View Full Version : Show Report ....eeehhhhhh.....

07-05-2003, 08:45 AM
Did the first of the 3 outdoor shows yesterday. I'm feeling kind of down about it all but the truth is it was exactly what I had been told. I took 12 of my paintings and had made up some greeting cards with prints of stuff. I didn't sell any original art but did have lots of really positive feedback about the work and did sell some cards.
Overall it seemed that everyone said the same thing...PRINTS!!!!! I wouldn't say no original artwork was sold but really very little. I had been warned about this ahead of time but since everything I had was already framed it seemed like a bit hassle to try to get good prints made.
This is a small show in a touristy area. Plus it was the Fourth of July and there was a parade in the morning. It brings in a lot of people but most of them didn't even have wallets! :D They went to the parade and then said..."oh! Something to do with the kids and dog for a while!"...and they wandered through.
Most of what people were buying were prints and small things. By small things I mean people would make quickie watercolors in a very small size and stick them in a cute, inexpensive frame and price them cheap.
So...I can't really take it personally that I didn't sell my stuff. No one's things were flying off the racks. But I can't help but feel a little discouraged. On the other hand, I know if you do art shows this can happen so I need to just be philosophical about it. I'm working on it! :D
I will make some prints I guess for the next show and am thinking of making some "small things"...just havent' sorted it all out. and I will take more stuff. I didn't want to overload but saw that other people had way mroe stuff than I did. Not that I think it would have made a big difference but what the heck!

I cam back to add a little footnote (or in the middle note!)...this was my first exhibit like this. The only other thing I have done was a few months ago the group I do the figure drawing with had an exhibit at a local business. I put three paintings in. Now this was all original art...there were no prints here. I sold all three paintings! Very interesting I think. Anyhooo....

Hubby took some photos....I realized when I got them from him that I wasn't in my booth when he took the pictures! :D A friend came by and did take some of me in my booth so if I ever get those I'll put one up. But here are a couple of my pictures, one of my booth (which looks awfully sparse in the photo but really did look nice) and some of the show.

This was my booth.


A couple of views of the show.

So that's it folks...make prints. :D


07-05-2003, 09:23 AM
Meow Very imformative Thanks so much for sharing your experience. Will you do this again? I've been thinking about going this route. I'm not the type to try galleries I'm chicken. LOL I'm afraid they would laugh at me. But I got up the nerve and I'm not turning back on this exihibition in Aug. Hopefully I'll be accepted into the exibit. That would be fine with me whether I win anything or not *S* I'll be happy just being accepted but then I know once that happens and I didn't win, again I will probably be disappointed LOL Is it asking too much? ROFLMAO

Kathryn Wilson
07-05-2003, 10:43 AM
Sandy: I can imagine how frustrated you were feeling, but I think you already know what the problems were with this show. People were not there, on a whole, to look at art - it was just a diversion. On the other hand, you sold 3 paintings at a small show at a business - interesting - to people who were there specifically to view art.

I have sold at antiques and collectibles shows for years and I have developed some ideas about what gets people into your booth and buying. There is an "intimidation" factor when you set your chair out at the front and people have to walk by you to get to the art. Set your chair to the side or the back of your booth, greet people as they come in if they see you, but otherwise don't let them feel they are "committed" to buying something if they come in.

It's a very small thing, but from year's of observation and experience, this helps. And for some inexplicable reason, if people see someone buying, they feel more comfortable about buying too. It's all about people and their buying habits - selling art is an art. Hope this helps some for your next show.

Hee hee - another little ploy - stick a "sold" tag on a painting you don't care whether it sells or not. Strange isn't it? It sends a signal to people that you are a successful artist.


07-05-2003, 11:05 AM
Sandy - I really appreciate your story!! And the photos. I have really studied them to see what sort of displays people had set up. And I am sorry you feel bad about it - but hey! you've learned something!
I am still thinking if I want to join shows like that - outdoors, bring your own display boards etc. It seems like an awful lot of work and investment. But it might be good for pr....I am hoping to have a look at the next 'antiques and fine art fair' here locally to see if I would fit in there. I suppose a show where you get the booth and boards, seems easier, but is more expensive of course.

Prints.......that IS interesting!! I've got everything set up for making prints. I can roll them off the printer whenever. Have not done much though......my latest commission (yoohooo..happy me!) asked for two prints...so that's good. I was tempted to go for prints on outdoor things, as I have no display boards and feel odd putting expensive paintings on the ground like that. So maybe mat and frame some prints....and sell them 'cheap'.....hmmm...is an idea....

Again Sandy, I am really grateful that you shared all this. Sorry to hear it did not go well, but Kyle had some really good things to say here. These people were probably just here for a day out! (makes one think on how to choose one's shows).

Thanks for sharing!

