Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Art Festival Directory Sources

I started writing this article by listing many of the various sites on the Internet that offered artists a place to go to research the many different art shows around the country.

Many of them I personally subscribed to and used.

Some individuals prefer a written directory book or magazine. Others prefer a searchable online website. Both have their strong points as well as drawbacks. The book directory allows the artist to take it along with them to their shows to do research during the slow sales periods. Some people just like the tactile feel of paper. These folks by and large might not be as comfortable using computers and thus not be as efficient using the different online searchable databases available. The downsides to books are that they are usually printed once, twice or in extreme cases only 4 times a year. That doesn’t allow these written directories to be as up to date as they optimally should be.

With the advent of better WiFi service in many parts of the world the objection of not being able to use your computer to access the online databases isn’t as relevant as it was just a few short years ago. If your computer “sees” a hotspot, you could do your festival research in the field as well as at home. Still, this requires the artist to own or have access to a laptop computer and even then, many people aren’t comfortable taking a valuable piece of equipment with them anyway.

You’ll need to figure out what type fits your needs better before deciding on which route to take.

For those of you who would rather use a computer to aid you in your research, I have a recommendation for you. Actually, for that matter this company that I’m about to share with you offers their festival database in both book form as well as an online tool. So you choose which is best suits you.

Art Fair SourceBook, a company owned by Greg Lawler is located in Portland Oregon. Their slogan,

“The definitive guide to the best juried art & craft fairs in the United States”

really says it all. Out of the 4 different online research databases I’ve used during my career as an artist, the Art Fair SourceBook is by far the most comprehensive and up to date compendium out there.

I had sampled the book form of their database a number of years ago and found it to offer more information for each fair than I actually needed. But we are all different so what might not be important to me might be invaluable to you.

Various show statistics like event name, show dates, size of venue, booth fees, jury deadlines etc. were there, plus one of my favorite features, the “Editor’s Critique” gives a fair yet hard hitting observation of the festival. If the show director states false or misleading information about their event, Greg is there to point out the discrepancy and set the record straight. His take, plus the section based on different artist reports on the show is worth the price of the yearly subscription alone. These artist reports are actual recaps from the artists themselves. What better way to see if the fair is for you. Reading about it from artists who actually did the show gives you an insight that is much better than that of the show director trying to “sell” you booth space.

I can’t tell you how many times when I started out that I found myself attending a show based on what I read in the show prospectus that was written by the show director only to find out that the information was based on inflated attendance figures or at least out of date numbers.

“Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”

That is one of the main reasons I prefer using the computerized online database over the printed version is because their editors can update any information immediately instead of waiting for the next printed edition to come out. Your show profits are based on this information, get the freshest you can find.

I could go on and on about this directory. There are many more reasons to use it, but trying to give my opinion on all it’s different aspects would be too time consuming. I gave you the main reason why I use the SourceBook, check it out for yourself to see if some of it’s other features could make your life as a traveling artist easier and more profitable.

If you do subscribe, tell Greg that I recommended him to you. I don’t receive and financial considerations from those folks but because I strongly believe in paying good things forward, and it would be nice for them to know you found the SourceBook through me.

Art Fair SourceBook

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