Art Fair Insiders

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

Does anyone hire outside help to set up and break down at art fairs when you become physically unable to set up yourself.  If so, how do you go about hiring and what services do you request?  

Views: 402

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

I have "hired" homeless guys to help load when it is raining hard. I know other artist who have hired muscle on craigslist before a show with commitment to come back and load - stone tables and iron sculptures.  Other shows have volunteers and HS students who hire out. I think you just need to ask the show. Hired hands do what you ask them. Some just need more training than others.

Thanks Richard!

Thank you Richard.  This is very helpful.

Hi Wendy,

I've done it many times through Craigslist.  The more specific you can be, the better.  After I posted my craigslist ads, I would have to shut it down in about ten minutes because of the deluge of responses.  This one says I'm paying 15 an hour, but I usually paid $20 an hour, figuring three hours on the front end and two hours on the breakdown - $100 was well worth the money for someone else to do the heavy lifting.  You'll notice I ask for someone who's 5'11."  I got lots of responses from people saying they would bring a ladder, but I always refused them.  I use my ladder for myself, don't want two in a 10 x 10 space during setup - it's much much better when you have someone who can just reach up and do things rather than have to get on a ladder.  Here's one of my ads:



Artist needs help setting up and breaking down for the OLD TOWN ART FAIR in Chicago.  Prefer someone who lives close to or in the Old Town neighborhood.  Dates and time needed:  Saturday 6/12 @ 6:30 am  - approximately 2-3 hours,  Sunday 6/13 @  6:30 pm - approximately 2-3 hours.  Requires ability to lift up to 50 lbs.  Prefer 5'11" or taller.  Need to have a cell phone.  Must be punctual, energetic and able to take direction.  Request if hired that you commit to job regardless of possibility of rain.  Non-smoker during work time.  Pays $15 per hour.  Payment to be made on 6/13 at the end of the job.

p.s.  You'll also get a lot of people touting their "art experience," and I always make it clear that this job is manual labor, artistic ability or opinions not needed.

I've gotten some great help over the years and only a few I wish I hadn't hired.  I've gotten teachers on summer break looking for extra money and a whole variety of other people  - some who really needed the money and some who just wanted a little extra spending money.

Hope this helps!

I'm curious about liability with regards to these helpers?  We could use help with a forecasted 30+ shows (and some physical limitations on our part, though we muscle through - having a strong 18 year old would do wonders!).  But, should someone helping us get injured, etc., I don't want them coming after us.  Is it prudent to have them sign an agreement BEFORE they start (to hold harmless) or are they considered "independent contractors" and on their own?  Anyone have a BAD experience with a helper?  Also, at a couple shows that force helpers on us to speed things along, I hold my breath every time they grab our art containers or walk with our art which can be damaged.  This year, I'd love to employ some help, but I have these concerns.

That's a good point.  I was concerned about that also.  I think I would get a release of liabiltiy signed first.  

Show volunteers would be a two way street. Damaging art versus injury. Ask the show. 

PeopleReady covers the liability. Works for me!

Thank you, especially for the ad.  This is a great help!

Thank you so much.  A sample of your add is really helpful

Wow-some really good information. Thanks for asking the question.

Wendy, I use PeopleReady, a staffing agency that has offices across the country. I let them know in advance what the job is with a detailed description (unloading, loading, set-up, some tool use, need to use a short ladder, needs to be able to lift 40 lbs., needs to have previous event experience.) that sort of description. The agency hires the worker, pays them and covers liability. I pay the agency. The worker must provide their own transportation.

This has worked for me very well. I have only had one no-show situation and one worker unsuited to the task. The rate will vary from city to city In San Francisco it was higher because the agency pays the health insurance  in addition to state and federal taxes. The agency screens the workers. Shows might have volunteers but they are spread thin with other requests. I like having a worker that will stay until the job is done.


Fiber artists -- use this resource to find new buyers:  Advertise with Reach over 60,000 fiber arts lovers.

Our 50 Best Art Fairs

Look Inside the 2018 Art Fair Survey:
Who Won and Why

Join the MasterMinds Group for personalized coaching on your Internet Lifestyle Business! 

60 Page Report - Best US Art Fairs

Click Here to
Learn More


  • Add Photos
  • View All

© 2020   Created by Connie Mettler.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service