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DPChallenge Forums >> Business of Photography >> Anybody doing any art fairs/festivals for selling?
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01/16/2007 09:50:08 PM · #1
Hi All,

I have booked a vendor space for a local art fair/show this weekend. I have my set-up (tent, table, sample photo, etc.) approved, and if all goes well am hoping to do more.

I was wondering if anyone else here has done or is doing these now? Are they worth the entry fees? What about liability insurance? I am thinking if someone drops a framed print or trips on the table kind of insurance. Does any exist for this type of thing? Is it necessary? I am hoping to start a part-time business doing these shows because I recently moved to an area where there are shows almost every weekend. I have been to a couple and they look fun to do. The bigger shows, however, are pricey to enter! So I am hesitant to buy the more expensive set up for the bigger shows (that's assuming I would get in through their jury process - but I think it may be worth a try). I figured I would do one and see how it goes.

Any advice or shared experience would be greatly appreciated:)

(Searched the threads but didn't find anything on this -so if this is a redundent post - my apologies).

Well, back to framing - thanks in advance for any responses.
01/16/2007 10:05:31 PM · #2
Hey BJ:

I do some of the local art fairs in SW VA and have had very good luck with them. Granted, I think that selling more than $250 worth of stuff for the day is good (and my entry/booth fees are usually around $25). My best show has been about $950 for a 2 day affair.

I've found that what sell best are note cards, bookmarks (both with local scenes/landmarks), calendars, and prints that *appear* to be a bargain. I suggest signs like "Small Unmatted Prints $15/each, 2 for$25", or "Note Cards $3/each, 4 for $10". Know what I mean? The buyers tend to buy more if they think they're getting more for less. I generally use these types of deals for back inventory that I've built up and would like to get rid of. I would not recommend having a whole lot of large framed pieces, because people will only buy something if it's not to bulky or cumbersome to carry around. I do display small-medium framed pieces though, with a couple of large ones.

It pays to have a variety of images and types of items, in a large price range (IMHO). I have handsigned limited edition (numbered) prints that I charge much more for, as well as stock photos that are much cheaper.

I've also found that just getting my name out there more by attending/participating in these art festivals, my word-of-mouth referrals and commissioned jobs have increased. Make sure you don't forget to have a lot of $ change.

Hope this helps. Good luck!!! It's scary the first time around, but it gets easier. :-)


01/16/2007 10:55:11 PM · #3
Thanks for the advice Jimmy! Just what I was looking for:)

Also, I am glad you mentioned the note cards, I was debating whether or not to make some up to bring - I will definately bring some now. Also, thanks for sharing you average earnings - I am paying $75 for a two day all day event, and am hoping to make at least that back, plus maybe another $50 to cover framing/printing.

It is a little scary! I am going to bring local wildlife shots for the most part, hopefully that will be one of the things people are looking for.

Thanks again for responding - sounds like you do very well at this type of venue! Oh - and thanks for pointing out to have $$ available for change!!! :)

01/16/2007 11:02:49 PM · #4
Glad it helped! :-)

And just to add... Definitely make up some note cards if you're interested in selling that type of stuff. I actually use the back of my cards as shameless self promotion. It includes the title of the artwork on the front, my name & contact information (address, phone, snail mail & e-mail), and my web site address. I've found that packaging most of the cards individually, with a few "sets" of 4 or more, works best.

And a word about the local wildlife - yes that is a good seller, but what really gets people's attention at these types of venues is "whatever" is special about that particular locale. Local landmarks, buildings, and landscapes are what most people want. Buildings may seem mundane and uninteresting to you, but if you have bookmarks (that you can laminate yourself) with multiple "local" scenes on them - and charge $5/each - you'll be surprised at how well they sell.

Good luck again & let us know how it goes!

01/25/2007 10:59:38 PM · #5
Hi Again,

Quick update....

Feedback from people great, sales - not so great:)

Unfortunately, I made just under what it cost to be there. Lots of great comments on my more recent photos, however, no one was buying much of anything (not only my booth, but the fair overall).

The good news is I met a couple of retired professional photographers who gave me some good advice about my set-up etc. They did say it was hard to make money at these types of shows,which of course, was not what I wanted to hear! :) It does seem like the same photographers are at every show, so hopefully there is some money to be made - the show was certainly fun to do.

Great advice Jimmy about having a local landmark photo - I did have a couple and brought them, and sure enough they made some people stop and explain to other people what they were. Also right about the notecards - I had a few I had made for myself so I brought them, and sure enough they sold.

In the end, I sold 1 8 x10, and 2 4x6's, all framed. When I got there another photographer already set up and I set the prices to hers which was much lower than I was planning. Do you go by what others are charging, or do you set your prices by what you feel is the right price?

Anyway, good experience. Hope to do another one in a couple of months when I have more money for entry fees, and a better tent/set-up.

Thanks again, bj
01/25/2007 11:17:12 PM · #6
Bonnie, thanks for the update. If you have any other wisdom or future experiences, I'd love to hear more.
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