07-05-2003, 11:06 AM
I have had the same experience myself. I have had quite a few exhibits this year and it seemed everyone wanted prints. The artist sitting right next to me sold prints and notecards all day long. I felt totally depressed when I got home. She was one of the most successful artists for the group that day. Bah Hum Bug she even had a credit card machine to get their money even quicker. As artists we go through a process, when we sell or have numerous successful exhibitions, it inspires us. It aids our creative process. We are not creating for the closet. The public is our audience and we try to provide our greatest performance.
Yet it is frustrating when we expose our creations to a non -responsive public. It like attending a party and spending a lot of money on what the hostess asked you to provide and every else brings cheap snacks. At the end of the evening your purchase was left untouched and the cheap crap is totally gone.

07-05-2003, 11:18 AM
Thanks for all the comments....and it helps to know others have had the same experience.
I think I knew when I signed up for these shows that they were not going to be big, important shows. But I had hoped to sell one or two real paintings. And maybe I will at the next two. The "rental" for the show is quite inexpensive. I bought a very nice EZ-up canopy at BJ's for $199. It included everything...the sides, the weights, all of it. I bought 4 panels from Graphic Dimensions. I saw that many people had made their own display boards but hubby and I talked about it and concluded by the time we got done buying the materials and spending the time it wsa not that big a deal to buy the ones I got. They are good quality and not too heavy to haul around. So I did make an investment but it was not a huge one.
I have sold antiques at the shows too Kyle. I know what you are saying. The sense at the show among a lot of the artists was that these "shoppers".....or non shoppers....were intimidated by the art itself. That's why prints and photographs sell well. I don't think I had mentioned that in the first post; the other big seller was photography. I really made myself pretty unintimidating. Unless they acknowledged me I really left them alone.
And I did have some wonderfully positive comments from people. Some I heard just as I sat and two or three people would be talking among themselves...they ignored me! :D And a few people took business cards...not that I expect to hear from them but I guess you never know. There were a couple of people in particular who raved about my work. They obviously just were not in any position to buy anything.
I'll get over it I am sure. I will have to decide if I want to branch out over time and do some different types of shows of just not worry about it. The print business has realy changed things I think. Although one could say it has opened up the art to the masses. There are many people out there who want something nice to hang on their wall and realy cannot afford the price of the real thing, no matter how reasonable we make it. So even if they don't know the difference between an oil and a pastel or even a print and a real pastel, who am I to say they are wrong for wanting to get something pretty for not a lot of money.
RIght now I am hanging the pictures on my own walls till the next show. I may as well enjoy them! :D


Kathryn Wilson
07-05-2003, 11:28 AM
One just never knows, Sandy, those people who picked up cards just might call for a piece on commission.

I also think the economy has something to do with it - everybody is hurting and art is about the last thing someone is going to spend money on [although I know people are out there who would go without dinner at a restaurant just to buy a painting or print]. Priorties I guess.

You will learn something from every show you do and the PR is priceless!


07-05-2003, 12:27 PM
It is difficult deciding what to do. I have offered 8x10 prints at the Freedomfest both years. People look thru them but not one sold (& it wasn't the price!). The only good news is I had fun painting there & got 2 commissions. I've thought about larger prints but didn't know if the investment would pan out. I would have to get them done by someone else. It's nice to share our experiences with each other & hear some new ideas.

07-05-2003, 01:50 PM
It's true...you really never know. All it takes is one person coming through who is able to buy something to make the day!
For the moment, the paintings are hanging up...and hubby just said that he likes my large seascape so much over the fireplace mantel that maybe we won't sell it! :D


07-05-2003, 02:41 PM
Just wanted to say that you certainly had a lovely setting for an outside art show. I love the architecture in the homes in the background. And it sounds like you learned a lot from the experience.

I think you have the right attitude...by taking a look at the pros and cons of the show, you're learning what works...not just with your presentation, but with shows overall. That will help you to make decisions about upcoming shows, too. Also, let the show promoters know with feedback about what was good and not so good about the show. This will help them with further promotion (hopefully).

Deborah Secor
07-05-2003, 03:47 PM

I've done arts fairs fsince 1981 but I remember feeling just the way you do now. It takes more than a couple shows to establish yourself in people's minds as a credible artist. Even when they like something, I think they have to see you once or twice to be confident in their purchase. Give it some time.

I would be very encouraged by the 3 sales you mentioned at the local exhibit. That might also encourage you to consider a gallery...

I've held back from making prints for all these years. It was hard for a while because so many others had prints for sale, but in time it paid off. Now people know they won't find prints so they save up and buy an original. (Other artists find that people never buy their originals, they always want a print.) So my way is just another way of doing things.

In many of the bigger shows they only allow a percentage of the work in your booth to be prints anyway. What it came down to for me was, did I want to be in the business of selling prints or original paintings? If I made prints, I had to market prints, and that necessitated doing more of the smaller shows. I decided to stick to making originals and did fewer shows, spent a little more money doing them, and probably came out about even with what would have happened with prints!

