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Author Topic: Notes on my first craft festival  (Read 4008 times)
Justan
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« on: November 12, 2012, 11:47:52 AM »
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I finally did it Ė set up a booth at a small craft festival. There were a little over 100 vendors. Most vendors I spoke with said that the customer turn out for the event was horrid. Many said they would not be back because the turnout was so bad. Given this feedback I was delighted that my sales were okay.

My work received more really really good comments than Iíve ever heard before. There were lots of ooohs and aaahs and wows! It did my ego well. 100% of my customers were women, which I found interesting.

Evidently, a lot of people love idealized landscapes. The works that sold the most were among my most heavily manipulated works. The primary sellers were my city-scapes and farm-scapes with the coastal stuff coming in 3rd. Evidently 3 small works  may have been stolen by the facility staff because i left them overnight.

My neighbor vendors were very helpful at making good suggestions to the newbie (me) and other than being a god-awful amount of work to set up and tear down the booth, it was a fun event.

My biggest worry is about the young children that get their hands onto everything. There is nothing that can be done about this, except to carry liability insurance and keep a watchful eye on them. Too often their parents do not do this!

I have a 3 day event this coming weekend. Not looking forward to the set up and tear down, but I hope the event will be as fun as the last one, and that there are waaaay more people than there were at the last one.

A note of sincere thanks to the many here at LL who have provided helpful feedback. You helped to make this debut a success.
« Last Edit: November 12, 2012, 12:14:07 PM by Justan » Logged

jeremypayne
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« Reply #1 on: November 12, 2012, 12:03:35 PM »
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Good for you.  That's a lot of work!
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Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #2 on: November 12, 2012, 12:09:55 PM »
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Congrats on finally doing it and making sales!

Were "okay" sales good enough to cover the cost?
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« Reply #3 on: November 12, 2012, 12:20:51 PM »
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Thanks for sharing your show honeymoon experience. We can all sympathize with your comments regarding out-of-control children and their ignorant parents at these shows.
After you do a few more of these shows you'll realized that:
  Kids will be kids. When asked how he liked kids, W.C. Fields said "parboiled".
  Setup gets more difficult as you age.
  Other vendors will always complain about traffic and low sales.
  The wind will destroy only your most expensive glass frames.
  Ohs and Ahs are always enjoyed.
  Visiting photographers will always distract you from your customers.
  The words "I'll be back" are never to be taken seriously.
  The more you explain your work when not asked specifically, the less chance you'll make the sale.
  If you don't take credit cards you'll miss 50% of your sales.
  Your work will be fondled by ice cream consumers.
  You will be asked 20 times per day what camera you use.
  You will listen to lengthy descriptions about photos your customers took 20 years ago.
  
  
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Justan
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« Reply #4 on: November 13, 2012, 11:18:13 AM »
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Good for you.  That's a lot of work!

Thanks. It is indeed. I spent most of yesterday running the printer to replace stuff I sold and to make sure I have extras for my next show, a mere 3 days from now. Yikes! And then I had to off load everything from the trailer. And then there was my day job.

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Congrats on finally doing it and making sales!

Thanks!

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Were "okay" sales good enough to cover the cost?

Depends on what is meant by cost. The direct cost of the space was more than repaid, but several years of build up, not. Iíve decided to mostly avoid all but the most basic accounting until after I do a big show in January, where they organizers say that last year over 40 K (K=thousand) people showed up over a 3 days. Until then I have 3 other smaller shows so I can get a sense of what is needed for a good presentation. More shows will be telling.

At the show someone representing one of the big box stores asked me to contact their corporate offices. He said that theyíd love to do in-store shows of my work.

