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Arts&Craft Shows

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Blog entry by VanDesignWoodworkin posted 01-07-2022 02:28 PM 682 reads 0 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Anyone who has already done some art or craft shows… well this post probably isn’t for them. I’m new to trying to sell at shows, but I thought, “I have the inventory to fill a table, why not do a few shows in the spring/summer?”

My first show was a holiday craft show in Bay City, MI. To get in, I simply texted a few photos to the organizer. He texted back, “You’re in. Be sure to bring the $30 for the table.”

If only it were that easy.

When I started googling Michigan Arts&Crafts shows, I found many of them, which made me happy. None that I found, however, had a contact email. Instead, I was taken to their page on the Zapp website, a site which connects artists with art festivals/shows.

Being an independent filmmaker, I am used to this concept. When I submit short films to film festivals, I do it through a site called Filmfreeway. So, there wasn’t as much of a learning curve adjusting to Zapp.

(Care to see one of my one minute films? Check out this comedy. I helped write it, helped shoot it, and also acted in it. It does require a password, which is: yearn. Check it out: https://vimeo.com/556448872)

So, setting up Zapp does require some technical skills. You have to have pics of your work, and you also need to know about how much you’re going to sell each piece for. The festivals require five photos. Most want 3 finished photos of pieces, one photo of a piece in progress, and then a booth shot.

I’m sure they want to know that you have a professional-looking booth. I only have the one photo I took from my holiday craft fair. Fingers crossed it looks good enough.

Fortunately, in my camping gear for fly fishing, I do have a shade tent that’s 10 by 10’ ... and it can hold off a moderate rain.

I was surprised by the cost that goes into applying for these shows. Most have an application fee… $35 seems the average, and that’s just for the opportunity to get rejected. After that, there’s the space fee, which seems to average around $150 for the shows I’m looking at. Factor in travel, giving up a day or two, possible hotel stay… well, let’s just say I won’t be claiming any additional income on my taxes next year… though maybe I’ll declare a loss!

Right now, I’m still hopped up on the idea that someone would see one of my pieces, talk to me about it, and then want to buy it. That would be enough for me right there.

But, to truly be ready for a show, I imagine one should have business cards that include a link to an Etsy site or website. I have a friend who does this for a living, and he said the best thing about shows are contacts, not sales. He said most of his commissioned work and now steady customers come from shows.

If I get accepted into a show, I’ll get some business cards. I’ll probably even set up an Etsy site.

I do have a Square, so I can take credit card purchases.

So far, I’ve only applied to two shows. I’ll probably apply to a couple more. One of the smaller one-day indoor shows that cost $10 to apply and focuses exclusively on Michigan artists will notify me of acceptance or rejection on February 14.

If I don’t get into that one, I’ll have to seriously reconsider applying to any more because that’s one of the lowest level ones I found in Michigan.

If you’re thinking of doing some shows, you might want to get looking on Zapp now. For spring and summer shows, a lot of the deadline for application are already creeping up.

-- "What do you mean, 'Give me some wild cherry gall?' What do you think, this stuff grows on trees or something?"



11 comments so far

View recycle1943's profile

recycle1943

7002 posts in 3074 days


#1 posted 01-07-2022 03:15 PM

I’ll tell you what Van – anytime I had to go thru a third party to apply for a show, I looked elsewhere. Most times that third party is an organizer and charges the ‘showers’ to advertise for them as well as locks them into not advertising on their own. Then the third party (Zapp) will find a way to charge the vendor to apply.
I have yet to use their ‘handy’ facilities and have done quite well without them.
Prior to covid I managed up to 4 shows a year and since I’ve only done one show albiet a 3 day show and just north of $1000 a day.
I couldn’t do more than the 4 shows a year not because of time to do them but time to make product. Below is a picture of my set up at the Atwood show.

and a close up of one of the tables

We’ve been doing Atwood for 20 years and nearly have a following looking for gifts and something new for themselves.

Getting back to zapp, there should be plenty of shows around without having to bow to an entrepreneur

-- Dick, Malvern Ohio - my biggest fear is that when I die, my wife sells my toys for what I told her I paid for them

View splintergroup's profile

splintergroup

6908 posts in 2674 days


#2 posted 01-07-2022 03:28 PM

Also consider joining any area arts groups/societies. They usually are groups of people who organize community events and help with other art related events sponsored by local governments. My area has one that charges an annual fee of $35 which does a lot of these things. One of the benefits is you can make contacts and also learn about many of the smaller shows where the fees are much lower. Some even will discount for being a member and offer first “dibs” for booth spaces and locations within shows.