One other thing to always remember: what worked at one show is not what will necessarily work at the next. I wonder how many times I've hustled to make something--more flower paintings, another hummingbird or two--for a show, based on what was said or what sold at the last one, only to find that at this show the sky paintings and landscapes sold best! Ack! What I'm saying is, show your very best work, present it as well as you can, and things will work out in the long run.


07-05-2003, 03:52 PM
You are right Carly. I am just learning how it all works.
Thanks Deborah...you make some very good points. I am still mulling over how I will handle it.
And I can understand about gaining some recognition and credibility. It did seem that the few people who sold original work have been doing this show for several years and sold to old time customers. Interesting.
Thanks again, everyone~


07-05-2003, 09:23 PM
Ahh, I've given up on shows...some people take to it like a fish in water...I've invested way more than I ever got from them. I did it selling jewelry and before that pottery. It was very frustrating...people bought the most stuff from the people who bought stuff you can buy anywhere. Artwork and handmade things barely sold. And I saw some gorgeous work. I think you learned something important...an art show alone does much better than one as a 'side show' to another attraction. It is a good idea to have less expensive things...I always sold the little stuff like that...but you have to sell a lot to make up for the day/weekend that way. I did get some commission work though. All you can do is give it a good try, and see what happens. It works differently for each of us and it's all part of the growing as an artist.

07-06-2003, 08:16 AM
Thanks Sandy for sharing your experiences with us... what you've experienced must be world wide .... I've entered shows in the past and not sold a thing....plenty of business cards dished out, but no return from that either......it's a hard pill to swallow after all the build up and preparation to only come away with lovely compliments, I would get very frustrated and depressed about it all, I haven't bothered with shows for a while now for that reason, and as you said, it just wasn't me, it was the same for all... the worst one was when I went in for an art and craft show combined....... I should have known better, as it was just before Christmas, so as you can guess the Christmassy crafts were selling like hotcakes, but no paintings or prints sold at that one.

I think it must be as Dee-Artist says, you have to persevere and become a known face at the shows to become successful..... it depends though on cash flow as to whether one can keep forking out and not have any return. But unless you let people see your work then how will they know about you?

It's really hard, I've been painting for about 28 years and only in the last five years have I started to get recognition and sales of my work, leading now to my very first exhibition...... You have to keep trying, it's the only way forward.


07-06-2003, 09:15 AM
YEs, it is frustrating...but reading what you all are writing is helping me a lot. I am not really so down about it anymore. I understand it is a part of the real world and I have to deal with it.
I have a sort of plan for the next show...bring more stuff! REally, more of my original art, some of the smaller sketchy pastels and some prints. And whatever happens happens.
I still enjoy painting...nothing can take that away. It's jsut that I can hang just so much on my walls! Ah! Make more walls! :D
Your post is encouraging Mo. Hopefully my time will come. And I msut say the positive comments do help...although some money would be nice too!
Thanks again everyone, for sharing your experiences. It helps me and I am sure it helps anyone reading this!


07-07-2003, 10:59 PM
It took me awhile to respond to this thread since I wanted to hear everything the others mentioned and ponder it some more. Seeing as I'm off to Maine in August, of course I was curious what you had to say. First off - the photos look great and I'm so glad you shared them and the displays you had. That tent from BJ's is available on the west coast at Costco and although I haven't made the investment, I'm proposing that the SF Women Artists organization buy one and rent it out to members as they find shows they are interested in attending. It seems like they could re-coup their expenses quickly.

Yesterday I visited one of the weekly art festivals we have in San Francisco just to see what the artists are offering. I used to think More was Better and yet I noticed that I just wanted to rest my eyes on one thing - instead of being totally overwhelmed by the people, colors and sounds. (oh and the deep fried twinkies with chocolate sauce smells -yuck). It makes me think I'll aim for more '"simpler images" in my pieces and see how that works.

Anyway - I wonder how your other weekends will go and I hope you will keep us posted. I'll do a little sun dance for you.


07-08-2003, 09:06 AM
I figured you wre mulling it over, Barb. I'm sure you will do fine...well, hopefully you will do fine! Each show is different.
That sounds like a good idea about the EZ-up. They are a good canopy to use and very reasonable, I think. I know everyone has their own preferences but this one is readily available and the one at BJs is a good buy!
Good luck with the show. It should be a grand adventure in any case.
I am not sure if I will make it over there but I am going to try.


07-08-2003, 09:58 PM
Sandy This thread has been so interesting and helpful. I too like many I'm sure have contemplated this way of getting exposure. Literly since living in Fl I'd end up with a great tan LOL But really Thanks for sharing your experience. And for all the other people that participated in this thread. I copied all the posts and took them to the beach today to read, along with my latest artist magazine. Sometimes I just don't get around to reading them. But then I'm not a big reader. It bothers my eyes. Easier to read on the computer though. Maybe I should scan everything LOL

Anyway Thanks for sharing everyone. It was very informative. But when isn't it on WC? *S* You guys are so great to help each other like this.