This past year with the push from my parents I started participating in Art and Craft Shows. These events are rough on me, for one I am my worst critic, and I will pick apart my photos until I no longer like them. I also tend to be by myself so being around that many people is exhausting for me (INFJ Personality Type here). Then you have the very slow shows that go on for several days and are very boring. Okay so maybe not for the typical person but I get bored with things very easily if they don’t keep my attention, and I am constantly fixing things and making them straight after people go through. My OCD kind of kicks in. Everything needs to be symmetrical for me so if something is off it bothers me. Okay so after writing this and reading it maybe I need to get some professional help. LOL.
Anyways all the shows I have participated in I have been with my mom who is a Christian Children’s Author you can find her blog here shameless plug. Some shows we have shared a table and some shows we have had our own spots. We have found that we tend to do better separately as it seems a little overwhelming for the customer to have some many different products on display.
Each show I seem to get more and more items for display. The first show I participated in I had matted photos and un-matted photos. The next show I had some smaller photos framed and the next one I had some larger photos framed. Then I ordered blank folded cards with my pictures on them. Then you have show requirements so there are more purchases. You need to make sure you read the rules before participating. Some require you have insurance and some don’t. Others require your tablecloths to go to the floor and not show under the table. Then you have the items you need to display your photographs. Some advice on something I have learned is people are more willing to buy the un-matted photographs than they are the matted ones. So, I now sell the mats separate if they want them. I am currently also in the process of finding someone to make my frames for me in different styles and colors. I want to have a setup where the buyer picks their frame, their matt, and the photograph they want. So, with each show the amount of stuff I have grows. I am starting to outgrow my car and I am even considering getting an SUV in the next year to haul everything.
With each show you have basically two types, Juried and Un-Juried. I haven’t really seen a big difference between the show types. Although I can say I do not do well at Vendor Craft shows. The vendors typically outnumber the crafter and artist. If you get to pick your location in the show. A word of advice, try to stay away from Jewelry. In the shows where I am next to Jewelry, people will be looking at my photographs and look over (OOOOHHH Shiney) and instantly walk away.
Be prepared to sit there and answer questions and deal with people and different personalities. People will ask a lot of questions about your photographs. They want to know the location of the photo, what type of flower, what type of animal, what river is that ect. Of course, the best one is, “Did you take these? ” to which I have to bite my tongue because I sometimes can be quick witted. LOL. Also, be prepared to be a little depressed. Selling photographs is hard especially if you are not well known. Like I said I am my worst critic and I think if no one is buying them because they are no good. But if I pay attention to what is going on I hear a lot of “Oh my look at that one isn’t it beautiful!”, “You do great work.”, “Wow did you see that one?”. Of course, I am thinking if you like it please buy it because to me if they buy it then I know they truly like it. You will also have those people who say I can take that. I would like to respond be my guest because you will never be able to reproduce the same photograph. They are like snowflakes everyone is different. I have also had people who have come up to me to talk about photography. I enjoy talking about it but sometimes this can hurt your sales as people tend to block the displays when they are talking. Then you have the one type of people who block your display as they stand there to talk to a friend they just passed by and really don’t care about anyone in their surrounding area. I typically sit there and don’t say anything for one I do not like confrontations, and another I don’t want to appear rude. My best word of advice is to be polite and answer everything you can. The way you respond to someone sticks in their head when they tell others about you. Word of mouth can either be constructive or destructive.
Your table display will make or break your show. Make sure everything is priced (thanks for that tidbit mom), your prices are comparable with your competitions, signs are legible, and your table layout is pleasing but should also draw people in.
Do some research on the shows before signing up. Talk to people who have been at them and get their impression. If the shows don’t seem to be what they were the previous years then likely people will stop coming. If they say the person running the show is disorganized, or rude. That should be another sign that you may not do well. If it is a new show you may want to go ahead and sign up these are hit or miss as sometimes the people planning them do not advertise. Which brings me to another word of advice. Let people know you are going to be at a show. Create online events, share them with friends and family. Share them on local groups in the area that the show will be in.
If you don’t feel you did well at the show talk to the other participants get ideas on what you can do better, or maybe this was not a good show for them either. Shows go through spurts depending on the economy and weather. When people are working, they are more willing to pay for things that are not necessities. When they are not working, they are not going to part with their money. Weather also affects the shows, if it is raining, cold, or snowy people are not going to come out as they would if it was pretty and sunny.
The best advice that I have been given is to not give up it takes a while to make a name for yourself. So, don’t quit and keep your head up. Some advice from me, explore your show see how people are displaying their photographs, and come up with something unique for your own. Something the others don’t offer.
Have you participated in any Art or Craft shows? If so, do you have any advice/tips for me? I am always more than happy for the information.