Thank you in advance for your reply. I will be doing my first juried Art Fairs this year (first one is in three months). I have read various posts, blogs and articles online regarding the business side and photography tips. I have the following questions that I would like clarification on: (1) My photographs are mostly in a 4:3 ratio (i.e. 12"x8", 18"x12" etc. prints) and I also have two types of panoramic ratios, 4:1 and 3:1 (i.e. 30"x7.5" and 30"x10", respectively). So, I offer MANY size options online (for example, 11 options from ACEO cards to 60"x40" prints for my 4:3 ratio photos). I know that I cannot realistically stock EVERY size that I would ordinarily offer to an online customer. This, how many size options should I offer per image and what sizes would you recommend? NOTE: I would like to add that ACEO cards are a given for (hopefully) low priced quick sales that may generate future purchases. So what other sizes should I offer? (2) I've seen variations at art shows and I know bagging my prints is a must. But, what should I offer? Bagged prints that are just "stiffened" with some sort of hard board OR Bagged prints that come with Matting and a backing board? if it's the later, then should I offer quality acid free matting or is the price difference negligible and it is based on the artist's preference? Also, any opinions on reputable and economical mat, bag and photo supply online store would be appreciated. (3) I know the framed artwork is basically there to attract buyers into the canopy (sometimes, with luck, a sale is made of a large framed print). But, how many framed prints should I stock and of what sizes? (4) What do you bring to art shows for packaging? Bags, i suppose, are a given. But what do you use to protect the occasional large sized sale? (5) For outdoor shows in grassy areas, what do you do to the walking space of your area? Do you leave it natural (grass and sometimes uneven), put a large industrial heavy rug (which can get heavy and wet if it rains), or hard floor board tiles (they are sometimes used in garages and snap together)? Any other ideas? (6) I only plan to do 5 shows this year. So, which credit card processor do you recommend? I hope to find a processing company with low or no monthly fees and a company whom will not penalize you for "off-season" periods ... Where i can activate the service on the months that i will use it. I would like a wireless handheld "slide" card machine as well. But, i will be open to hearing all advice including using Paypal or other companies with a laptop. (7) More often than not, there is going to be a show that is slow with sales or individual items that are not selling so well. How do you handle these situations? Do you make it obvious to the visitor that particular items are on SALE with blatant "SALE" signs or crossed out prices with the new discounted price next to it OR do you just totally replace the older higher price with a new, lower price point (new visitors would never know). I don't want my space to look like an unpopular discount store with reduced "desperation" prices ... But, then again, everyone LOVES a SALE. So, what to do? (8) Between and after shows, where do you store your stock? Framed pieces and bagged prints? Indoors in an air-conditioned space or can they be kept in a storage room? Thank you

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  • WOW!!! I can't thank you all enough for your fantastic responses. All your replies have certainly helped me. Also, thanks to this magnificent online forum, many many more people will find this post and replies extremely helpful as well. After all, I found your site through a Google search and I am sure someone will find answers to similar questions in this post through some search site.

    Thanks again.
  • Terry, do you know about my other website, Please visit it and see the page "Call for Entries". You'll find some art fairs still looking for artists for 2009, but hurry!

    Terry Melman said:

    Let me add my thanks for the great answers to these questions. I too am an art fair newbie, and have all the questions that Steve P. asked. I just joined this forum today, and it looks like this is will be a wonderful source of information.

    I got started late this year applying, but I'm currently going to be doing shows in Northville, Plymouth and Milford, and wait listed at another. I'm still looking for other shows to do, so if anyone has suggestions about fairs that might still be accepting applications, I'd be glad to know about them.

    Thanks again for the great answers.


    Terry Melman
    Ann Arbor, MI
  • Wow,

    Let me add my thanks for the great answers to these questions. I too am an art fair newbie, and have all the questions that Steve P. asked. I just joined this forum today, and it looks like this is will be a wonderful source of information.

    I got started late this year applying, but I'm currently going to be doing shows in Northville, Plymouth and Milford, and wait listed at another. I'm still looking for other shows to do, so if anyone has suggestions about fairs that might still be accepting applications, I'd be glad to know about them.

    Thanks again for the great answers.


