Art/Craft Shows and General Info - I have a lot of questions!

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InOverMyHead

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I've been a hobbyist for a few years and recently decided to up my game and start a business selling my prints online. My website is up and running (but not mobile friendly; you can see my photos but it's all jumbled up). I want to start submitting my photos to juried art shows and galleries for exposure but I'm a total NOOB and have tons of questions. I humbly appreciate ALL feedback! Thank you!

1) One of my biggest hurdles is mental. I'm still very self conscious about my work. The only feedback I've ever received is from family and friends. This is probably tacky but do you think I have enough good photos to submit for a juried show or gallery? Some of the photos on my website are sub-par but I needed a few place holders: www.AffordableWallDrama.com

2) On my site my prints start at $15 for a 5 x 7 but gallery and art show prices are significantly higher. I want to be competitive in both arenas. I don't want to sell an 8 x 10 at a show for $50 and have that person see it on my website for only $20. That's some expensive matting! How do I tackle this?

3) Speaking of matting: I don't want to display many framed prints at a show because they are bulky and have a higher cost for me so what type of matting is best for shows/galleries and what is the typical price range? I generally buy matting at Michael's but I assume I'll need higher quality.

4) I looked at a few different art shows in my area but none of the websites list the entry fees. What are typical entry fees?

5) When buying a tent, should I stick to white? I was thinking of getting black but do shows ever require a certain color tent for a uniform look?

6) Pertaining to shows/galleries, do you have any tips? I'm sure there are things that I don't even realize I need or should do!

7) Eventually, I would like to sell other photographers work on my site as well as my own. How does that typically work? Should I purchase their photographs outright and keep all the profit or could I list them for a percentage of the profit? If so, what is a typical/fair profit division? Is it typical/fair to ask that they sell that piece only through my business?

That's all I can think of right now. Thanks in advance!
 
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terri

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Hi there - I think you are in over your head because you are charging off in a lot of directions. You are causing yourself lots of needless stress! :)

First off, I would strongly suggest you take it slow, and focus on just one thing at a time. If you have your website up and running and your images are there, then you have, at least for now, handled that task. (I've not looked at your work, so can't comment.)

Art/Craft shows are a great way to get your work out there and find out what sells. Keep your prices in line with what other photographers are charging, maybe 10-15% lower for the same size, and use high quality acid free matting. Make sure you have your best stuff framed and hanging (and priced accordingly) but plenty of print sizes just matted & bagged for your bins available.

ONLY buy a standard white 8x10 tent, and don't forget the walls so you can secure your stuff overnight. If you go black or any other color, you will stand out like a sore thumb, and generally speaking the fair's promoter's won't like that. Some fairs will let you rent a tent if you'd rather dip your toe into this world before dropping a few hundred bucks.

Apply at a couple of fairs and follow their guidelines for submissions to the letter. When they are promoting the fair they absolutely SHOULD list the fee, so the lack of posting a fee is puzzling. Stick with the ones who lay everything out there; they should also be promoting YOU as one of the artists, and in general promoting the fair to the public with added things like music and food vendors. If you aren't seeing any of that, don't waste your time.

Once you are there, you can have someone man your booth during a slow time and go wandering so you can chat with other photographers or craftspeople to ask about their gallery experience, websites, pricing, etc. Picking the brains of the folks who have done this awhile is your best bet. Take a look at their booths, their artist bios (and you should have one, too), and check them out later online. Be prepared to modify your own prices up or down.

In other words, expect this to take a couple of years to build. Be patient, enjoy the experiences and meeting your fellow artists, and you will find your way. Good luck!
 
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InOverMyHead

InOverMyHead

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Oh, I'm definitely running in 10 different directions, lol! I want to get into my local art scene but I'm intimidated because my level of knowledge is hovering around zero which doesn't sit well since I'm a perfectionist!

Note to self: Step 1 - Relax

Thanks for your help!
 

terri

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You are very welcome. :) Stay relaxed, focus on getting into at least one, and when it's over you will have learned a ton!

Best of luck with it.
 

orljustin

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The images on your website look pretty much like walk around snapshots from vacations and things. Rule one, never listen to family and friends. They either lie or don't know what they're talking about.

If you want to sell prints, pick a niche and concentrate on it. Covered bridges, sports, liquor bottles, whatever. And work on your exposure and composition.
 

ann

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Listen to Terry, slow down and work on your skills first.

Your website is all over the place which is reflected in your questions.

In my area of the world, art and craft shows are usually judged based, which means one applies, submits 4 images, one including the booth, which can't show people or names. The judges then view the work and based on specific guide lines, grade each individual artist. Depending on the type of event, the organizers have a general idea of how many photographers , oil painters, pottery , jewelry , etc. artist they are going to pick as they want a balanced show.

Also, the local feel of the community will influence what type of art is being shown, think age, money etc. Not to be ugly, but as an example, an art show in a mountain area will more likely be looking at a different type of art than a large metro city with an established art community and people will fat wallets. (Not that someone who lives in a mountain area doesn't have a fat wallet, but........

