Hi Jon, been around the festival circuit for a long time. Much fun, much pain!
I actually wrote a book so if I may self-promote a little, it's available in Amazon: Art Festival Guide: The Artist's Guide to Art Festivals
Just about everything you need to know is in there to get started, there is much to think about.
Of course if you don't want to buy the book, just ask me questions and I'll be happy to reply, no charge LOL
Now for your question, Howard Alan events are notorious for being big, well promoted, but BIG and that can sometimes be scary for a newcomer to the circuit.
I were you, I'd start with a small show nearby. $250 is cheap for entry fee, I've spent as much as 1K for a double booth at Tempe Festival in AZ!
Expenses are a bit scary at first, tent purchase or rental, travel, food and lodging, display panels, portable office, credit card (much better now) processing, price tags, everything adds up!
As far as artist treatment, the show is a business, they make money from artists but also cater to artists as customers. Nobody is going to pamper any artist, there are 200-500 artists per show, on any given show.
As far as rewards, well, I've brought home as much as 14K on a 3-show trip to Colorado. My first show I made 62 bucks and got a sunburn.
You get out what you put in, you market on your own, build a following, send postcards.
MUCH to learn! go for it, nothing like diving in...and good luck!!!
P.S. I was given a copy of Maria's book as a bonus when I purchased my tent and walls. I've read it cover to cover more than once. Great stuff! I would definitely recommend it to someone who's just starting out.
I have hosted a few art shows in the past, and I am currently hosting one again in 2 months. You need to do some research on them. Make sure that they are in a high foot traffic area. Also, what type of area is it in? Low income, medium, or high? $250 is a good price for being in a show. I charge $200 per 10x10 space, and I hear no complaints. When I was just showing in art shows I paid upwards of $500 to $600 for them, and I had to be "juried in". If you plan on selling there, do your best to make up for the cost that you are out for the space and the tent.
IF you are doing an art show where people come and actually buy art - it can be a great deal. IF you can - check with other artists who are doing the show. Does it carry your kind of work. Is it being put on by professional art show promoters - or by a local group - like the junior woman's club or something. The professional art show promoters sometimes treat you just like another number or worse. As I said, try and find other artists that have done that show. A good set up can cost around $500 to $1,000. When I was doing shows I had a "Light Dome". they are sturdy and waterproof. some of the pop-up tents don't handle well in windy weather. Back then, a few years back, my Light Dome cost about $600. I built my own stands that fit inside - the were heavy, made of 1 x 1 and peg board. Took a while to set up and take down - but were sturdy and displayed my paintings well.
Good advice, Roy, but your prices are a little out of date. Unless you're buying used, you can't touch a Light Dome or a Trimline for under $900-$1000 these days (depending on the extras you might need). And the walls can easily set you back another $3,000. Not to mention all the other stuff you need (weights; tables; chair(s); packing materials; shopping bags; your artwork all matted, framed, stretched, whatever, and on and on.) If you're really serious about doing art shows, you need a minimum of $10,000 to get started.
I don't want to rehash the other thread, but I really feel it's a good idea to warn people that it's not easy to start making any kind of real money at art shows. Sure, you can do the little "arts and crafts" shows -- if you're willing to maybe make $150 or $200 for the whole weekend. It's not a bad way to get your feet wet and figure out if you really want to get into the art show circuit whole hog.
But it's a really delicate balance. There really is no middle ground. You won't make any real money at the smaller, high school band fundraiser type show, but you don't have to spend a whole lot either. But if you want to make the big bucks, you have to spend the big bucks first.
Well, I am not going to complain anymore about the $50.00 I pay for a shared space at an art festival(s) held around the holidays, in the spring and fall.....I was always "rounding up " a partner to split the costs and have not participated, lately. Tent rental space is around $100.00 for the weekend. But no, I was too cheap......sold three paintings at one and none at the other.
I did enjoy the experience, though.
