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Thread: selling photos are "Arts and Crafts Shows"

  1. #1
    -Rob Robert Skeoch's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Burlington, Ontario

    selling photos are "Arts and Crafts Shows"

    I just went to the "One of a Kind" art and craft's show in Toronto.
    There were a couple of photographers showing their work there. Most seemed to have a few people looking at the work but no buyers.
    Has anyone had success selling photograph at these shows.
    Anyone have any insights or suggestions.

  2. #2
    Ted Harris's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2000
    New Hampshire

    selling photos are "Arts and Crafts Shows"

    I sell notecards at arts and craft shows and Christmas Fairs. The cards always sell well. I usually have around a dozen 8x10 prints available as well. Generally, I will sell 3-5 of the 8x10's as well and almost always end up with orders for even more prints. The print orders are generally more profitable as they are usually for larger framed prints.

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Dec 1997
    Baraboo, Wisconsin

    selling photos are "Arts and Crafts Shows"

    Lots of people do this and a few even make a living doing it. I investigated the possibility myself in some depth a few years ago, not so much to make a living as just a way of maybe paying for the equipment and materials I use. I concluded that the people who are successful work very, very hard, much harder than I wanted to work. Just think about the time and effort involved in first making the photographs, then the time and money to print and frame enough to have a decent selection to show. At that point you have zero revenue to show for the time and money you've spent to just get in position to exhibit. So then you start applying for entries, hopefully get accepted, load everything up in the van, drive who knows how far, unload the van, set up the tent, hope the show's sponsors didn't relegate photography to the back lot, talk to a bunch of prospective customers (hopefully) over the course of a weekend if it doesn't rain, take the tent down, load up the van, and head out on the road to the next show. Even with this extremely abbreviated summary of what's involved in doing this seriously you can see that it's a daunting task. Of course if you're just talking about entering one or two shows near your home that's different but you can't make any money that way.
    Brian Ellis
    Before you criticize someone, walk a mile in their shoes. That way when you do criticize them you'll be
    a mile away and you'll have their shoes.

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Jan 2001

    selling photos are "Arts and Crafts Shows"

    That's how Clyde Butcher made it for many years.
    Wilhelm (Sarasota)

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Oct 2001
    Alberta, Canada

    selling photos are "Arts and Crafts Shows"

    Brian's message should be read again. The money is there if you want to really, really work for it.

    A friend used to make furniture, and tried to sell it at Farmer's Markets and such. He had some success, but for the most part, his inventory didn't move. He then did some research (and some thinking), and determined that his price point did not match the expected price point of the 'walk-by' shoppers. He determined that for the sale to be completely painless, for the purchaser to easily part with his/her cash, he would have to sell items at $10 or less.

    He stopped selling furniture, and started making small apple crates out of recycled 2x4s - you know, they fit CD's, books, toiletries, etc. He purchased a brand new Harley with the proceeds....but he still had to travel a lot, and spend hours and hours doing mindless cutting and assembly. Was it worth it? To him, perhaps.

    To me, selling work at a Farmers Market or Craft Fairs is not the way to go. You have to spend way too much time, time that could be spent photographing. Not to mention that I doubt if I could get what I expect for my photographs. Sure, I could easily sell mounted 8x10s for $20, but is it worth it? Like my friend, I would have to spend hours printing and mounting (not to mention spotting!) to make enough material to sell....

    I guess it comes down to priorities - why are you in photography? To make a living, to pay for your gear, to have a bit of spare cash to buy film when the need arises, or just for the pleasure of it?

    Me, I'll sell the odd print when the opportunity arises, but I really don't want to work to hard at it

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Livermore, CA

    selling photos are "Arts and Crafts Shows"

    You may want to check out the Yahoo!Groups and search for the group, "artshow_photo"
    Some 2700 members of that active group.

    Like has been said, it can be done. Certainly requires a dedication to the effort. I wouldn't consider it a profitable endeavor if you have another "job". I dabbled once at a local Art and Wine fair and did sell a few prints, but certainly didn't make up the cost of what it took to get there. Your upfront costs certainly get reduced greatly the more fairs you can manage.
    So many factors to consider, like: Location, location, location.... :-)

    Good luck,

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Whittier, CA

    selling photos are "Arts and Crafts Shows"

    This year it will be my first Art show in Beverly Hills.
    I have heard vwery good things about it.
    I think that if you are confident about your work, you should ignore the small shows, avoid farmers markets, and apply only at fine art shows where there is a more informed and art loving croud.

    I have heard of artists going home after a weekend with $20.000 revenues. This also depends on your prices and if your work is good.
    I ,do have a question.
    I am planning to hang framed work, I bought a print rack where people can view matted work, and also some unmounted print in Boxes.
    I would hate to give away a framed piece the first day of the show when sold.
    I was thinking to propose to the client a free delivery option in a, let's say 50 miles radius.
    If there are people here doing these shows, how do they deal with it?
    If I give the image upfront, I will have a hole in the walls and I will miss potential sales.

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Mancos, Colorado

    selling photos are "Arts and Crafts Shows"


    I've had success but as others have said it is a lot of work. But so is everything else at which you want to succeed.

    There are some write-ups floating around if you do a search but here is my experience.

    You need a big enough vehicle to get your work and other gear to and from. I used my truck.

    Protect the artwork with blankets and cardboard corners, obviously damaged art will not sell. Weather is always a consideration, again potential damage to art and keeping buyers away.

    I have several images that always sell and I make sure I have them ready as 8x10's. These, hopefully, pay for the cost of the show, less expensive and easy to carry out.

    I show a lot of large prints. Attracts customers from afar. I don't do bin art but others say it sells well too.

    Stay away from hobby and craft shows as these attract a more mixed clientele.

    You can see my work at,

    good luck,

    It can be fun. Some fairs have get-togethers before the opening.

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Feb 1999

    selling photos are "Arts and Crafts Shows"

    Interesting thread -- do black and white prints sell better than color at these types of shows? I've been to few sidewalk craft sales, and the color photographs all seem to be variations of the same themes -- sunsets, blurred water in streams, fall foliage, flowers, etc. But maybe that's what people want.

  10. #10
    grumpy & miserable Joseph O'Neil's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    London, Ontario

    selling photos are "Arts and Crafts Shows"

    A friend of mine who is a professional artist - "professional" in the sense that he pays the mortage and puts food on the table strickly from sales of his artwork, has told me that he has seen a slow decline in sales at art shows (holidays notwithstanding) not just of his work, but others as well.

    the decline is more in size of sale in terms of dollar value, not the number of sales. More people are buying $100 prints than $1,000 prints. People, in general just seem to have a little bit less disposable income than they used too.

    The exception for my friend seems to be the big ticket items. Bascailly it's easier to sell a $15,000 watercolour than a $500 limited edition print of the same thing. For him, it's getting to the point where's it is easier not to do shows, and just sell from his studio. But he's got the reputation wherein somebody will pay the big dollar for one fo his originals, whereas most people starting out have to build up to the point, and the market for such seems to be not as good as it was some years ago.

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