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Craft Shows... Tips For Success


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#21 Clay 4 All

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Posted 13 June 2014 - 05:03 PM

Just remember to affix lids! It is so sad to see a fabulous pot ruined due to the customer picking the piece up to check the bottom for the price, only to have the lid hit the floor.

Maybe for some to make another lid is simple.

I once saw signage in a pottery store that said "we break it, we cry...you break it, you buy"...

#22 Mark C.

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Posted 13 June 2014 - 05:34 PM

TJR is so right on the tags

I use 3/4 inch removable round tags on the sides of pots or inside flat forms and bowls.

Hunting for prices is an obstacle to be avoided.

This is a key point I feel. No matter how you personally feel about it.

If your work is hundreds of dollars price the pedistal it sits on next to the work.

If yoiu are a funtional potter like me price the pots.

 

As far as lids I loose one every 5 years max from someone bobbling it. So it goes.

Mark


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#23 Pugaboo

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Posted 13 June 2014 - 06:05 PM

I don't like price tags on the front either. I put them on the bottom EXCEPT for my boxes, I don't want someone picking one up flipping it over to see the price and dropping the lid. For boxes I put it on a bottom corner on the side to the back of the shelf. If I have a basket of small items like bracelets or mini dishes I do up a tent card and sit it next the or on the edge of the basket. I don't hand write! I print everything on the computer I think it looks nicer, or maybe I just have sucky handwriting.

Terry
The world is but a canvas to the imagination - Henry David Thoreau

#24 JBaymore

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Posted 14 June 2014 - 02:08 PM

LONG GONE are the days when customers expect festival artists to look like hippies. I repeat, LONG GONE. These days customers expect us to look like someone who can give them good advice about home decor

 

EXCELLENT and very important point Mea.

 

So in the forums I often mention Japan and selling there.  And most folks here reading this are already aware that in general the valuation of ceramic work by the public in Japan is generally far higher than in the USA (or likely any other country in the world). 

 

When working (I chose that word deliberately) a show opening when I am in Japan, here is how I am typically dressed:

 

Attached File  JohnBaymoreSoloOpeningInterviewInJapan-SuitAndTie.jpg   318.29KB   4 downloads

 

(Japanese press interviewing me in that shot)

 

In Japan ceramics is serious business.  Serious business deserves serious attention TO business.  In a business setting...... appropriate dress is required to be taken seriously.  So.... nice suit and tie.  With just the right "flair".

 

The USA is certainly not Japan.... but how might our approach TO business and our approach to professionalism here tend to affect not only our own succeess, but also the success of the field in general.  (Back to my pet peeve of the curse of,  "I play with clay!") 

 

Food for thought.

 

best,

 

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


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#25 Mark C.

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Posted 14 June 2014 - 03:37 PM

I'm in deep trouble I have never owned a suit and tie. At 61 I think I may make all the way without one.

I tend to wear comfortable clothes at shows and always a fish shirt.

I have done many a press camera talk this way as well when a show asks for someone who has been doing it forever they send them to me.

I try not to look like a slob but stress comfort is also a big factor.

Foot comfort is key.

 

Mark


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#26 Rebekah Krieger

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Posted 17 June 2014 - 10:41 AM

 

LONG GONE are the days when customers expect festival artists to look like hippies. I repeat, LONG GONE. These days customers expect us to look like someone who can give them good advice about home decor

 

EXCELLENT and very important point Mea.

 

So in the forums I often mention Japan and selling there.  And most folks here reading this are already aware that in general the valuation of ceramic work by the public in Japan is generally far higher than in the USA (or likely any other country in the world). 

 

When working (I chose that word deliberately) a show opening when I am in Japan, here is how I am typically dressed:

 

attachicon.gifJohnBaymoreSoloOpeningInterviewInJapan-SuitAndTie.jpg

 

(Japanese press interviewing me in that shot)

 

In Japan ceramics is serious business.  Serious business deserves serious attention TO business.  In a business setting...... appropriate dress is required to be taken seriously.  So.... nice suit and tie.  With just the right "flair".

 

The USA is certainly not Japan.... but how might our approach TO business and our approach to professionalism here tend to affect not only our own succeess, but also the success of the field in general.  (Back to my pet peeve of the curse of,  "I play with clay!") 

 

Food for thought.

 

best,

 

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

 

Looking sharp my friend! 


