Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Reading Contemporary Art Fair

Photograph of my stand before the fair began

Last weekend was the Reading Contemporary Art Fair. It was the first time that I have had a stand at such an event.While it was an interesting and enjoyable experience (if a bit nerve-wracking), I was rather disappointed by the fact that I didn't sell enough to cover the cost of the stand.

Having spoken to some of the other artists and given it some serious thought, I have just come up with a number of potential reasons for this - reasons that don't preclude me trying again.

My inexperience and newness probably contributed quite a lot.
  • I would have been a new face to the art buyers of Reading. I have been told that "known" artists, even on a small scale, tend to sell more. This is effectively a reason to try again.
  •  I don't think I was very good at the actual sales thing. It's not the sort of thing I feel comfortable doing, but I should have made a point of talking to more of the people who paused to look at my work. It is unlikely to be a coincidence that the one painting sale I did make (not counting a LEGO painting sold to a friend) occurred after I plucked up the courage to speak to the couple who had returned (at least twice) to look at it.
  • I suspect that a position closer to the entrance may have allowed me to make a bigger impact. The Reading Fair is huge and the standards were high; it was easy to become visually overloaded.
  • My wares were not very consistent in style. I think I would have been better placed to have selected a theme and run with it - something that I had, actually, decided to do before hitting upon the stained glass tree idea. (I was going to go for wavescapes and stone circles - which would have been predominantly palette knife oils). But my donation to the Prince's Trust stand was a stained glass tree, and so I felt the need to produce others in that vein specifically for the fair.

    I am pleased, however, to note that my Princes Trust painting seems to have bee an early sale for them - I think it was sold at the Private View on Friday night.
The organisers (who were efficient, helpful and otherwise generally very good at what they do) reported a 20% increase on sales on 2014. However, I do know that I was not the only artist who was struggling. On Saturday, the consensus appeared to be that sales were low. I presume that they picked up on Sunday, but not for everybody.

Sales aside, however, I am hoping that the fair will have got a few potential customers interested, perhaps to visit during West Berkshire and North Hampshire Open Studios in May, perhaps to contact me in some other way. I had to replenish my pile of business cards during the fair, and we gave away all but one of the Open Studio directories we had...

It was also a nice opportunity for networking. I don't think I'm going to get galleries knocking on my door just yet, but it was good to speak to other artists, both local and not-so-local, established and almost-as-new-to-this-as-me.


  1. Hi Amanda, I haven't had much success in exhibitions but I did a very small craft fair at a golf club last year which was only for 2 hours, sold one framed piece, one mounted, one print and quite a few cards. The cost of the stall has also put me off attending bigger events but I may try it as I now have a good selection of cards at a very good price and I am confident the card sales would cover the cost of the stall and anything else would be a bonus. So, for future events I would suggest getting some cards as people will pay a nominal amount for these and they also get your website/details on the back as does the person who receives the card so good form of marketing too.

  2. Thanks, Judith. I do have cards - and I sold several - but it would take an awful lot of card sales to cover the cost of a big event like Reading!


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