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Howard Alan at the Shadyside Arts Festival
August 10th, 2003

Larry Berman and Howard Alan at Shadyside 2003
Larry Berman with Howard Alan

On August 10th, 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 as well.

Larry: Iíve seen on your applications that some shows are closed to photography.

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 early.

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