Sunday, April 09, 2006

Good Beginner Art and Craft Shows

Good Beginner Art and Craft Shows
written by Tasha McKelvey

Craft Shows are a great way to start selling your work to the public (and sometimes to find shop owners who want to carry your work). There are a variety of shows to choose from and not all of them are the right choice for someone just starting out. There's also a lot to consider when you're getting ready for your first show.

Different Types of Craft Shows:

  • Fine Art and Craft Shows - Juried Art and Craft Shows often organized by a non-profit group as an annual fundraiser; most are in the mid price range ($ 150- $500+) note: most are held outdoors *Good for a Beginner*
  • Indie Craft Shows - Usually juried craft shows for up-and-coming craft designers; usually organized by other emerging craft designers; lower price range ($0 - $50+) *Good for a Beginner*
  • Flea Markets - Shows that are usually not juried and are held on a regular basis; the type of items sold at flea markets can vary (some craft items will sell well here others won't); most are in the lower price range ($5 -$50+) *Good for a Beginner with inexpensive items*
  • Commercial Craft Shows - Shows for crafters who have delveloped a more "commercial" line of products - not nessicarily mass-produced crafts, but these show often allow importers into their shows - these shows are organized by for-profit businesses; most are in the upper price range ($275 - $1,000+)
  • Wholesale Craft Shows - Shows where shop owners order crafts at wholesale price; these shows are usually juried; only recommended for full-time crafters; most are in the upper price range ($1,000+)
  • Non-Craft Trade Shows - Shows that aren't craft shows, but some crafters with items that relate to the theme of the trade show might consider doing this type of show (someone who makes comic book related craft items might set up at a comic book convention); most are in the mid to upper price range since trade shows are a commercial venture
Note: Most juried shows have strict application deadlines that can up to be six months before the show date.

A Good Beginner Craft Show:

  • has an affordable price tag (under $200 for Fine Art and Craft Shows, under $50 for Indie Shows and under $20 for Flea Markets)
  • is local (within an hour or so of where you live - so you don't need to pay for a hotel and you can get lots of your friends and family to come to the show)
  • has friendly and helpful people running the show
  • accepts photo prints or digitals of your work instead of requiring slides (shows that don't require any images of your work are usually not of the highest quality - there are exceptions)
  • doesn't require a booth set-up image (this is good because you would have to set-up your booth way ahead of time, which can be difficult/a lot of unnecessary work)
  • hopefully provides a temporary sales tax permit (so you don't have to get one your first time out - I know Virginia requires that you register for a sales tax ID if you do four or more shows in the state a year - check your local laws) note: a few State's don't have Sales Tax, like New Hampshire

Where to Find Out About Craft Shows:
  • the internet
  • ask other crafters you know
  • your local paper
  • trade magazines
Questions To Ask About a Show:
  • indoor or outdoor?
  • hardtop surface or grass surface? (outdoor shows only)
  • will you be able to drive up to booth to unload and load out? (outdoor shows only)
  • is there overnight security for multiple day shows?
  • temporary sales tax collection permit provided?
  • is there judging? with prizes? (Juried Art and Craft Shows only)
  • is anything provided? (tables, chairs, signage, coffee, etc)
  • will food be available for purchase on-site?
Things You Need to Bring to a Craft Show:
  • enough of you artwork or craft work to fill a booth (or table at Indie Shows and Flea Markets)
  • a tent, stakes and/or weights (outdoor shows only)
  • display equipment (shelves, tables, table covers, hanging system for 2-D work, jewelry display items, mirror, etc)
  • business cards
  • signage (some shows provide signs with your name, booth numbers, etc)
  • packaging materials (bags, paper or bubble wrap, tape,boxes, etc)
  • change ($1's, $5's, $10's, $20's and coinage)
  • sales tax permit (some shows provide a temporary permit for vendors)
  • ability to accept credit cards (optional)
  • drinking water and food (or buy festival food - I do like festival food on occasion)
  • baby wipes (you get dirty at shows)
  • glass cleaner (your work gets dirty at shows)
  • a vehicle big enough to fit all your show stuff in (I fit all my pottery stuff in a Subaru wagon)
  • a hand cart (some shows let you drive up to your booth, others don't)
Advice for a Successful Show:
  • Learn how to talk about your work.
  • Get enough sleep the night before.
  • Get set up on time.
  • Always be friendly and helpful to potential customers.
  • Don't set yourself up for dissapointment (it's your first show - you're not going to make a million bucks).
Links About Doing Craft Shows

Craft Shows - Should You? from Casto Creations

The Average Show Experience- Getting Set-Up from Casto Creations

Good Beginner Art and Craft Shows

Miami, FL
Black Sheep Craft Fair
recommended by

Savannah, GA
Mutation Craft Fair
recommended by

Crafty Wonderland
recommended by
under $50 to participate and really cool, friendly other crafters

Handmade Bazaar
recommended by
under $50 to participate and really cool, friendly other crafters

Seattle, WA
I Heart Rummage
recommended by lisa
under $50 to participate and really cool, friendly other crafters

Fredericksburg, VA

Fredericksburg Art Festival in May
recommended by
Tasha McKelvey
I did this show a month after I graduated from College - I'm going to be doing it for the 7th time this year; low entry fee, photos accepted instead of slides, they do require a booth set-up image, lots of prize money and my pottery sales have been good at this show. Application is due in mid-March.

Richmond, VA
Arts in the Park
in May
recommended by Tasha McKelvey

This was one of my first shows: its reasonably priced, you can enter with photos instead of slides, no booth photo required, my sales are always good at this show - going on my sixth year at this show. Application is due in early January.

Know a Good Beginner Show?

Please leave the following Information about the show as a comment and I will incorporate it into this blog entry:
  • show name
  • website, e-mail or other contact info for the show
  • month it takes place
  • your name and website link address
  • (optional - this will be listed with the show info)
  • booth photo required?
  • photos or digital images accepted instead of slides?
  • how were sales at the show?
  • when's the application due?
Thanks for your help!