Would I do Winterfair Columbus again? With the application and booth fee totaling almost $500, I would certainly need to think more about my merchandising and perhaps even the images I make. People who visited my booth loved the Alice in Wonderland inspired work, but I do not have plans nor the desire to do another pop culture inspired series at this time.
I brought in about $2,000 in sales. My pouches and postcards were big sellers and I put my CatBat shirts on clearance and moved them quickly at $10 a pop. On average, people spent about $10-$30, but there were several that spent more. No originals sold at the event, but they did pull people into the booth. I handed out lots of free postcards and the analytics on my website showed that my viewers did increase.
Throughout every artist's career, they need to pause and reflect on why they create and what they create. It is tempting to gear your creative endeavors towards trends or sales, and some are very successful and happy with the results. There were not many painters at Winterfair, but there was one lady, Linda Chamberlain, who seemed to be generating sales and had a steady flow of traffic in her booth. She created simple images of birds and animals on textured panels in a limited and subdued palette. The craftsmanship was simple, but lovely and the booth was charming and cohesive.
I could easily take this formula and create a body of work that would probably sell well, but I know that is not what I want to do with my artwork. To me, money truly is not the end goal, and I am fortunate that I will not starve if my sales are low. So what does that mean for artistic career? I am still figuring that out, but I am pretty certain that the festival route is not for me, at least not to the intensity that I would need to do in order to make it my career path.
I am sure my husband will be happy with that decision, as he was so supportive and helpful with every phase of the endeavor. Artists who run solo at art festivals have my awe and admiration. Mark accompanied me two of the three days, and my friend, Raven, joined me on Saturday. Being able to take breaks for food, restroom needs and just to chill and check out the other vendors was such a luxury and I am so thankful to both of them!
The Friday morning set-up was a bit frantic. Instead of driving to Columbus on Thursday, we opted for the early set-up before the show, so with two hours to pull it together, we just barely made it as they announced, "Welcome to Winterfair!" Friday morning's crowd was intense and wonderful! A ball of fresh morning energy fueled by a passion for art and perhaps a bit of caffeine. Sales started slow, but increased as the morning moved into the lunch hours. The crowd began to shift to a more casual crew and by tea time it was a mellow hum and the rush of the day began to catch up with me.
Saturday was a bit of a blur. I love meeting and chatting with new people, but as an introvert, two 10 hour days of it are quite draining! Crowds of people between 11a - 4p, then it was mostly vendors wandering about "window" shopping. Perhaps this was the natural ebb and flow of the show or the effects of the 8pm OSU game.
To pass the time between patrons, I made a game of guessing who my "people" would be as they passed by my booth. I have read over and over that you need to determine your customer demographics so you are able to better cater to them. This is no easy task, as the people who engaged with my work and entered the booth were so varied! Even people who enthusiastically responded to my most prominently placed piece, Cheshire Tree, did not necessarily enter the booth or purchase anything. One thing was for sure, the color lovers love my work!
For over a decade, I worked and coordinated Art on the Commons, the one-day fine arts and crafts show in Kettering, OH, so I had an an inkling of how much energy it would take to prepare, present and perform, but I have a new level of respect for festival artists after 25-plus hours of intense activity and conversation! In general, I was very impressed with the variety and quality of artist wares at Winterfair Columbus, and I would highly suggest it as a location for future holiday gift shopping!