Art festivals are a different experience for everyone, far as I can tell anyway. Price ranges and success for sure are dependent on so many things that artists tend to have much different experiences.
Best thing to do is find out as much as you can about the show from artists similar in medium and offerings as you plan on showing. Tough to do, for example, there are so few printmakers "out there" that when I started with my woodcuts I had no place to look. I looked at photographers mostly because they also sell "multiple originals" or something like that.
Later I found out that when everyone said a show was tough to get into, I snuck in easily because hardly any other woodcut printmakers are doing shows. Who knew!
On the other hand, many shows allow only originals and I found at least two very successful shows in my general region that would not let me in no matter how I tried to explain "woodcut prints". To them, one of a kind is one of a kind and everything else is a repro. Sigh.
I agree with Deborah that 10K is a reasonable estimate to get started if you are starting from scratch. It hurts but if you are going to sell original paintings that could be recouped within a year. Or not.
Having multiples and lower price range helped me to NEVER zero at a show but many high end artists will zero two shows in a row and then make it up later. Really have to look at the whole season to answer the inevitable question: "how's it going?"
A decent attractive display, professional demeanor, great equipment and a smile goes a long way. I highly recommend doing a smaller show or two to get the muscles warmed up and see how setup, selling, etc., goes before moving on to bigger and better shows. And the most important thing is to keep going, correct things that may need tweaking, and persist, build an audience, persist again, do shows again, keep going. Pays off but it isn't for everyone.
It's a requirement to provide an image of the booth with my display in the application for the show. Since I don't have a booth because I plan on renting one, how can I submit an image of my art in a booth?
Well, that's part of the conundrum, Jon. One of the reasons most of the big shows require a booth photo is because they want to know that you're serious about the art show business. If you don't own a booth, you're not that serious.
What you could do is rent your booth now for the weekend or something, set it up in your back yard, take the photo, and then return the booth. Of course, you have to make sure you rent pretty much the identical set-up for the show (artists have been known to get kicked out of shows if their set-up at the show isn't the same -- or very similar -- to their booth shot).
I've found that the cost and hassle of setting up and the expense of a decent display is not worth it any longer. Most folks are simply 'looker's' these days, unless you are in a high tourist area. The Sawdust in CA is a good one, and a few in high Florida tourist towns as well as Sante Fe, but again, I've seen very few sales in any show/festival/fair. Maybe some connections, but is it worth the hassles?
@Janice, yes, I have heard that the circuit has been slow for the past few years. My last show was in 2011 but it was a good one! My opinion is that it is very much worth the hassles but, as I said before, festivals aren't for everyone. When I go back to shows I'm taking a helper with me, much much easier with someone else to help setup and take down and also watch the booth and help sell.
Many artists make a living entirely with art festivals and some make a darned good living.
Back @Jon, you can "fake" a booth by setting up a display similar to what you plan on setting up at the festival. Many artists show a wall. I have even heard of artists faking their booth shots entirely but I wouldn't recommend that. As Deb said, you need to show the jurors more or less what you are planning to show at the festival. If you have display walls, set them up outside without a canopy and hang up some artwork; the exercise will be good practice and you get an idea of how much artwork you can take, etc.
I agree and disagree with you somewhat, Janice. Things have been tough the last couple of years, but I think they're improving. My last few shows last year did much better than the first few. We had a lot of bizarre weather in my area last summer, especially in June and July, and it definitely had an effect on show attendance.
And the "mostly looker" thing ties in with what I was saying before about being careful with the type of show you choose. I've found that when I do the shows that say "and crafts" in their title, all I will really get is lookers. I simply don't do those shows anymore. The good thing about doing the higher-end artisan-only shows is that you might not get as many people attending (although lots of them do attract attendees in the thousands), but the people who do attend are serious about buying more expensive art.
