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Formula For What Is Considered A Good Show?


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#1 Pugaboo

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Posted 02 December 2013 - 09:08 PM

I did festivals for about a decade a few years back and the formula for a good show that the artists like to tout was that your booth fee should be 10% of your sales. Is this about the same or has it changed with inflation and such?

I did the first 3 days of a 5 day festival over this past weekend and achieved the 10% formula but got to thinking maybe things have changed over the years.

Terry
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#2 Mark C.

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Posted 02 December 2013 - 09:44 PM

Never heard of this formula- other than try to keep expenses low. I try to get as much as I can from a show . The 10% sounds good on paper but most of my shows its a lot less than 10% of gross for the booth fee. What is more important are the sales expanding over the years -that is getting better? If its declining then that's a scale I would pay attention to.I also think this will change starting out to being known for many years at the same venue-that is sales will improve and expand as one develops .When starting out I would stay clear of any so called rules and find the shows that work-that is make money and keep growing with sales.

Booth fees are always going up and so should your sales if the show is a good one.If you are well received and do well at a show then the rest should fall into place.

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#3 GEP

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Posted 02 December 2013 - 11:46 PM

Nope there is no formula that is based on the booth fee. Booth fees vary so widely, it wouldn't make sense. I do some shows that cost $50 and some that cost over $2000. My basis for judging is net profit (gross sales, minus booth fee and travel expenses), and number of days. For a one-day show, I want my net profit to be X, for a two-day show it's Y, and for a three day show it's Z. I'll continue to do any show that can meet these benchmarks. My benchmarks might be too low or too high for anyone else, each potter needs to figure out their own.
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#4 jrgpots

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Posted 03 December 2013 - 01:10 AM

How do you know if the booth fee is appropriate the first time in? Is there a list of "good" shows vs "bad" ones? I have thought about selling my native american flutes at a booth at the Zion music festival. But I could end up selling nothing....There is not a huge demand for ceramic native american flutes.

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#5 Mark C.

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Posted 03 December 2013 - 02:26 AM

How do you know if the booth fee is appropriate the first time in? Is there a list of "good" shows vs "bad" ones? I have thought about selling my native american flutes at a booth at the Zion music festival. But I could end up selling nothing....There is not a huge demand for ceramic native american flutes.

Jed

Yes there are sources that do help with good and bad shows some are free some cost$$

Art fair source book

artinsiders.com

sunshineartist.com

 

There is no way to know how your work will sell except to pay your money and see-thats the way we all learn about shows at the start.

Your item does have a narrow market and a show is not going to be a good outlet in my view

but a music festival is more towards your market for sure

Mark


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#6 Pugaboo

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Posted 03 December 2013 - 07:53 AM

Doing any show is basically jumping off a cliff even if you have done it previously, economy, weather, other events in the area ALL feed into whether a show is good from year to year. The more a show charges for a booth generally (for fine art products in the past) meant the more you made or had the opportunity to make. I've done shows that asked you to fill out a form at the end of the show stating how much you made I've also done shows that took 10% of your sales.
Take Ann Arbor; I would pay $800 for a booth and could expect to make around $8000 for the show. Now I don't know if this was good or bad sales wise but it was what I could expect as a fine art photographer. This is PAST information for me and now I am doing pottery which is considered craft or fine craft and got to wondering if I could use the same basic formula for planning purposes in the future.

