Events & Your Calendar

Craft Shows, Art Festivals, & Bazaars — What’s the Difference?

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Posted By Sandy
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When I first started showing my designs in 2003, I had absolutely no idea how many decisions I had to make.

It wasn’t just a matter of gathering some finished pieces and running off to fill a table somewhere.

First, you must decide which products you want to sell.

Does all of your art travel well enough to go along?  Or can you only show some of your pieces?

Then you have to decide the best way to display what you take along.  Will you use simple acrylic displays?  Or will your product require a unique display you create yourself?

But not all of your questions will be about your products or even your display.

Maybe the biggest decision you’ll make is where to show your art.

There are craft shows, art festivals, and bazaars.  There are juried shows, art shows, flea markets, and so much more.  The titles are nearly endless.  And it may seem like they’re all the same…

But they’re not.

Choosing the wrong sort of event for your art can be disastrous to your art business.

An event intended for highly trained artisans isn’t a great place to show craftier art pieces.

And you wouldn’t take high priced work to a Church Bazaar where the customers will be looking for small gift items.

So today, I’m going to explain the differences in these events.  And we’ll explore how to choose the best event for you, your product, and your goals.

Bazaar

We’ve all heard of the local bazaars around the holidays.  I always think of the bazaar held at the small school I attended as a child.

Intended as a fundraiser for the school, everyone participated.  Students and families would donate crafts to be sold.  The kitchen ladies would dedicate weeks to baking sugar cookies for the big day.

The bazaar is a tradition in a lot of places.

The word bazaar comes from Middle Eastern markets where all variety of handicrafts and other products are sold.  Europeans used to call these town markets.  Both usually take place in the town square.

There can be every kind of craft and art found at one of these markets.

In the United States, most people think of small church and school fundraisers like the one from my childhood when they think of bazaars.  They sell simple crafts created by congregations at these to raise money for their cause.

Some bazaars allow outside artists, while others focus solely on people from their congregations.

If the event allows outside artists, they’ll charge a small entry fee.

Usually, these are not markets for high-end art.  Customers expect lower cost crafts and cutsies at a bargain.  But if you’re just starting out, you may want to “get your feet wet” by starting off at a bazaar.

It’s also a great place to try out new art forms that you might still be working to master.

Sometimes, I’ll make a simpler version of a new product to test it out and try to sell it at one of these smaller bazaars.  It’s also a great way for me to “give back” to my Church and the school I attended as a child.

But this isn’t the right place to expect to sell your art at higher prices.  Most products sold at bazaars will go for $20 or less, with rare exceptions.

Flea Markets

If you do your research carefully, you may find a few flea markets that do well with art.

Just like the bazaar, flea markets are great places to find deals on small goods and even great prices on used higher end pieces.  You’ll find household items such as those you’d see at a yard or garage sale.

Plus, you’ll probably find great food.

Some flea markets have incredible antique sellers.  This is good news for artists.  If you are lucky enough to find a quality antique seller in a great flea market location, art may sell well.

However, most flea markets are not a great place to sell your higher quality items for their true value.  Flea market shoppers are looking for the unique, the out of the ordinary, but mostly they are looking for deals.

On the other hand, it may be worth it to consider a flea market if you’re testing a new product.

Just like my advice on bazaars, flea markets also have potential when it comes to testing simpler versions of new ideas.

While the day may or may not be profitable, you can gather real market reactions to your products.  You’ll probably need to keep the prices low for the event so that shoppers stick around long enough to appreciate the pieces.

But you’ll have plenty of shopper interactions to tell you if your product might do well in a different venue.

Craft Shows

This is where most art businesses get their start — the Craft Show.

The term “craft shows” covers a wide variety of show setups.  Depending on the organizers, these events may show anything from simple home crafts to more complex art, to true artisanal wares.

Everything about this category fluctuates.  It can cost as little as $20 to rent a space to $1000 for a larger, juried show.

We’ll address the three larger subcategories of craft shows here today.

Ordinary Craft Show

These will have lower entrance fees — they’re typically between $20 and $60 per site.  The organizers often have few rules and allow nearly any handcrafted item into the event.

Spaces at these events can vary.  Some craft shows rent out their own tables of six to eight feet.  Others may offer ten by ten-foot spaces where you bring full setups.

One event may allow anyone who pays to attend with the only rule being that they must craft their product.

Others may only let so many participants per category —  such as only three jewelers for example.

Events like these can be great for crafters and artists at nearly any skill level.  Sales are likely to be focused mostly on your lower price points, but your higher end pieces may move.

And depending on the budget for the event, there may be little advertising outside the organization itself.  Many groups use craft shows of this size to boost traffic for their own fundraising efforts.

Anytime a craft show is juried there will be rules for your products.  What I’m calling the Simple Juried Craft Show are the events where a photo submission will do for the jury review.

If you’re not familiar with the jury review, here’s a brief description of what happens.

A group of people reviews either sample products or images to determine if you will be allowed entry to their event.  They can judge by many criteria, varying from simple categorization all the way to in-depth peer quality reviews.

When a jury panel allows simple photo and description submissions, the rules won’t be very strict.

The panel might be simply verifying that they do not too many artists in the same category.  Sometimes the panels use the photos to pick artists that complement the event and ensure that a broad range of products is offered at the event.

If you have a unique product, you should have no issue being accepted into one of these shows.  The fees I’ve seen range from $60 per space to $150.

Frequently, these are multi-day events where you’ll see large crowds expecting quality work for a great price.

Most of the time, our middle and lower price points see the most action at these events.  And we can set prices slightly higher to cover the higher entry and travel costs we incur.

Juried Art Show

These events have more rigorous rules.

The jury panel may require several samples, you may have to appear in person with them, and they can even require that you have photos of your setup (Need to set up for the first time?  Start HERE).  They’ll ask about prices and your experience in your medium.

They’re looking for the highest quality in your genre, and they’re careful to balance vendors by category, medium, and price range.

Setting prices for these events can be tricky.

This is the venue for your higher prices, the ones that reflect not only your time and materials but your skill level in your craft.

Since crowds are expecting higher end products, and the jury process is more involved, these events also charge more to enter.  You can expect to pay anywhere from $100 to over $1000 for a multi-day event in an affluent area.

So, craft shows, art festivals, and bazaars… so many differences, and yet they have plenty in common.

Each one is a great place to sell the right products.  If you’re choosy about what products you feature, each of these events can be a great venue for you.

Good luck and good selling!

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