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2017 Show Review
I would like to take a minute to go back over last years shows and give a brief synopsis on what I thought was a success and what failed. In 2016 I graduated in May and only participated in one Fine arts fair, Crafts in the Meadow 2016. In 2017 I decided to sign up for a total of three shows, still taking things slow I didn't want to sign up for too many shows for fear of putting out more than I would be making. So I did better research and carefully picked my three shows. One of which has yet to be completed, as shown above. So how did the first to go and what are my plans for the 2018 year.
Peddlers Village Bluegrass and Blueberries
I am certain I already made a fuss about this show previously but I will go into it a bit here as well. This was not a show I care to do again. It all started with day one when I went to set up and they re-arranged the layout of the vendors. Thinking it was "a better flow" I soon realized the coordinator obviously didn't get what that meant. The new set up actually hurt business for the six of us he moved. We were out set to the edges in an odd corner set up. The entire two days where full of slow foot traffic and confused patrons not knowing where to find us. The local business's were not even told where we were. I had countless friends and family members who said when inside the village and asked where to find the artisans most people had no idea. To top it off they had 0 overnight security which means that all the art had to be removed and re-set both days. When I choose to pay for a booth I expect: good set up spot, some advertising on their part, overnight security, and be around and available to help resolve things when needed. I am not sure where my money went for this show but I sure wont give them my money again. Over all the weekend was great weather but bad service, bad attendance and low sales. This is to be expected when testing new show locations, you wont always get the right fit the first time.
Mount Gretna Outdoor Art Festival
This show was interesting. I applied to this show as an emerging artist so when accepted I didn't have to pay. Which was great because I had never been to this location before. I have heard great things about this show overall so was very excited. I got in and went to the show with high hopes. I had a great location and there was tons of traffic. Weather was perfect and people where walking around with items that they had bought which is always a great sign. However I did decent, but not decent enough to go back and pay for a booth. I walked a bit after day two and tried to get an overall estimate on how well my fellow artist where doing. To an odd shock, It was a 50 - 50 split. Half f the artist did great and half did just enough. Luckily no one (except for maybe one I spoke to) came under in sales. It was a great show and one day I will try it again but I am not sure If I will go back next year, just didn't quiet make my cut.
So far my best show has still been the 2016 Crafts in the Meadow, which is why I am very ready to go back this year! I dud very well here and can't wait to take it on again, hopefully this one comes out above the rest. If not I ill have to seriously take a look at what went wrong this year and possibly make some changes. I have been also focused on applying to some art shows this year to keep putting my work out there. I am now most focused on launching my Patreon page. You will have to stay tuned for that however because I do not want to share too much before the big reveal.
Why is storage an issue?
Storage can be an issue for many working artist. It tends to be an issue for a few reasons. For example maybe you make too much art, if that’s a thing. Or maybe not all your art is selling. You also may not live in a mansion or a place with tons of extra space. So if finding space or making space is necessary then this is the post for you.
How do I do it?
I have taken old art and made it new many a times and even have a new plan for some of those “intro to drawing” papers I still have. With that I still take up a lot of room. I have taken up my entire closet for storage of art and even have a place in the attic for the rest. I also have waves where I slow down the amount of art I produce to make sure I sell what I need to before creating more. This never really leaves me with a storage solution but it helps keep what’s full from getting full-er.
So how do you store it?
Let’s talk about how you found storage solutions. Post below in the comments! Also remember that I am no genius on any subject and I understand there are many opinions and solutions to these topics, I simply share from what I have learned and experienced.
For more detailed posts subscribe to my Patreon page by searching Crit-ket which is set to launch at the end of October !!
There are three questions I always ask myself when looking for a show to participate in. First question is what am I getting for the cost of the booth? Second, does the price sound right for my art? Lastly I ask myself is it my crowd? Asking these questions have helped me sort through the shows I do, because I can't just go and apply to every show that comes my way. This wouldn't be beneficial to my sales and it would probably cost me more in the end than its worth.
