Tuesday, August 13, 2019
Craft Fair or Gallery?
Frequently we artists are asked if we do, or have ever done craft fairs. Many of us have, some still do, and some no longer participate in this endeavor.
Tony Klepic, 3D wood artisan says, "The craft fairs were fun to do as a rookie. A craft fair requires quite a few items and if you have fairs close together you really have to crank out the projects. I was having to make so many items it gave me the opportunity to fine tune my skills on turned and flat wood projects, but was not my best work due to the speed at which I was working."
Another good aspect of doing craft fairs for a burgeoning artists is confidence. It is definitely a boost to ones moral when they put in tons of work on many items and then have a great day of sales at a craft fair. "It made me realize I can make things that people that I don't know really want to buy for themselves or as gifts for other people," states Tony.
"I used to do craft fairs, and they were quite productive. However, after a while you start to feel the amount of work that goes into a craft fair. Not only do you have to make your craft, but you also have to carefully pack up your items, load a vehicle, get to the fair early in the morning, set up, staff your booth, and spend the entire day, or at some fairs the entire weekend," says Steena Fullmer-Anderson. Then, of course there is the packing and loading after a long show. You can see how this could start to be a strain.
Some artists will continue on the craft fair path, but after a while many start to look for a different avenue for getting their work out there for people to enjoy. For Tony that's where art galleries came into play. "I really liked the idea of working on bigger and more artistic pieces at a slower pace. Typically when preparing for a fair I would work on items that could be more mass produced, but when stocking an art gallery you are usually limited on the number of items to display each month. No need to crank out many items in one day, I could take several days to do one item. I like that pace much better."
Steena feels that another benefit of participating in an art gallery is pricing. "At a craft fair you typically won't charge what you really want for your work." Though at times you may be able to sell a piece at your desired price, "typically people shopping at craft fairs are looking for several items, and will be a little more frugal with their money."
All artists seem to agree on one main point: Less work in doing the selling. Both Gallery Underground and Clarendon are staffed with
knowledgeable artists who do the selling for all of the artists. So instead of all the work that goes along with the logistical aspect of craft fairs the artists have more time creating their work. Although all galleries get a commission for each piece sold to many artists it is worth not having to put in the work to do craft fairs.
Tony has not completely stopped doing craft fairs. "After a while I will end up with a surplus of stock that I want to move. Once I get to that point, which works out to be every couple of years, I will do one of the local holiday fairs to clear out stock." So to Tony there is still a good reason to participate in craft fairs. "Oh, and having a boot at a craft fair gives me an opportunity to find unique holiday gifts as well!"
In the end the choice between doing craft fairs and participating in a local art gallery is like, well, art; subject to taste! Kudos to all artists and artisans who are creative and bold enough to put themselves out there in either endeavor.