American Craft Show / Contemporary ArtFair NYC E-mail



DATES: November 18-20, 2011


ATTENDANCE: 5,365 (American Art Marketing)

BOOTH COST (10x10): $1,585




acs11-2One thing that can be said about the pairing of the American Craft Show and the Contemporary ArtFair at the Javits is it’s real impressive. I’ve been to so many craft and art shows that I’ve lost count, but have never visited a show like this.

Much of what I think the producers (American Art Marketing) were trying to accomplish with their inaugural show last year, they managed to succeed with at this year’s show. It certainly helped that the One Of A Kind NYC show – which was the same weekend last year, and competed with this show for both artists and shoppers – was canceled.

What wowed me the most was the sensation I felt first entering the showroom Saturday afternoon, where to the right side I encountered what pretty much amounted to rows of mini art galleries featuring modern paintings and sculpture. Artists are offered the option to buy a booth package that included a hard white wall where they could hang their work, and many of them smartly opted to go this route. For someone that favors contemporary art and craft more so than traditional, seeing the rows of work by the talented artists in this setting was visually impressive.

The craft section of the show(s) as well, was populated by the type of skilled artists you would see at some of the best shows in the country.

Whereas last year the show floor seemed to end way short of what space acs11-3was available, the producers were able to utilize pretty much the entire floor by adding more artists and allowing the artists located in the back to be a bit more creative with how they set up their booths.

While pretty much all of the artists in the American Craft Show section were American, the Contemporary ArtFair section had a number of European artists exhibiting. The producer of the show, Richard Rothbard, emailed me that he’s already receiving emails from artists in Europe who want to exhibit. Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing, but the show is produced by American Art Marketing!

There are a few issues with this show that I believe could ultimately work against it. Foremost for me is the $16.00 admission I paid for the opportunity to view, I mean buy, the work of the artists exhibiting. This is the most expensive ticket I’ve bought for a craft/art show in the 14 years I’ve been going regularly to shows. I know the argument of two shows for one admission, but really . . . .

Secondly, having the show at the Javits, which is located as far west as you can go in Manhattan, will (and I believe has) impact the chance the attendance will ever get larger than the 5,000+ the producers say visited the show this year. acs11-4Although there is advertising and a heavy dose of direct mail – to some really good lists – used to promote this show, the Javits is not easy to get to if you live in NYC. And with all that the city has to offer (including the American Craft and art galleries), only serious collectors (and friends of the artists) will make the trek.

Thirdly, the cost of a booth at this show in relation to what many artists report they made in sales, will make it a challenge to retain artists. While this show was a real bargain compared to what the (now defunct) One Of A Kind NYC show was charging for a booth, unless the price advertised on the AAM website is negotiable, charging artists $1,500+ for a booth is pretty steep. Especially when 70% of those who responded to the CSN exhibitor survey claim they made less than $2,500 in sales at the show.

Lastly, while I really enjoyed the, ahem, two different shows, I question the notion that collectors/buyers of crafts and contemporary art are the same. The casual shopper who is attending the show to buy jewelry, handmade clothing, or a handcrafted wooden jewelry box for a holiday gift, is not going to spend $1,000+ on an abstract acrylic painting. Likewise a collector of crafts.

I know from speaking with the producers of this show that they believe that increasing too much the number of exhibitors would ultimately be no good for the show. Even though the space could handle a larger show, until they can double the attendance, there probably is no need to mess with the number of artists they already have.

acs11-1If you are an artist considering applying to this show, you really would need to consider closely the costs of doing this show versus the eventual return. If you are a NYC (or nearby) artist, and have the work to get juried in, or if you have done well at other NYC shows and have a good client mailing list to utilize, this show should be considered.

Both craft and fine artists can really benefit from what this show is trying to accomplish. I could list the good shows by good show producers I’ve been to in NYC over the years that have folded. None had as much impact for me as this one.

I sure hope in 5 years I can look forward to spending a November weekend in NYC reliving that experience.




#1 ester rosepink 2012-01-12 17:18
One of my artists was in those show last year and made less than 100 dollars. Even tho the promoters make it seem as tho they spent on advertising, I didn't see any in magazines, billboards...etc. The people who did attend did not come to see art, they came for crafts. Most walked right past the art booths. The amount of attendees was probably less than the number of artists/craftspeople at the event! The price was right, but the union workers were not ready at move in which wasted an entire day, waiting for them to be done.

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