    Terry Melman
    Ann Arbor, MI
  • Hi Steven,
    Geez, I sure wish I had this forum to get these kind of answers six years ago! My learning curve would have been more than cut in half! Well here goes...... of course, as any artist, I'm the odd duck so what works for me may not work for anyone.

    1) Here is where I am way different than most - I offer (5) matted sizes. Keeps me working nearly 27/7 and I do everything myself - nothing is sent out for processing - I'm a little control freaky that way though - gotta do it myself. ALWAYS stay with a standard matted size so customer has no problems finding a frame (unless you offer framed) My smallest matted size is 5x7 - Priced at $10.00 I do not take these to the upper tier shows, but for the smaller shows, especially in recessed areas, these have been both life savers to me and customers. Some attending the shows want desperately to purchase art but in that area they are really financially strapped. In addition - this size is perfect for office cubicles. I especially love the fact that children - mostly teens - purchase these. Many college students as well. Children are by nature drawn to art and for them to spend their little money on it is so awesome to me! I've frequently had kids drag their parents to my booth and after a bit, the parent becomes a buyer of my larger items as well. I also provide a hanger for these so they don't need to have a frame. I have evaluated the sales of this small size over the years and it has had no bearing on eliminating a sale of the larger size. Plain & simple, that customer would not have purchased a larger size of that item and I would not have had a sale from him/her. Benefit has been 75% of these small purchase customers has returned many times and has sent others to my shop/website or future shows. I have a high rate of return customers. (Bless them all!) I also offer (finished matted sizes) 8x10, 11x14, 16x20 and 18x24. If I had to drop one (not planning on it) it would be the 11x14 as it has a history of fewest sold. 16x20 and 18x24 respectively are typically the ones that move the most.

    2) You need to use High Quality acid free backing boards only. I typically use the 1/8" foam board but the normal is good too. You can get these from the mat supplier - The ONLY outsourcing I use is for my mats/backings/bags. I simply do not have time to cut my own mats. I have connected with Randy in New Hampshire that gives me great discounts - of course, my orders with him are $5,000+ every quarter. He uses high end products and has never never let me down. We have become great friends and I think the world of him professionally and personally. His pricing is terrific! I first used him thru his Ebay website, but now just email him with sizes/colors I need - If anyone uses him, please reference my name - Linda Anderson

    3 & 4) Framed artwork IS the artshow. You'll find your own niche for sizes and presentation eventually. As with the matted only pieces, various sizes for various tastes/uses. In all matters, if you want to do shows - you are there for the customer. Look at it from his/her viewpoint. What would interest you in a certain size or format? If you want to do art solely as an expression of yourself - I would suggest stick to gallery displays etc.

    With regards to Frames - I'm a bit odd here too (my anal retentive engineering background coming out) but if I am looking for something to hang in my home (or office) the frame and it's relationship to the image may be intregal to my decor. I use minimal black frames unless it's integral to the piece. Woods/thick/thin....... it's alot of work finding that perfect frame that enhances, yet does not distract from each piece.

    I use a bubble wrap corner triangle with a cardboard triangle over the bubble for the large framed pieces. Gotta protect those edges during storage and after the sale, the customer has some protection until he/she gets the piece home. I end up shipping quite a few pieces, so that process is necessary for me anyway. Most important is to protect that frame.

    5) Personal taste - I agree with Michelle wholeheartedly
    6) Can't help you - I'm still with the knucklebuster
    7) Agree with Michelle again
    8) Your storage needs will increase greatly through the years so keep that in the back of your mind as you are just starting out. For me personally - I have a huge investment in my stock so it's safety is important. I have a numbering system for each image & size. For matted only items, I store first by size, then image number in large plastic covered bins. I place (4) of those moisture absorbing packets in each corner of each bin (this works great at the shows as well). For framed items, each has it's own box and I use those packets in those boxes as well. All is stored in air-conditioning. I'm pretty lucky here as all my children are grown and two of their rooms have been dedicated for my artwork.

    There you go Steven........ six years of my discoveries in a few short paragraphs. Keep in mind that as an artist, you will find your own way. You should gather this type of information from as many as you need, then adapt methods that work for you and work with it. If we all did it the same way - well gee..... may as well buy from China eh? No mass produced products or techniques at art shows! YAY!