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Thanks for sharing your show honeymoon experience. We can all sympathize with your comments regarding out-of-control children and their ignorant parents at these shows.
After you do a few more of these shows you'll realized that:
  Kids will be kids. When asked how he liked kids, W.C. Fields said "parboiled".
  Setup gets more difficult as you age.
  Other vendors will always complain about traffic and low sales.
  The wind will destroy only your most expensive glass frames.
  Ohs and Ahs are always enjoyed.
  Visiting photographers will always distract you from your customers.
  The words "I'll be back" are never to be taken seriously.
  The more you explain your work when not asked specifically, the less chance you'll make the sale.
  If you don't take credit cards you'll miss 50% of your sales.
  Your work will be fondled by ice cream consumers.
  You will be asked 20 times per day what camera you use.
  You will listen to lengthy descriptions about photos your customers took 20 years ago.

Thanks, Lou. I always enjoy when you share your wisdom!

Iím only going to respond to one point you made: I did process several orders by credit card. I used the Square CC/DC processing system and it was flawless. Well the Square system was flawless. I tried to use my iPhone as a wifi hot spot for my iPad and the iPad couldnít find the phone even though the phone was inches away. I did some reading on Appleís support forums and elsewhere and found this problem is due to the ios 6 upgrade from Apple, which amounts to a 5 star slap in the face *and* elbow in the eye. The iPad is useless as a business tool without wifi.
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bill t.
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« Reply #5 on: November 13, 2012, 12:17:38 PM »
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Congratulations Justan!  You're a man now!

If the staff is stealing stuff out of your booth, you need to graduate to better shows!  Have never had a piece stolen.  But at even the best shows it's a good idea to keep your ladder out of sight when you are absent.  And someday I'll have the gumption to ask tape-measure borrowers to leave their driver's license.

Hope you took that all-important booth photo!

Random points...

-setup is usually easier after 1 or 2 in the afternoon, after all the hot doggers are out of the picture.

-a frenzy grips most exhibitors at the moment of tear down.  I take two deep breaths at that time and dilly dally around for about an hour until the crazies are gone and nearby parking spots are abundant.  It's so much easier that way.

-the best way to control greasy fingered kids is to talk directly to them, addressing them almost as though they were adults.  "Do you know that is?"  "Have you ever been to that place?"

-but if somebody DOES ask about how you took the picture, be sure to tell them.  People remember and relate anecdotes much better than mere facts and names.  You'll stick in their brains much better if you can plant a story there, and if you have enough stories running around in the wild that amounts to a reputation which ultimately amounts to money in the bank.  Art marketing is all about the Back Story.

-if somebody asks you if you used a camera to take that picture, the answer is Yes.

-my gut feeling is that you can hope to sell about 1, $400+ piece per 500 to 800 visitors.
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Justan
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« Reply #6 on: November 13, 2012, 07:43:25 PM »
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Thanks Bill!

What do you use to protect works for transport? Getting works up to 6í long bubble wrapped and in boxes takes hours. And Iím finding that my cardboard boxes are not compatible with rain.

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Ö But at even the best shows it's a good idea to keep your ladder out of sight when you are absent. 

I think that is what it boils down to. I left the exhibit itself and the print bins open overnight. The management said it was safe. In the future Iíll cover the exhibit with a tarp. And maybe keep the bin prints in their transport.

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-the best way to control greasy fingered kids is to talk directly to them, addressing them almost as though they were adults.  "Do you know that is?"  "Have you ever been to that place?"

This is good!

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-but if somebody DOES ask about how you took the picture, be sure to tell them.  People remember and relate anecdotes much better than mere facts and names.

I noticed that most people enjoyed the back stories. Several took glee at being able to identify the location of some of the farm-scapes. One said: ďIíve driven past that barn for the last 20 years and always wanted a photo of it. Did you know it fell over last summer?Ē

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-Ö hope to sell about 1, $400+ piece per 500 to 800 visitors.

Good to know. Should that happen at the first big show, I may have to find a private moment and quietly soil myself.
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Peter McLennan
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« Reply #7 on: November 13, 2012, 10:05:56 PM »
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 Art marketing is all about the Back Story.