The festival I did this last weekend was a SMALL local festival with maybe a dozen booths where I paid $25 for a booth which for a 5 day festival means I am paying $5 a day for the space. I made $250 this weekend which yes I know is not very much BUT I sold only holiday ornaments with the most expensive being $30 and most $15 or less. I do not expect to make a million dollars doing this show. I expect to get an idea if my style will be accepted in the area, what type items are more popular and the price bracket that seems to be comfortable for buyers. It's also 2 blocks from home so I have absolutely no other costs, after setting up I drove home parked the car and walked back and forth to the show after that. I also hope to make some additional connections with local area gift shops. I am hoping to get some additional exposure to get my work in more locations in the area. Talking to other artists will also help in finding additional new venues and shows for selling at. Basically it's market testing and networking. I had a very simple lightweight display that took less than an hour to set up and tear down and easily fits in my car, I kept it simple.
I subscribed to all the resources mentioned, in the past, but do not at the moment. I only plan to do local shows where I can sleep in my own bed at night so they really are not going to be worth their price for me. If I were once again planning to do shows all over the country then yes they are very good resources.

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#7 PSC

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Posted 03 December 2013 - 09:48 AM

Reading other forums on other sites the 10x booth fee was a standard some used to determine a good venue but that was the 1980-90’s benchmark. Todays show often 5x booth fee is the new benchmark. I hear people tell of the sales they made in the 1980’s, apparently it was a fabulous time to be in the art show circuit.

#8 JBaymore

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Posted 03 December 2013 - 11:27 AM

Your item does have a narrow market and a show is not going to be a good outlet in my view

but a music festival is more towards your market for sure

 

 

Said by a wise man.

 

A ceramic artist friend of mine is a china painter who almost exclusively does tile work.  Fantastic artist.  He does not do "craft shows" at all.  He does home improvement kinds of shows.... and his one-of-a-kind high-ticket bathroom, kitchen, and swimming pool installations are very, very successful.

 

Know your market.  Do research.  If you can't describe in some detail WHO is going to be the people that will buy your work, then you have some thinking and "market studying" to do before even thinking about selecting shows.  Knowing that "picture" will help you judge if a show/venue/gallery is a decent risk.

 

If you are making "art cups" (for lack of a better term here) at $100 a pop........ the local farmers market is likely not your venue.  If you are making "folk art reproductions", the Buyers Market of American Crafts or the Smithsonian Craft Fair are likely not your market.

 

best,

 

...............john


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#9 Wyndham

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Posted 03 December 2013 - 11:42 AM

It's interesting that Target reported 18% of their sales black Friday were for Ipads. and that cyber Monday internet sales were significantly higher this year over last.

Back in the hay day of shows there was no "Internet"

 

I wish I knew how to tap into this market but it is becoming the "Elephant in the room" and shows are getting more expensive with fewer $$$ coming in.

Wyndham



#10 JBaymore

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Posted 03 December 2013 - 11:55 AM

Reading other forums on other sites the 10x booth fee was a standard some used to determine a good venue but that was the 1980-90’s benchmark. Todays show often 5x booth fee is the new benchmark. I hear people tell of the sales they made in the 1980’s, apparently it was a fabulous time to be in the art show circuit.

 

I really think that the "craft fair" is a dead concept whose time came and went.  It was fantastic for those that were riding the crest of the wave at the time it erupted on the scene (I was there).  Now, we are mostly "kicking a dead horse".  It emerged in a time when there were few stores/galleries in most locations that sold decent craft items.  It filled a need back then (good way to run a business,..... "fill a need").  As time has gone on, craft selling stores and galleries have proliferated all over the place (at least here in the USA).  There are now few towns in th US that do not have at LEAST one craft gallery/store in them.  Add to that venues like EBay and Etsy.  Crafts are available everywhere.  The "magic" is gone.

 

Yeah... craft shows, for the most part, are slipping as an economic engine for the craft artists.  They continue to exist for the most part because a good way to make a living in the craft field is to make if OFF OF the craft artists.  There is a constant stream of starry-eyed newcomers that are looking for ways to sell their work.  They are always willing to spend the booth fees to see if a show will work for them, with no guarantees of success.  So the promoters "get theirs" up front and the craft artists take all the risks.  If the show charges the audience to enter the show..... the promoters even get to "double dip".  If a person does not sell well for a couple of tries at a given show, they either move to another venue, or give up on the idea.  The "kicker" here is that there is always another new craftsperson right there to take their place.  And so it goes.

