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View Full Version : Your thoughts on art shows?


soap
05-08-2003, 04:53 AM
Hi pastel friends,
I just posted a thread in the business forum, since I am wondering about entering a fancy art show or not.....I could do with your thoughts - have a read and see what you think about it...
Here's the thread:

http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=106102

Thanks so much!
Soap

jackiesimmonds
05-08-2003, 05:22 AM
Sophie - a few things to bear in mind.

The cost doesn't stop at the cost of the stand. You must calculate in the cost of your frames too, plus any publicity material of your own. Then there is your time, and the cost of any transport.

Why not do a bit of research. See if you can get hold of a previous show brochure, and track down a couple of the artists who exhibited last time. See if they felt it was worthwhile.

Art shows can be good - because of the publicity they attract, and the numbers of people through the doors. However, you have to set againsst that the numbers of stands there too, so that waters down your customers.

I once did Hampton Court Flower Show, in the art tent. The stand was much more expensive than yours, and it was a huge effort. I did sell lots of prints and postcards, but almost no originals. I took a couple of commissions. At the end of the day, I made a small profit. Was it worth it? Well, I quite enjoyed the experience and I learned a lot. It did not change my life, but I felt it was worth a try.

If you decide to have a go, then my best advice is to make abslutely sure that you have something for every pocket. I noticed, at Hampton Court, that the work which sold best was the most detailed, figurative work . ..obviously, there, people liked the botanical flower pics, but they also bought highly detailed prints of Venice too.......and the cheapest stuff, even if it was awful!!

I watched one chap, who had loads of prints of puppies and kittens and calves and ducks (very popular, ducks), sell one every five minutes. He used to go around the country, doing lots of art shows, and had clearly learned what sells and who comes along to these things, and had painted accordingly ... and had lots and lots of prints, and empty frames to put them in when someone chose something. That was clearly his bread and butter, and he also sold a couple of originals. His stand was constantly full of people. If someone can buy something for a few pounds, especially cute ducks, they are happy. It was quite an eye-opener, I can tell you- very galling too, he was right alongside me.

If you can produce enough work, both originals and prints or very small drawings for instance, to sell as inexpensive pieces, then it could be worth a try. MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL if you do decide to do this, Make absolutely sure that you have a "visitors book" and get every interested (or even not particularly interested)person who so much as hesitates as they go by your stand, to put in their name and address for your mailing list. Then, you can work towards hiring your own venue and doing your own thing eventually. Ihave a friend who does this regularly, hiring a hall in Henley, she does her own publicity, is building up her mailing list and finds it worthwhile. (Tho that said, I think she does it on the back of an open studio event in the area, which is worth looking out for.)

Good luck, whatever yu decide.

Jackie

soap
05-08-2003, 05:31 AM
I knew my pastel friends would come up with good advice! Thanks so much Jackie! You gave me some excellent pointers. I enjoyed your story of the 'duck man' - very funny.

I visited the same art show last year and then tried to assess if I would fit in. I think I would. But the costs (indeed not forgetting the framing costs and such) hold me back. If I would sell anything- it would be great boost- if not, it might be quite a downer. It is a show with a great variety of stuff - I did not spot any 'duck men' or that sort of 'popular' stuff. More young artists with reasonable priced stuff (except one idiot who charged tens of thousands of pounds for one of his oils.....I think he was doing well though)

Thanks again,
S.

CoolArtiste
05-08-2003, 05:36 AM
I watched one chap, who had loads of prints of puppies and kittens and calves and ducks (very popular, ducks), sell one every five minutes. He used to go around the country, doing lots of art shows, and had clearly learned what sells and who comes along to these things, and had painted accordingly ... and had lots and lots of prints, and empty frames to put them in when someone chose something. That was clearly his bread and butter, and he also sold a couple of originals. His stand was constantly full of people. If someone can buy something for a few pounds, especially cute ducks, they are happy. It was quite an eye-opener, I can tell you- very galling too, he was right alongside me.

Hahaha. Good for him. There seems to be a good market for cute art, although my former acrylic painting teacher (who I ended up resenting) disliked cute art and told us not to paint anything cute. She said "it's disposable" and "get rid of that shopping mall mentality!" I think any art that makes you feel good is great.

jackiesimmonds
05-08-2003, 07:35 AM
Yes it is a downer when something doesn't work well for you (tell me about it) but you just have to pull yourself up by your bootstraps, as they say, and move on from disappointments.

There is always the chance that is might work well...in which case, you will be laughing.

