Sourcing out information
Where do you get information on art fairs, juried art shows, festivals, and the like? Or who can you ask questions about what works for tents, displays, crowd theory, etc? Operating an art business that involves setting up shop at various fairs, festivals and gallery events requires some knowledge, and a good box of tools to make what you are bringing to the event worthy t be there. Here are a few thoughts on information gathering:
1. Good sources of listings of events: The first year we started out someone gave us a copy of a compilation of craft and art shows in our area (Northeastern Ohio) which is published annually, at a nominal fee of $10. It is a basic listing by date of location, date, times, juried vs not juried, cost for the venue, and a brief description of the event, including contact information. I did not know that alot of this information is also free o nthe internet. One recommendation I would love to make is visit the Ohio Arts Council for their annual booklet in pdf format at:
2. Talk to other artists: Experience is one of the best ways of getting information. I have found that artists are willing to share freely good leads, possible contacts, and great opportunities. One thing to keep in mind is that two different artists can be at an event – one will do amazingly well, and the other will sell nothing. It all goes back to knowing your market and how your product fits the market you are in. Fellow artists are great barometers for ideas, opportunities, connections.
3. Visit a few galleries, or boutiques and speak with the owners. Make an appointment and bring your work in. Great shopkeepers know their market better than anyone, and they will instantly know what is going to move, and what will not. I love that… there is no wasting time trying to figure it out. I have one shop that told me flat out that one of our products will not sell there… the market does not support it. No worries, because another shop is all about that product, and sells alot of them. Be honest, be prepared to know that they will do commission, and that commission can be between 30-50%… which eats into your profit a bit, but your products are out there being looked at daily.
4. Call the art department of your local college, or art school. There are some amazing resources to be found among the academic art community… make an appointment and ask lots of questions. I have learned so much from several well versed artist/academicians.
5. Promotions groups: Every community seems to have at least one entrepreneur that loves to organize and develop craft or art markets. Some are very efficient, taking time to jury the work carefully, others will take anyone that wants to sell anything. I would recommend visiting one of their shows before you jump into doing one. Know what you a re getting into first. One promotion group I have dealt with finds amazing and gifted artists and just fills the place wall to wall to wall to wall with perhaps too many artists. When i did that show i was shoved into a very dark, dimly lit corner where people did not even bother to stop… of course they had to climb over about 20 vendors to find me, in a room with perhaps 25-30 jewelry vendors, with a smattering of other genre of art and craft.
6. Professional societies / guilds / organizations: Many of the arts have specific organizations that will help you with education on your art as business, and where and when to market. A big example of this is the textiles – the weavers have so many guilds around our area…. if you love weaving or spinning i am certain you can find a group in the area.
7. The internet also offers some ideas and thoughts. In my search for information I have discovered several sites that you would want to take a look at:
http://www.artfairinsiders.com/ – an online community of artists with blog, and open forum discussions. they also provide lots of information on art fairs, call for artists, and the like. They even offer a daily email recapping latest news.
http://www.artsbusinessinstitute.org/ – All about educating artists to make their work their business. Great resources, daily email, bio sketches, webcasts, seminars…. and a ton of information.
8. Blogs like this. I hope you find the information i bring helpful. And I hope you spend some time reading, searching for other artists, and following what they are writing about.