Art Fair Insiders

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

Hi All!

As I am preparing for my show season starting in a few weeks, I am nervously jotting down everything I think I will need while at shows.  This lead me to the question:  What do some of you who do a lot of shows consider essential items to have in a "show survival kit?"  I will list some of my essentials and it would be great if some of you could add yours too.  Thanks!!

Batteries for battery powered shelf lights

Extension cords and power strips

Furniture polish, glass cleaner and paper towels

Hand towels

Energy bars



Bungee cords

Step stool/small ladder

Petty cash for change

Reciept book

Clipboard, pens and e-mail sign up sheet

Fanny pack, Rick Steves money belt

Duct Tape



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Menard's has a rolling tool chest for about $35 that has a storage compartment on top big enough for large electric drills, three sliding drawers, and a flip out bottom drawer big enough for power saws and other tools. There's a handle on top for grabbing and rolling. Two of these tool carts facing each other with a board between the two makes a good work table.
Thank you to everyone who has responded to my post. I am jotting down all these things in a notebook and looks like some shopping is in order!!!,

Anything and everything that will fit in your "office" box.  One thing that I don't think was mentioned is an extra pair of shoes and socks.  If you are one your feet all day, sometimes it just feels great to change your shoes.  They also may get wet from dew, rain, or whatever, and dry one's feel great.  I also carry a change of clothes, especially if rain is predicted, or it's extremely hot.  Usually the clothing items stay in the truck, but sometimes just changing at tear down time helps you get through the next hour or two. 

I'm giving a talk on "how to show" next week, and I also thank everyone for their suggested items.  At the top of my handout is a link to Art Fair Insiders, too. 

A lesson learned from my previous life racing sports cars - After I loaded the car and all the essentials I'd look around the garage to see what else I could fit in the truck.  Those were usually the parts I didn't need at the race track, but I have loaned those parts out to many other racers. 

Here's my full checklist, FWIW:

Show Inventory
Extra Inventory
Storage containers

Canopy Top
Canopy Sidewalls
Canopy Weights (4)
Awning Poles
Spare parts for tents (poles, ells, three-ways, clevis pins, bolts, etc.)
Extra Tarps (6x4, 6x10)

Display Panels
Display braces
Display Joiners
Display Skirts
Drapery hooks or other hangers for 2-D art

Guest Book
Business card/postcard holder

Carpet or other flooring, if used

Show Chairs
Sun Umbrella (if necessary)

Battery Operated Fan
Fan battery charger

Product Packaging
Large Bags
Small Bags
Packing Tape
Saran Wrap on a stick
Picture corners

Clip Board
Show location, load-in Info
Sales Tax License for each state you'll be in
Maps of show and hotel area
List of hotels and restaurants in area

GPS and car charger

Credit Card Machine
Extra tape or credit slips
Battery charger for CC machine
Bag of spare change

Rain Gear
Waterproof Rain coat
Waterproof Rain Pants
Spare shoes or sandals
Spare socks

Office Kit
Spare batteries for headlamps
Baby Wipes
Glass Cleaner
Paper Towels
Paint kit and brushes for on the spot touch-ups
Pencils and pens
Paper Clips
Invoice or Order Pads, or 2 pc carbonless forms
Business Cards
Bounce-back labels
Pricing labels

Tool Box
Hammer (full-size)
Wire Cutter
Product-specific Tools
Crescent Wrench, 2 sizes
6-Way Screwdriver
Duct Tape
Concrete Nails 2-3"
TapCons 2.5-3"
Drill and bits, including 1/4" for TapCons
Drill battery and charger
A-Clamps (medium and large size) at least 4 of each size
12' Ratchet tie downs ( at least 4, more if you cross-brace your tent)
50' Rope
Roll of 3' x 50' Plastic

Lighting Kit
Track Lights
Extension cords, 12'
Long Extension cord, 100'
Clip Lights
Standup Battery powered Lantern (D-Cells)
Spare Batteries

12V Auto Battery
12V Battery Charger

This has been interesting for different mediums. Jim Parker: what do you use concrete nails for? Survival kit or packing list, I have my lists in Excel for show and for travel/condo. It helps to get everything loaded for the first show of the season. I also have a "map" of how to pack the truck. Even with all of that, one year I was ready to leave and didn't have the tent loaded but checked off the list. Never leave the duct tape at home LOL.

Concrete nails for anchoring Trimline to pavement. Superceded by TapCons, but you need a drill bit and hammer drill for TapCons. Concrete nails and anchoring to pavement in any way are frowned upon in certain venues, also. But sometimes it's necessary to keep the canopy legs from "walking".

That's a real No No out here on pavement. No stakes in parks as well because of the sprinkler systems. Commercial tents use 55 gal plastic drums filled with water.
I always thought it interesting how the artists with their small fry tents were told not to anchor into the asphalt parking lots or streets but the big boy commercial tents would drill a two inch hole completely through the paving and sledge hammer in 3' long steel spikes :-/ Most artists chose to zip the sides up and bring out the drills and screws to anchor the tents :-)


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