Art Festivals from the Artist's Perspective: Installment #1


So, the season begins... Art Shows! Festivals! etc.

Philadelphia has an exceptional number of these every year, largely due to all of the suburbs and high number of practicing artist and crafters, who do so at least part-time. I am by no means a veteran of this culture, so take what I say with a grain of salt. However, in the short time I've been doing shows I've learned some things. Here's my incomplete guide to navigating art shows:

Selecting Your Show
In the short time I've been participating in shows, selecting shows can greatly impact your experience. I've noticed that picking the wrong show can mean you end up with a net-loss, but picking the right show could lead to having patrons for the foreseeable future! Sometimes it is hard to figure out what shows will be "good" or "bad". Instead, you should decide on an individual level, is this the right show for me and my work? Personally, I tend to stray from "craft shows", because this could include anything ranging from woodworking to children's capes (yes, that's a market apparently). Personally, I do not see myself as a crafter, but to be seen as an "artist”. You must being willing to participate in fine arts shows which usually translates to increase in $'s. Bringing me to my next topic...

Although money shouldn't be the deciding factor in your selection of show, the bottom line is- it likely will be. The cost of the jury fees, booth space, time to create the art, time to take off of your "real job" to participate in the show, materials, transportation and other expenses all add up! Don't underbid yourself to make a quick buck; this can hurt you in the long run. Patrons that truly appreciate your work will request it from you, regardless of the price, and if they're a returning customer, you can adjust your price accordingly.

Time Management
Be wary of deadlines. They can sneak up on you. Having the bulk of your work completed weeks or even months prior to your show is useful "in case of..." In the instance of printmaking, I can pretty accurately gauge how much time it will take me to create a certain number of pieces. But, there are always moments that- despite how much you plan- still occur and disrupt your schedule. Just be flexible. This is easier said than done, but it is possible. In a show earlier this year, I thought my wife and I brought everything we needed. We dropped off all of the art, chairs, table, tent, and racks necessary to set up within 10 minutes on arrival. "This is pretty good!" I thought to myself, as I began unpacking. As I set up the tent structure, I looked in the bag for the roof.
My heart was at home.
Luckily, I didn't live far from this show, so I managed to drive home and back before the show started, but had I not, I would have been out of luck!

More blog posts will follow on this topic, so stay tuned! If you have any similar stories or suggestions for practicing artists/crafters for displaying work or planning for shows, leave a comment below!