Hello everyone.  My name is Al Scovern and I’ve been digging into the archives of AFI for the past few months, a project that’s been immensely helpful.  Many thanks to all of the generous contributors here.  I make fast-fired ceramic pots and after many years, to quote another potter, I now own the world’s largest collection of my own work.  Unfortunately, this pleases me way more than it does my wife—she got this crazy idea of actually selling the pots which led me, eventually, to AFI.  So I find myself with a fairly full schedule of summer and fall shows, with the first one, Artisphere in Greenville SC, about a month away.  I feel like we’ve got a lot of the technical stuff down (photography, booth design, tent, and  those pesky weights) but on the eve of my first show I’ve got some questions about what will probably seem pretty basic to the veterans, all about load in and set up.  Are artists assigned specific load in times or is there a general start time or does it vary from fair to fair?  Is there some protocol for doing this, considering what I’m imagining as mayhem with a general start time?  Is there some etiquette to this process beyond just remembering that you’re not the most important person on the planet?  Are there tips that you can share to make this least painful (eg. arrive early vs wait for the rush to pass).  Again, thanks for your help and I look forward to meeting many of you on the road.

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  • Thanks, this is good info

  • Thanks everyone for the thoughtful responses.  I like to have some mental picture of what I'm getting into having held onto, apparently, a neurotic need to avoid making a complete ass of myself.  Anyhow the tips and advice are helpful and appreciated.

  • One more thing.

    While you're setting up your booth at any show, don't pile your stock in the middle of the aisle in front of you. Other exhibitors need to get past you and some may have big displays. Once your tent (outside) or booth (inside) is erected, bring everything in and work from there.

  • Arrive early, follow show instructions, unload vehicle, get off the street, set up at your leisure, be considerate,  and have fun. Most vehicles are over 10' long.   If you sit your vehicle in front of your booth all day you are infringing on your neighbors space unless you have a double. Even then  you are obstructing the flow on the street for later arrivals. 

  • I always try to arrive early.  There are some shows that a sticklers about start time but quite a few aren't. I will always remember the time I showed up on time for a particular Florida show.  Half the show was already set up and it was very difficult to get in to set up.  After that I tried to arrive at least an hour early.  Sometimes I get to start, some times I play angry birds for an hour.

    Be sure you have a good cart.  I like my RockNRoller.  Mentally (or physically) go through what you need for a show and plan the best way to cart it for the fewest trips.  Some shows will not let you drive up to your booth.  Bring lots of bungies.

    Drop and go or unload, move vehicle, then set up.  I have everything in my van set up so that I can pull everything I need to set up my tent and walls from the back door.  If it is a drop and go the day before I will usually make a second trip in with the art work on the morning of the show which comes out the side door and I can load the work into an already set up tent in case of weather.

    Saturday morning setups - I take a long time to set up.  I check with the promoter beforehand to see if I can a) unload to the sidewalk before official set up time in the case of streets needing to be closed or b) come in early.  If it isn't a case of a street needing to be closed I find most promoters are more than willing for me to come in early and be out of the way before the mad rush.

    Just remember, it always goes up and it always comes down.  


    "Are artists assigned specific load in times or is there a general start time or does it vary from fair to fair?"

    It varies.  Your show info will spell it out for you.  The most common is "general start time".  Artist friendly shows try to set up the day before.  The worst set up is morning of, with an opening time of 9 AM.

    You will have to determine how much time you need, to be set up and ready to go.  When set up is the day before (like Artisphere) you can pretty much take your own sweet time.

    The most chaotic is morning of show set up.  If show opens at 9 AM it is even more so.  Some artists always go early (like 4 AM) others, like me, go later (7:30 AM) and try to fit in when many neighbors have already set up.  

    Your attitude seems right to me.  Always be friendly and polite and try to park so others can get past you.  Sometimes that is impossible (Naples 5th. Ave., Wells Street) and you have to either wait your turn or be prepared to cart-in.  Say "hello" to your neighbors and introduce yourself.  If someone is encroaching on your space, point it out in a friendly, informative way and give them some time to deal with it.  At sometime, you will have a bad neighbor, be firm and forceful without sparking violence. We have all paid for our space, and we are entitled to it.  Cooperation is the key to an enjoyable show and making new friends.

    Some shows go out of their way to complicate matters (Mt. Dora and Stewart, in FL).  Then you just have to bite your tongue and OBEY!  Local police and some volunteers really "get off" on a little power. In these situation, common sense goes right out the window.  Endure.

    BTW, congratulations on Artisphere being your first show.  That is one of the really good ones.  I'm wait-listed for it and hope to be called, otherwise I'll be in Birmingham, MI.

    Good luck.

  • I can't remember one show I've done in my 18 year career that didn't provide specific info well in advance of the show. There's usually nothing very complicated with load in with any show, and I remember Artisphere being an easy one to do in 2010 and 2011. Artisphere most likely sent out load in instructions and other general instructions in mid-March. That's what my records indicate. You would have received that via email, the email account linked with your zapplication account.

    If it's the same as when we did it, you can set up beginning at 7:00 a.m. on Friday and it'll run until 2:00. So go ahead and get there early. But first, check your email for the instructions you should have received. If you didn't get them, then contact Liz.

    My rule of thumb is that I don't contact shows about anything unless it's completely necessary. If I don't get certain instructions, and it's happened that way, I contact the show. But I keep the conversations and communications brief.

    Good luck with the show. And if you get the chance to tour a museum, go to Bob Jones University Museum & Gallery. It has limited hours, so check into it. It's so worth the time to experience, no matter your faith. Just stunning. WOOHOO!

  • Every show is different.

    Load in instructions should be sent to you from the show. Liz is easy to communicate with so any questions specifically about the show should be directed to her.

    Larry Berman
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