Thursday, July 16, 2009

BOOK REVIEW: Art Festival Guide by Maria Arango

I've recently finished reading this gem of a book I discovered in a recent foray to find resources for entering the art festival market. In the next couple of years I hope to expand my art career into selling at fairs and to my surprise, this was one of the ONLY books specifically written about the wonderful wide world of the traveling fair artist.

Written by Maria Arango, a printmaker who makes her sole means of living from her sales at art fairs, this tome offers information from how art fairs are ran, how to apply, what equipment to consider, what to expect when you get there, and just about everything in-between.

For example, did you know that in order to sell at art fairs in other states you must have a business license for each state (and possibly each city or county) you wish to sell in? One of the most helpful sections in this book is Arango's explanation of her experiences in getting audited and what information she had to show the auditor to prove that she was a business and not a hobbyist.

Another extremely helpful resource is the appendix Arango includes in the back of the book which has such useful info as layouts for setting up your booth to maximize traffic flow, lists of website links for equipment, and other valuable resources. I discovered some sites I'd never heard of before, such as Artcartons, which are custom made mailing containers made specifically for shipping larger artwork safely.

The only downfall I found in this book (which is probably due to my own personal preference) was its loose, conversational writing style. You have to sift through a lot of superfluous chatter to get to the relevant information. On one hand, this down to earth talk gives us a glimpse of Arango's humor and experiences at festivals, but on the other hand, I am a very busy impatient person and sometimes I just want a list of useful information instead of walls of text. The useful info IS there, you just have to go with the flow till you find it.

Overall, if you're looking for insight on entering the art fair business, I can't recommend this book enough! As Arango says, it takes a brave soul to venture into this business, but seeing someone else who has been able to do it and learning directly from them is a precious gift. Pick this one up, if you can!

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