1. What Am I Getting For The Cost Of The Booth?
This is something I learned along the way. When you participate in a booth show at a fair or festival the cost of the spot is not free, this should be obvious but some people think its always free and its not. Every show is a different price, usually based on popularity or work put into the show. However you should expect that your money is going towards something that helps you too. For example Crafts in the Meadows and Mount Gretna have over night security, booth sitters (in case you need a rest or, you know, pee!), and sometimes even discounts on food over the weekend! They both also do lots and lots of advertising which bring people in to the show and the more people who visit the more buyers you will bump into. These extras are what some of your money is going into, so for these shows I don't mind paying the booth cost because I actually get a lot out of it. Peddlers Village however is a show I will not do again. They have no security, no booth sitters and did poor advertising for the vendors. I felt a bit robbed by them honestly. Find shows that work for you not take advantage of your money.
2. Does The Price Sound Right For My Art?
Now that you found what the show offers you for the price it's time to consider if the price is still right for you and your product? All vendors, and art vendors especially, have very different items to sell. For me I tend to call for a market of people who tend to purchase fine arts or original arts in general. I find my big sales went to people who where out looking for art for their home. I occasionally get a handful of impulse buys from those who fell in love with a piece of mine. This means I need to be sure that the audience arriving to these shows I pick are the audiences for my art.
Example: I can not go to a fair that is primarily food and product vendors because their price range and audience is very different.
In the end I need to be sure the crowd is right so I can earn back the costs for the booth and the supplies for the weekend as well as still make a decent profit. Sometimes this is hard to tell so you have to find out the hard way or make friends. I found that the more vendors at shows I became friends with the more we shared and learned with each other about what shows work and don't work. I have been to shows where I only just came above breaking even and its not the best weekend, but this helps me to pick places in the future.
3. Is It My Crowd?
Avoid selling art at a fair that is not for fine arts, fine craftsman or artisans. This is a trap and you may get lucky but why risk that? I will not go to just any show that offers all vendors unless I know they are known for that and separate the booths by category. This again can come back to the fact that you must consider your audience and the types of buyers that will come to this show. If its a fair for a school fundraiser and they have all kinds of cutesy house decorations, chances are those buyers wont spend the price you have on your paintings. This may be just my experience but I sure do not have an audience for those types of fairs. Just all questions to consider, but please if you take away anything -note: look into shows carefully and Always talk to your fellow vendors for opinions!
Found One? Now Apply
First note the deadlines and note the payment deadlines. If all of your booth apps are due in March but all your payments are all due in the month of June be sure you have the money for them. Some shows have varying payment deadlines and you can spread these out so that you aren't draining all your funds at once, because believe it or not a lot of deadlines fall at the exact same time and this can be troublesome financially. Unless your making heavy sales and this is your full time job. Also be aware that some applications are actually a juried process. They want photos of your work and sometimes a shot of your booth display. First time showing? That's fine there is sometimes a spot to share this otherwise just send the photos of your work and notify them of this issue. I suggest setting up in the back yard and taking some photos because some shows may feel better letting an emerging artist in with proof of a display that doesn't consist of tarps and sticks for a tent. ( or sheets for wall and yes. this is from experience.)
Then its good luck and waiting for letters and emails in the mail! To re-iterate this is just all from my experiences so please take it with a grain of salt, what worked for me may be the opposite of what works for you.
A typical creative person questions themselves asking "what next?" and "what now?". We have to keep moving because if we stop in this fast pace world we will often be considered "not serious" about our work. There is no time for breaks. Even if I wanted or needed a break I can't possibly do it. I'd fall behind or go crazy because I need to make art to stay sane. SO what to do, what to do? First things first, know your goal and know your worth. Be true to yourself or get swallowed up in the mess of trying to conform.
