Back to Archive Newsletter | Back to Home
Art and Craft Shows

Published on: 2007-02-13

From November to January is the time of year you should be planning your schedule for participating in art and craft shows in the coming year. Most shows have lead times of 6 months to a year. and costs that range from free to several thousand dollars. The weather and your desire to travel or not will determine when your season will start. You should start making out applications in November and December, in order to make signup deadlines for the next year.

I find that if I do my homework and choose 12 to 16 shows from my list to apply to, that the artist will be accepted in 8 to 10 of those shows. Every year you should check with each show to see what the requirements are, because 9 out of 10 times things will have changed -- things like cost slide requirements, art or craft requirements, and deadlines. Some shows will want you to donate a piece of work.

Some shows will be under new management. It is always good to ask other people who have done the show in the past how well the show was managed, how much support they got from the promoters and what kinds of things sold best on what days. Some artists complain about the need for better advertisement or that there are just too many shows and that they get burned out with so many shows. Some artists say that the quality of the work accepted is slipping, which is a disappointment to the public, and is bad for the name of the show. Usually the more times you do a show, the better location that you will get at the show.

Most shows will intermix art and crafts to balance the show for the public and for the promoters. The promoters usually will charge a 10% fee on the things you sell. So figure that into your pricing. Some show promoters have quietly converted their shows from art shows to mostly crafts shows without telling the artists because crafts people will sell lots of ten dollar items, but artists will sell only a few two hundred dollar items. So be sure to check the show out thoroughly. There are some very good publications like The Crafts Fair Guide. A review of arts and crafts fairs that give reviews on a large number of shows. In the best of these, the reviews are provided by the artists themselve. Be aware that the economy plays a big part in how profitable a given year will be for the art world.

If you are going to be successful in selling your art, you need to think like a business person as well as an artist, which will take up from to of your time. So if you don't like the business end of the profession, you need to find someone who can handle that end for you. It takes a lot of work to keep up on the latest market trends and to know how to maximize your efforts and minimize your costs in order to remain profitable. In every endeavor, it is the up front costs that hurt. But if you plan well, these costs will save you so much money over the year, you will be thankful you made the expenditures early as opposed to worrying about expenses right before a show. So have a great year and prosper.