Learning On my Kick wheel with my vintage Paragon (from the late 1960's)

#27 AveRenee

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Posted 30 June 2014 - 12:18 PM

Does anyone have advice on choosing whether or not the fair is a good place to sell? I'm still new at this, recently graduated; but I've done 4 fairs now and haven't had much luck picking the right ones, I mostly just break even or a little ahead. The atmosphere of them were places to find cheap goods or more about activities rather than buying quality goods (i.e.: basement church holiday fair, festival with heavy focus on children's activities, columbus day festival, etc...) but don't particularly seem to be advertised as such to the vendors. 



#28 Stephen

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Posted 30 June 2014 - 12:31 PM

Welcome to the forum AveRenee, here's an interesting post I saw on another site you might want to read.

 

http://www.artfairin...traction-factor

 

There are a few websites that help you narrow down your search, http://www.festivalnet.com has a nice search tool that you can use to narrow down the search to shows that have or don't have the things you want. the free membership gives you access to the search just limits some of the details. there are others as well I think but I don't know them off hand.

 

Good luck! 



#29 Chris Campbell

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Posted 30 June 2014 - 12:40 PM

You are going to get stung occasionally when you start out ... it's a learning curve. Most of us had to get over just being "happy to be there" and look behind the curtain a bit more critically.

Magazines like Sunshine Artist can give you excellent reviews of the bigger shows.

Crafts Report ( http://www.craftsreport.com/) is a magazine and a website serving the professional craft show sellers and wholesalers. They have a show finder and publish a lot of helpful articles.

 

For the small shows and local ones, you either have to visit it the year before you do it or start watching out for warning signs.

I can start the list of warning signs and others can add, I'm sure ...

- when the focus is totally on another activity with craft sales thrown in as entertainment. Bands, Food, Charity, Sports draw attention away from you. People tend to do what they set out to do and if they are just going to eat, drink and hear music that is what they will do.

- when most of the other booths are selling imports ... also known as 'Buy/Sell' booths.

- when they sound thrilled to hear a hand made artist is applying.

- when no one seems to know who is in charge.


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#30 Mark C.

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Posted 01 July 2014 - 10:25 AM

Artfair insiders as well as art fair source book and sunshine artists are all good ways to sort out the best shows.

That does not mean your work will sell well at those shows that takes lots of trail and error.

Mark


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#31 Pugaboo

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Posted 01 July 2014 - 05:42 PM

I agree all those sources help you narrow your search for shows but having subscribed to them for years also know there are a lot of other variables that go into making a show successful for you. Do your due diligence start with the resources mentioned here to shorten the possible list then go on the web and search some more on those shows. Facebook is a place to start since many events now have a page. Try and find some other artists that have done the event you are looking at, then try to find other artists in your genre that do the show. Ask them all questions about their experience. If it's local ask your friends if they go to the events and what they thought as spectators. If possible as said by others attend the festival the year before you apply and pay attention to what is going on... Booth layout, demographic of spectator attendance, type of artists displaying, etc. Your own eyes and sense of how the show feels can answer a lot of your questions since you know your art best.

Once you have done all that and decide to take the leap and do the festival get your best work together, do dry runs with your display to make sure it looks and says what you want it to about your art. Then sit back and hold your breath that the weather gods love you that weekend. Hold your breath that nothing else unforeseen interferes with the public attending the event, a large sporting event can kill a show! Not something you think about but I've seen it happen. Pray that the world is peaceful and kind with no tragic news, was at an art show when we went to war, there were tumble weeds blowing down the streets when it hit the news. Sad we had to go to war but also sad not to make gas money to get home. Same thing happened when the shuttle blew up, some things you can't control can affect you. A final uncontrollable thing that can ruin your show... Booth location, most of the time you can't control where the promoter sticks you and location can make or break your show.

All that said your attitude, appearance, and display layout can be the red line. If you drop the ball with these you might just as well stay home and save yourself the gas. No matter how slow, stormy, boring a show is be up beat let customers know you love your work and love doing festivals... But don't scare them away by pouncing as has been mentioned several times on the forum. Find that happy medium. Stay positive next week is always another show with a whole new set of opportunities to get your work out there, one great show get can you through a lot of clunkers.

That's my additional 2 cents on festivals!

Terry
The world is but a canvas to the imagination - Henry David Thoreau

#32 bciskepottery

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Posted 01 July 2014 - 07:07 PM

Mel Jacobsen, the moderator of the Clayart forum, often advises folks to draw a circle 50 miles around their home town -- no need to go further, you can find all the customers you need inside that circle. My circle is a bit larger, but I live in a multi-state area and choose to only do shows in my home state to avoid outside state sales tax filings, etc. Start small, build a customer base (may take a couple of years, and grow from your successes. I do scout new shows the year before to see what the set up is, crowd and traffic flow, other vendors. And, sometimes I just take a chance. I try (now) not to do back-to-back shows so I have time to make items between shows.



