Creatives Pay It Forward: Advice for Selling at Craft Shows & Festivals
Tamarack Foundation | May 31, 2019
Sherri Rhodes, owner of Appalachian Art Gallery, is gearing up for craft fair and festival season. She tells us there are lots of exciting opportunities for craft vendors. We asked Sherri to share her thoughts on how other artists working in West Virginia may learn from her successes.
Tell us a little bit about Appalachian Art Gallery.
I am a glass artist with 20+ years of experience. Appalachian Art Gallery was formed in 2008 to operate hand in hand with Express Framing, the picture frame gallery I own and operate with my family. I work from my home studio in Culloden, West Virginia where glass art is my family business and sole income. In my shop you will find fused dichroic glass jewelry, unique wooden jewelry box art, stained glass panels, sun catchers and ornaments. We offer picture frames, mats and professional framing services, both retail and wholesale direct from the artist.
I frame glass panels and other art installations for fellow artists and students. I enjoy the collaboration with other professional artists on custom orders. I have experience with antique restorations and repairs, Tiffany foil method, leaded window panels, fused glass and I am a certified professional picture framer. My stained glass box designs are one of a kind works of art. Each one is handcrafted from picture frame moulding and matted with a stained glass insert in the box lid. My studio produces beautiful, functional artwork with a focus on reducing waste. We are also proud promoters of art and culture in West Virginia.
You’ve been a vendor at craft fairs & festivals for years. What advice do you have for artisans interested in selling their handmade products at fairs & festivals? How do you decide which shows to choose?
I have been a glass craft vendor since 2010 and have had a wide range of craft show experiences. These are my best recommendations for how to choose your shows.
Ask yourself the “Who, What, When, Where and Why” of the event:
- Who sponsors the show? Is it run by a reputable group or organization? Do your homework. Know your show’s reputation, history and traffic.
- What do you sell and is it appropriate for the show? Is this show already saturated with artisans selling similar products? Is your booth in a safe location for the type of products you sell? (i.e. cement floor vs. carpet or grass)
- When is the event? Does it work with your schedule? Will you have time to create adequate amounts of inventory for that size show?
- Where is the show? Is it an indoor or outdoor show? Is there lodging close by? Is there a targeted audience for the show?
- Why select this show? Good location, well run show, genre specific or just a fun event? Often it’s more about getting my artwork “out there” in front of people, than making sales. I choose larger shows with larger traffic counts for that reason.
Chose well run events that make sense for your products. Give yourself plenty of time to create enough quality products for the entire duration of the show. Choose a location appropriate for your artwork and a well advertised venue that works for your commuting or lodging needs. Last but not least, choose venues that are festive and fun. If you are enjoying it, you can bet your customers will too.
About the Author:
Sherri Rhodes is a Putnam county, West Virginia stained glass artisan, a certified professional picture framer and owner of Appalachian Art Gallery. She is also a Tamarack juried artisan, a member of the West Virginia Artisans Trade Association and has served on the Tamarack Artisan Advisory Board.
About The Tamarack Foundation for the Arts:
The Tamarack Foundation for the Arts builds the creative economy of West Virginia through artist entrepreneurship. When West Virginia creative entrepreneurs are given the boost needed to build their businesses and access new markets, the results include increased national visibility, healthier communities, and a stronger economy reflecting our state’s proud heritage of art and craft. Creative innovation comprises a vital and growing piece of our economy.
Find out more about our work at www.tamarackfoundation.org.