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Deb Ward Art Blog

Outdoor shows – none for me, thanks!

by debward , February 1, 2008—12:32 PM

Topics: All Posts

Well, can__™t say I haven__™t tried.

I__™ve done a few outdoor shows through a gallery I used to be in. The only one that didn__™t totally suck was the one in September in the parking lot of the gallery, and then only because there was a bathroom close by (ladies, can you hear me!) and they served food right there. Sold nothing, but at least it wasn__™t terribly hot.

Not like the one in August __" did I mention it was AUGUST and not a glimpse of shade anywhere. Never been so hot in all my life. And, oh yes, sold nothing. Was lucky enough to have someone ask me to share their booth both times if I helped to put it up and take it down. Thank goodness I never decided to buy my own tent, etc., unlike another artist I know. (She bought the tent and metal racks, did a total of one show which she paid $$$$ to enter, and sold less than $50 in merchandise; she sold the tent and racks immediately!)

Then there was the indoor show at the church, supposed to be ___well attended___ and they supplied table and chair. Well, they did not lie - they did have quite a lot of people through. However, all that they were buying were crafty items, especially those geared toward children. I did get some ___lookers___ and actually sold something! 3 note cards, total sales $7.50. (We were supposed to give 10% to the church, but after putting in all that effort, I kept the $0.75 for myself!).

Then there was another indoor show sponsored by our local arts council, for which I do 2-3 classes a year, so thought I__™d see what it was all about. This time I had to lug my own table and chair. They supposedly had teens helping out, but, typical teenagers, they were nowhere to be found while I was setting up or tearing down. The bright spot was that I knew several people there and we chatted, plus they had delicious food on premises and again the requisite bathroom close by. And, yes, I sold something again! This time I improved my profits by about 50% - sold a $10.00 box of note cards __" to a woman who looked like she was making a drug deal! She looked around to make sure no one saw her, snatched the box of cards and practically threw the $10 at me!!!

After that I vowed never to do another show. Until, of course, I received the notice in the mail for the church event again this year. (I know what you are thinking! But hear me out).

My rationale this year will be that, since all I have to do is show up with my stuff, I will bring 2 easels (instead of 3) and 4 pictures (instead of 6) and my note cards __" lighter load, you see __" and use part of the booth to set up a table and chair for demos and hopefully get some students for my classes, not really caring if I sell anything or not.

This reasoning may be why we have earned the title ___crazy artists___.




  Caroline Henry ( homepage )

02/02/2008 * 20:21:15

I agree that most of the time participating in these shows tends to be an inconvenient and money losing community service. But you never know. Two years ago I had the sale of a bargain bin $20 floral blossom in to a $850 commission. The main reason I do this sort of thing is to make people aware of the art in their community and get my name out there.


  Michael Mize ( homepage )

02/02/2008 * 16:46:25

I'm always so torn on this issue. On one hand, I really want to support the local art shows, even the ones that they foolishly plan in the middle of August, simply because it's great to see the arts in the community in any form. And if we didn't have them, I truly think that would be a loss. On the other hand though, they are everything you've said them to be. A lot of work that often goes unrewarded. So much depends upon your particular style and what sells in your area. I, for example, have an especially hard time living in Kansas where people are pretty devoted to their landscapes and bird/flower compositions. But I think in the end, you summed it up well. It just depends on if you feel particularly led to participate. I have in the past and then have not for several years. My work has turned a corner and now suddenly I feel that curiousity nibbling at the back of my brain about this coming summer. Who knows, but I do hope the sale proves succesfull for you. Let us know how it turns out.


  ArtId Staff ( homepage )

02/01/2008 * 14:37:23

In my experience doing indoor or outdoor shows, Original Art can be a tough sell. Attendees are usually looking for something in a lower price bracket. At one show I didn't sell much and the guy next to me sold out of his painted wooden snowman measuring sticks. They were $15 or $20 and he sold hundreds, no lie. Unless the promoters really push it as an art show and not an arts and crafts show and they jury the participants in, it's going to be dismal. Having less to show will make your load lighter but won't promote sales. Doing painting demos is great, it engages people and you might get a student or two. It's up to you if it's worth it. For me it came down to the amount of paper work, prep work, fees, set up, pack up, hours spent doing nothing and making sort of OK money, I opted to discontinue.On the up side a couple of years of carefully selected shows did get my name out there and gave me very valuable sales experience. These show venues are OK for a while but don't get settled, move on.


  Millie Smith ( homepage )

02/01/2008 * 13:19:15

Hey, you were perfectly right about shows--of any kind-indoor or outdoor. Over my time spent as an artist--I have entered so many that I cant count them. At first it was sorta fun--they had the show in the malls. I did sell some and I also cut silhoettes, sold cards also. I cant say much for the outdoor shows--the very last one I was in--it was 100 degrees in the shade and I ended up with a heat stroke. That was it!!!. We dont have mall shows any more, and I wouldnt get into them anyway. When it comes to being an artist---some lucky ones get the sells--but most of the time it is more like--donating or give as presents. I don't give as presents very often now. I still have to paint regardless.

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