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Call for Artists, Making Money at Juried Art Fairs, Craft Shows and Festivals

So I just Zapplied to my first "juried" show, it is only a craft fair, so I hope that my amateurishness is not too bad.  I am using a gridwall setup that works great at the farmers markets, but am afraid that it will be looked down upon at art shows.  I am also worried that my booth just has too much going on, but I also feel it does represent my bold, colorful art.  Any advice on what I can do to improve my setup?  I will let you all know about my application when I hear back.  Thanks!


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Hi Jeremy :)

I like your art - bright and colourful!   I believe that the gridwalls should be fine but you don't seem to have a sellling or storage station within your tent?

When Larry Berman sees your post and shot I'm sure he will be able to give you some advice as to positioning of paintings to make it look balanced and not too busy.

Apart from that the art should be the focus, so trim the shot to not include your tent top and background.   Trim the sides back to your tent edges (less distraction again).     

Jeremy, is this your jury booth shot, or a shot of the overall setup? I'm assuming that this is a "show" setup, not a jury booth shot, but, hey, I could be wrong.

Personally, I'd try to put one or two larger pieces on the back wall as focal points, rather than jamming all the little ones in a mish-mash. As potential customers walk by, they will always see the back wall, but not necessarily the side from which they approach, so having the "grabber" on the back may help. 

Also think about grouping work thematically. You seem to have two bodies of work: one bright and abstract seascapes, and the other, dark paintings which don't translate well in this shot.

The gridwall feet get in the way  of customers, too. If you can set up the walls without them, by zip-tying the walls together and perhaps adding two corner braces at the top of the walls in back, it might be easier for patrons to get closer to the work without tripping.

And as Annette mentioned, do you sell bin prints? Where do those go? Do you have a selling station, where you can transact sales?

From a jury perspective, the booth should be shot on an overcast day to avoid the harsh cast shadow in the front of the booth. Cropping the image to just the three walls is preferable to showing the entire canopy. I'd pare down the number of images in the booth, if this is a jury shot. Perhaps use just the brighter ones in logical groupings. There's no real focus to it right now.

Hope that's helpful.


Ditto what others said. Also, do you have lighting? I think track lights suspended from the ceiling bars would really help to guide the eye to your work.

Robin Ragsdale

I'm fairly new at this also so take my advice for what it's worth... However, for a booth shot I think you need to pare it down a lot. Even in a selling situation there's too much work here. The lower paintings probably won't get noticed and they distract from the overall presentation. I too have colorful work. And I think with brightly colored work you have to be particularly careful. It can overwhelm a viewer. At my first show a couple of years ago I overheard one patron say "It makes my eyes hurt." Needless to say, I've since cut back  on what I hang and I still need to cut back more.

Thanks everyone.  I kinda felt that there were too many pieces displayed...what is a number that is not too busy, maybe 8-10?  The cropping will not be a problem.  The gridwall kinda has to have the feet, it is too heavy to be supported w/o it.  And I  do not have the table setup ready to go just yet, but i was thinking it would go on one side of the tent, with maybe 2 paintings above.  Do you all think it is better to have bins on a table, or the aluminum fold out mat bins?  My largest mats are currently 11x14.  I am not planning on concentrating on fine art shows, more of the craft variety right now.  As far as a selling station, what do I need?  I am using square for cc processing, but I'm not sure what else I need...bags maybe?  I am a total newbie with no shows under my belt, so I appreciate all the help.

Is this closer to how it should be cropped?

Closer, but get rid of all the tent if you can. 

To add.

Too close to the ground. No one wants to bend down to look at paintings. They are too close together and go down to close too the ground. You need to give the work enough space that people (and jurors) can see individual pieces without their vision becoming contaminated by other pieces too close together.

If your booth doesn't look inviting, people won't stop to see what you have. Is it possible to work within one or two sizes of canvas or frames? Maybe have larger pieces as center pieces on the back wall but keep the rest uniform so the viewer's eyes move around the booth.

Photographers learned long ago to create and display their work in a way that makes it easy for people to choose multiple pieces (not just the triptych) to go together.

Get rid of those side curtains tied to the uprights and crop down on the roof.

Larry Berman

The feet on those grid walls can cause a tripping hazard, for which you are responsible. I've seen people hang grids from the tent with zip ties, which also adds needed weight to combat the wind.

You can also roll up the side walls and hang pictures on the outside of your tent as well as the inside. This helps get people's attention as they walk the show.

Personally, I like those fold out bins for prints. Placing them at the entrance is good. When people are stopped in front of your tent, it makes other people migrate over to see what all the interest is about.

In addition to the tripping hazard it looks like the back part of the feet could go into a neighbor's booth space. I know I wouldn't want someone else's setup causing a tripping hazard in my booth.

Jeremy -- I use black grid wall panels and hang my product from the walls as you do (although some of the product is resting on shelves that hang from the walls), which gives plenty of walking room for shoppers.  I have been able to get into art shows with this set-up.  Some points related to grid wall:


1.  I have defined a horizontal "display area" within which everything must be displayed.  This starts at 3' off the ground and goes up to 6' off the ground.  This creates a horizontal "gallery" going around all three walls that is roughly at eye level and easy to see.  That leaves the bottom 3' of wall space essentially empty, which will create a great place for you to place a couple of slings with your print reproductions.


BTW, I place the 23"x14" shelves around all 3 walls at the 3'-off-the-ground height, then cover those shelves with black inserts (which I made myself) to "ground" the look.  These shelves also provide a convenient area to place promotional materials such as business card holders, show schedules, brochures, etc.


2.  The gridwall does not have to have feet; mine never do, and my product is glass so everything hanging off the walls gets quite heavy.  Here's what to do:

A.  Use zip ties, as Jim suggested, to attach the wall sections together.  In a tent, you can then attach the 1st and 5th panel on each side to the tent poles.  You can also zip-tie to the cross bars of the tent frame in 2 or 3 places on each side to help keep the walls upright.

B.  Make some weights to hang off the back of each wall to serve as counterweights to everything hanging off the front.  My weights are sections of pvc pipe, about 18" long, filled with concrete with a sturdy eye-hook imbedded in one end.  Then I hook a bungy cord into the eye-hook and hang it from one of the grid wall's horizontal bars.  Works great and keeps the walls stright up and down.

C.  At indoor shows, My rule is no more than 3 grid panels in a straight line before placing a panel at a 90 degree angle for stability.  A corner shelf will add even more stability at that junction.  Or, if you don't want the panel sticking 2' into your center space, offset it a bit and use a regular straight shelf on the main wall and zip-tie the shelf's edge to the perpendicular wall for stability.  I also place perpendicular walls when I'm using a tent, because I find it creates nice "rooms" that differentiate my different products.


3.  Finally, consider upgrading to 7' grid wall to replace your 6' when time and funds allow.  The extra foot at the top creates a more substantial look and makes it easier to secure your walls to the tent frame around the top.  I think the size of your paintings calls for taller walls.




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