Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
shawnhar

1st "real" show, how did you know when?

Recommended Posts

There is a show in Nashville at the end of April that is 200 miles away and booth fees are between 300 and 400 I think. Website states 100k visitors.

How did you know when you were ready for something like that?  I dipped my toe in at a small local show and an indoor winter farmer's market, each only had 30 or so vendors and I did OK, but something like this is at another level. My booth was kinda cobbled together and I would need to get a real tent and redesign my shelves, which I plan to do anyway. I am confident I wouldn't loose money, people seem to like my stuff, but it seems a bit early to go for something of that magnitude.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree with Liam.  The pricing of the booths suggests that they aren't aiming to have only elite exhibitors. 

What exactly are you worried about? Are you worried you won't have enough merchandise? That all the other potters will be better than you? Do you hate crowds? 

There are a few shows I go to regularly in my vicinity. One is a juried show in July that is not for beginners and costs something like $1800 with fewer than 10,000  expected visitors. Another that is about the size of your show, I would think, draws no elite sort of exhibitors but is a lot of fun with crafts ordinary people can afford to buy, with $15 mugs rather than $40 mugs.

I assume your wife would go along to staff the booth with you? I don't think doing this alone would be good.

 

Edited by Gabby

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you really don’t have a good handle on whether you are ready, don’t apply for this year’s show. Instead, go to the show as a spectator, then make a decision for next year. Discreetly talk to other potters and ask how they like the show. Or just observe to see how busy they look, and whether you think your work will fit in. It’s worth a day trip, and a year of waiting. Compared to wasting a bunch of money, time, and energy on a bad show, or a show that is not a good fit for you. This is how pros do it. 

Edited by GEP

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
19 minutes ago, GEP said:

If you really don’t have a good handle on whether you are ready, don’t apply for this year’s show. Instead, go to the show as a spectator, then make a decision for next year. Discreetly talk to other potters and ask how they like the show. Or just observe to see how busy they look, and whether you think your work will fit in. It’s worth a day trip, and a year of waiting. Compared to wasting a bunch of money, time, and energy on a bad show, or a show that is not a good fit for you. This is how pros do it. 

Good advice above-best to work slowy up-gather the canopy ,vehicle, experience,work did I mention experience?then go when you are ready.

This statement tells me a lot (My booth was kinda cobbled together) sounds like you are not ready

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It appears Mea doesn’t want to blow her own horn, so I’ll do it for her. When I was still lurking the forum, I was in much the same place you are now. Reading her blog posts about how to run a business as a potter making a living from shows is enormously helpful, because it’s from the direct experience of someone who is succeeding doing exactly what she describes. It’s helped me greatly. Start reading with this series. 

http://www.goodelephant.com/blog/category/the-art-festival-plan

When you’re beginning, smaller shows and guessing is kind of part of it, but if you do the research as she describes, it will keep you from loosing your booth fees. Or at least it helped me. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I suspect by the time you had everything you needed and some of the "wants" that you might succumb to, the show would be costing you a whole lot more than the entry fee.  Nashville is probably a busy market, thus you'd probably do well, but April is also just around the corner and proper prep is crucial. I do not envy you this decision point!! I like the go-check it out suggestion, as long as you could stand going and seeing all the action that you wouldn't be part of!! On the other hand, entering a show that doesn't happen as you'd like could be a real bummer, even if you learn a lot. Repeating my self--I don't envy where you're at! I'd definitely read Mea's art festival plan.  

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Callie Beller Diesel said:

It appears Mea doesn’t want to blow her own horn, so I’ll do it for her. When I was still lurking the forum, I was in much the same place you are now. Reading her blog posts about how to run a business as a potter making a living from shows is enormously helpful, because it’s from the direct experience of someone who is succeeding doing exactly what she describes. It’s helped me greatly. Start reading with this series. 

http://www.goodelephant.com/blog/category/the-art-festival-plan

When you’re beginning, smaller shows and guessing is kind of part of it, but if you do the research as she describes, it will keep you from loosing your booth fees. Or at least it helped me. 