As always Bill, words to live by.  In a PS class tonight, I showed three 17X25 prints from a recent shoot. The students were more interested in where I shot the images (ice close-ups) than the images themselves.

Disappointing, yet for me instructive.
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bill t.
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« Reply #8 on: November 14, 2012, 11:54:23 AM »
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Bubble wrapping is too much work.  But if you have to do it, 17" blue rubber bands bought on Amazon are a big help.

Since I only do fairly nearby shows, I use a multi-trip approach to setup.  For trip #1, I interleave framed pieces and ProPanels in the back of my small pickup truck, laid flat.  With the 13 panel setup, I can take 12 large pieces.  For about the bottom 8 pieces, on either side of the frame I lay 2" x 2" x 6' strips of foam cut out of a piece of foam insulation from Lowes (use a sharp chef's knife).  Takes the load off the frames.  The pieces above that are on their own, they can take it.

For all subsequent trips, I use 60 x 80 moving blankets.  Pieces are placed back to back on a blanket with nothing in between, then the blanket is folded over.  Just be a little careful that one frame doesn't scrape the sides of its mate with the hanging hardware.  And don't use saw tooth WallBuddies.  Will usually take 10 to 16 pieces at a time stacked up in such pairs.  Rarely have any damage, one learns to be careful.  If you want you can cut up Gatorfoam boxes to make spacers between blanketed pairs.  More fastidious types will sew up moving blankets to make big envelopes, it's the only option if you have to transport the pieces other than laid flat.

PS, rain is less of an issue here than in the NW.  On those rare cloudy days I lay down a big tarp at the bottom of everything, then wrap up the whole magilla with bungees.  No leaks so far, even with the panels hanging out the back of the little truck.

Of course, all real art fair gypsies own Ford Econoline vans with 8 foot interiors and about 490,000 miles on the odometer and a couple of bashed in doors and rusted out areas above tires, registered in a state with slack emission standards.  Keep the spare cans of motor oil and the greasy spigot under the seat.  Lesser gypsies can rent U-Haul trucks and trailers.

And yes, women outbuy men by about 5:1.  Look dapper, and put some polish on those disgusting shoes!  Gregory Peck, Cary Grant, John Wayne, Sir Lancelot, somewhere in there.  Aw shucks mam, I'm mighty pleased you like my picture!  And hang your best pieces with a 60 inch center height.  And know how to assess how your piece will look above a tan couch on a mauve wall, you are expected to be a knowledgeable interior decorator.  And if some gal tells you she's buying the piece to cheer up her depressed husband, do everything you can to discourage the sale.  But I ramble.
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Justan
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« Reply #9 on: November 14, 2012, 01:22:47 PM »
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ÖI use a multi-trip approach to setupÖ

Hmmm. Multi-trips in one day is not an option for me. The event holders only give a few hours for load in and out the day before/after, and then a little time in the mornings of the event. But blankets or even sleeping bags would be waaaaaaaaaaay quicker to push and pull than cardboard corners, bubble wrap, huge clear bags and then stuffing the mess into oversized boxes. Cool! Iíll have to raid a Value Village or two.

Iím using a large covered (water tight) trailer and stand the packaged the works on end, plus of course the pro panels and all the other stuff goes in the trailer as well. Arts and crafts festivals around this area are very spread out. The one that i set up for tomorow is about 50 miles from here. Naturally, some prints shifted in the frames during transport last time so that becomes another detail.

I think Iíll contact the group that makes my frames. They ship from NC to WA and Iím pretty sure they can make me a some boxes that are big enough and uniform size. Between better fitting boxes and quick on and off wrappers, that will remove a large block of time for set up and and tear down.

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With the 13 panel setupÖ

Thatís another detail I will have to address. A 9 panel setup doesnít do it.

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Öput some polish on those disgusting shoes!  

