Brutal feedback, please?

I just did my second small craft market event yesterday, and would appreciate some frank feedback on my booth and/or products. This was in a church parking lot.

I had quite a bit of interest in my work, but hardly any sales. What might be the best venue for this type of work? 

I do watercolor and photography prints. I was selling miniature 4x6 matted prints $15, 5x7 matted framed prints $30, a few larger framed and some cabochon necklaces with either tiny prints $25 or polymer clay swirls $10. 

Several have said I need more stuff. Maybe so? Lower prices? Higher? 

Be brutal, it's okay.

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  • Some shows don't like tables. Here is a way to convert you tables to pedestals. This also increases your under table/pedestal starage space.  Easily done with 1" steel conduit. We now use the screws as "stops" rather than actuall gong thruogh the legs. It's faster for set up and take down. Investing in professional table skirts is a good choice too. I have Velcro around tops of table frame for fast take down. There are also some psychological benefite of having your stuff elevated rater than on a lower table. For you this might be your prints. For me it's silver buckles.  Also, keep a photo record of how your booth evolves and periodically review it. 


    • I love this pedestal idea, Richard! The wingnuts are a great idea too. 

      I love to sit up high anyway, so I just need to find a light, portable director stool and I'd be happy. :) 

  • Hi Sarah!  I am relatively new to this, too, and began like you doing church art and craft shows.  I agree with everything the others have stated here - you need to upgrade your display to look more crisp and professional.  Go to some higher end art shows near you and look to see how other artists are displaying their work.  Quick inexpensive fixes are to get a more fitted table cover, move the table to the back (or ditch it completely!), and don't have those storage bins showing.  When you have a little more money to invest, maybe get some mesh walls from Flourish - they aren't as costly and bulky as the propanels, they are lightweight, very durable, and will fit most EZ-up style tents.  Or you can look for used Pro-panels or mesh walls, too. There are always artist selling their old set ups on this site! To move to higher quality shows, you will need a more professional appearance, and you will have to set upon one medium.  I do watercolors and acrylic painting, and some shows break these out into two separate categories, so I have to apply to both or pick one.  And, even though I'm now doing some higher quality shows, making sales is still tricky.  I just did a highly respected art show last month, won honorable mention for the piece I submitted, got tons of compliments and great traffic through my booth, and had miserable sales!  So I'm still trying to figure out the magic formula, too!

  • You already have more booth experience than me, but simply from a customer standpoint I agree with what everyone else has suggested.

    Being able to see the other booths behind your grids makes if really hard to focus on your artwork. I'd also trim down your zip ties that are holding your grids together.

    • Thanks, Matt, good suggestion about the zip ties.

  • Trash that awful easel. Never hang from the top frame structure. Cant tell what your selling. Looks like it might be birds, cats, fish and other stuff. I would hope theres no kids on the beach flying kites-or abstracts. you must have a central theme. Hodge podge doesnt sell
  • I will say my bit about the overall impression, nothing about your art as it is hard to see in this photo.  Grid walls say you are a beginner because everyone starts out this way.  I know $1200 Pro-panels are probably out of the question at the moment, but you will notice  those doing it for a while use them. 

    The corner easel is a no-no because of hazards.  If someone trips on the legs (besides them being out of your booth with no heads up they are there) you are liable for any injuries caused.  I have $1M insurance and even that is small because some of the shows are now requiring $2M.

    Hanging things from the top frame is a no-no, just looks tacky.

    The table out front needs to be back, you want to give the people the room to roam without having to 'go through you' to get in the booth.

    Cindy Welsh has lots of good ideas.   Just remember that 'craft shows' bring in people who are also crafty  and they like to looky-loo to see what they can do.

  • Looks like a going out of business sale to me. Not much there . What is there is blocked from entry with things your not selling. Tables and boxes. No one uses open screen anymore. As a minimum cover them with cloth. Better yet get “Pro Panels” as soon as you can afford them. Finally your in a church parking lot. I wouldn't expect Da vinci to sell much more than $200 there.
    • Thanks, Barry. I wouldn't expect anyone to sell much when they first start out. I'm thinking it's better to make more mistakes on a small scale and learn from them as I grow. Wouldn't you agree?

  • I agree with many of the others regarding the set-up of table in front; my show partner and I always laugh because we see so many people afraid to step inside the tent like we’re gonna bite! So moving the table off to side parallel with wall might be a good start. 

    Additionally, I love the suggestion someone made about surrounding your larger pieces with smaller ones. I will add additionally to put a browsing bin/shelf out towards front of booth so people can feel free to browse without actually coming in the tent. Next, if you could find a way to hang your unframed prints on one of the front poles, I think that would help. For example, find a narrow strip of wood that you can run vertically down front pole (attach it using plastic zip ties or Velcro— might take some experimentation for what works best) and then paint some clothesline clips and hang the unframed prints there. 

    Next, I’d add some colorful frames or mattes, as I think the all white is monotonous, especially with the white grids and tablecloth. And signage! If your small prints are all the same price, then I’d have a computer printed sign indicating that info— make it larger, easy to read font. List it out and post in a couple spots. 5x7 $xx 8x10 $xx watercolors priced as marked, framed 3x5 $xx, etc. 

    Finally, the piece I think many newbies forget: who’s your target audience? This will help you find shows that you have the highest likelihood of selling more. I live in Austin (TX) but my stuff does NOT sell in Austin proper generally. So, I look for shows in surrounding areas that I know fit my demographics. I experiment with new locations and shows but if it’s not a good show for me personally, then I don’t go back. So who’s your audience? Consider age, gender, and then target shows in areas you might see more of them. If your stuff would appeal to college kids, then you know a show that focuses on families or near a senior center probably isn’t your best show expenditure. Maybe you do a lot of nature stuff, then your show focus could look for festivals that attract birders, maybe something at a local arboretum or near a beachy locale. Sometimes art can cross over multiple demographics but I rarely find it doesn’t have a somewhat targeted audience. This can take time to understand but once you have a couple good shows, you’ll start to see trends— who was looking at your stuff this weekend? Males? Females? Age? 

    Good luck! Don’t be discouraged and just keep honing your craft. It will come together! 

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