Good read

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks guys!

Decided not to apply, I could get the tent and make better shelves but I have no branding, reading Mea's article was very enlightening! If I had some branding I would probably apply for it but my wife and I are still debating what the name should be. We are going to day trip it and scope it out for next year.

Thanks again!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@shawnhar Are you talking about the Spring TACA show...used to be TACA, now Tennessee Craft?

Ive done some shows in Nashville, and while the city is booming, my sales have always been mediocre; never grossed more than $3500 at a single show there.

Edited by hitchmss

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
16 hours ago, shawnhar said:

How did you know when you were ready for something like that?

I had done a few "small" shows prior to jumping into bigger ones. Not quite small like farmers markets etc, but "lesser" shows than the big ones; fall fests at home towns, orchards, that kind of thing; booth fees $150 and under. With the advice of my mentor potter he turned me on to some good shows to try out; thankfully his advice was sound, and I did well at those shows. In the beginning I had what I consider now, to be a dismal amount of inventory to take to a show, but it got me through without every really "running out" of inventory.

I get asked frequently to do shows that cost $1500-5000 for a 10x10 booth, and that's just not for me. I talk to people who do those kinds of shows, and generally the sales arent worth it. Wholesale shows that cost that much for a booth are a better investment IMO; you may not have the huge sales at the show that you would want, so the show is kind of a "bust" but you pick up enough gallery orders, and hopefully long time clients, that make it a worthwhile venture. The most Ive paid for a booth is Ann Arbor, a double at $1800, which is too much when added into the rest of your expenses; a booth is only one portion of the expenses; I need my profit margin for each show to be above 60% for me to think its worth doing again; If I spend $440 in expenses I need to sell $1100 gross minimum to make it worthwhile; anymore I dont go to shows where I dont anticipate making over $3500 gross for a weekends worth of time. If its a local show, with cheap expenses, or a one day show, that rule gets bent here and there.

Everyone's needs are different; I talk to other artists who think selling $10k is an ok show; for me that's a great show (as long as I didnt spend $5k to be there). Its a very relative, and personal equation to find what is a good amount of money to make. I have friends who do 50-60 shows a year; small, local, a lot of one day shows. They sell $5-800 at each show, and that's good for them. They keep their expenses low by staying home every night, but IMO they work much harder to net the same as I do, attending 20-22 shows a year...I make and sell more pots, but they set up and tear down booths more frequently.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It is the Franklin Main St. Festival, it's juried and they don't allow mass produced stuff so that sounds good.

https://williamsonheritage.org/mainstreet

Thanks for the info on sales and inventory, that's a reality check for me, I only have 3K in inventory total! I was thinking 1800 over 2 days would have been great for me. Guess I need to make some more sponge holders, lol.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you can handle the logistics, and you've got enough work, and you're confident you can sell enough work to make it worthwhile, then you're ready. The first show I ever did was a $350, 150 artist, 2 day, well-known show. It poured rain all weekend and we cancelled Sunday, but I still made $300!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 minutes ago, Mark C. said:

Make more stuff.

Working on it! - Have a bisque load waiting to be unloaded, another ready to start, 3 glaze loads to do, 20 mugs waiting for handles, 50lbs or reclaim bagged up on the table, the slog has begun!

 I now look forward to my Sunday studio classes as it's the only time I get to "play" for a few hours, lol.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, shawnhar said:

It is the Franklin Main St. Festival, it's juried and they don't allow mass produced stuff so that sounds good.

I think you'll do better at a show like this, which is more in a neighborhood style urban setting than the shows that Ive done, which are still in the heart of the city, but in the same park where 4 other art/craft shows take place every year....I think the patrons I came across at that venue were more there because "...theres another art show to walk around...". Those smaller neighborhood shows tend to have a bigger support for their local community, and I think patrons come out to buy better. I wouldnt count on any great white whales showing up and buying you out, but good solid consistent mug and bowl sales all day at venues like those.