Funny. I had that debate with my partner and she advised against my wearing open toed Tivas even with dark socks. Sigh. Iíll have to break out my new boots. Maybe freshly washed jeans too.  Grin

> Gregory Peck, Cary Grant, John Wayne, Sir Lancelot, somewhere in there.  Aw shucks mam, I'm mighty pleased you like my picture!  And hang your best pieces with a 60 inch center height.  And know how to assess how your piece will look above a tan couch on a mauve wall, you are expected to be a knowledgeable interior decorator.  And if some gal tells you she's buying the piece to cheer up her depressed husband, do everything you can to discourage the sale.  

LOL This is great!
« Last Edit: November 14, 2012, 01:28:09 PM by Justan » Logged

bill t.
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« Reply #10 on: November 14, 2012, 03:58:33 PM »
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Yup the 9 panel, 10x10 setup is too small for panos.  A 10 x 20 end cap is what you need.  Almost guarantees good placement.  For the price of only 4 more panels and about twice the booth fee you get twice the wall space and at least 1/3 more sales.  But of course you have to haul more stuff.  The 20 foot wall section will display 3, six footers side by side with no problem.  I usually show a really colorful 8 footer on each of the outside walls, plus 2 or 3 smaller ones below.  Bright, shiny shots that read well from across the room are great sales tools and those end caps give you long distance, reach-out-and-grab visibility.
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Justan
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« Reply #11 on: November 15, 2012, 10:46:24 AM »
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Itís a plan. Iíll order so they arrive a little before the first show where Iíll be able use them, sometime after the first of the year. I have 3 shows booked and have reserved a 10x10 space for those. I only need 3 panels and a few more lights for the 10x20 display. I already have 2 additional I think they are 24Ē or wider panels, which I didnít mention above. Never used them and forgot I had them until I went into the garage and looked. Now that I think of it, I have the lights too.

My partner told me that blankets are about $3 at Value Village, and that works out to be far less than bubble wrap! She volunteered to cut and make envelopes out of them.

I assembled 11 canvas works into their frames last night and that puts me up to I think itís 18 boxes of framed work.

Off to load the trailer, drive about 50 miles and then unload and setup. The upper body workout of this venture is better than making regular visits to the gym, but nowhere near as relaxing as my typical 1.5 hour walk or bike ride. My arms are still sore from all the schlepping last week. IBU is part of the tool kit.

Many thanks for the tips!
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Justan
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« Reply #12 on: November 20, 2012, 09:21:11 AM »
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Craft fair #2 a 3 day event.

What a great time!

There were about 70 vendors overall selling everything from miniature doughnuts to kitchen stuff, to religious artifacts, to one old guy (me) who sold fotos. I lucked into an end booth across from the stage. I definitely learned the value of a corner location.

It was fun and a first of its kind for me to have a location at a festival which gave me a front row, stage side space for the singers and ballet performers. Needless to elaborate on, the location was uniquely cool and I can definitely appreciate the advantage of corner locations and locations by the eating/stage area as there are always people taking a break and using the opportunity to look at the fotos.

I set up the Pro Panels so that people could access the exhibit from 2 sides, which made for good use of the location and also made for a lot of display area as I was able to use 2 sides of the boothís outside as well as all the inside for display.

Some of the highlights from the show were that I was given contact information for possible opportunities to show work at nearby locations including the areaís ski resort. One lady came by and asked a bunch of questions about several works and then asked if I would like to do a presentation for a camera club. Another lady wanted me to talk with her son about photography as a career. A young lady who is a local gallery manager came out to look at my work and we talked about my exhibiting at the gallery. I received similar inquiries for other galleries. WOW!

I got contact information for exhibiting at other shows including a 2 day wine and chocolate festival coming up after the first of the year. This one will start a mere 3 days after I finish a big 5 day show at the end of January. Iíll have to have everything ready for both shows before I start the first show. The wine and Ö 2 day show will be the first one where Iíll use a 10x20 display area, provided of course the event holders have this much space available. I havenít heard back yet. At least Iíll have over a month to prepare.