View recycle1943's profile

recycle1943

7002 posts in 3074 days


#3 posted 01-07-2022 06:12 PM



Also consider joining any area arts groups/societies. They usually are groups of people who organize community events and help with other art related events sponsored by local governments. My area has one that charges an annual fee of $35 which does a lot of these things. One of the benefits is you can make contacts and also learn about many of the smaller shows where the fees are much lower. Some even will discount for being a member and offer first “dibs” for booth spaces and locations within shows.

- splintergroup

I (against better judgment) joined our county Art Center – nothing against the center except that it’s a turners art center. None of my bowls are turned and thus I was and remained an outsider. Had I wanted to take some turning classes I may have been “in” but I really don’t have any interest in learning to turn lumber. I’m completely happy doiung it my way.

-- Dick, Malvern Ohio - my biggest fear is that when I die, my wife sells my toys for what I told her I paid for them

View pottz's profile

pottz

25647 posts in 2436 days


#4 posted 01-07-2022 06:27 PM

so van how did you do ?

-- working with my hands is a joy,it gives me a sense of fulfillment,somthing so many seek and so few find.-SAM MALOOF.

View Eric's profile

Eric

4937 posts in 1325 days


#5 posted 01-09-2022 12:43 PM

I would look into area governments and see what they have organized for events. In my area they do a few shows a year in the small towns. I went to one yesterday, it’s a weekly setup with no fees involved. Due to the 30* weather, not much of a turn out of vendors, nor people for that matter. But I did get some info.

My view is the contacts that one can make, other artists and yes people that will buy. Could turn out to have custom builds.

-- Eric, building the dream

View VanDesignWoodworkin's profile

VanDesignWoodworkin

1000 posts in 251 days


#6 posted 01-09-2022 01:56 PM

Haven’t heard back from any of the festivals so far, Pottz. The show I did in November, I sold three pieces for a total of about $390.


so van how did you do ?

- pottz


-- "What do you mean, 'Give me some wild cherry gall?' What do you think, this stuff grows on trees or something?"

View VanDesignWoodworkin's profile

VanDesignWoodworkin

1000 posts in 251 days


#7 posted 01-09-2022 02:05 PM

I’ll admit, I’ve mainly been searching the internet. From what I can tell, many of the festivals use sites like Zapp exclusively.

Just like one can find a few film festivals that don’t use filmfreeway, one can find arts and woodworking festivals that don’t use Zapp.

But, online at least, it’s very difficult to find contact information for most of the arts festivals. If there’s no way to contact them, there’s no way to send pics or make inquiries.

I would imagine many festivals exclusively use the convenience of curating their festival through Zapp.

For myself, I’m looking for specific dates where I might be able to go. I’m also looking for cities fairly close by me. Zapp helps me look for all of those things (and ALL of the submission criteria) in one place. So, it’s very handy and convenient for a beginner like myself.

-- "What do you mean, 'Give me some wild cherry gall?' What do you think, this stuff grows on trees or something?"

View pottz's profile

pottz

25647 posts in 2436 days


#8 posted 01-09-2022 04:50 PM



Haven t heard back from any of the festivals so far, Pottz. The show I did in November, I sold three pieces for a total of about $390.

so van how did you do ?

- pottz

- VanDesignWoodworkin


hey it’s a start.like i said the first few are for learning what works in your area.dont expect to make money right away.you got a good product.like dick said you’ll get to where people look for you.

-- working with my hands is a joy,it gives me a sense of fulfillment,somthing so many seek and so few find.-SAM MALOOF.

View VanDesignWoodworkin's profile

VanDesignWoodworkin

1000 posts in 251 days


#9 posted 01-09-2022 05:50 PM

I was happy to sell anything at the particular show once I arrived and saw what people were selling. It was mostly stuff between $15 and $20. People weren’t there looking for $75 burl pieces. Funny too but at that time I’d only started making clocks, so I hadn’t brought any of them with me (not that any would have sold to this crowd)

I’ve sold nearly $1200 worth since starting to make things back in June, so I’d say I’ve come close to breaking even (maybe not… I haven’t really tracked supply costs) Most of my equipment I either already had or received for free.

I know early on I was buying lots of sanding pads for my Mouse… and those add up!

In any case, we’ll see what the year brings. Just sure glad I don’t have to live off of this!

