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Thread: Art Festivals vs. Craft Fairs, resources and markets

  1. #1
    Corran's Avatar
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    Art Festivals vs. Craft Fairs, resources and markets

    Just wrapped up another disappointing "art festival" that really trended towards being a "craft fair." There's nothing wrong with crafts, and they are often lumped together with "art," but inherently they have different markets, prices, and customers.

    I am wondering, for those who do art fairs (and specifically are making a significant amount of money in them, as opposed to just showing work for fun and maybe selling a print or two), where you look to find better art festivals that actually have buyers? Are they really uncommon? Are there some keywords or tells that signify a good location/event for this type of thing?

    I have been trending towards "juried" shows, but still often find myself surrounded by booths with birdhouses, garden whatsits, and other crafty items. The good news in my mind is that I seem to have better sales than any other photographers at these shows from what I can tell, talking with them or seeing buyers.

    I know this is a hard market to jump into, especially in this day and age, but I would love to start another discussion with those doing art festivals or selling prints outside of a gallery space, which is a different topic.
    Last edited by Corran; 23-Apr-2018 at 12:37.
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  2. #2

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    Re: Art Festivals vs. Craft Fairs, resources and markets

    I don't have any experience on the exhibition side of an art fair, but I did go to the Main Street Fort Worth Arts Festival this weekend where there were several film-based photographers selling prints. Joel Anderson (Large Format contact prints!), Kristin Schillaci, and Micheal Paul Cole. All three had a crowd of people in their tents. This was a pure art fair with very little in the way of "crafts" as such, though there were useful pieces of art like ceramics and some very avant-garde furniture.

  3. #3
    Corran's Avatar
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    Re: Art Festivals vs. Craft Fairs, resources and markets

    Thanks for the link to that festival. I will peruse that site to get an idea of how that kind of festival is advertised and presented. That's a lot of photographers there in that show! Not many at the ones I've done, and what is there is oftentimes...well, very very bad, both technically and artistically.

    Speaking on this latest festival, I had no problems getting views and an audience, and had many people fawning over prints to the point that I was sure I had a sale in the bag...but no dice. They are simply NOT buying, period. I had a few complain about prices but I'm already selling dirt cheap IMO. I am considering attending a Chamber of Commerce meeting here (it was a local festival, and we have a lot of festivals in this town) and bringing up the issue of local artists, and specifically supporting them. I have some ideas on that front. But it doesn't change the inherent issue with most festivals up here being focused on crafts. So I'm looking for ways to better focus my choice of festivals. I think I'll have to look much further away than I have been (different states).
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    Re: Art Festivals vs. Craft Fairs, resources and markets

    Corran,

    Thanks for starting this subject. I have never exhibited in an arts festival before but I am considering entering the Bethesda Row Arts Festival in the Washington D.C. area. It’s seems like a legitimate way to market your work as long as there are enough people that are in the market for art with deep enough pockets. My concern is that the crowd that will be in attendance will be more interested in looking at art rather than investing it.

    How many people were in the festival you participated in? How much did you have to pay to get in the festival? At a minimum I would be spending about $1000 for the Bethesda Row Arts Festival. Which is steep but it does get a lot of traffic as long as the weather is good. Bethesda is an affluent area so I’m hoping I could get more than enough sales to cover that investment but you never know.

    Does anyone in the forum have any experience with the Bethesda Row Arts Festival?

    -Joshua

  5. #5
    Corran's Avatar
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    Re: Art Festivals vs. Craft Fairs, resources and markets

    Joshua,

    The cost to participate in this festival was only $150, but of course the "cost" of materials (mat board, paper, plastic display bags, etc. etc.) was/is much more. Not to mention the large upfront cost of all the needed stuff like a nice tent, hanging system, display racks, etc. In terms of covering my investment...I'm not there yet, by a long shot.

    You bring up something important - the affluence of the area. In another festival I did last year, there was a huge affluent community nearby, so I felt good about it. But, those folks didn't come to the festival. It ended up being suburban families with kids and if there's something those kinda folks don't have generally, it's extra money. Plus Georgia is really not an affluent state overall.

    I will be interested in hearing what others' experience is in their area.
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    Randy Moe's Avatar
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    Re: Art Festivals vs. Craft Fairs, resources and markets

    Punk Rock still sells. I found Punk late, 1979-2009. RIP

    The only guy I know making money at fairs and festivals cleans up selling his custom silkscreen t-shirts and posters. He makes them, sells them, always has a cute & smart partner. Punk keeps coming...

    Mom and Dad are not all right.

  7. #7

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    Re: Art Festivals vs. Craft Fairs, resources and markets

    I think it frequently is geographical. Shows I went to (as a customer) while in MA were definitely more art than craft. Here in western PA it's mostly craft (and mostly non-sanctioned Steelers gear). And people here tend to buy things that have some sort of use - hanging on the wall looking nice isn't considered a use.

    There are e-mail lists for some of the shows - I'll see if I can find one and add it later.
    Bethe King
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  8. #8

    Re: Art Festivals vs. Craft Fairs, resources and markets

    I've done some of those and they are a complete waste of time and energy..that is not your market...im about making books doing book shows reaching out to book stores and completely learning the curve so I can start a small publishing company...face it even if you are in the best gallery in the world only on the wall for 3 weeks maybe??
    Check out rob Hornstra..and see what he has accomplished through his own publications; how he raised money; does workshops all over Europe etc
    Prints are great and I have a boatload of them...makibg books,and having a definitive goal with the book as project

  9. #9

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    Re: Art Festivals vs. Craft Fairs, resources and markets

    The traditional attitude of "$100 or less for an impulse buy" has kept me from ever thinking of showing at art/craft fairs. My photographs cost more than that to make. YMMV.

  10. #10
    Randy Moe's Avatar
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    Re: Art Festivals vs. Craft Fairs, resources and markets

    Thatís a very good point.

    I sold 4 sculptures 20 years ago.

    $100 each. I immediately regretted it and decided to not sell Art.

    Ever!

    I also quit sculpture as it was too much to store.

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