Art Fair Insiders

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

Part 2: Looking ahead to future shows and musing about problems to overcome

I have thought seriously about what it is going to look like when they finally let us exhibit again in the Covid era.

I am a photographer. So presently I show my work in framed images on the wall and then a table with two matted print bins and a small table with a box for my 16x20 mats. 

The two bin table hold 8x10 mats and 11x14 mats.  I print on paper.

I have Lightdome tent with Propanels.

My booth usually has two skinny panels in the front where I display six, 16x20 frames.

I have a left and right wall and two rear walls with an opening in the middle where I sit behind the booth.

The print bins are aligned on one side.

Covid is going to change things. I do not think I can have print bins where people will be touching them constantly. I cannot be wiping all the time.

Most 2-d artists like me who have bins are going to have to circumvent this problem.

Here is my solution.

I sell about 50 images in three matted sizes.

I am going to have two large frames with 5x7 printed images with titles.

The frames will be 30x40, with glass,each frame will have 25 images.

I am going to duplicate the process on the outside panels of my booth— two frames with 25 images.

That means at least four people or more can look at the work.

I will have a small coffee table with three sample size mats so people can see what they will get.

I will have prices for the three sizes. These will show on the framed pieces as well as the table.

Then, when a customer sees one they like and want, I can pull one out from my storage bins behind the booth.

I can hold it up to let them see without touching.  If it goes well, I will bag it up for them.

This eliminates other people touching the work

It is safe, no germs getting spread.

I think people will adjust to this new reality.

Next, let us talk about vibing with customers safely.

I am going to clip a 30x40 plexiglass sheet to the panel’s edge in the middle where I sit.

It will be head high.  That way there is a safe shield between us.

This allows me to duck under if I have to go out in the booth.

Customers can hand me their cards or cash below it.  I can pass bagged sales under it.

Again this is a layer of safety, yes I will wear a mask.

In my next blog I will cover other future obstacles to be overcome in the near future. Example, how booths will be spaced at shows.

I hope this will be of help to all of you.  And, please give me some feedback, love to hear your thoughts.

Later Gators, til tomorrow.

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Comment by Jan Herman on June 23, 2020 at 5:08pm

I am planning an email campaign to my art show customers and contacts in early September. I want to explain what they can expect at my booth, and to ask them what would make them comfortable about returning to art shows. And, of course, ask about their biggest concerns. 

I always ask questions in email campaigns which are usually posts from my blog. I rarely get much of a response. I understand that is typical. Hopefully, by mid-September I will have a better feel for how its going to work in Florida for fall 2020 and into 2021. I'm hoping my clients will provide me with insight. If they do, I will share it. 

My textile art is behind glass in a wood frame. I know when I hang my pieces outside my mesh walls, I have to keep moving them around. While the Museum Glass protects my work, the glass can fog and frames get hot and have warped in the past. I sell all original pieces, most are displayed. Depending on the art fair layout, I will only have my print bin if it is in back of the tent where I will be and where I can keep an eye on it. I plan to have a dispenser box of easy-on plastic gloves and waste basket for anyone who wants to rifle through them. 

I have Windex disinfectant spray cleaner to clean glass and cellophane envelopes (prints). I think that job will belong to DH. 

I will only have a small shelf inside the booth to hold hand sanitizer and more disposable plastic gloves. I also plan to use them for sales transactions. I will make it touchless for patrons. As before, when helping a disabled person, I will write their name and initial it as a signature and require their phone number or email to complete the sale. This is legit. I can also run their card and then clean it with Windex. 

Since I don't want to hand out business cards, I printed my card out oversized and mounted it on a board for them to shoot with a camera phone. 

If possible I want my booth to be one way. In the front, out the back and circle around. 

My textile wall art is very touch inducing (that is why I put most behind glass). Jewelry is tough. I can only imagine every piece touched has to go into a bin with appropriate sanitizing solution or polishing cloth that won't hurt the jewelry. You're going to need a helper! 

