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How To Pick Shows?

Arts festivals are fun and plentiful, especially in Atlanta in the spring and fall.   The beautiful weather encourages them and people do tend to come out to support the artists and have a fun day.  I show my pottery at lots of festivals around town and therefore I also get invited to many festivals.  Sometimes it's hard to know which ones to choose.  Some are well established, they are easy.  But lots of new ones are popping up.

I am always a little suspect of invites to shows that don't tell me what they are going to do for me.  I'd like to know where my entry fee will be spent.  Will they provide security?  How will they advertise?  Are they giving cash awards?  Heck, even booth sitters and water delivery can make a show more pleasant, is that offered?



I have been bold enough to ask questions when I was interested in a show but still really uncertain from the invite.  Interestingly some that I have been really suspicious of have folded so I know my instincts were right but I don't think that would be true each time.

How do other artist pick shows to sell at and how are the visitors deciding which shows to attend?

Check out the gallery page - Future Relics Gallery

Comments

  1. I pick shows with walls and a roof :) I am only doing one outdoor show this fall, the spring shows last year were so bad for me I didn't apply for any this year. At some outdoor shows I did, there would be people passing out flyers for their shows and inviting me to attend, I was always skeptical of them.....

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    1. I'm always suspect of the people handing out fliers. Most of the time I never hear anything else about the show. I know the promoters need to make money too but they would do better to make it a good show so artists keep coming back. Like making good pots so the customers will keep coming back for more.

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  2. I noticed shows are soliciting artists for their shows at shows I have been at as well, sales at shows are generally down from what I have heard from the artists. I read somewhere that a show has to have at least 10,000 attendees to make the venue worthwhile. The other thing to consider is the entertainment. if there is too much entertainment then the attendees are focusing on that and not on the art. The food booths always seem to do well.

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    1. Thanks Linda, you make a really good point about the entertainment. I also won't do a beer sponcered festival. Not because I don't like beer, I love it, but because people are drinking and not buying during those festivals.

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  3. I recently had a conversation with a young marketing person about the future of shows. Her take, that I have to say has some merit is this - the generations that attend shows are aging, down sizing and affected by the economic challenges. The next generation is much more web based. It doesn't bother them at all to make substantial or handmade purchases online. They don't "shop" or spend their day walking through an art festival to find the perfect item. When I think about my kids and their habits, it does ring true. They might attend a festival now, but its usually to spend sometime with me, not because they have something they are lookin for. When they want to find something they look online. I haven't figured out what that means to be as a seller and festival vendor, but I do think it needs to be given some thought. Each target market has a preferred method of finding their special items and as our challenged is to make our products available to them via their preferred method.

    Now on selecting shows to do, I usually don't apply to a show unless I've actually attended it in the past. When I attend them, I try to evaluated the people who are attending to see if I feel they fit my target market. Does the show attract people who would be willing to buy one of my items at $70 or $80 or are they looking for $10 or less items? Are they walking around with stuff they've purchased?

    Only once did I sign up for a show that was brand new (it was cheap and really close to home) and it went really well. Last year I had two shows that were badly affected by the weather, but they still did OK.

    And a couple times I've been to the best organized show that has lots of people attending, but no one carrying anything they bought. They are all there "supporting the arts" and being seen. Apparently "supporting the arts" to them means stopping in my both, looking stuff over and then telling me I make beautiful things. Thanks - I love to hear that, but I also love to sell stuff. If you attend the show a previous year, you can usually see this if you sit and watch in one spot for a while.

    This year I'm trying a weekly street market on Thursdays that I've prevously attended several times. It always has super traffic and the vendors I've spoken with there (in a similar price range) have said they make as much on one Thursday as they an entire weekend elsewhere. So I've got my fingers cross for that one.

    Wow that was quite a tear - sorry. Good luck with your choices this year.

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    1. Hi Sue, Wow, lots of good information here, thanks for taking the time to write it all. Maybe I should spend more time on my Esty store.
      I've got my fingers crossed for your Thursday market too.

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  4. It is totally true, art fairs are NOT where it is at anymore. I do very few now, and used to do dozens every year. It is so much easier sitting around doing the net thing. So true about beers, what you say, drinkers are not buyers usually!

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