Maria, I definitely agree with you about having a helper. I'm not always in a position to be able to coerce someone into helping me, but when I can it certainly makes things 20 times easier! But it is one of the reasons I won't do shows anymore unless they allow setup the day before. When I can take my time, I don't mind spending five or six hours setting up by myself, and it doesn't really wear me out; but when I only have two hours to set up, it just kills me. Since I can't count on others to help me, I make sure it's possible to do it by myself if I have to. Just a better arrangement for me all the way around.
Yes, I'm a 100% disabled veteran, if I don't sell, I'm broke. And I can not afford to pay a helper. Not everyone can travel either. I do only local stuff, a few shows a year where I eneter 3-4 pieces and a "paint on Main' event...
Deborah, I totally agree on the 'craft' stuff, I only show at 'fine art' shows now, and I agree on the set up time, when I can take my time, not so bad, I walk with a cane so I can be slow. But I can still do it alone with time! Thanks!
P.S. I didn't see your second post when I made this post. I realized this post makes it look like I'm trying to discourage you from continuing the discussion here. That wasn't my intent at all ... it's just that artfairinsiders is specifically geared toward people who do art shows (as opposed to FAA, which is more geared toward selling online). There is so much info on artfairinsiders that it could never be fully reproduced here!
Serious Art Show participants, usually turn to serious canopies (serious participants say "canopies" not "tents"), namely "Craft Hut", "Light Dome, "Trim Line" and the one I used for most of my 35 years doing shows: the "Show-Off"..www.artdisplaycentral.com.
They're strong, simple,light weight,..and can adapt to situations.....But they ain't cheap
All those inexpensive E-Z Up types are far to flimsy, can't withstand a zephyr, and constant use.
Here is a link of ones for sale: Why not submit a photo for submission purposes of the one you intend to use and not hold up the process unnecessarily!
It is actually FAA that ruined me for the live show.
I started selling live then moved online. It can be hard for me to justify 12 hours of labor and investing the kind of money in inventory required when I can shoot, upload and then get sales while I nap...
Due to my age, I'm now trying to get my mind-set weened off Art Shows and onto Online selling.
Since I don't have a face to go with a purchase,here,I have to create a face for these anonymous buyers....And become pissed when I find that they look nothing like I imagined, the few times I get to personally know one.
And I'm having trouble convincing myself, that Online Networking ain't a bit tacky.
But I know I got to stick to this new bewildering cyber universe.
I do have some words of caution for you. The outdoor shows could be very tough for the first- timer. I done many of those shows and seen many first time artists never return after their first try.
You do need to keep an open mind. If you wanted to gain some experience and exposure by all mean do the show. Often you might not sell any at the first time out because you will among hundreds of artists and there will be tough competitions to be notice. Most of the people go to the shows just for the fun of it and they could be very tough audience.
I was planning on renting the tent but as I've looked online for a few of them, I think most of them are in the range of what I was expecting to rent one for. I think purchasing one is reasonable.
@alfred I always look at the big picture when it comes to being new at something. I don't really expect to sell much the first time. That's not my concern actually. The fact that I have to work hard to build an inventory for the show.
So that leads me to yet another question. The artists at the few shows that I've been to seem to have a theme or at least a definite style? A lot even have had one type of media. Would it be bad to have two types of media?
I was thinking about watercolor/Acrylic (Mix media) on paper, Watercolor on paper, and acrylic on canvas.
Jon, it is a good idea to show a group of works has related theme or style which will helps the buyer to see how your work progress. .you should bring both framed and unframed paintings with different size as well.often buyers have different idea on how the work should be framed
Bay and Jon,
Most show applications will give you some information on prints, originals, media, etc.
Always a good idea to have a consistent look, two media is frowned upon and sometimes you are forced to fork out two application fees, one for each media. But if all your work falls under "painting" then that's all good.
To know how many pieces to take you really need to spread out a bunch of work in a small room and see how quickly it fills up! 10x10 booth isn't very big. I usually over-crowded my booth but other artists err on the side of less is more. The thing is, a festival will bring in many different types of people and you want to attract as many as possible. Eliminating a large part of the audience (for example, bringing only high end originals) is not the best approach IMHO.