Comment by Carol Joy Shannon on June 23, 2020 at 11:40am

Those are great ideas, Nels.  You've obviously given this some thought.

Comment by Mark Zirinsky on June 23, 2020 at 9:51am

Nels, thanks for the feedback on Ft Worth. Seems most of my shows this year have 2 things in common: a) in the top 15 shows, and b) cancelled. Just when you think you are on a roll. 

Your point about weather at shows is taken. In my trimline booth setup, I can set the booth up so their are awnings on all 4 sides; even with that though, if there will be weather, still have to be ready to drop the sides down if it gets windy. Also all 4 awnings takes longer to setup and, as is more "sail up" in the wind.

I will have to think about the best way to rig up a plexiglass shield; I can glom together a mounting for it, I have a milling machine, or v-clamps as you suggest, but where in the booth do I put it? 

Darn virus.

Next show booked is Breckenridge Colorado Aug 7; they have modified their layout so that each booth is an island, all 4 sides open, with 10 feet spacing in between each booth. Wearing a mask is mandatory  for everyone. 

Comment by Ken Conner on June 23, 2020 at 9:05am

An excellent article and comments.  We all have so much to consider about a future with a virus.  I am sorry to have to add this, but another thing to prepare for is the election.  I foresee that no matter who wins emotions may be drained and the energy at shows then may not be conducive to a buying crowd.  And in my experience it isn't just the national races, but the local ones too.  Be ready for the distant cities you may travel to.  And as Connie has been trying to get us all to do, you may look into having an online presence to fall back on. This may very likely be the future of art and crafts.

Comment by S Brian Berkun on June 19, 2020 at 2:08pm

Another thought, it seems that the plastic shield that you have to work around every time you need to come out from the back would be more easily mitigated by wearing one of those plastic shield do-hickies (cough guard) that you can then remove more easily when no one is around. Seems a bit less cumbersome. I've seen better ones then the one I just found for an example...    https://www.framedisplays.com/fasnguandcos.html

Comment by Ellen Paquette on June 19, 2020 at 12:18pm

Very helpful post AND comments! How about handling money, credit cards and phones/devices for signatures for card sales? I can't figure out how this could be done safely. I already use lots of hand sanitizer and clean my phone throughout the day. 

Comment by S Brian Berkun on June 19, 2020 at 10:07am

Nels, reading your post makes me realize what a daunting task it may be to keep yourself safe as-well-as others, hadn't thought it through as thoroughly as you have. Then there are the "rough riders" who wont wear a mask no matter what (patrons) who have made it a political statement rather than a public safety issue. Sheese. Thanks for your thoughts.

Comment by Connie Mettler on June 18, 2020 at 3:55pm

You haven't addressed what you will be wearing. So what about this? thinking this might be how we will meet our customers: 

Comment by Connie Mettler on June 17, 2020 at 3:23pm

Fwiw, and if it applies to you. I just received this from the Detroit Golf Club (I don't know how I got on that list) -- but interesting to see what the other folks are doing:

They have also implemented safety precautions including the following:
- Plastic dividers installed in golf carts to allow multiple riders
- Practicing social distancing in the club house
- Eliminating buffets (grab and go meals)
- Eliminating ball washers
- Leaving pins in the holes 
Much food for thought.
Comment by Nels johnson on June 17, 2020 at 2:34pm

Mark, I like your idea about being open on all four sides.

Problem is, weather.  When it rains, as is often at shows, you have to tarp down.

So it works with perf weather, but then there are the rest.

Congrats on being in Ft. Worth.

Personally, for me, it is the best Show in the country.  I had been in four years in a row til 2020.  I made mucho moola.

I do not know how the usual setup is going to work.

No room for social spacing, very little storage in rear, forget about outside panels with work unless you have a corner space.

And remember, most corner spots are at street intersections where it always the windiest.

That said, I would go there in a half heartbeat.

BTW, you can V-clamp a plexiglass shield, just think it out, if you got in FW, you can figure it.

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