Archive for the ‘Art Fair Feedback’ Category

How Do I Know What or How to Buy at Art Fairs?

June 19, 2008

1. As we are in the heart of the great art fair season throughout the Midwest two articles have recently appeared to help guide you through your art fair buying decisions.

“If you like something you see, buy it.” That was Tip No. 1. Last weekend, Jay Mittelstead, who is a lawyer and art collector, led an Art Buying Boot Camp with Martha Jannotta through the 57th Street Art Fair in Chicago. With art fair season in bloom, their tips apply to nearly any fair you happen across.

Read the rest of his tips here:

2. The Dos and Don’ts of Buying at Art Fairs

Also, what a pleasure for me to find this blog posting by an old art fair friend (former painter now furniture maker) Alan Carter. Alan, with his 20+ years of exhibiting at fairs around the country has excellent advice:

Now that the art fair season is in full bloom, it’s time to talk about how to get the most out of them. I speak from some experience. For more than 20 years I exhibited my paintings at art fairs around the country. Oh, the stories I could tell.

Read Alan’s article here, Art Fair Dos and Don’ts.


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April 4, 2008

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Now it’s even easier to keep up with all the latest from the art fair and craft show community!

Letter From a Reader: No More Art Fairs For Me

February 28, 2008

Feb. 14

Hello Connie, I did Artigras for 2 years and was quite disappointed – this year i stayed with the Howard Alan schedule and chose this as my coconut grove alternative. Sarasota is far enough away from miami to have a completely different mindset. Its a 2 day show vs the artigras 3 day adventure – i would be happy to reply back with my opinion. As for Artigras it was more of a family festival than an environment for people to invest in art. Thats not to say that people weren’t selling, i was personally disappointed and chose not to apply this year- michael s.

Feb. 20

Hey Michael,

How did things go in Sarasota? I heard nothing but bad news from the
Grove, St. Stephens and Arti Gras.

But interestingly, on Monday I received a phone call from Darrin Alan
and he said Sarasota was good. What was your take? – Connie

Feb. 22

Hi Connie, here goes
the crowds were strong – my impression of the buyers were that they were conservative and older – i personally had limited interest and zero sales
-artists on both sides of me made a few thousand dollars – of my peers those with safe (non urban edgy work) fared better

i did the st armands circle show in january and sold to people on vacation – this was a more local crowd – they were pleasant

later that day:

one more thing this coming weekend in Hyde Park, FL will be my last
for a while. i have been doing shows for just over 10 years this year i have been rejected from everything. I have tried different images and diferent categories frankly can not figure it out – But as Cate Fraser from Bethesda put it – the judges have spoken – so i am accepting it and looking for a job.

i have gotten past the anger and have even come to the point of admitting that its the life style i’ll miss more than the income – last spring i only made money at the bethesda art festival and mainsail in St Pete, FL

just relaunched my website plan to focus on in- house consultations and pound the pavement in Manhattan looking for projects

Best Michael

The Coconut Grove Report

February 20, 2008


From a friend of mine:

We just returned from our 28th and last Grove, the demographics have change, a lot, ….. Our customers from the past no longer exist, I don’t know where they went but I know they don’t come to the grove anymore.

You probably won’t believe this but we only did $785 for the three days, that was three sales all from out of state and it only cost us about $1600 to make it. That’s down 90% from last year.

Many artist sold nothing, best in show had no sales. There were a few who did well but on the whole most didn’t. The show was so commercial in favor of the Grove Assoc., you wouldn’t recognize it anymore, we were gouged for everything. We will never go to Miami for anything, as for as I’m concerned it’s a leper colony, to be avoided. Oh yes, my three sales were before noon on Sat. and that was it.

That’s my story and I stand by it. (name withheld)

And here is what the Miami Herald had to say: This article is interesting, but even more interesting are the “comments” below it. Be sure to read them to get a fuller picture.

Here is a posting on the NAIA Forum:

Sales at the show were absolutely horrible. I zero’d again, and a huge number of other exhibitors also sold nothing as of a few hours before closing yesterday. There was LOTS of rain Sunday which usually has the largest crowds, and more rain Monday morning. There was little excitement in the air. Way too many people said they could not buy because they were worried their job was disappearing.

Also this weekend the annual Arti Gras Art Festival was held in Jupiter. They had better weather, but not better sales reports.

I read all the Herald stories on the festival. Nowhere did they list the award winners from the Grove. Years back the Herald was a great partner for bringing customers to the festival. A city’s newspaper is an important factor in publicizing an art fair with interesting features.

From the above reports it does not bode well for this event next year.

Letters From You: Should I Apply to This Fair?

January 27, 2008

Connie –
What can you tell me about the Birmingham Art show – Art in the Park, Birmingham, MI?

We are pretty new to the business of outdoor shows and trying to get our feet wet (but not soaked).. LOL

Best regardsbachmans.jpg
Jennifer (Genevieve’)
PearlaBella by Genevieve’
W. Bloomfield, MI

Hello Jennifer (Genevieve),

Thanks for your letter. This is a good question.

Did you know there are two Birmingham art fairs?