I sold 2 bigger works and scads of smaller ones which is AWESOME given that I ran of what appears to be my most popular works in the first day.

I got to meet some really great fellow exhibitors. There were 2 exhibitors from last show and it was interesting to begin to see how this circuit works, plus it very nice to see familiar faces.

The fellow exhibitors were among my best customers, and women are the overwhelming majority of purchasers but there were lots of men as well. One of the best moments was when Santa came in to buy a print!

I got to talk with a couple of women in their 80s. One told me a story of when she was a child living in the San Juan islands where she said she and a friend would occasionally feed some of the local killer whales. I donít know what they fed the whales, but she said the whales occasionally did leaps and other feats in trade for the food.

Another woman about the same age showed me a bunch of spectacular photos she carries with her of some local sunsets, storms, clouds, horses on her farm, and a little of her family. Many of her works were absolute knockouts.

I received so many kind comments. It was as if Iíd stepped into someone elseís life for a few days. It was entirely sureal.

I have a ton of printing to do to get ready for my next show in merely 2 weeks.

I could definitely learn to love this kind of exhibiting.
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Walt Roycraft
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« Reply #13 on: November 21, 2012, 09:55:29 AM »
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Sounds like you are off to a great start. Congratulations. I've been doing Art Fairs for a year now, and just completed my first one where I had a 100+ degree fever the first day and was just overall miserable the second. Made enough sales to cover costs but boy was it tough. I guess you take the good with the bad!
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Justan
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« Reply #14 on: November 21, 2012, 10:17:48 AM »
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Thank you for the kind comments!

Itís all so new to me that itís hard to make any interpretations the results of my 2 shows. Before the outset I decided that Iíll do at least 5 shows before I begin to have a sense of what I call determining if the business side of this has a heartbeat. Of those 5, I would like to have 2 of them be art shows, but at this point only 1 will be a big draw show and none are art strictly shows. But Iím very encouraged by the show last week. I canít believe how many opportunities can spring from these events. Time will tell if the proposed opportunities amounts to ďfestival feverĒ on the part of the patrons and myself.

How do you select the events you participate in?

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bill t.
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« Reply #15 on: November 22, 2012, 04:23:45 PM »
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IMHO it's not how many shows you are in, it's the total number of paid (and therefore motivated) attendees who will be exposed to your work.  Two, 50,000 shows are therefore worth about as much a 10, 10,000 attendee shows.  Or any number of no-admission street fairs unless those street fairs are in Aspen, Scottsdale, Telluride, Bevery Hills, etc.  Of course I oversimplify, as usual.  But high end shows are worth so much more than low end shows that you need to concentrate your efforts at the top.  And attendance figures for "free" fairs are meaningless numbers.

A hard workin' art fair maven should be able to squeeze about 1/4 to 1/2 dollar out of each paid admission at a good show.  If you're not getting that and you are showing known good selling pieces, you need to scratch that fair off the list.

Anyhow, congrats on your show.  But honestly, if you sold out a piece with a mere two sales on the first day, then you could have sold five of those on Saturday and 4 more on Sunday.  TISK! TISK!  OK you're new and don't know what your best sellers are, so no corporal punishment this time only.  But you won't start breaking into 5 figures until you don't sell out until the last five minutes of the last day.  Takes practice.  Your Best Sellers are what makes it all possible, treat them well and make careful notes on what in those pictures because you want more of the same thing in yet more pictures.  And don't confuse pictures that you like or that you think other photographers will like with what will sell.  Photographers don't know s**t about what sells, just ask any gallery owner.

Couple of random thoughts...

It's nice that you're getting gallery and other contacts.  It's also nice that those contacts are coming AFTER you have set yourself up as independent art schlepper.  That way the gallery can't claim to have made you everything you are.  That can happen.  Read a couple books on the gallery/artist symbiosis/parisitosis  before committing to a gallery.  And it's even more important that you're receiving wide ranging recognition from the public, be sure they know your name.