For instance, I have judged two shows this year in a very large city. Both shows are well established but the guide lines are much different. ONe wants very high end work as they are marketing to a different group than the other so the reality becomes some types of crafts would be fine and wanted in one but not the other.

Generally the photographers work sells for $75 dollars up to the thousands, depending on the skill level and size.
 

tirediron

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I know Ann & Terri have covered some (most? all?) of what I'll add, but it's Sunday afternoon and I'm bored, so tough luck! ;)

I've been a hobbyist for a few years and recently decided to up my game and start a business selling my prints online. My website is up and running (but not mobile friendly; you can see my photos but it's all jumbled up). I want to start submitting my photos to juried art shows and galleries for exposure but I'm a total NOOB and have tons of questions. I humbly appreciate ALL feedback! Thank you!
1) One of my biggest hurdles is mental. I'm still very self conscious about my work. The only feedback I've ever received is from family and friends. This is probably tacky but do you think I have enough good photos to submit for a juried show or gallery? Some of the photos on my website are sub-par but I needed a few place holders: www.AffordableWallDrama.com
First of all, I would find a different name. It's a catchy and clever name, but NOTHING about it says 'photography' - in fact the things that came to my mind first were curtains and wall-paper. I also question the use of the word 'affordable'. I understand you may want to appeal to the budget-concious segment, but even they want to feel that they're getting a deal. As well, selling prints from an on-line website is a great way to make very little money at all unless you are in the top 0.001% of photographers, who have an established reputation. WHAT is it about your work that sets you apart from the hundreds of thousands (millions?) of other photographers doing exactly the same thing?


2) On my site my prints start at $15 for a 5 x 7 but gallery and art show prices are significantly higher. I want to be competitive in both arenas. I don't want to sell an 8 x 10 at a show for $50 and have that person see it on my website for only $20. That's some expensive matting! How do I tackle this?
Determine a fixed cost for your work and charge that regardless of where you are. There's nothing wrong with the occasional "<Name> art show special", but each image should cost the same no matter where I seet it.

3) Speaking of matting: I don't want to display many framed prints at a show because they are bulky and have a higher cost for me so what type of matting is best for shows/galleries and what is the typical price range? I generally buy matting at Michael's but I assume I'll need higher quality.
Build a stock of quality framed and matted images for display at shows. If someone does want to buy one of these, then you can charge a premium, but the main purpose is to showecase your work. I would go for 4-6 BIG images (20x30), 8-10 medium, and at least a dozen 5x7s, each one framed and matted. Yes, that represents a substantial investment, but it takes money to make money! The rest of your images (your stock) should be flat, in plastic sleeves with cardboard backer-boards.

4) I looked at a few different art shows in my area but none of the websites list the entry fees. What are typical entry fees?
Anything from $1.00/image to $50+

5) When buying a tent, should I stick to white? I was thinking of getting black but do shows ever require a certain color tent for a uniform look?{/quote]
WHITE!!!!!

6) Pertaining to shows/galleries, do you have any tips? I'm sure there are things that I don't even realize I need or should do!
They're two totally different animals. Typically galleries will have specific requirements, normally including framing and matting, and will ask anything from 25-60% commission on each sale. Show... read and follow the requirements. Make sure that you read category information carefully. In both cases you will want to have work of absolutely top quality.. usually printed at a high-end lab and pproperly profiled.

7) Eventually, I would like to sell other photographers work on my site as well as my own. How does that typically work? Should I purchase their photographs outright and keep all the profit or could I list them for a percentage of the profit? If so, what is a typical/fair profit division? Is it typical/fair to ask that they sell that piece only through my business?
Why??? Do you expect to find Ford trucks on a Chevrolet dealer's lot? I would stay far away from this. The legal and financial complexities of selling someone else's IP in this matter just isn't worth the potential return IMO.

That's not to say that you can't do it, but the reality is that it's a VERY difficult way to make money and I would be surprised if you sold 10 prints a year off of your website; the competition really is that stiff, and unless you have something truly amazing people don't buy that many images from on-line sales.
 

Ilovemycam

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OP, I don't know about most of what you ask. But, my advice is to just do it. Submit work and if you fail at least you tried. And if you fail, reload, regroup and keep on trying.

Good luck
 
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InOverMyHead

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Thanks everyone for the input!

I feel the need to defend my composition a little - the format that my photos are in on the site crop smaller and center automatically. I'm going to hire someone to re-do my site since it looks like it was designed by an entrepreneurial 7th grader. If you "click" on the photos and enlarge them, you can see the real composition.

I dunno, maybe I suck, lol. I am going to submit for a few shows. Losing is a lesson in itself, right?

Thanks guys!
 
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Ok, a few counter-points and clarifications:

"If you want to sell prints, pick a niche and concentrate on it. Covered bridges, sports, liquor bottles, whatever. And work on your exposure and composition."

Why would I limit myself to photographing any single type of subject...ever?

