Greetings to everyone and Happy (belated) Halloween! When I was thinking about Halloween one of the most frequent asked questions I hear is “what are you dressing up for on Halloween”, right? Well, it made me want to revisit a topic I talk about often (just not lately) and thought about it until just this week. I am referring to the topic of dressing for success – at an art fair, not so much for Halloween. :-) I do believe the way you carry and present yourself certainly reflects how people perceive your artwork. Today I am going to talk about what I think is and is not appropriate to wear for an art fair and why. (Note: The photo is one I took of my pekingese dog named Hayley while I had some down time at my part time job).
Question # How should I dress for success at an art fair?
First and foremost, dress comfortably. That doesn't mean you should dress “frumpy” in your old college sweatshirt with holes or stained t-shirt you just can't part with. This means wear comfy shoes (for starters) to prevent injury and aches and pains. Depending on the weather forecast, dress for the weather – if it is going to be rainy, bring an umbrella or better yet a durable raincoat. In hot weather dress in loose fitting airy materials like rayons, silks, or cotton blends that allow for “personal air-condition”. During colder months, dress in layers this way you can peel off one layer at a time if it gets warm (like some indoor shows I have participated in where it is freezing in the morning yet like a sauna come close down time). I can't tell you how many times people think it is far more important to dress in their “Sunday's Best” yet quickly find they are making customers feel intimidated or uncomfortable. I often see art sellers irritated because they are uncomfortable in their suit or dress, and their feet hurt and often do not see this affects the attitude of buyers. I guess some just have to learn the hard way – you don't have to!
I also find coordinating your clothing with your artwork could help benefit you in the long run. For instance if you sell tropical photographs or paintings wearing a tasteful Aloha shirt this could add to the ambiance and show you have a very laid back easy person to talk to. If you sell metalsmith jewelry, think about dressing in black with silver/gray accents or browns if you work in copper. If you demonstrate wear a smock/apron, this can show you aren't afraid to get down and dirty yet at the same time can take it off and start selling being clean and presentable. If you sell dog art/craft, perhaps a t-shirt or sweatshirt of your favorite breed would be ideal to not just advertise yourself but could be an ice breaker too. Another idea is to wear what you make like scarves, jewelry, hats, belts, etc. If you are proud of what you make, wear it proudly.
For an added professional look think about getting some professional shirts made with your business name and /or logo on it. I have done this in the past and not only does it work as a badge at shows as well as walking advertisement, it makes you look sharp and professional. This could be a simple personalized apron, polo shirt, button down blue jean shirt, or even a jacket. There are tons of companies, especially local businesses, that specialize in this sort of thing and often a lot more cheaper than shopping for regular clothing that you may find you will want to wear it all the time – outside of doing art fairs.
Lastly, whatever you choose to wear for a show at the very least make it clean. Some people do work up a sweat setting up – especially on those hotter than Hades days, so bring an extra shirt or pair of shorts/pants. Also, this goes for those who just can't avoid dripping ketchup or mustard on your clothing during a quick lunch break. There is nothing more distasteful than seeing a person with arm pit stains or holes in their shirt or pants, yet selling nice artwork. It leaves a bad taste in peoples mouths and if their first impression is you, before they see your booth, you will forever loose them as a customer. Wouldn't you think twice if you saw this at a show? Share with me and others how you dress for success and if it has helped in making sales by using the comment button. The next question will tackle good and bad spending habits artists are faced with when wanting to take your busienss to the next level. Until next time, hope you had a great Halloween! - Michelle Sholund,