    Wishing you GREAT successes!
    Good Luck to you
  • Here's my attempt at answering some of your questions. I am not a "real" photographer, but my dad is a retired photographer and framer so my knowledge stems from his experience.

    1. Regarding sizes of prints to sell to customers... It is what ever folks can typically find frames for - 8x10 MAYBE 5x7 (for on a desk), 11x14 for on a wall and maybe one size larger than that are my suggestions. What some photographers seem to not do is have a small display of postcard size prints for the purpose of sending postcards OR Thank You notes (blank inside of course) and sell them individually or in sets of 3. As for ACEO cards - if you are just starting out think business cards for now, where one side is a of your most popular photograph and the other side is your business information. This will most likely be more affordable for now and then once you turn more of a profit you'll be able to purchase however many cards you want.

    2. Check out for your bagging needs. Most photographers I know use them and they are a reputable company. For me, when it comes to "gift bags" I use Nashville Wraps, they do have clear bags as well frosted bags with handles. I have used them for years and their customer service and prices keep me going back time after time. As for matting - go with something economical, but not cheap in quality. Chances are your buyers may get their own mats, but some may be happy with what you offer. You may want to go to a local Ritz Camera Center (or visit them online) with some options they recommend.

    3. How many framed prints - whatever you can fit in your space really. Have a few big ones as they will act as a billboard. Then fill in the spaces with a "standard" size folks would typically use on their walls in their home or office. To be honest, the answer will become clearer after you do your 1st or 2nd show. It couldn't hurt to walk a show or two before yours and see what others do to get ideas.

    4. My answer is more along the lines of the answer for #2 with the exception of possibly bringing bubble wrap and tape for large framed art.

    5. Flooring. Just focus on your display. Some people can go overboard and buy extra stuff for their booth only to find out doing shows (or just outdoor events) are just not worth it then you are stuck with all that stuff. Most of the time you will be on level ground/pavement and muddy spots happen, but that is more in the hands of Mother Nature. Also think about if you have enough room in your vehicle to bring rugs, anti-fatigue mats, astro turf, whatever. Again do 1-2 shows first and then make the decision.

    6. Try renting to own if you are only doing about 5 shows at first. I highly recommend 1st National Processing - - as they have MANY options when it comes to using their machines - some top of the line, others just a simple electronic swiper. They allow people to try it out before you buy and their fees are reasonable, you can request to use the machine only certain months of the year and not get charged monthly fees during the times you are not using it too. But that is my recommendation - I know there are other companies others love, so definitely explore - just be sure to ask the companies if they do work with artists and crafts people who do art and craft fairs.

    7. Don't discount your items! I just wrote a blog on this on my own blog site - on reasons why. For the biggest reason it does looks tacky and there will always be another show where you can sell it and get full price. But if you discount your work people will think something is wrong with it and move onto the next person. Also if you discount your work they will try and bargin with you and your neighbors - something many art fair promoters are very much against as they want to promote a high quality event with high quality exhibitors.

    8. Keeping your stock. Store it in a closet, use crates... just make sure direct sunlight won't fade your work, it could get wet (damp or leaky basements can do this). Check with art and craft business magazines for places that offer ideas on storing work. Look up Steve Meltzer on the net as he is a photographer guru regarding photographs and art and craft fairs and so on.

    Hope this helps....
    Michelle Sholund and

    P.S. The photos in the photo is of Ron Wilder, an exhibitor at my event from 2009. Viewable on

    spring market photos 016.jpg

  • What's ACEO?

    First of all, if you haven't yet, join my forum also. It has over 6500 photographers discussing issues like this all the time:

    As for the sizes you sell, the best advice you can get is to simplify. I only offered two sizes at shows, small and large. The smallest size I did was 8x10 matted 11x14. The problem is that smaller than 11x14 cost very close in materials. The other problem is that a lot of people tend to purchase the smallest thing they can because either they don't want to spend money on larger or have smaller spaces to fill. Additionally proportion is meaningless because you cut the mats to fit your sizes, either doing it yourself or outsourcing. For example, I have two different size openings in my same outer size mats, which I purchase in bulk.

    I stock two sizes of clear plastic bags to put purchases in at shows so everyone can see my work walking around.

    That should get you started.

    Larry Berman
    Digital Jury Services
    Art Show Tips Blog
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