Haven t heard back from any of the festivals so far, Pottz. The show I did in November, I sold three pieces for a total of about $390.

so van how did you do ?

- pottz

- VanDesignWoodworkin

hey it s a start.like i said the first few are for learning what works in your area.dont expect to make money right away.you got a good product.like dick said you ll get to where people look for you.

- pottz


-- "What do you mean, 'Give me some wild cherry gall?' What do you think, this stuff grows on trees or something?"

View pottz's profile

pottz

25647 posts in 2436 days


#10 posted 01-09-2022 06:08 PM



I was happy to sell anything at the particular show once I arrived and saw what people were selling. It was mostly stuff between $15 and $20. People weren t there looking for $75 burl pieces. Funny too but at that time I d only started making clocks, so I hadn t brought any of them with me (not that any would have sold to this crowd)

I ve sold nearly $1200 worth since starting to make things back in June, so I d say I ve come close to breaking even (maybe not… I haven t really tracked supply costs) Most of my equipment I either already had or received for free.

I know early on I was buying lots of sanding pads for my Mouse… and those add up!

In any case, we ll see what the year brings. Just sure glad I don t have to live off of this!

Haven t heard back from any of the festivals so far, Pottz. The show I did in November, I sold three pieces for a total of about $390.

so van how did you do ?

- pottz

- VanDesignWoodworkin

hey it s a start.like i said the first few are for learning what works in your area.dont expect to make money right away.you got a good product.like dick said you ll get to where people look for you.

- pottz

- VanDesignWoodworkin


yeah it would be hard to make a living doing craft shows.but there great for people that love the hobby but need a way to pay for it and to get rid of all the stuff you make.if your retired and you sell enough to pay for the hobby and make a little extra it’s great.when i started making pens i gave everyone a pen as a gift but then i started selling them at work which kept the inventory down.sold over 1000 bucks worth one christmas.it’s like your clocks van how many do you need right ? i think you’ll sell enough to pay for the hobby and allow you to keep doing what you love.

-- working with my hands is a joy,it gives me a sense of fulfillment,somthing so many seek and so few find.-SAM MALOOF.

View Carey  Mitchell's profile

Carey Mitchell

218 posts in 3411 days


#11 posted 01-26-2022 01:39 AM

I tried the A&C show in our retirement community (the Wrinkle Ranch) for the first time in November. I had never attended and it was cancelled in 2020, so I had no idea what to expect. There are 948 homes here, so its a good population.

The main item I took was a mahogany cellarette, (https://www.lumberjocks.com/projects/421375) which, after much deliberation, I priced at $900; you guys said $1000-1500; the wife said $500. It turned out to be 3X the next highest priced item. A friend, who is president of our 200 member veterans club, said “this is a show of trinkets, good luck.” I also had a lingerie drying rack, some bottle openers shaped as beer bottles, and a bunch of wine bottle stoppers. My philosophy is that I want to present items that are unusual and useful.

The cellarette attracted more attention than anything else in the entire show, consisting of 35 tables. The only woodworking items were some cutting boards, some walking sticks, a nice assortment of bowls and my friend had 50 reindeer cutouts with ribbons around their necks (he sold 45, all going to a charity). In my opinion, the finishes on the boards and bowls left a lot to be desired; I spend a lot of time on my finishes; if its worth the effort to make, then I want the finish to reflect that.

The cellarette distracted attention from my other items and only about 1/2 sold. I also had 4 fairly large prints of the Vietnam Wall that I took on a cold rainy night; I ended up giving them to other vets.

As I was getting ready to leave a little early a couple came by and asked to take some photos of the cellarette; not a word about the price (I think they would have paid 2X what I asked). Before I got home, they called and said they wanted it.

What I learned:

(a) table needs to look better, although I don’t know what to do;

(b) I need to somehow locate the next cellarette so it does not divert attention form th eother stuff;

(c) I need to come up with some sort of display for the wine bottle stoppers, etc., rather than just laying them on the table;

(d) need signs telling the purpose of the items, as some people seemed to have no intuition ( duh, who ties your shoes for you? );

(e) most important, the price did not deter those who were really interested. Next year there will be another cellarette in the Federal style, maybe 2. They will be priced significantly higher, as there is just too much time involved.

Had an email form the ladies that organized the show; they said the cellarette was the single best item of the show and that they wanted me to do it again, as it elevated the class of the show – guess they had enough of the trinkets.

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