2018 starts my third full year of art fairs. Toward the end of the previous year the art fair applications start opening up. My first I applied for was on September 29th. Going back through my pictures, I think about how I have evolved and how I keep learning with each and every show I do. This picture is from my first show in Roanoke Indiana in October of 2015. I had an inexpensive tent with a blue top, no weights, because I had no idea that I would need then. Thank goodness it was a beautiful day with no wind. We had purchased peg board and hinges to put together something to hang work on. It was so heavy! I brought along a table and had folding chairs and little lights and a rug. We had a pick up truck that I put all of this in and had my art covered in towels. See the pink price tags….I thought they would be easy to see. Amazingly I did make some sales and it was fun and something that I decided to do, but the one thing I decided was I was too old to be climbing in and out of the back of a pick up, something would have to change. This picture is good to remind me at how far I have come and also it makes me laugh at the timing of getting the butt shot of my neighbor.
The second attemp at an art show in Elkart, March 2016. I researched tents and decided on the Flourish Trimline with mesh walls. I made that cute banner, which I have hanging at my dining room window. The paintings are hung up very hodge podgy, they need to be in a gallery style. Very neat and very even. I painted my table in chalk paint and it turned out cute but it was a pain to move all the time. I also invested in directors chairs because they are so much more comfortable to have for very long days. They save your knees from getting up and down.
Here I am with my sister. We were so happy to have the tent up. When I got it, I read the directions and my husband and I put it up in the garage. We labeled the poles and I thought I was good to go. Got there the day before to set up and my brain could not remember how to set this tent up. We had to be out of the venue by 7:00 and it was not close. I slept horribly and then looked at youtube videos on how to set it up again. My sister said that she woke up to me staring at her saying ok….this is what we have to do. We got there, worked through it and put the last painting on the wall 15 minutes before the door opened. Advice…..set your tent up at least three times before you use it for a real show. It will save you sleep!
This is my art van that I ordered. It is a Ford Transit Connect. I love it and it is just the right size. I didn’t want anything larger, it has just two seats and the rest is cargo. It is low, so I don’t have to climb up and down.
After that show, we had a decent weather day in April so I practiced putting up the tent again. It helped, but it would just take practice and each show would get better.
My next show in May of 2016, Wyoming Ohio. Beautiful little town outside of Cincinnati. My helper bee is Margaret who lives just 15 minutes away. This was the first time that I used the full tent, sides, roof, back door so of course, it went better but was not smooth. If you notice my orange ratchets to attach the 40 pound weights on each corner. I was going for inexpensive and did not even think about the color. I used those for two years but this Christmas I received really nice black ones. Just learning where to position the weights, I put them inside now because it is easier for me to zip the tent up. Remembering to lift the tent before the bottom staybars get attached. Notice that the paintings are much more even and neat. I was learning! Just by going and looking at what others do is a great education.
Needing more hints and tips I found this book and it is great. Ideas that I used are putting together a tool box with rope, tools and first aid kit, zip ties, working with customers and her first shows, I could go on but it was a wealth of information. I highly recommend it. She published this in Feb. of 2007 and there is new technology etc. but as she points out this is just a guide, hands on is the best training.
Here we are at March of 2017, the same show that I had problems putting up the tent the first time. I probably have 10 or more shows under my belt by this time. I no longer use the rug and have added lights and a new table that is easier to transport because it folds. I keep trying different ways to display price tags and am currently using small strong magnets. My booth has improved greatly.
The last show of the 2017 season, St. James art fair in Louisville. It’s a three day event. Huge amount of people. Went down on thursday and and stayed over sunday night because I don’t want to take the chance of being to tired while driving. It is a large event for the area. Every artist has a different experience at each show. It depends on what their genre is, if they have been doing it awhile, what kind of following they have. This show is put on to benefit the neighborhood. I had been put on the waitlist and was called off of it to my delight. I really wanted to try this show and see what it was all about. Load in was not bad even though they were narrow streets. Were able to park near my spot and it was marked adequately. We had two hours to set up before we had to move the vehicle, which was enough time. What I did not like was that there was no room between the booths, we were right on top of each other. I feel that they just want to get as many artists in to collect the booth fees. All in all there were 750 artists and at times the lines going by your tent were so thick that customers had a hard time looking and stopping and jumping into your booth.
On Sunday the nonstop hurricane rain came through. This was my first experience for this kind of weather since doing fairs. I had downpours but not an all day rain. It was miserable, but we got through it and needless to say my day was a loss. It was raining so hard that the drains were backing up because some hadn’t moved their equipment. The rain of course, was no ones fault. I feel that there were too many artists, and it was not beneficial for us. I did get contacted recently that my street score (whoever did that) was high enough that I could get in without being juried. I don’t know if they don’t feel that they have had enough artists apply or what this is about. I decided to go in a different direction and find a smaller show during that time. But there were many firsts and I was glad to have the opportunity to experience it.
Three shows that I have applied to, for 2018 have juried and they have contacted the artists. In 2017 I was put on the waitlist for Broad Ripple in Indianapolis and then a short period later I was contacted that there was a spot. I really enjoyed doing this show. I felt that the customers were very much art enthusiasts, even when there was a thunderstorm customers were out there. Unfortunately I did not get in, not even the waitlist this year to my chagrin. Every year is different with a different jury. I will try again next year.
At a past show this summer I had a customer as if I had ever tried the Old Town Art Fair in Chicago. I had said that going to Chicago makes me nervous. He said that people are serious about their art in that area and it is a good show. I researched it and applied, I found many good reviews. I did not get selected for it. They give the scores of the three judges and it is a range from one to ten. I had a 1-4-8, so someone liked my work. I will give it a try again next year, because I feel it is worth pursuing.
Talbot Street Art Fair is in Indianapolis in June. I have always heard good feedback on it and wanted to try it. I had applied for the past two years and was not accepted, this year I made the waitlist and I am thrilled. It is in June so I feel there is a good chance that I will be able to get in. It will be on my schedule if I do on my home page. All in all, I have applied to 18 shows. I am trying some new ones and going back to others that I really liked. Music, alcohol and art shows I stay clear away from. It is too much work not to be the focus of attention. I did one and that was enough. I also decided not to go too far south in the summer time, way too hot! My sister almost passed out in Kentucky in May. So I am excited to see what the year brings. Trying to make as much art as possible to get my inventory up. Thanks for reading, I will keep you updated.