"First of all, I would find a different name. It's a catchy and clever name, but NOTHING about it says 'photography' - in fact the things that came to my mind first were curtains and wall-paper. I also question the use of the word 'affordable'. I understand you may want to appeal to the budget-concious segment, but even they want to feel that they're getting a deal. As well, selling prints from an on-line website is a great way to make very little money at all unless you are in the top 0.001% of photographers, who have an established reputation. WHAT is it about your work that sets you apart from the hundreds of thousands (millions?) of other photographers doing exactly the same thing?"

"Why??? Do you expect to find Ford trucks on a Chevrolet dealer's lot? I would stay far away from this. The legal and financial complexities of selling someone else's IP in this matter just isn't worth the potential return IMO.

That's not to say that you can't do it, but the reality is that it's a VERY difficult way to make money and I would be surprised if you sold 10 prints a year off of your website; the competition really is that stiff, and unless you have something truly amazing people don't buy that many images from on-line sales."

I did a lot of research on the competition. Mega sites like www.art.com are basically warehouses for thousands of artists. That is what I'm up against trying to sell prints. I have around 80 photos...they have tens of thousands. I can't compete with that on my own. The only way to grow my site exponentially is to feature other artists. It's a crazy, lofty idea but I want to be competitive and I can't do that online by myself.

As for my business name: As stated under "Our Services", we (read: I) also offer canvas prints, aluminum prints, mouse pads etc. So "Wall Drama" is my way of taking "wall art" to the next level. "Affordable" refers to my size-vs-price business model. I've done all the math and my gross profit allows me to offer prints in a "big box store" style i.e. 5 x 7 = $15, 8 x 10 = $20 etc. I want to be the "Walmart" of the genre. Like I said, lofty goals but everyone starts somewhere, right?


Does that make a little more sense?
 
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This is probably tacky but do you think I have enough good photos to submit for a juried show or gallery? Some of the photos on my website are sub-par but I needed a few place holders: www.AffordableWallDrama.com

5) When buying a tent, should I stick to white? I was thinking of getting black but do shows ever require a certain color tent for a uniform look?

Your not ready to buy a tent for art shows festivals etc. Those tents are $pendy! Rent a tent for your first few shows or festivals. Make sure that you want to continue before buying one.

The fact that you admit that some of the images on your website a sub-par also tells me your not ready yet.

ONLY SHOW YOUR BEST!!!

If an image does not live up to your high standards then throwing it in as a "place holder" will actually hurt you. Your website has way to many images having to many to choose from especially when they are loaded with your admittedly sub par photos it makes your good images get lost among those that are not. Start by narrowing it down to one maybe two galleries instead of the six you have and only put your VARY BEST images in them. Also a gallery called "Everything Else" just does not fit in when your trying to sell art.

I would not bother selling 5x7 images, the smallest prints I've never seen anyone at a art show or festival sell anything smaller then 8x10 and how often do you see people put a art photo smaller then 8x10 on their wall.

The website name also screams cheep. If you want your photos to be considered art you have to treat them as art.

I highly recommend you get this book.
http://www.amazon.com/Marketing-Fine-Photography-Alain-Briot/dp/1933952555

It talked a LOT about selling at art fairs and art festivals. It will also answer your questions on matting photos.
 

Light Guru

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As for my business name: As stated under "Our Services", we (read: I) also offer canvas prints, aluminum prints, mouse pads etc. So "Wall Drama" is my way of taking "wall art" to the next level. "Affordable" refers to my size-vs-price business model. I've done all the math and my gross profit allows me to offer prints in a "big box store" style i.e. 5 x 7 = $15, 8 x 10 = $20 etc. I want to be the "Walmart" of the genre. Like I said, lofty goals but everyone starts somewhere, right?

People don't go to art festivals or art fairs looking "Walmart" wall decorations they go there looking for art if they wanted Walmart wall decorations they would go to Walmart. If you want to be the Walmart of photography I do not hint you will do well at a art show or art festival where say you want to start selling. You want to enter juried art shows yet juried art shows want ART not Walmart wall decorations.
 
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So "art" is defined by price?

I want to do shows and galleries for the local exposure and to make contacts in my local art scene. Initially, shows turn a higher gross profit than selling prints online. Eventually, I want to expand my online business far beyond myself. Overhead per unit = I want lots of units sold therefore I require lots of units hence reaching out to other photographers who aren't prepared to incur the expenses of starting a business.

You make a very good point about my filler photos. I saw them as place holders but you're right - a crappy photo can damage the integrity of all my photos. I'll work on that! Thank you!
 

tirediron

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You're talking apples and oranges. Shows & galleries attract one type of customer, cheap, on-line print sales (if they attract any) a totally different type. One of the first things you HAVE to do if you're going to run a successful business is determine your target market and then market to that group. I'm not saying that you can't or shouldn't do this, but rather that it will in all probability be a long, long, tough row to hoe.
 

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In addition to all the above, make a small investment in some business training:
Marketing Fine Art Photography

How to Write a Business Plan | SBA.gov

To generate online print sales you will have to advertise, market and promote to drive eyes to your web site.

For local art community contacts I joined the local Art Association.

Nothing beats a personal visit to an art gallery you hope will help you promote your work.

I have visited every art gallery within a 100 mile radius of my home. Being in Hampton, you can likely limit your radius.
 
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