@Judy: You can't really just send in a generic picture of a particular tent/canopy with a show app. They want to see your actual booth, what kind of walls you have, how you arrange your artwork on/around your walls/tables/display racks, et cetera.
Deborah, you mean once you buy the tent, or whatever you have to set it up and put your paintings in it and send that as a photograph? It seemed reasonable to me if Jon was serious about entering ,a good photo of the display he intends to buy would make sense. I dont know how it is in the art show world, but if it is anything like the online scenario, there must be thousands of artists and wanna be's submitting for admission to these shows. Timing is everything!
BAY...I noticed at the last art show I attended there were artists who were only selling originals.....But, one suggestion, if you enter and dont take prints, make sure to have your business card to direct them to your website where they can buy them...and make sure to get a mailing list!
That's exactly what I mean, Judy. A successful booth shot can be quite an art form in itself. There's a whole science to booth setup and layout. Some shows are known for rejecting people if certain red flags are seen in their booth shot (a canopy that's some color other than white, the booth is too cluttered, the booth looks too flimsy, there are visible signs in the booth, and so on). There are huge discussions about all of this on artfairinsiders and other art show-centric sites.
You are certainly right that timing is everything. In some cases, it's already too late to apply for the best shows of the summer and fall of 2013.
I just got notified today that I was accepted into my first juried art show!
I had to send them three pictures of my work and, yes, one of my booth.
I do like the idea of the juried shows, even though the price of entering them can add up I think just having a jury fee will keep some the half-serious people out of the shows (along with the cost of the tent, walls, prints, frames, mats,etc).
One thing I have learned already is that art shows are something that can be hard to "test" as the expense is quite large. I am going to sell photographs so I had to have prints made (I am up to about 500 prints so far) and I have to mat them and put them in the bags. My last order of about 350 prints (for 8 x 10 and 11x14 finished sizes) and the mats ended up costing about $1,000.00 total. That is just my latest order!
Not to mention the $950.00 for my lightdome and another $1200.00 for the propanels. I still need to find decent flip bins (anyone have suggestions?)
Just starting off and buying the stuff I need (including inventory) is already well north of $5,000.00. And that is before I am even accepted into a single show.
I am excited about selling something I love to do but I am also nervous as hell. I guess if things don't go well, my family and friends will be getting pictures for their birthdays and Christmas for the next 50 years!
But I also know you don't know until you try. I have owned a business before and the cost I have in this is actually a hell of a lot less than starting another kind of company.
One thing I always try to remember. Milton Hershey filed bankruptcy seven times before he decided to give the chocolate business a try!
Congrats, John! I hope you have a wonderful show! One thing that did make me feel a bit more comfortable about the whole thing was the knowledge that there is an extremely brisk business in used canopies and walls. You can usually resell them for about 80% of their price new. So if you do decide the circuit isn't for you or that it's not worth it, at least you can recoup most of your money fairly easily.
As far as the flip bins, I use the Quickbins shown on this page with my Propanels.
They're a little tricky to set up and take down (they make the wall heavy and it will fall if it's not connected to the walls around it; OTOH, you can't put the bin on the wall if it's connected too tightly to the wall next to it -- it's not that hard with two people, but if you're on your own, you have to juggle a little), but they do look nice and work very well -- and you don't have to mess around with tables, pedestals, et cetera. I also use the freestanding print bins for my larger prints. I like the put-together look it gives my booth to have everything made of the same material and in the same color.
