In the vein of stuff that might possibly be useful to someone else: reports from some recent shows. First up, Kelly Singleton talks about her first outing at SEWE (the Southeastern Wildlife Expo) a few weeks ago, Feb 2008:

My experience at SEWE was apparently typical of the first-timer there – hardly any sales. This year in particular was bad for everyone – sales were down for everybody. Even John Seerey-Lester I was told sold none. He was overheard saying that he’s not coming back. The economy was mostly being blamed for the dismal sales. I sold one painting, on the very last day of the show, and that was to a collector of mine. I talked to many of my artist friends that had shown at SEWE before, and they all told me that they had terrible first showings there. They all encouraged me to come back next year though, that once you get the first time under your belt, it should be better. From what I gathered, it seems that the people that attend SEWE do not take the artists seriously until they’ve been there a few years. I heard the same thing about the Waterfowl Festival in MD. I was told SEWE’s featured artist this year, Peggy Watkins, even sold nothing her first year; second year she came back and nearly sold out; third year they invited her as the featured artist and she did extremely well.

I noticed that pencil work and loose painterly work was what was selling. Detailed work was not moving at all . . . There was also a lot of work for the viewers to take in, over one hundred artists, I don’t know if this necessarily helped matters.

I should say the show was very well run by its staff/organizers. And the PR was excellent; it was well advertised and promoted. This is a huge event in Charleston and the amount of people the show attracts is incredible – something like 40,000?

Thank you Kelly for sharing these thoughts and experiences!

I attended the Peppertree (Santa Ynez, CA – near Santa Barbara) last November. That was my second time to the show; I’d previously attended in May 2006, I think. At the prior show, I sold one piece; this time, I sold none, despite having what I thought were some very good paintings there (of course, I’m hardly objective). What did seem to sell: more traditional things (nothing with the kind of contemporary edge I lean towards), especially with horses and kids; and work that I, being the total art snob I am, would call kinda gimmicky – paintings on stone, or over-the-top giant black walnut animal carvings (things 6 and 10 feet high). About 20% of the work sold – a statistically rigorous survey based on walking around counting up red dots – which is not a high enough percentage to entice me back. So the trip was a tax writeoff; given that it was snowing in Montana, and 75 in Santa Barbara, we made the best of it.

One Response to “Show report: SEWE, Peppertree”
  1. Joe says:

    Thanks to Kelly again for sharing info on the SEWE. I always wanted to know what it was like trying to sell art at that show.

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