 

At the college, we do not "sugar coat" the realities of all this with the students.  To do so would be a dis-service.  We are VERY clear about how hard it is to be a full time visual artist in today's world.  They know that if they are not up to the A level of work coming out of school, that the road they face will be very rough for them.  Our academic dean does a talk with the incoming freshman students that, shortened up a LOT, says........ 'if you are an A level student we'll be seeing you name in the big shows and galleries.... and if you are a C level student...... you'll be driving a truck'. (The way he does it is FAR more inspirational than that.)

 

I think the bottom line in this overall discussion is that if you want to be full time.... you better be DAM# GOOD at your craft, and ALSO be really good at "business smarts" as well.  And also a bit lucky, to boot.  And STILL willing to work for far less $ than you are actually "worth" (if you were an attourney, accountant, or iother more mainstream employment skilled person). 

 

Also like ANY business start-up, you have to have the plan that allows you to LOSE MONEY for a good long while before the business becomes profitable.  So there needs to be 'money in the bank" to support the business until it is viable.  Most business (in all fields) fail because they are under-capitalized, not because they are not good viabale business ventures. 

 

I think Chris summed things up very well above.  And recently in Ceramics Monthly there was a great piece written by a ceramic artist that documents the "be careful what you wish for" aspect of going full time.  He did... and quit that and went backl to part-time. 

 

It CAN be done..... it AIN'T easy.  (There is a reason that they call it a "job".)

 

best,

 

...................john


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#11 Chris Campbell

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Posted 03 December 2013 - 11:56 AM

From what I have heard, studio shows and home shows are still doing well. It ties into people wanting something to do and people wanting an experience. I think the more people surround themselves with machines, the more they will want the experience of meeting the artists.

The trouble with some large craft shows is you get a totally distracted customer. Music, food, imports, etc all take them away from your booth. The more you define the focus, your chances of sales get better.

If you are doing craft shows you can boost your overall sales numbers by selling somewhere on the Internet ... AFTER the initial sale, you want to give them your card with the assurance they can find you somewhere whenever they need a gift or something for themselves.

Why not before? ... well, that Internet option gives them the perfect exit line to go 'think about it'.

 

I agree with John ... it is hard to support yourself and your family but it is not impossible. I know many potters who are doing so.

I also know a lot who hold other jobs at the same time, or their partner works and they each can bring in the same $$$ ... and some where one earns more than the other. Sometimes all the potter can do is support their studio and maybe even show a little extra black ink! There is no one right way.


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#12 JBaymore

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Posted 03 December 2013 - 12:46 PM

I also know a lot who hold other jobs at the same time, or their partner works and they each can bring in the same $$$ ... and some where one earns more than the other. Sometimes all the potter can do is support their studio and maybe even show a little extra black ink! There is no one right way.

 

These days the household where one person works outside the home and the other does not at all is ALSO pretty much a thing of the past.  I ALL fields of endeavor.  And many folks with all types of jobs often work more than one job.  Unless your job puts you in the top percentage of the income brackets....... it more or less takes two incomes to make things work these days.  (Unless you are a brain surgeon or a plumber ;) .)

 

I just saw somewhere that if US Minimum Wage laws had kept up with the economic index and costs of living... that minumum wage today would be $28.00 per hour.  THAT is sobering.  28 x 40 x 52 = $58,240.00  So in "buying power", a mimmum wage job is about $50K a year now. (This is why my wife and I are constantly feeling like we are peddaling faster all the time and moving backwards :rolleyes: .) 

 

best,

 

...............john

 

PS:  Have to get back to working on writing up the final exam for my Japanese ceramics art history class.  Too easy to stop over here to the forums.  Oh........ look... shiney.  Ah... squirrel! B)


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#13 neilestrick

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Posted 03 December 2013 - 02:39 PM

 

Also like ANY business start-up, you have to have the plan that allows you to LOSE MONEY for a good long while before the business becomes profitable.  So there needs to be 'money in the bank" to support the business until it is viable.  Most business (in all fields) fail because they are under-capitalized, not because they are not good viabale business ventures. 