I don't mean to ask this question as if I cant decide what to make next. No no, I can honestly say I am not the type to run out of momentum or inspiration to continue to create. My problem is I have too many ideas and routes to take when creating. I know I must work through an idea or series till its been done out. I sometimes do this so much so that I tend to look compulsive about. I guess that's a good thing? But sometimes I have side projects that I'd like to complete also and to do it all at once makes me a but scattered looking.
For example my Zine. Yes if you have followed me I have discussed this Zine and how it will be "in the works now!" This IS in the works, I am not lying its just that it is a long work in progress because it's a different body of work than my paintings. It is also on my list to finnish the "House and Home" series book one day. However the "home" series is very personal and based on my life journey of finding a place through life lessons and dealing with the passing of loved ones who shaped my world. This is not something I can simply finish up and get over with. But this doesn't mean I am not faced with the issue of keeping tabs on all these projects to be sure that they all one day get completed.
What I really mean when I say "what next?" is what steps do I need to take next to continue to make, show, and sell art? How to continue my art career? I have a long list of things to do for this. I have to be updating my online presence, like this blog and my Instagram. I also have to watch deadlines for: group shows, juried shows, booth shows, gallery submissions, and print opportunities. All of these are things I have to keep up with or I only loose out on the opportunities themselves.
It is a lot to keep up with but its is also constantly being re-evaluated and changed. I sometimes shift my focus and change what I am doing so that I can one day find the right spot for me. I have yet to find the perfect solution to all of this so I am constantly evaluation myself to make the necessary steps. What I read online on what works for some artists may not works for me. We are all different making very different works and even having many varying goals. I try to re-adjust what I am focusing on most every quarter to give some time to try something new out. Whether it is focusing on booth shows over galleries or applying for juried shows over working on online sales.
I have found that if I create an "end goal" I can then experiment with how I may be able to get there. As an emerging artist I think this is important. I also believe that as a working artist if I don't re-evaluate and ask my self these questions then how will I grow and change? just something to think about when getting caught up in the grind.
Of course I love all of my artworks! If I don't love a piece I paint over it until I do. However I can't and won't hang onto everything I make. I simply do not have the room to hang onto all of the work I make. This is why I sell my art. I love to make art and to keep making art I need room to make art. So I need to sell the art to make more room and to help pay for making more art. I know Its a large, redundant, cycle but at the end of the day I'd rather see my art find a happy wall in a home than to see it wrapped in my closet.
There are many ways of selling art but all of them don't come with out lots of work on my end. You can't just put art out and expect immediate results. Nothing worth having will get handed to you. I have tried Etsy, a popular site for selling hand-mades, however it almost needs to be its own full time job to start it up and make lots of sales. It's also more of a challenge to sell art of my size and price rang on a site most dedicated to gifts and small items sales. Not saying impossible but just increasingly difficult.
I have found I got a lot of attention on the sales sites after tons of advertising, so from there I tried advertising on many different social media platforms including: Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook. All worked out great however making that many posts multiple times a day was a lot of work. Not that I don't want to put in hard work but I work another job and need to use my time very wisely.
I tried to use scheduling apps (like Tailwind and a few odd others) but found I spent just as much time setting up and coordinating the schedule as I was making post throughout my week while eating lunch on my break. I also found most of these apps only run free trials on x amount of posts then they charge. So I make my posts a few times a day on my own, sometimes creating the wording ahead of time and copy and pasting into a note on my phone. I also am always creating my photo content ahead of time. When in my studio I take a large batch of photos as I work so that I can use them at a later time for advertising.
I find I am most successful at selling my work at booth shows, art fairs and artisan festivals. Here I get to display my art and buyers see the work in person. This helps them see the many layers of color and texture I use better than a photo. I am also able to interact better to make the sales not only through the look of the work but by describing the inspirations and helping to create a story for the work. A lot of art buyers by because they "fall in love" with a piece or the connect with it. The artwork has to show a little romance.
