The Importance of Exhibiting at Shows & Why Exhibit at Spectrum Fantastic Art Live?

Over 200 artists will be exhibiting at Spectrum Fantastic Art Live 3. Here, Justin Sweet paints at his booth at SFAL2.
Over 200 artists will be exhibiting at Spectrum Fantastic Art Live 3. Here, Justin Sweet paints at his booth at SFAL2.

The early-bird price break for the exhibitor registration for Spectrum Fantastic Art Live 3 has been extended to January 31, 2014. Prices go up $100 starting on February 1. You can download an exhibitor application here, or go straight to the online registration here.

But why is it important to exhibit at shows? Here are my five top reasons why I exhibit at shows; and how Spectrum Fantastic Art Live meets my criteria.

Short answer:
1. For promotion
2. To meet the artists / industry colleagues
3. To get inspired
4. To grow
5. To sell books, prints and original art.

Long answer:
Last summer I wrote a blog detailing the five main reasons why I exhibit at shows. I’m going to share them again, but this time I will add some additional information and include how Spectrum Fantastic Art Live meets my own requirements, and by extension I hope to those who decide to exhibit with us as well.

But first, a little bit of history: I’ve attended and exhibited at over one hundred comic, book and art shows combined over the last 20 years. I’ve helped friends run their comic and rare book booths before I was a publisher and my own booths as Flesk Publications since 2005. Now recently I exhibit with Flesk and Spectrum booths side-by-side at shows

I’ve been to terribly mismanaged shows and others that were exceptionally well run. I’ve taken mental notes over the years and aim to put the positive aspects into practice with SFAL. I’m in a unique position in that starting in 2014 I am part of the Spectrum Fantastic Art Live organization. This group consists of me and five other key, smart and incredibly hard working individuals who I am honored to work with. I can have a say in a range of topics including those ideas that I like the most, caution about the things I see as being negative, and suggest new directions and ideas. SFAL is organized by the Spectrum founders, Cathy & Arnie Fenner.

Let’s get started:

1. Promotion.
It’s essential that I create a presence for Flesk Publications, Spectrum Fantastic Art and for the artists that I publish regularly. I look for opportunities to meet people and share with them what we do. Shows are, in my opinion the best and most cost effective way to do this.

I oftentimes have artists at my booth to give attendees an opportunity to meet with them. It is not a requirement for an artist to have been published by myself or for them to have been in Spectrum to join me. At times I do this simply because I like the artist and their art and it’s good to have their company at the booth. Another key reason is that I want the fan to have a pleasant experience. I also want to help the show where I exhibit at succeed. I promote every show where I attend since I want the organizers to succeed as well. The more popular the show is the better it is for us too.

This is a little off topic–falling more in how to conduct yourself at shows, but do you ever notice that I only write about positive things on my blog? If I have an issue, I offer a constructive break down and work toward a better goal. I do not use the internet to vent or use as a sounding board. Being negative gets you nowhere and causes a lapse in focus. Staying positive before, during and after a show will take you far–if you are patient and work smart. Back to the main topic…

For an artist, promotion at events builds a growing awareness of who you are. It can take years to build a following; plan on committing yourself for 3-5 years at various shows before expecting things to benefit you on a large scale. It doesn’t matter how good you are, if no one knows you or your work you will not succeed. Shows will help make you better known. For me, there is no better way to make an impact with another person than a face to face encounter.

How does SFAL help with promotion?
The booths at this show are reserved for artists, with very few exceptions being made to non-artists who fall within the art community and therefore benefit the show and add to the ambiance. We advertise and reach out to art collectors and fans that have a specific interest in the arts. The people who come to SFAL have a keen interest for our field. The attendees are knowledgeable and sophisticated and have a deep appreciation for what we do. And we welcome all artists, art directors and industry people to help bring you all together for greater opportunities and networking possibilities. I also want to note that it is not a requirement to have been in the Spectrum annual to exhibit or attend. We keep the entry ticket affordable and even have very reasonably priced artist tables to encourage new artists to exhibit at a show for the first time. We take a great interest in cultivating new and young artists.

2. Meet your fellow colleagues in person.
I met Gary Gianni, Steve Rude, Mark Schultz, Jim Silke, William Stout, Bruce Timm and a host of other people I work with at events where I have exhibiting at in the past. Shows provide a rare accessibility to artists and many opportunities arise there that can pay off three or five years from now.

Having a booth makes you accessible. It is a location where fans and industry people can find you and solicit commissions and work. I know many artists who either pick up jobs at shows, or receive calls a few months later from someone who met them at a show and who are following up regarding a request. You may not make money at a show, but you may make it down the line.

How does SFAL help with meeting the artists?
We do this by keeping our focus on the artists, and an affordable entry for the general public. We cultivate those in the industry and those who appreciate the arts to gather in one convenient and central location with easy access from the East and West coasts and everywhere in-between. My notes regarding how SFAL helps with promotion applies here as well.

3. Get inspired!
Walking the show and seeing what others are doing is fuel that can last for months.

How SFAL will help get you inspired?
This is a fun topic for me. I keep mentioning this because it is so important to the SFAL organizers; almost all of the booths are artists. The show is a network of booth after booth of artists who paint, draw, sculpt, hand-craft and use technology to create a near overload of imagery. Making your way through the isles is an opportunity to be stimulated and interact with others passions. The wide-range of arts to be found will guarantee you will meet someone with like-minded views. You will leave inspired.

4. Grow.
Panels, business meetings and talking with our Flesk and Spectrum supporters helps me make decisions for the future and it provides me with the knowledge to keep me on track.

How SFAL will help you grow?
Besides the topics mentioned already, an important goal of ours is to have the best panels by artists for artists, and for the fans who want insight into how things work in the studios. We are setting up painting workshops, industry panels conducted by top named editors, panels for the fans to interact with the artists, and more. We want people leaving the show with valuable new knowledge that can enlighten, and benefit a growing career.

5. Sell art, books, prints, sculptures and more.  
I love selling books, packing books, shipping books and getting them into the hands of those that support Flesk and Spectrum. I’m not selling a product that I bought for resale. I am selling books that we made, oftentimes that took months or years to create that I was heavily involved with and that I am passionate about. When someone buys one of our books I am especially grateful since it allows me to continue making more books, and pay royalties to the artists that goes toward the creation of new works.

How does SFAL help to sell your art?
I imagine that some artists feel the same way about selling their art as I do about selling books. Regardless of your motives or what you get out of it, the SFAL organizers work hard to attract buyers who are looking to purchase art direct from you and not from a dealer. What I enjoy most about buying from an artist is that in a small way I have contributed to the artist to produce more work. We welcome and encourage fans and other artists to help one another to succeed.

That wraps up my top five reasons for attending a show and how as one of the SFAL organizers I am working to make Spectrum Fantastic Art Live 3 a fun and rewarding experience for all involved.

There is one more topic to discuss, and that is important to consider. That would be making money at a show. I’ve never looked at exhibiting at a show as an immediate financial reward. I’m always happy if I break even. I’ve exhibited at plenty of shows where I lost money, sometimes thousands of dollars, but that never was reason enough for me to quit or to stop exhibiting. For me, embracing my top five is far more rewarding and always pays off in long run.

I’m looking forward to SFAL3 and hope to see you there.

Let me know if you have questions about the show!



John Fleskes
Flesk Publications
Flesk Publications on Facebook
Spectrum Fantastic Art
Spectrum Fantastic Art Live
Spectrum Fantastic Art Live on Facebook
Text and photographs copyright © 2013 John Fleskes. All Rights Reserved.

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