  • Birmingham Fine Art Fair – May 10 & 11
  • Art in the Park to benefit Common Ground Sanctuary – Sept. 13 & 14
  • They are both held in downtown Birmingham’s Shain Park. The fall show has a great history as it gets the credit for really making art fairs a business in the Detroit area. The spring show is definitely not a piker though, it’s been around for 27 years. Both of the shows have a good reputation for being very selective and good money makers and are fundraisers for important community organizations.

    As we all know the art fair business in Michigan is not what it used to be. I guess you could say that for many businesses in Michigan. Right? Just ask John McCain and Mitt Romney.

    Nevertheless, both of these events are worth a try for an artist living within a days’ drive of Detroit, and definitely for a local person like yourself. Do the usual, use your mailing list, website, etc., to bring your own customers and hope the artist in the neighboring booth does the same. Detroiters still love art fairs and these Birmingham events bring well-employed people out to see them.

    Best of luck with your 2008 season.

    Art Fair Feedback – Part 2

    December 4, 2007

    Artist report:

    Dear Connie,

    I attended the Sylvania Arts Festival this past weekend. To say is was a Arts and Crafts Festival is a total misnomer. It was more like a church bazaar with mostly loving hands work. Lot of beads on a string as jewelry. Buckeye nuts with a couple of red and gray beads for a necklace. Glass blocks with a painted logo with a short string of Christmas lights. I could go on and on.

    Many university logos and commercial logos used without licensing agreements. Imports. One booth of purely manicuring nail files. Glass dinnerware with metal and beads glued on. It appeared that anyone applying got in. Even worse you had to apply in January with your booth fee. They cashed all checks upon receipt. When I called about this practice, they said “your fee would be refunded if not accepted”. I called several times during the summer since I hadn’t heard from them and their response was “we are still waiting for more applications so we can have ‘someone’ jury the event.

    A booth two down from me, the one with the glass blocks, had a generator and a five gallon can of gas in the booth!!! Nobody from the festival seemed to care about it. I suggested to the people that it was a very unsafe practice, not only to themselves and their customers but also to all the booths around them. Not only that but they were smoking in the booth also!!!! They finally moved the gas can when I suggested the fire marshal would not take too kindly to the practice.

    There was no show evaluation questionnaire and nobody from the festival came around to talk to any exhibitors.

    Am sending this so you will know what the show really was and not what their application said it was. Hopefully you will take it off your list of shows to announce in your report.

    I forwarded the above letter to the Sylvania Arts Festival and here is their response:


    Thank you for the information. Our show was juried for the first time by the Toledo Craftsman Guild and we trusted their decision as the final say as to who was in the show. The show was juried by submitted photos with an application and we have found since this is not an exact science we had two artist judges walking the show and they submitted a list of questionable crafts.

    Some of the juried vendors brought in things that were not originally submitted on their application. Several will be eliminated from the show for 2008.

    The Sylvania Area Chamber wants the event to grow as a first class event and as such is committed to making sure things of this nature do not happen. Our application clearly states that there is no electricity or generators at the event. If the exhibitor saw this she should have found someone from the Chamber who would have made sure that this was rectified immediately.

    We spoke to many vendors about the show and received some good and some bad reports. We also had a packet with information and a time that vendors could sign up for next year or to speak to us in person.

    Since this was a move to a new location there were some move-in glitches. The festival has been around for fifty years so the longevity speaks to our commitment to having one of the best. If the exhibitor would like to speak to me personally, I would welcome her comments. I can be reached by phone at 419-882-2135 or via email at

    Thank you for bringing this to our attention.

    This response was forwarded to the artist and here is his answer:

    It’s a start. The statement about the generator is incorrect because a festival representative did say it was ok to have the generator as long as the noise didn’t bother any nearby booths. It was one of those ultra quiet Honda generators so there was little noise. I didn’t object to that other than the gas can stored in the booth which they did remove.

    We found the location to be nice. A paved parking lot at Lourdes College. Booth space was a full car space about 10 X 20. Set up was easy. The aisles were a bit conjested during set-up and teardown but the artists were friendly and moved vehicles so others could get in.

    Hopefully they will learn more about the jurying process in the future and not wait until the last minute to get a acceptable jury.

    Art Fair Feedback – Part 1

    September 25, 2007

    Goral's jewelry
    There are not many places for artists and art event organizers to go to air their grievances with one another. This is the first post in a series that will serve this purpose.

    Carmel Art Fair – held in a lovely area of Indianapolis, did the unthinkable this year by adding an additional 86 artists! Art show organizers, what were you thinking? An art fair cannot continue to be a cash cow for you if your way of adding to your revenue stream is to add artists booths.

    This only dilutes the sales for the good artists who have been loyal to your show and the quality will go down. It is like shooting yourself in the foot, a very self destructive plan. Did you also add to the number of patrons in order to insure the success of the additional artists?

    There are other ways to increase the revenue necessary to meet your fiscal needs: finding good sponsors, designing a t-shirt for sale that is irresistible, charging a small gate fee, applying for grants, etc.

    Usually artists will prefer higher booth fees than adding additional artists. Do not increase the size of your event unless you are certain that sales for existing artists will not be hampered by the increase.