How Do I Find My Niche at an Art Fair?

by

Arts, Beats & Eats

Here is a topic that should interest many of my readers:

Hi, Connie,

Thanks for your answers last week about my booth setup. Here are a few more questions. I also have figured out that I “fit” in higher-end arts and crafts fairs but lower-end fine arts fairs. I’m not the kind of artist that I do many landscapes that take months and sell for hundreds of dollars – I have two of those right now but that’s all, because I might sell one of those every 2 or 3 months – but mostly, I enjoy doing a rooster or a pear for someone’s kitchen and selling things in the $50 – $100 range and I sell lots of those. And I’m happy with that because I feel comfortable there. Does that make sense?

And I guess I’m learning also to be market-minded. I realize that not everyone can afford to spend hundreds on a high-end painting. Therefore, I also sell matted prints as well as hand-painted floor mats and notecards featuring my paintings. I like doing art that is affordable so that my art can be in more homes, and I like making the car payment. :>)

So I’m okay with not making the Howard Alan show – I think I just didn’t “fit.” But I do believe that we should learn from everything, so that’s what sparked my concern for my set-up. Thank you so much for the tips to make it better – I want to find my niche this year and learn which shows to try for (where I fit) but it’s also very important that I send the best photos possible, no matter which shows I try for. Oh! – By the by, do the panels for some of the higher end art shows have to be the “covered” cloth kind as I suspected with the Howard Alan show?

Thanks so much Connie. I can’t wait to hear how I can make my tent better (plus, the added bonus that I have bought a new tent since this photo and I will make sure that the corner on the top isn’t wrinkled this time as well – my husband pointed out that we need to pull it down snug.)

E.S., Florida

Washington LedesmaHello E.S., It is great to hear you are doing well. This is a great question! Thanks for asking. I hope my tips from last week were helpful to you as you did your last art fair of the season.

Finding your niche at an art fair is well worth studying. One of the great things about this business is the plethora of marketplaces. Among them:

  • farmers markets
  • holiday craft markets
  • the new and exciting Indie movement
  • arts and craft shows
  • fine art fairs
  • online markets of many varieties

What works for one person does not work for another. While it is important to keep an open eye to what the artist in the adjacent booth is doing you must remember what printmaker Dave Bruner said to me once, “To compare is to despair.” Make your own choices and do not judge your sales by what you see going on around you.

Some artists focus on all these markets, slanting their “product line” (phrase used by sculptor James Eaton), for each venue. Others find the marketplace which seems most compatible with the work they want to create and only do one kind of event. In the art fair business this would mean shooting for the top ten art fairs either because your art is too high end for other venues or by personal preference.

I remember a while back when I was working at Arts, Beats & Eats in Pontiac, MI, one of the other staff members saying to me, “Why are some of the artists complaining about their sales? All of their jewelry is way too expensive. Why don’t they make $20 earrings?”

My reply: “This person has been making jewelry for twenty years and no longer wants to make $20 earrings.” Yet, another person finds that is just their niche.

Through my years of participating in art fairs we always took a chance on a new event every year. You have to build the new events so that the business keeps growing and so there are places to go when you get a rejection from a favorite show. We also did what we called “filler” shows, those that aren’t fabulous but kept the cash flowing.

Any time you have a free weekend visit an art fair for several reasons:

  • to see if it is a place where you can sell your art
  • to check our your competition
  • to look at others displays and study how you can improve yours
  • if it is an art fair for which you were rejected see if you can figure out why

Getting into art fairs is challenging for everyone, almost regardless of quality. Do not be discouraged. Never stop improving your slides/visual images for the juries. If you ever get a chance to attend an art fair jury take advantage. I believe that the Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival’s jury is open to observers and it is near you. You could learn a lot by attending that.

I look forward to hearing from you about what you learned at your last art fair.

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4 Responses to “How Do I Find My Niche at an Art Fair?”

  1. ISABELLA Says:

    Liz, my friend who is also an artist, and I, went to this awesome craft show at St. Peters’ in North Ridgeville. We had a great time! We met so many wonderful people, both customers and artists. Food was beyond great and everyone got stuffed up. Ladies that organized the craft show did a great job planning the event. For crafters, it was a very busy day, we definitively recommend the show. We know we are going back next year for sure!!!

  2. How Does This Booth Slide Look to You? - Part 2 « Art Fair Insider - the Blog Says:

    […] in Part I of this conversation? Visit this link and this one […]

  3. Julie Legg Says:

    After finding your niche in the art fair world, do you have any tips for getting accepted by juries. I think my work is very good, but many local art fairs are not accepting my work. I can’t travel yet–the overhead is too much for that now.

    Thank you for any guidance.
    Julie

  4. Constance Mettler Says:

    Hi Julie, I am holding a teleseminar on this topic today (Thursday, June 26) at 7 pm EST.

    Here is the information you will need to dial-in:

    Date: June 26

    Time: 7 pm EST, 4 pm PST

    Phone #: 712-432-1001

    Then you will be directed to enter the Access Code: 435083135 #

    PLEASE NOTE THE TIME!

    We plan to start promptly at 7 pm EST.

    The last time many people called in during the wrong time zone.

    You can dial in earlier and be waiting on the line. You will not be able to speak in this session. This is because there will be many people on the line and their background noise would make it hard for you to hear us.

    We will be recording the session, so you may hear ‘beeps’.

    I am feeling a little overwhelmed by the great questions and all the interest. Thank you so much, all of you.

    If you miss the call this evening, we will be recording it and it will be available for download as an e-book and a podcast at the ArtFairCalendar.com website in a few weeks.

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