fee. You may be asked to mail in actual photographs or photos burned to a CD; or you may be able to apply online. More and more shows are switching to online, digital applications that allow you to upload your images directly to their websites.
In contrast, Non-juried shows do not ask for samples or images of your work. Simply filling out an application and sending in your exhibitor's fee will hold your space if you apply by the deadline, or until the show is full.
I WILL suggest that you think long and hard before jumping into an “Add-On” show. You won’t find the words “Add-On” in any show description or application. It’s my term for shows that are added onto existing events. For example, a show in conjunction with a concert, parade, football game, runners marathon, etc. While these events may have attendance in the tens of thousands, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have tens of thousands of customers. In my experience, most people go to an event with a certain mindset. When they go to a concert or a sporting event, their minds and wallets are usually set on the main event, not on buying your art or craft work, regardless of how fabulous it is :-) I'm sure there are exceptions to this rule. If you've had a good experience selling at this type of event please share!
Here’s a list of a few places you can look for show listings:
Upcoming Deadlines for Local Shows:
- Artists Friends and Buffalo Etsy Team members
- ArtVoice, Buffalo’s free, weekly newspaper dedicated to the arts
- Zapplication: https://www.zapplication.org/ An online source for shows from cost to coast (These are big, expensive shows!)
- Sunshine Artist: http://www.sunshineartist.com/, another online show guide, (Again, big, expensive shows!)
- Your local Chamber of Commerce
- Exhibitors at Shows, show "neighbors" can be a great source of reliable information
• Buffalo Saturday Artisans Market at the Central Wharf. DEADLINE: April 5th, 2013
• The Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts DEADLINE: April 1st, 2013
• The Lewiston Art Festival DEADLINE: May 10th, 2013