Yes the fairs are fun if you can take the physical abuse.  Most of artists are more or less gypsies who spend a lot of time on the road.  Every fair is a kind of homecoming for all concerned.  It's a good feeling.  Makes the otherwise hectic setup day more than tolerable.  BTW listen to what those guys tell you.

Were you the youngest artist there?  We're a dying breed.  It's uncertain how long "art fairs" as an institution will carry on.  Might not be a good career choice.  OTOH, I know a few art fair mavens with incomes that would make almost any gallery artist except Andreas Gursky more than envious.  Think about it.





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Justan
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« Reply #16 on: November 23, 2012, 10:23:27 AM »
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Anyhow, congrats on your show.  

Thank you!

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But honestly, if you sold out a piece with a mere two sales on the first day, then you could have sold five of those on Saturday and 4 more on Sunday.  TISK! TISK!  OK you're new and don't know what your best sellers are, so no corporal punishment this time only.  But you won't start breaking into 5 figures until you don't sell out until the last five minutes of the last day.  Takes practice.  

Yes! For the last show I had 2s of most and 5s of the best sellers from the first show, which all disappeared quickly. This time around Iím producing 20s of each of the top sellers  and 5-10s of the lesser sellers. I also had an issue with replacing one of the framed works with another of the same. I didnít want the purchaser to feel their unique purchase was diminished, so I replaced it with a different work. That was stupid, becauseÖ.

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Your Best Sellers are what makes it all possible, treat them well and make careful notes on what in those pictures because you want more of the same thing in yet more pictures.  

Excellent feedback. I debated that very detail at length during the show and since. One other key issue about the last show was the specific market. The show was in farm land, right next to the foothills. A lot of my work is from that area, and thatís what mostly sold. The show before had a wider mix of subjects that sold but a lot less sales. With only 2 shows, there are too few data points, except for which were the top sellers at each event. But what Iíve read time and again is that people want what is around them. To that end, my biggest sale was from someone who said ďThe work is a mirror of what is outside my door.Ē Due to this I may end up capturing works in more districts during the coming year.

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And don't confuse pictures that you like or that you think other photographers will like with what will sell.  Photographers don't know s**t about what sells, just ask any gallery owner.

Agreed. Gallery owners Iíve worked with donít necessarily know what sells, either. That is probably part of why many galleries fail.

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It's nice that you're getting gallery and other contacts.  It's also nice that those contacts are coming AFTER you have set yourself up as independent art schlepper.  That way the gallery can't claim to have made you everything you are.  That can happen.  Read a couple books on the gallery/artist symbiosis/parisitosis  before committing to a gallery.  And it's even more important that you're receiving wide ranging recognition from the public, be sure they know your name.

Note to selfÖ.put a sign on the booth with the name. I handed out a bunch of cards. Only made a couple of hundred, and ran out of those too.

At the moment I see galleries useful mostly for marketing purposes, so I can state that Iím in x galleries, where the works sell for 2x what Iím selling them for here. This seems to impress and encourage those who ask.

The shows Iím doing now are both to ease my way into the circuit and are also needed to get into bigger shows (all of the bigger shows around here require a listing of other recent shows). The producers of my next show say that about 5K people attended last year, which is over 2x what the last show had and probably 4x what the first one had.

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Yes the fairs are fun if you can take the physical abuse.  Most of artists are more or less gypsies who spend a lot of time on the road.  Every fair is a kind of homecoming for all concerned.  It's a good feeling.  Makes the otherwise hectic setup day more than tolerable.  BTW listen to what those guys tell you.

Agreed. Iíve received lots of useful information from show veterans.

