Finding the Right Show for You – Alexia Petrakos

1 10 2007

 

Every year starting in around April and ending somewhere just before Christmas is a frenzy of craft fairs and art shows. So if you’re thinking of starting on the arts & craft show circuit, here are a few tips to help you find one that fits you and your artwork. 

Finding Shows:
First of all, start offline with your neighborhood papers or if they’re published in your area, get a copy of Creative Loafing magazine. There’s usually an events section that advertises all the upcoming shows. Contact your local business associations, chamber of commerce and arts leagues/guilds. Most of these associations host shows as well as provide lists of local arts and craft fairs for their members.

 

Online, check Craigslist or search for regional sites. If you’re looking for shows in the northeast, search for “Craft shows northeast” or “Craft shows New England”.  Indiecraftshows.com is a great resource of indie craft shows, trunk shows & festivals. Other places to find shows are Craftlister.com and  Sunshineartist.com. There are tons of sites out there, and I’ve highlighted a few of the ones that don’t charge for access.

 

Keep a record of each show that sounds interesting. List the name, dates, places, application fees, deadlines and names/addresses of promoters. Record all the potentials, no matter how far away, but I recommend starting off with several local shows before traveling. If you can find the applications, keep them in a folder with this list – if you want to apply, you’ve got the paperwork handy.

 

How to pick ‘em:
One of the best ways to get an idea of how well you and your products will perform at a particular show is to find a list of previous or current vendors that have a complementary style. Look at their work and contact a few of them to discuss their experiences. If you can wait a year, shop the shows and talk to the artists. Ask about the event, the promoters, traffic, sales & advertising. Pay attention to people – are they just looking or are they buying?

 

For each show you visit, record your impressions, the names and contact information of the artists you spoke with and the other types of vendors. If you like what you saw or heard, find the application and send it in when the time comes.

 

Juried or non-Juried:

Some shows allow just about anyone who has the money to set up a booth, others select vendors by jury to control the quality of the show.

 

The advantage of non-juried shows is that you’ll most likely be accepted, and the only reason you may not is due to space. Non-juried shows may come in the form of county fairs, neighborhood gatherings, church holiday bazaars, and business association-sponsored events. Disadvantage: your gorgeous sun-catching lampwork beads may end up next to fake-flower embellished flip-flops that sell for $10 a pair or one of the 6 PVC marshmallow-gun vendors.

 

I sold my handmade journals and bags at a “country gathering” in 2007. If my mother-in-law didn’t pass by my tent, I wouldn’t have made my booth fee. However the folks next to me making wire-wrapped crosses out of horseshoe nails made a killing! I did, however, find a shop to sell my books on consignment – their cut: 10%. Lesson: know your audience and research the shows, but always keep an eye out for opportunities, even if it’s not going that well for you.

 

Juried shows, on the other hand, are “serious” art & craft shows put on by art guilds and leagues, or have very limited space. Vendors submit their applications with slides or photographs of their work. A panel of jurors selected scrutinizes each entry and gives the thumbs up or down. Jury fees are in addition to the booth fees and are non-refundable, but they may not require a booth fee until you’re approved.

 

Upside: some juried shows award prizes like “Best in Category” or “Best in Show”.  If you’re keeping up an artist resume, acceptance to a juried show and winning an award will definitely boost your artist cred.  The downside: lots of competition & higher vendor fees.

 

Selecting the right craft show for you and your art is a big part of ensuring your success (among other things like product, displays & marketing…). If you choose a show that’s not a good fit, not only will you waste time and money, but a bad show can also affect your motivation. If you find yourself at a bad show due to factors other than the weather, remember to keep a positive attitude, use the opportunity to learn from other artists, and reflect on how you can improve your product, display, booth and marketing for next time.

 

 

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6 responses

1 10 2007
DChase

Great info. Excellent post. Thanks

1 10 2007
joolzbylisa

I agree…lots of information to consider!

1 10 2007
Connie

Lots of good information to be gleaned here! This is an area of marketing I have not yet tackled, so will keep these things in mind. Thanks!

1 10 2007
ARRRT! Blog » Blog Archive » Contributing to a New Website

[…] I’m contributing blog posts to a new website called “Collective Creatives“. I’ll be writing 1 article a month for the next year about the creative process and a bit of creative business stuff. The site’s (and my) debut article is Finding the Right Show for You. […]

2 10 2007
eugenerain

Great article!

2 10 2007
Collective Creatives « Deanna Chase

[…] a moment check it out.  Alexia Petrakos has started us out with an excellent article on doing shows. Posted by DChase Filed in Art, Blogroll, Inspiration, October Tagged: , Art, artist, blogs, […]

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