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Art show advice


I’m just starting out in the jewelry arts and considering
exhibiting my work in an art show (Westfield Art/Craft Market, to
be exact). I would appreciate some advice from those of you who
have been to any show. My main concerns are, was it worth the
expense - economically, and is this a good way to begin my
career? Thanks for any and all advice.

Kansas City


A wealthy patron of the Arts decided to give a million dollars
to the three best exhibitors at a show in his area. The first
winner was a potter who when asked what he planned to do with the
money said he would move to the islands, buy a clay bank and
build a kiln so he could return to the roots of his craft. The
second winner was a saddle maker who said she would buy a ranch
and raise some horses. The jeweler who won said he would just
keep doing shows until the money was gone.

Shows are an acquired taste, I guess, and while you are there
you won’t be at the bench. Somebody will make a lot of money at
almost any show you can name and it won’t be you if you’re not
there. I love to watch 'em come down.

That about sums up why I still do one every year, whether I need
it or not.




Your question is a hard one to answer as there are so many
variables. Perhaps the first variable to consider is, will your
work fit with the market that normally supports the show. In
other words, if you have absolutely fantastic eclectic designs in
18K gold, but the customer who frequents the show buys sterling
bangle bracelets you probably won’t do very well. The best way
to determine if you will be successful at a particular show is to
find another artist who does similar work and ask how they have
done at that show. Don’t assume that just because a puppet
maker, sculptor, or water color artist made a ‘killing’ at show
X that you will do as well. You must select the shows you do
carefully, matching your talents with the potential buyer at that

Next variable is your display. At some shows you will need a
very professional looking display to sell your work and other
shows you can have a minimal set up. Cost of creating a good
display, plus the cost of canopy, etc. (for outdoor shows) can be
considerable. If you don’t know if you are going to continue
doing shows you might rent these items, however that will eat
into your profit and usually rentals are not in the best
condition - or - cheap.

Now all that said, sometimes you can have an extremely good show
(financially) at a small local show that even allows granny
crafts and resale items just because the local area patrons are
affluent and prone to support art shows, especially the vendors
with quality work.

Hopefully someone on this list has done the show you mention and
can give you some specific pointers. Art shows can be both
financially rewarding and a good way to introduce yourself to
galleries and potential markets.

Nancy Bernardine-Widmer
Bernardine Art Jewelry


Hi Chris Since you said, anyone who has done any show… Well.,
George and I just finished our third doing shows and this is
what we can tell you for whatever its worth

1)Get an Art Fair Sourcebook:rates the shows by category in a
very comprehensive wasy-you do not need how many people attend,
but what type of buyers a show will bring and how you will be
treated and maybe you have an inkling

  1. You have to be prepared to face some shows where some people
    have slides that do not resemble their products or are made in
    small factories or family cottage type industry - even in some of
    the bigger reputable shows

  2. you have to know that a bad show due to weather, economy or
    whatever is equivalent to selling to a gallery where you take
    wholesale prices

  3. You have to have the determination to stay and have faith in
    the feedback you get from other jewelers and mainly your

  4. And if you know you have a good product and if you are
    willing to listen and improve, improve improve-you will succeed
    and enjoy the sucessw

Hope this helps

George and Elizabeth Jones


In reply to your questions about the wholesale show. I’m not
quit sure which show you are talking about. Is is the Richard
Rothbard show? And is it a wholesale show in Westfield NJ? I’ve
done his shows before, but dont do them now. I started out with
his wholesale show in Springfield , when ASE was doing the same
wholesale thing. Once I got into ACE, I did not need to do his
shows. However, I think its a great place to work out all your
kinks,kinda like a trial and error show. And you can make some
money . olga