Looking at the aerial image on their site; I might ask them for a booth location as close to, or in the hub of the town square as you can get. I like it when customers have to go past my booth a number of times while they walk different spurs of the show...being at the end of one of those spurs could be a big down turn in sales. When your booth looks busy (even if people arent buying) other patrons think theres something good to go check out....kind of like sharks in the water...feeding frenzies. When they get halfway down the dead end block, and dont see anyone, they assume there's nothing to see, and turn back. Many may not agree with this statement, and again, its a personal preference, but some of these smaller shows, booth location can be critical.

The deadline has passed, but if your looking for other nice shows, for that same weekend, check out Dogwood Arts in Knoxille for next year. Nice little show, which is growing well. Fees are going up, but sales last year were great for me. There are a number of other potters at this show though, so there is competition.

Edited by hitchmss

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@shawnhar I will be there this year! If you've never been it is a fun festival to be at as far as both sides go (patron and vendor). Good music at the night time, and good atmosphere/location! I hope to meet you there! I should be up on the square where I was last year; my booth doesnt have a sign, but Ill have red and turqoise pots which stand out at a distance. Attached is a photo from last years booth at the show. If Im busy wrapping pots just give me a moment and Ill be happy to chat with you! I was thinking it would be fun to meet in person the folks on this forum...cool that it may happen without much effort!

unnamed.png

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
22 minutes ago, hitchmss said:

@shawnhar I will be there this year! If you've never been it is a fun festival to be at as far as both sides go (patron and vendor). Good music at the night time, and good atmosphere/location! I hope to meet you there! I should be up on the square where I was last year; my booth doesnt have a sign, but Ill have red and turqoise pots which stand out at a distance. Attached is a photo from last years booth at the show. If Im busy wrapping pots just give me a moment and Ill be happy to chat with you! I was thinking it would be fun to meet in person the folks on this forum...cool that it may happen without much effort!

unnamed.png

Wow you single handedly keeping the copper industry afloat? :D

Your display looks very nice

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
49 minutes ago, liambesaw said:

Wow you single handedly keeping the copper industry afloat? :D

HA! People are always surprised when I tell them that the turquoise glaze uses about 3 times as much copper as the red glaze; of course, the explanation about reduction is a big part of it too. Dont have numbers off the top of my head, but maybe 30# of copper per year. The reds do go on about 2-3 times as thick as "normal" glazes (sp. gravity as measured by hydrometer 1.68 vs 1.45), so it is amazing to watch a fresh batch of 30 gallons of a red glaze drain to next to nothing with relatively few pots being glazed. Also makes them quite sensitive while loading the dry glazes....oh but they do look good, so worth the squeeze!

  Thanks! Ive been working on tweaking my display over the years; not 100% in love with this version, but I havent found another design I like better! I do like to play around with the saturated sections of contrasting primary colors!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 minutes ago, liambesaw said:

Can't wait til I'm going through 30 pounds of anything a year

No you dont.....it stinks when you go and spend about $1,000 on oxides and walk out with something you can easily carry on your shoulder! :lol:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Beautiful pots Sam, that red is gorgeous, love the Ikebana!

edit: "it stinks when you go and spend about $1,000 on oxides and walk out with something you can easily carry on your shoulder!"  Bet we pay more here, cobalt carb 2.5 kg is 420, cobalt oxide is 460. Tin is 247 for 2.5 kg. Wouldn't even have to put it on my shoulder.

Edited by Min

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
55 minutes ago, Min said:

Bet we pay more here, cobalt carb 2.5 kg is 420, cobalt oxide is 460. Tin is 247 for 2.5 kg

Theres no emoji for "doubled over in gut pain"! Ouch!

   Thanks Min! Been tweaking my firings/application of the red to get it as  bright as I can....baby steps!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.