This year I was fortunate to have been accepted by juries from three different organizations which all ran well organized Art Fairs. My area experienced the fourth rainiest summer, so half of my events were significantly impacted; the excessive heat only caused me to withdraw from an indoor event in mid July, as my events were at the end of the season.
My favorite Art Fair was run by a local Art League--all volunteer--and has become a tradition for over 50 years. The patrons were well educated, interested, had above average incomes, and understood the need to purchase from the artists to allow the continued creation of art. I would love to return next year and I am already thinking of what I will create for my jury photos because invitations to participate are by jury decision every year.
When I choose locations for next year's Art Fair applications, I will consider the financial health of the facility where the event is held, the statistics on local resident's income, home value and unemployment, ease of loading/unloading by being able to drive up to my space or needing to dolly everything in/out, the number of accepted artists, and the values of the women who would be attending. I have met women who leave their wallets at home or those who confuse their husband's by not purchasing a desired item. Sacrificing for others by not treating themselves is more common than I thought. In this economy, most will not purchase Christmas presents in the summer. It is also hard to highlight items a person might like if they are not present. Not wanting to touch items (try on for size) or allow me to assist them is a sure sign I won't likely make a sale.
Most of my sales were of conservative designs in conservative, neutral colors. They were planned purchases of jewelry to wear with something or something they had been looking for. When I analyzed customer's home address versus location of the show, I found they frequently did not live nearby. The reputation/advertising of the show is important.
A thumbs up to using Square, a tiny device that attaches to a smart phone (I used my husband's android phone) to process credit cards with a swipe and deposit the funds in your bank account (on Tuesday from a weekend show). www.squareup.com for details. If you want contact information from customers, you need to record it manually; the system does not record any personal customer data. The only cost is 2.75% of the amount; no annual, monthly or per transaction fee if you swipe their card. Even the device is free.
I have other comments I could make about the lessons I learned but decided it was bad enough I experienced them. Live and learn. I will say that doing outdoor Art Fairs is a hard way to earn money.
Applications for Art Fairs are due right after January 1, 2012. I will share my jury photos in a future blog post and start to list the events I will be participating in spring.
I am currently planning items for the holidays, and feel like celebrating so they will be GLAM items with hopefully lower price points. I have decided to use metals, at least as accents. However, my Muse tends to guide me to more elaborate projects.