#33 clay lover

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Posted 01 July 2014 - 08:07 PM

Everyone is dead broke in the 50 mile circle around my house!



#34 Mark C.

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Posted 02 July 2014 - 11:37 AM

The 50 mile thing only works if you live around people-I did that for 1st 15 years until mid 80's-if you are rural then you need to go further unless you settle for meger sales. have saturated my 50 mile circle. If you want to sell super well you need to find those markets and travel to them.Once developed you stay with them and they build.

1/2 my income comes from way outside the 50 mile circle-more like a 1200 mile circle

as in real-estate- location location location.

Mark


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#35 Chris Campbell

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Posted 02 July 2014 - 01:24 PM

I agree ... I have seen folks who barely need five miles to make it work ... and others who need to get way far out of that limiting circle. You need to look at your work objectively ... try to figure out who your customer is and where they buy ... which is also sometimes different from where they live.

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#36 Rebekah Krieger

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Posted 03 July 2014 - 06:22 PM

Mel Jacobsen, the moderator of the Clayart forum, often advises folks to draw a circle 50 miles around their home town -- no need to go further, you can find all the customers you need inside that circle. My circle is a bit larger, but I live in a multi-state area and choose to only do shows in my home state to avoid outside state sales tax filings, etc. Start small, build a customer base (may take a couple of years, and grow from your successes. I do scout new shows the year before to see what the set up is, crowd and traffic flow, other vendors. And, sometimes I just take a chance. I try (now) not to do back-to-back shows so I have time to make items between shows.

unless you live in nebraska- then you need a 50 mile radius around your state ;)


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#37 Min

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Posted 03 July 2014 - 07:09 PM

 Try and find some other artists that have done the event you are looking at, then try to find other artists in your genre that do the show. Ask them all questions about their experience. 

 

I agreed with most of what you said except this part. I have found that vendors at art events come in tied with fishermen as to spewing bs. Spinning tales of how well they are doing when they have been in plain sight all day with few sales and saying how well they are doing. Um, I have the booth across from you, saw you had very little business and yet you are saying you had great sales. Really? A little more honesty amongst vendors would be helpful. Also, a great day for someone selling work done as a hobby who is only interested in recouping costs isn't in the same game as those whose livelihood depends on selling their work.



#38 bciskepottery

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Posted 03 July 2014 - 07:23 PM

Mel Jacobsen, the moderator of the Clayart forum, often advises folks to draw a circle 50 miles around their home town -- no need to go further, you can find all the customers you need inside that circle. My circle is a bit larger, but I live in a multi-state area and choose to only do shows in my home state to avoid outside state sales tax filings, etc. Start small, build a customer base (may take a couple of years, and grow from your successes. I do scout new shows the year before to see what the set up is, crowd and traffic flow, other vendors. And, sometimes I just take a chance. I try (now) not to do back-to-back shows so I have time to make items between shows.

unless you live in nebraska- then you need a 50 mile radius around your state ;)


Pete Pinnell and the crew at University of Nebraska/Lincoln might take exception to that.

#39 Mark C.

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Posted 03 July 2014 - 07:34 PM

No matter what show you get into take mugs-mugs and some mugs-hey did I mention mugs

Its a mainstay-everyone likes a good mug.

Yesterdays mug run.

Today I'm off pots getting some rest for a 4th show and a big Trip to the Far North where the sun never sets this time of year.Think I'll clean the house and water plants.

Mark

 

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#40 JBaymore

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Posted 03 July 2014 - 07:58 PM

Um, I have the booth across from you, saw you had very little business and yet you are saying you had great sales. Really?

 

Sometimes this is not a malicious thing.  Some people have NO CLUE about what making money is all about or what a decent paycheck might be in today's world.  Some have no idea of actual business accounting practices... and if they sell $1000 gross of sales at a show,... they THINK they magically "made" $1000.  I've seen this kind of craziness ALL the time.

 

So their estimate of what is a "good show" might be WAY off the mark from someone who has different standards of accounting, lifestyle, and/or income. 

 

Some potters who have been working at this for 20+ years think that $25 K annual net is a "good living".  Maybe for them it works.

 

best,

 

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


John Baymore
Immediate Past President; Potters Council
Professor of Ceramics; New Hampshire Insitute of Art

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