@ Roger S...but that is not 'hanging art'...and to JC, I totally agree, and most of my Art Shows are done indoors now, I take those hooks that you can remove without damage by pulling down on so at least I have a wall. All my juried shows are indoors and accept up to 10 pieces, but the cost here is $10 a piece to enter it. I typically enter only 3-4 pieces or I am competing against myself. Yep, getting to old to set up and break down and can't carry my LARGE best pieces anyway, I only take some 16 x 20 and 12 x 12 gallery wraps, never my framed and under glass stuff, too heavy and expensive to replace. So, I had 5 x 7 cards made up with some of the pieces I can never bring along and set up my laptop to my web site, that works really well as far as folks seeing what you have. We all know that 'true life' is the best view, but at least my client's can have a better idea of my styles and inventory!
Is there time to do some small local shows before this "Biggie"?
Are you planning to set up and break down your booth in your back yard a few times before the show?
Have you thought of an image (theme) for your display?
Are you prepared for severe weather, (stake downs ? weights?)?
Do you know the situation and condition of the show area (concrete, grass, level, hilly)?
How will customers purchase your work (credit card set-up?)?
Are you planning to bring a tall chair ?
Will you promise me that you will NOT bring a book to read? That's a NO-NO...If ,God forbid, there are slow periods, I suggest you bring some simple project related to your discipline that you can work on.
And now, some more advise.
Never ever say, " Can I help you?".....for they will be helping you more than you will be helping them.
Freely and fully answer the questions posed...but don't go beyond that particular question.
Be prepared for rude questions,....and don't take them to heart.
Don't interfere, when potential customers are talking among themselves.
Let your work tell it's very own story.
And my last advice, advise most other exhibitors think I'm crazy proposing.
That is: Think that this will be the worst possible experience in your life. So, no matter how crummy it turns out to be, it won't be that bad.
I also have a permanent space arranged in a big tourist area this summer. It is more arts and crafts but it draws in HUGE crowds every summer. My images should "fit" the crowd as they are local nature shots. That show runs two times a week for 26 weeks so, at this point, the art shows are weekend gigs for "bonus" income.
Yeah, I'm going to work on setting up the display a few times once the weather gets nice. It is a pain to put it up in the house! The weekly show is a enclosed booth they provide with garage doors so once I set it up it will just be a matter of restocking it each week (no set-up)
I have stakes but I need to make up some weights when the weather gets nicer.
I'm all set with "square" to take credit cards and I have my tax ID's to collect sales tax in two states now.
Still got to get the chair and I am not going to bring a book because I have already heard of the negative aspects of that.
My previous business was nuisance wildlife control. I sometimes had to go out at 2am and catch bats or raccoons that got into people's homes. I had to go into attics in August to get bats out or chase squirrels. I did home improvement shows for this business. I sat for hours talking about my business and / or listening to everyone;s stories about their wildlife problems or pet raccoons. In those shows I never really SOLD anything so I sat for hours without making actual sales. So, compared to that, having people give me money, ANY money will be nice!
Jon, I use suitcase weights for my booth and I love them. I have one at each corner. They look much better and classier than sand-filled bags, PVC tubes filled with concrete, or giant water jugs. They're easy to move around, low profile, don't take up a lot of space in your vehicle. They weigh 42 pounds apiece and are about the size of a hardback book. I put mine between my Propanels and the canvas walls of my booth, so they're practically invisible when the booth is completely set up. The best part for me is that there's no long cable tie from the top of the canopy to the ground, so nothing for me or other people to trip over!
Here's a link to what they look like and where to get them. They might seem expensive at first, but they're well worth it (and shipping is free) ...
Speaking of art shows, I am getting ready to go to the best art show in the country..."The Coconut Grove Art Festival"..just hope the weather cooperates...There is another art show that is indoors this weekend I may attend, "The Wynwood"!..This show will feature 70 international galleries featuring emerging, cutting edge, contemporary and modern works!
Deborah -- how do you attach the suitcase weights to your canopy? When stakes are allowed, I use those "dog tie out" spiral stakes at each corner of the booth, attached to inch-wide ratchet straps. I've been thinking about getting the suitcase weights, and assumed I would use the same straps, with the weights sitting on the ground in each corner. I'm interested in hearing what method works for you!