After all the preparation work is done and you’ve been successful and got a stall at some art and craft events you’ve applied for, then the real work begins… It’s not just about ‘the making’, there’s sorting out your stall display, designing and getting business cards/leaflets printed, buying your packaging etc.
On the day of the event, once you’ve arrived and found where your stall is, there’s the unloading and moving everything, before setting up your stall display.
“Ideally, if I’ve got time before the event opens to the public, I like to take a quick look around the venue and see who’s there and say hello to the other stallholders that I know, but sometimes it has to wait until quiet spells later on in the day.”
Art and Craft events are very ‘hit and miss’. There are many factors outside of your control…
- The weather
Outdoor events are often a wash-out if its bad weather, raining and windy, not to mention the potential to damage your art and craft. But equally, in the summertime, if its lovely weather, people don’t want to be indoors visiting an event.
If its a new event in a venue that doesn’t have a good footfall, it can often take a while for it to get established and attract visitors.
- Too many similar types of stalls
Some events aren’t selective, they just want to fill the stalls. It’s better for an event to have a good variety of different work, to attract visitors to the event.
“This happens all the time to me – with jewellery – and although its usually all different work, there are only so many people that are going to buy jewellery at an event.”
- Hobby-makers and bought-in work
This makes it really difficult for the artists and designer-makers who are trying to make a living from their art/craft as you can’t compete price-wise with the hobby-makers or work that’s been mass-produced in other countries.
“I now mostly try to take part in art/craft events where there’s been a selection process involved.”
- Stall location
If your stall is in a corner or your neighbouring stall has a card spinner or clothes rail in the space between the stalls, your stall can easily get blocked by people looking at their stall.
“This is really frustrating and has happened to me at events many times. I usually give it a few minutes grace, and then if my stall is still being blocked I go out and ask them to move so that I can get to my stall display and tidy it up.”
- The time of year
The run-up to Christmas is the best time of year, as many visitors are buying Christmas presents. At other times of the year, it depends on whether visitors have a reason to buy ie. birthday presents or see something they like and either want to treat themselves or are with someone else that wants to treat them.
When an event doesn’t work out, it’s hard not to take it personally and think that people don’t like what you make.
Figure out why your work hasn’t sold at that particular event and if it’s one or more of the above factors, or if there might be things you can improve upon, ie. your display, range of pricing, negativity etc. You can use each event as a marketing opportunity to see what does sell, what are visitors interested in, what comments and feedback you get and use it to give out your leaflets and business cards. A visitor who is interested in your work, might not be ready to buy at this event, but might come to another event later on and buy from you then.
Its all part of the learning curve, you have to try out different events to find the ones that are right for your work.
If it’s not busy, it’s nice to get to know the artists, designer-makers and craftspeople on your neighbouring stalls, see what they make, chat about events, marketing etc and help each other out if you need to leave your stalls.
“Over the years, I’ve tried out many different types of events and some just don’t work for me… these include family fun days, school fairs and vintage (with a bit of handmade) events, so I leave these events for others to do.
“I hope this information is both interesting and helpful for other artists, designer-makers and craftspeople doing events and visitors to the events.”
Thanks for joining me on my creative journey,
Sam Rowena, jewellery artist x