Thing is...........you won't know if you don't try.

Jackie

meowmeow
05-08-2003, 08:51 AM
I am interested in this thread as well. My husband and I spend our summers in Maine and at the end of last summer I joined a local art group and went to a lovely outdoor fair they ran. I ended up signing up for the 3 summer shows with them. It was fairly inexpensive to get into the show...only $40 per show as a member ($60 for a non member, which is still not bad). Of course now I have to get myself "set up"...in fact today we are oging to buy the canopy which I need. This is oging to cost $189, which I gather is a great bargain. Then I will need display racks. At least this is stuff which I will be able to use for other outdoor shows. And if I decide I hate doing them I have no doubt I will be able to sell the thiings.
Of course I am also working to finish enough things to take to sell. And working through in my mind how to price things fairly so I am not undervalued but not priced to high, especially for a Maine show. I am considering doing some prints but have not done this yet.
There is a lot involved. The show you are talking about costs a lot more to do though and this is money for a space which is gone at the end of the show. However I am sure your show is a lot more "prestigious" than the little one I am doing on the local library lawn.
Maybe you should try something smaller and less expensive first. Or, just go for it. Consider it a learning experience. See how it goes. You may do well.
It's all a learning experience I think...and some of it feels pretty scary at first. But if you don't try you will never know.


Sandy

soap
05-08-2003, 10:19 AM
Thanks Sandy - your words echo my thoughts.
It is all a learning experience, isn't it? I am just thinking if I should throw myself in the deep end (this big show) or start in the toddler bath (there must be a good word for that in English - sorry my vocabulary is not good enough :D) at a smaller local thing. But at a local thing that is 'on its way' for me, I find the artists prices do not fit in with mine - maybe I am presumptious - maybe I just like taking risks......I have never exhibited before so maybe I should start slowly......Watch my other thread - Tina had some good advice there.....

meowmeow
05-08-2003, 10:43 AM
Yes, it's hard to decide. I understand what you are saying about the prices. I think maybe you should go for the better show.
The ones I am doing I know have been around for several years. They get a good turnout and people do sell. I also know that higher priced stuff doesn't go that well. I am still at the piont though, where most of my stuff is small and I am new at it so I don't mind having somewhat lower prices. I am trying to strike a balance with it.
I am really new at all this too. The group I do the Monday figure drawing with had an exhibit a couple of months ago. They asked me to join in and since they caught me at a weak moment I agreed. :D Then of course I panicked!
But I put three little pastels in, priced very reasonably. Yes, they were lower than most there but I know that the other people have been exhibiting and selling for years and so I felt comfortable with my prices, especially since these were small. (I'm sure some would say the prices were too low.)
In any case I sold all three!
By the way, this was a case where we were hanging them in the lobby of a local commercial building and there was a nominal hanging fee so the cost was not an issue. Anyhow, I was pleased. I am sure the low prices helped but given who was going to this exhibit I know they would not have bought stuff they did not like. It made me feel that there is some validity to what I am doing.
I do realize, however, that I can haul my stuff to these summer shows and sit all day and sell nothing. And I assure you I will be plenty depressed at that point but you can remind me then that I knew it might happen and such is life! :D This will be a much larger crowd...much more like what Jackie was describing with her "duck man."
It will be interesting to compare notes if you decide to go ahead and exhibit.

Sand

soap
05-08-2003, 05:51 PM
Congrats on those three sales Sandy! That must feel good. I know what you're saying. Pricing is sooo difficult, isn't it?
I think I am going to give this a try.....see if they let me in...:D.....need to get some slides first....
We WILL compare notes (if I get in)

Mo.
05-08-2003, 08:30 PM
Sophie.. I wish you all the luck in the world, cannot advise too much, I tried a show some years ago, and just broke even, after all costs etc., were paid for, but it was an experience but not a profitable one.. when I was into glass engraving I exhibited my work in quite a few art and craft fairs, but at the end of the day lost out on that too.. it could be the fact that I live in an area that is not art related, over the years, I've struggled and struggled, but keep Percy veering.:).. Percy is my good friend you know. :)

Give it a go, as Jackie says, unless you try you won't know and in later years you may regret that you didn't try, don't be like me, finding that time is running outon you to succeed.... you are young and have everything going for you...I'm still optimistic though and still going to have a go too. Good luck.:)

Cheers,
Mo.

soap
05-08-2003, 10:57 PM
Thanks Mo :) Let's see where all this optimism takes me.....:D