Tuesday, May 12, 2009

You Wanna Do More Art Shows?

Today, a fairly new artist/crafter asked the question "How do I find out about more art shows".

I've posted a long answer for a seemingly short question, but first, a story:

Years ago, my artistic and fabric-loving friend, Reid, was my art-idol....I'd do one or two shows a year and always was amazed by the number of shows she got into that I'd not even heard of...it was amazing..and I told her so.

These days, she comes by my booth and just laughs, because I do twice as many shows as she does....smile.

So here's some concrete tips for getting info about shows..but you've gotta think in the long term...:

1). The first 'thing' is to ask other artists....what shows are 'out there' and how do you get into them.

2). E-mail your artist friends and acquaintances once a month and some of them will share. The good ones aren't threatened by other artists. They know better. Besides, if your mother comes to see you at a show, she might end up buying something from me! Ask Sheyne and Tefi and many, many other artists...their moms all bought from me! Smile.

3) Know that Spring and Fall is our busy time, at least for most indoor/outdoor festivals... April 1-June 15th and then Sept through the first weekend in December...THAT is when you'll do shows..they don't happen in the summer or during the X-mas holidays/winter... That means start checking intensively about 3-4 months in advance...for the smaller shows. The larger shows can jury up to a year in advance.....

4). Watch known sources. Check Craig's List under "Artists" at least once a week. I see a couple of good shows a month posted.

5). If you're in Dallas, join Dang (Dallas Artists' Networking Group) and other groups that will know about Art/Craft/Jewelry shows, etc. Go to http://www.meetups.com/ and find DANG. There are lots of other groups. Church groups, neighborhood groups, fraternal organizations, schools and civic groups, communities...

6) Remember what I said about the long-term approach? Watch the paper, etc for shows....you'll see small and large shows listed. By the time yous see that "come to our show this weekend" announcement, you've missed getting in, right? So mark your Outlook calendar for 8 months from today..put in the name of the show, a URL if they have a website, etc, and then google them four months out and apply next year....see the long term pattern developing?

7) Google "Art Shows" and you'll see Z'application and EventLister and those kinds of entities pop up. Get on their lists, even if they're not the kind of show you want to do today...I was on Z'application for the past three years..this year I juried into, and got into, two of theres....surprise, surprise. We evolve! Check out sources such as The Craft Report and similar trade rags....if you don't want to subscribe, share a subscription with a friend or group of crafty friends...or look for it quarterly in a bookstore or the like.

8) Network with other artists. Ask them not only about shows they know about, but also, what shows are good. But be careful...just because it sucked for them doesn't mean it'll suck for you. I have a friend, Jill the Potter. She did the Arlington Center Street Festival with me. Everyone (but me) did poorly. I did a fairly large amount in one day! Three weeks ago, we both did a show called The Funky Finds Spring Fling. It pretty much sucked for me, but it was her single best show ever....so take everything with a grain of salt.

9) I follow the 3X rule... Do a show three times before deciding it's not for you...unless it's clearly not your cup of tea (i.e. you're selling hand-turned wooden pens and everyone else is selling pretty-colored plastic office supply pens...not your kind of show). Why three times? The first time, folks will 'discover' you..and might buy something, but probably not... The second time, folks may remember you and hope you'll be there...and will buy IF they remember you. The third year, they'll expect you to be there. Heck, they may come to the show JUST to look for you and buy a piece that's been percolating for a year! If they want what you sell, they'll buy yours over the other newbies...trust me!

10) Finally, focus on what you do between those busy times.... Create new and exciting pieces with that 'Wow' factor; Work on that display; Look for other ways to sell....

I hope that got you started. Come to my Craft Circle or a free "new artist" class sometime and ask me more...or bring wine and sweet talk it out of me...smile.


  1. Thanks for all the info! I'm signing up for things right now...

  2. I would add to your #6... instead of just putting them on your calendar... if you can find a website and a contact e-mail, go ahead and e-mail the organizer and ask to be added to their mailing list so you won't miss any deadlines!