Sale Trends at Shows Artists Share What They are Experiencing

July 2023, by Angie Landsverk

“The Speed of Life in Italy” was taken by Jason Wallace in Cortona, Italy, in 2017. 
Photo courtesy of Jason Wallace 

This is photographer Sherri Goodlove’s first year doing art shows, and she is not seeing the sales she expected.  

“I have lowered some pricing on my larger pieces, but I can’t go much further, as there will be no margin,” she said. “People compliment my work all the time, telling me how wonderful and attractive it is, so I am getting great feedback, just not seeing sales.” 

Goodlove hopes her sales pick up — especially considering the heavy investment she made to get started. That includes costs like framing, printing, and a tent. “I am curious about what others say and if it is worth my investment in time and money,” Goodlove said. 

She is among those who responded to a Sunshine Artist survey about sales trends. Of the respondents, 47.5% predict their overall sales will be lower this year, and 52.5% said people are spending less per show in 2023. 

Metal sculpture artist Johnny Evans described his sales at some shows as horrible. “I am selling one-fifth of what I sold last year at the same shows,” he said. “I’ve done five shows that I sold over $5,000 at last year, and this year, two of those shows had zero sales and only one broke the $2,000 barrier.” 

He predicts his sales will be lower this year and believes the economy is the main factor. “Most shows I do are retirement regions of the country,” Evans said. “Those folks are being cautious until the stock market turns around.” 

At shows, people are buying the same pieces as last year but not as many, he said. “All of my art is original sculptures. I can’t lower the prices. This is an extremely difficult season,” Evans said. 

Jewelry artist Dorothy Pakstis said her sales are down by at least a third, with customers often buying one item instead of two or three. “They are buying items for gifts and not so much for themselves,” she said. 

She thinks her 2023 sales will be lower than in previous years. “My costs have gone up 50%, but I need to keep prices steady and absorb the increase,” Pakstis said, noting she is not increasing her prices because she wants to remain competitive. 

Beaded jewelry artist Patty Kester said her sales have been average or lower compared to past years. “Each show is so different from the previous ones. I make various types of jewelry, and each show has a certain type that people focus on and ignore the other types of jewelry. I never know what to be prepared for,” she said. 

Bryan Ross said his sales have been lower, too. With people buying smaller pieces, the glass artist is not bringing as many large items to shows. “As artists, we have to accommodate the buyers and give them what they want,” Ross said. “If not, sales will be far and few between shows.” 

At some shows, wood artist Bonni Oliver’s sales have been down 10% to 15% from previous years. She predicts lower sales for 2023. “The economy is making it difficult for people to buy extras. I make wooden bottle openers, wine caddies, games, squirrel feeders. All my stuff makes great gifts, but people don’t have extra money and even gift giving is being scaled down, if not eliminated,” she said. 

Glass artist Bryan Ross stands in front of some of his work. Bryan Ross is not bringing as many large pieces to shows. 
Photo courtesy of Bryan Ross 
Sculpture artist Johnny Evans says people are buying the same pieces as last year but not as many. 
Photo courtesy of Johnny Evans 

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