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Were you the youngest artist there?  We're a dying breed.  It's uncertain how long "art fairs" as an institution will carry on.  Might not be a good career choice.  OTOH, I know a few art fair mavens with incomes that would make almost any gallery artist except Andreas Gursky more than envious.  Think about it.

One of my cousins did verrrrrrry verrrrrrry well doing art shows. I figured at the outset my chances of success were about 1 in a million, but due to the priceless feedback of some people here, and the amazing comments of overwhelming numbers of people in the last 2 weeks, there is some cause for hope.

On the broader issue of the economy, I was talking with the owner of my local art supply vendor a couple of days ago. I have a unique relationship with the guy as I consult for him on IT issues plus I buy from him. He says that sales have been sloooooly picking up, after dropping to nearly nothing since 2008. People buying more art is a GREAT indicator that the broader economy is starting to show a heartbeat.
« Last Edit: November 23, 2012, 11:39:27 AM by Justan » Logged

Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #17 on: November 23, 2012, 11:46:54 AM »
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... Iím in x galleries, where the works sell for 2x what Iím selling them for here. This seems to impress and encourage those who ask...

The following are open-ended questions for those with more experience in this: is that really a good strategy, undercutting galleries? Wouldn't that spoil the relationship? The same goes for selling at your website for x % less.
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« Reply #18 on: November 23, 2012, 12:30:33 PM »
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The following are open-ended questions for those with more experience in this: is that really a good strategy, undercutting galleries? Wouldn't that spoil the relationship? The same goes for selling at your website for x % less.


Is it a good strategy?

It depends.

It is not if one has a contract, or believes they are obligated to a gallery.

As a point of law, unless a contractual agreement exists that states cost and/or exclusivity details, there is no basis for argument.

My limited experience after some years of selling through 3 galleries and at 2 shows, is that a gallery will not sell more than a fraction of what I sell at a show.

As an aside, the gallery owners I spoke with at the show didnít have a problem with it.
 
Iíll be interested to read other responses and probably wonít comment much further on the topic.
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bill t.
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« Reply #19 on: November 23, 2012, 12:47:17 PM »
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Amen Slobodan.

Don't undercut your galleries!  They will hate your for it.

Maintain a consistent pricing across all venues.  The relationship between art-fairing artists and galleries can be a rocky one, they can see you as a competitor.  I make a point of telling my art fair customers that my prices are the same everywhere.  And when I get the "do you have more pieces?" question I send those folks to a gallery.  Just after my art fairs, people my galleries have never seen before starting coming through the door singing my praises and that earns me the unswerving love and affection of the gallery owners.  Treat your galleries nice.  I just love it when those monthly checks show up in my mail box, especially in months when I have no art fairs.

And BTW, the worst imaginable sin you can commit against a gallery is to withdraw good pieces just before a fair, now that really pisses 'em off!

Pricing is a complicated subject.  While I am not one to place unrealistic prices on my work, I am convinced that there is some price point below which you will not sell more pieces simply because of low pricing.  And there are even venues where low pricing can work against you, such as in untypically wealthy areas with people who equate price with worth, may the On-High bless 'em!  Wow, could go on.  Keep those prices at a perceived reasonable level, but never try to sell based on pricing alone.  And never, ever discount, unless the buyer is genuinely a wholesaler such as a decorater and even then be sure to verify their credentials.

And don't underestimate galleries!  Not to brag too much, but over the last three downturned years I have sold more than 800 sofa-sized pieces through a single downtown gallery.  The 30 year gallery veteran who runs the place knows how to sell art like I never could, mainly because he has contacts to die for.  There a plenty of crappy galleries out there, surrounded by a precious few good ones.  Go for the good ones.  They just love civically-responsible, reception-room-sized, local interest work from artists who are not prima donnas and can deliver a consistent stream of highly salable pieces with no duds.  Artists like that are rare birds and that's the gallery reputation you should build, and how you should pitch yourself.  The swag from a good art fair is pretty sweet, but those monthly checks from galleries keep the home fires burning in between.
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