Although some shows are easier to make sales than others. I don't do well at every show and this can sometimes seem like a downfall but I need to keep finding the right shows and move forward. The few shows I have found that were successful, I will try to keep doing every year. The reason some shows work better than others can be due to a lot of factors. One is of course weather. If the show is outside and its miserably rainy or cold, you can almost always say bye bye to small buyers. The time of year can matter also, if its holiday time some are more likely to get their gift shopping done. However that is mostly in regards to the small works I sell. The larger works are almost always bought by those who buy art regularly. The collector types or those who love to decorate with original art. Not the reprints of basic colorless flower paintings I choke over in the home stores. But ill keep my personal opinion off that topic, for now.
My goal for art sales in the future is to show in art galleries and sell art to a more serious buying market. Not that I don't appreciate my market now, I just think in the end showing in a gallery setting would be a nice reward to all my hard work I am putting in now. It would also help get my art into the homes of those who, like I said earlier, collect original art. In the end I have found a few of these buyers at booth sales but galleries would be a more direct way of reaching this audience.
To wrap up most of the art you see above isn't all works I am currently working on. I, as many artist do, have lots of older series and works that tend to take a back seat and not get out of the closet much. These are the woes of creating art sometimes. We experiment and keep working but in the end you may be left with a lot of work that in the near future also needs a new home or its about to be revamped into something new. I would love to find time to advertise these series and get them into the eyes of viewers but I also don't want to look like a potpourri basket. I feel some of these others works just need a little more to them to be considered a serious set of completed works.
Don't miss out on a chance to see 100+ Fine Craftsmen and Artists!
On Saturday and Sunday October 21st & 22nd all Artisans will have their artwork for sale and on display across the wonderful grounds at Tyler Park Center for the Arts. Food, music and excitement all sitting at the edge of Tyler State Park for two days only!
My art tent till be up and ready so don't miss your chance to get your hands on your favorite art pieces, because once they sell that's it! All works are original and not reproduced in any way. I have large paintings and small paintings for sale. I work in acrylic and mixed medias on canvas to create visual and textural abstract works.
Keep your eyes open around town for show cards to receive a discounted entry price ticket!
Don't see any art that you want? Want something more specific? Ask for a commission! I work one on one with you to plan, draft, and complete final commission works that fit the space you are looking to fill. Prices are figured and discussed before work on your painting begins, so there are no surprises. Please keep in mind I am an abstract painter and commissions for artwork otherwise out of my skills will be turned away.
As you might have read in the post before this one, a lot of steps go into the final work being complete for a show. Once all of those steps are completed the work is, even more, carefully wrapped to be protected during its travel (carefully piled into my van). This is a strategic process because once you spend all the time creating a final piece you DO NOT want to go back in for touch ups every time, if ever. What I have now mastered is the art of packaging and placing around my studio (currently my bedroom) so that it can be timely placed into the van. This also helps me keep the items that must enter the van first to be first on the list to grab.
Not all of my shows have been local so I have to be sure that I follow a strict packing plan to protect the canvas. If not properly placed the canvas will stretch. To avoid this I use a very simple method that's called "front to front, back to back." In this method of packing I take paintings similar in size and place the back against the wall of the van. I then take the second painting and place the front of it to the front of the first painting (now these two paintings have their face touching). However keep in mind the front faces of the paintings are still covered so the paint, if temperature is bad, wont stick to the other one. Now I take a third painting and place the back of it against the back of painting number two. I repeat this process making sure I move from largest to smallest in painting size. You ALWAYS want to be sure that when a painting is against the other one that the frames(or stretcher bars) are touching on at least two sides. If the frames are touching then the pressure will rest there and not on a section of canvas where it could push and stretch.
If you are unable to get two sides(MIN), of your stretcher bars/frames, to touch then you may want to get a thick piece of cardboard or any board to place in between. After all of that you can now carefully place all of your boxed work in and around it. Be sure to keep things tucked in and close together so that when you make turns and stops there is no wiggle room for things to slide around. This is not only dangerous for the art but will send your blood pressure through the roof worrying about the art with each bump in the road. Now its packed and its all ready to go to a show for tent set up!