How to Pick a GOOD ART Event from a BAD ART Event
The emphasis here is on the event being good or bad, not on the art. As the veteran of a hundred odd art events, I've learned a bit about telling the good ones from the bad ones.
Over the weekend, I set up at a two day event with 200 participating artists and thousands of shoppers set up over an eight block stretch in a busy downtown area. This was the perfect event. It was all about the art and the artists.
At some events, the emphasis will be on the music or the food or the beer, but this event was billed as primarily as art festival. Come for the art. Look at the art. Buy the art. Support the artists. I absolutely loved every profitable minute of it.
As an artist, how do you know what events will be this good?
Research. Research. Research.
Don't just jump in and start applying for every event that is advertising for vendors.
First time events are always a huge gamble. When you're first starting out, they can ruin your enthusiasm and destroy your ego. Avoid these. Look for events with a pedigree.
Walk the event before you apply. This is how you know if your art will be a good fit and if it is worth your time. This is part of the research process. Give yourself a year just for learning.
Talk to the artists at the event. Most will be more than happy to share their experiences with you. They may even recommend similar events.
(I get that if you're just starting, you just want to apply for everything. Slow down or you will find yourself at a series of very poorly attended events that suck up all your money and all your enthusiasm.)
Start slow. This may feel a little a little stalkerish, but if there is a local artist whose work feels similar to yours and they are busy on the local art circuit, plot out where they go and what they do over the course of a year. Those are the places to apply and the events to work.
If this local artist has their art in a local gallery, that is the first place to approach when you feel ready to get your work into local galleries. You want to start with venues and galleries that fit your work.
Again, I understand the impulse to jump right in but if you can give yourself a year just to research, when you do take the plunge, it will be so much easier for you.
Over the course of your first year, try small local events (cheap events or inexpensive farmers markets). Don't go to these expecting to make loads of money. Approach these as research. See which of your art pieces get the most attention. Figure out who is drawn to your work. Who is your target demographic?
People come into my booth thinking I'm obsessed with cats. I like cats but I create a lot of cat art because in my research I discovered that cat art sold better than anything else I created. The cat enthusiasts found me first.
My Tarot deck didn't even start with a cat theme. I selected the cat theme after I discovered how much people love cat art.
You're going to want to find events that your demographic attends. These are your people.
Again, there is no substitute for walking the event before you think about applying.
Are there a lot of mass produced items or mlms at this event? This is not the event for the aspiring artist. These are not the shoppers who are looking for handmade items. The people that prefer mass produced items are not your people. They are not your demographic.
You want to find events that cater to the shoppers that want hand crafted and hand worked items. You want to be where the other artists are successfully selling their work.
Working a weekly art market really helped me to define who my people were and what art sold the best. If you can get into one these, this is an ideal way to do productive research.
Give yourself plenty of time to do research before you expect to start making a profit. Don't get discouraged.
Major corporations spend years in development and research, but you don't have the budget or the staff so be patient with yourself as you discover your niche in your customer base and your artwork.
The more time you give yourself in this research, the better result when you start applying for juried festivals and markets. You can do this but don't rush the research stage.
If I can do this, you absolutely can too. Believe in yourself and your potential if this is a path you really want to pursue.