Art Fair Insiders

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

Hello everyone

I’m James and I’m getting ready to do my first shows as a photographer. I’ve been enjoying reading through the posts on the site, finding all sorts of answers to questions and general advice.

One question I’ve been think about, and haven’t found a post about, is where to put yourself during the show. Do you generally stay inside your booth or stay outside the booth? I’ve seen a lot of booth shots with 3 solid inside walls and nowhere to sit, as well as some set ups where part of the back wall is pushed forward to create a pocket inside the booth. Is this to give the people walking into your booth the space to browse without having the artist right there? If you sit outside your booth were do you generally set up your spot?

Thank you for your responses
James Wales

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I would never sit inside the tent. But I might strategically place a chair (or print bin, or wall, or some other piece) in order to direct and control the customer's traffic flow in my tent.

I try to control the way my customers enter and leave my tent. A good example would be grocery stores. They spend millions of dollars with floor designers to make you walk past certain items they are trying to move before you reach that gallon of milk you went in the store to purchase.

I give each of my carvings a mental impact number from one to five prior to hanging. Five being the one I want everyone to see and the last one that is retained in their mind when they leave. When they enter, I want them to see number 4 first (the one that attracted them into the tent), and then as they (or their eyes) travel through the tent, they go from 4 to 2 to 5 last. Number 5 is the "wow" carving, the one they tell their husband about and hopefully come back later to purchase. Number 1's stay in the trailer. 

Love this approach, Larry!  I don’t have a great display yet - just an EZ up with three simple mesh walls - but I try to position my level 5 “wow” pieces on the the back wall.  I don’t want to be sitting back there blocking the view.  I have a few smaller, maybe level 4 “wow” pieces up front on the side walls.  It’s always great to be up front, too, to hear the comments from the crowd.  So many times, I’ve heard remarks about a painting that I personally did not think much of, but which the crowd seems to like.  Sometimes it’s hard to know at first what is a level 1!

I like that 1-5 approach! I've found customers typically spend a few seconds looking into your booth as they pass by. Therefore, I want to place the 'wow' image (photography) on the back wall that will entice them to either stop in their tracks to view, or entice them into my booth for a closer look. Very cool idea, Larry!

I did my 1st outdoor show a couple of weeks ago...10x10 booth with an opening third on the back wall where I had a high chair placed behind my booth where I could see people entering my booth as well as seeing them view my work on an outside wall. I had awnings on the back, side, and front and it worked out quite well when it rained. Agree with the others...placing a chair in the front could be blocking customers from entering your booth. Figure out what works best for you, go for it! 

Mike Baker-

I said place some article, whether a wall, a bin, or whatever,,,,or what really works for me is, "me". What I occasionally do (with minimal traffic, you can't do it with 20 people entering your tent at the same time) is stand at the left front entrance to my tent as the customer approaches. You must acknowledge their presence by welcoming them and saying whatever is comfortable to you. You do not want to say, "Come in and look around", or "I'm the artist, I make these by.....", or "if you find something you like, let me know". What is better is something that is non-aggrressive like, "Hi guys, how ya doing?".

By my blocking the left front, they are first directed to the right side of my tent and my "4" carvings. They will then travel and view view my "3" carvings on the back wall, and will make their way to the left wall as I am sliding to the right and allowing them an exit. If you block their way, they will feel trapped and will shut down. Of course, my "5" carvings are on the left wall.

Depending on what they lingered on, or what the questions they ask, will depend on how our conversation goes from this point on.

It is all ad-libbed (spelling) and every customer and every situation is different.


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