Lesson's Learned @ The Other Art Fair Part 2
So many artists have reached out to me asking about my experience at TOAF, is it worth the investment? and many other questions. Here's the rest of my experience after doing the The Other Art Fair in Brooklyn, NY twice.
First off, I only sold a few small pieces which didn’t even come close to covering my investment. The booth fee's are somewhere between $1500-3000+ depending on the size booth you choose, plus travel, expenses, supplies. It adds up. If you sell one large piece your golden, but that is a big feat for most. I’m a very successful artist in my book (meaning I sell consistently and support myself with my art), so I really don’t think the problem it’s my art (although my negative mind certainly wanted to cry and decide I was a horrible artist). The first year I got a large booth for about $2400, and my paintings were priced between $750-$2000, that was a mistake as most people in Brooklyn have small apartments and very limited wall space. I learned many other lessons at the first fair, I wrote a blog about it: http://lindacolletta.com/blog/2017/11/22/lessons-learned-the-other-art-fair-bklyn
The second time I went, I even made sure to bring smaller less expensive works, priced between $150-300, I got a smaller booth for around $1500, and I had a great booth location. Everything seemed to point to success, however, I still only sold 3 very small pieces for $150 each. I saw several artists selling selling inexpensive pieces between $50-300 doing very well, selling out their booths a few times over. And there were maybe 2-3 artists selling larger pieces for higher prices doing well. This is just my guess on what I saw and other artists I spoke to. I have no real data, and The Other Art Fair will not disclose (so far) any sales data for artists to learn from.
In my experience, the fair was marketed as a “fun day for the family” by enticing them with free beer, food trucks, ice cream trucks, cheap or free tattoos, games for the kids etc. This attracted people who came to just look around for something to do. It attracted very few (if any) serious collectors, gallerists or curators. I've done shows before, where I didn't sell much, but I have alway had plenty of follow up from people and sold after the show. Unfortunately, TOAF markets to artists as if this is a high end fair the likes of Frieze or AAD, and makes it sound like prominent press and curators will see your work and you will gain huge exposure - THIS WAS NOT MY EXPERIENCE at all.
Several other artists I spoke to felt similarly, they felt like the show wasn't being taken seriously and it was more of a gimmick than a respectable art fair. And those who sold, felt the show was a great show and plan to do it again. I’ve asked TOAF a few times to share the overall sales averages with artists and while they’ve said they like that idea they’ve yet to do it. I’ve also share all this feedback with them but got no response.
So it’s truly just a gamble and you need to be mentally, emotionally prepared for that. I know I am a good artist and that my work sells, but it just didn’t sell at that fair with that demographic for some reason, and so I didn’t take it personally but also as a smart biz lady, I won’t do the fair again because it’s not the right client for me. You have to think of it that way. I do think it’s worth the experience, to learn and grow as an artist and biz person. But I’d pick one close to home maybe that isn’t such as huge investment. Or just be prepared for anything.