 

 

...................john

 

 

90% of all businesses fail in the first 6-12 months, mostly because they do not have the cash to carry them until they are profitable. It's long, tough road to build up business. It took 5 years before I could get through a year without taking a loss during at least one month of the year at my shop. It took a lot of debt to get me through those first years, much more than my initial startup costs. I never could have done it had my wife not been working, too.


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#14 Mudslinger Ceramics

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Posted 22 December 2013 - 08:23 PM

 

Reading other forums on other sites the 10x booth fee was a standard some used to determine a good venue but that was the 1980-90’s benchmark. Todays show often 5x booth fee is the new benchmark. I hear people tell of the sales they made in the 1980’s, apparently it was a fabulous time to be in the art show circuit.

 

I really think that the "craft fair" is a dead concept whose time came and went.  It was fantastic for those that were riding the crest of the wave at the time it erupted on the scene (I was there).  Now, we are mostly "kicking a dead horse".  It emerged in a time when there were few stores/galleries in most locations that sold decent craft items.  It filled a need back then (good way to run a business,..... "fill a need").  As time has gone on, craft selling stores and galleries have proliferated all over the place (at least here in the USA).  There are now few towns in th US that do not have at LEAST one craft gallery/store in them.  Add to that venues like EBay and Etsy.  Crafts are available everywhere.  The "magic" is gone.

 

Yeah... craft shows, for the most part, are slipping as an economic engine for the craft artists.  They continue to exist for the most part because a good way to make a living in the craft field is to make if OFF OF the craft artists.  There is a constant stream of starry-eyed newcomers that are looking for ways to sell their work.  They are always willing to spend the booth fees to see if a show will work for them, with no guarantees of success.  So the promoters "get theirs" up front and the craft artists take all the risks.  If the show charges the audience to enter the show..... the promoters even get to "double dip".  If a person does not sell well for a couple of tries at a given show, they either move to another venue, or give up on the idea.  The "kicker" here is that there is always another new craftsperson right there to take their place.  And so it goes.

 

At the college, we do not "sugar coat" the realities of all this with the students.  To do so would be a dis-service.  We are VERY clear about how hard it is to be a full time visual artist in today's world.  They know that if they are not up to the A level of work coming out of school, that the road they face will be very rough for them.  Our academic dean does a talk with the incoming freshman students that, shortened up a LOT, says........ 'if you are an A level student we'll be seeing you name in the big shows and galleries.... and if you are a C level student...... you'll be driving a truck'. (The way he does it is FAR more inspirational than that.)

 

I think the bottom line in this overall discussion is that if you want to be full time.... you better be DAM# GOOD at your craft, and ALSO be really good at "business smarts" as well.  And also a bit lucky, to boot.  And STILL willing to work for far less $ than you are actually "worth" (if you were an attourney, accountant, or iother more mainstream employment skilled person). 

 

Also like ANY business start-up, you have to have the plan that allows you to LOSE MONEY for a good long while before the business becomes profitable.  So there needs to be 'money in the bank" to support the business until it is viable.  Most business (in all fields) fail because they are under-capitalized, not because they are not good viabale business ventures. 

 

I think Chris summed things up very well above.  And recently in Ceramics Monthly there was a great piece written by a ceramic artist that documents the "be careful what you wish for" aspect of going full time.  He did... and quit that and went backl to part-time. 

 

It CAN be done..... it AIN'T easy.  (There is a reason that they call it a "job".)

 

best,

 

...................john

 

 

 

Very true unfortunately!!!.............same here on the other side of the world!    It's the market organisers making the money, not the artists.

 

Excellence, innovation, business skills and downright staying power are the new 'essentials' of the art/craft market now.

 

 

Irene  


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