On August 10th 2003, I spoke with art show director Howard
Alan of Howard Alan
Events LTD. who has organized and runs a series of extremely
good-looking artist friendly shows. What other shows strive to do on a
once a year basis, Howard is able to do with ease on a weekly basis. He
has created a loyal group of artists, most of which exhibit at multiple
Howard Alan shows annually and are able to make a living selling original
art. Because of his different approach to the art show business, Howard is
either loved or disliked by the artists on the show circuit and there are
conflicting points of view at the mention of his name. But truth be told,
a lot of those who claim to dislike his methods, often find themselves
doing one of his art shows when the need arises. After all, itís really
about making a living and being able to support your family, all through
the sale of original art. Howard Alan also has a unique artist
friendly payment policy. The artists can pay a deposit of $25 or $50 in
advance and if they are accepted in the show, the balance is due 30 days
prior. If theyíre not accepted, their check is returned to them upon jurying. Theyíre juried upon receipt so itís an ongoing jury so theyíre
not holding your money and if you donít get in you have an opportunity to
apply to another show so youíre not shut out for that weekend that you
want to work.
Larry: Do you see this industry being on a downslide at all?
Howard: High-end artwork is having its best time and middle of
the road and low end are hurting right now. If you have high-end art,
people are investing in art, jewelry and antiques. But the middle of the
road guys, those who have left their pension plans, those are the ones who
are hurting right now.
Larry: Do you see the exhibitors in your shows maintaining sales
like they have in the past?
Howard: No, from what they tell me, theyíre down about 30% over
last year, unless theyíre high end. My high-end guys are up. But obviously
with all the problems with this economy, itís also contingent on location.
For example we did downtown Aspen this past weekend. The artists did
phenomenal there. There were no financial problems there. You come to
Pittsburgh and you read that the police are being laid off and other
essential services are being cut back and itís got to affect sales.
Larry: There have been posts on some of the craft forums about
people leaving the industry. They do one or two shows at the beginning of
the year, not make any money and cancel the rest of their shows schedule
for the year. Have you seen any of that at all?
Howard: Because of corporate downsizing there are so many people
with artistic talent coming out on the circuit. Secondly, a lot of artists
are leaving galleries because (of the economy) the galleries arenít paying
Larry: Iíve seen on your applications that some shows are closed
Howard: It depends on the show. The photography category is
unbelievable now. We cap every category. The photography category and the
jewelry category are capped at no more than 10% of the show. I get so many
applications that I could have a jewelry convention, a photography
convention, or a metal sculpture convention at each show.
Larry: So then what would be the trick for new applicants
applying to shows with photography to get accepted?
Howard: To have something very creative, very diverse, very
different and have a great looking display. And get the application in