Art Fair Insiders

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

Art fairs are a lot of hard work. They’re also expensive to participate in and attend. They’re stressful and full of physical challenges. Below are some tips I’ve created to help me not just get through the next show, but have fun doing so without taxing my system unduly. Each of these tips has been hard won through many years of experience. Take the ones you like, invent and share other tips that help you. Please. I’m ever open to hearing how you, my fellow art fair artists, sail through your shows!

1. Believe the show is awesome – NO MATTER WHAT. Some of my most amazing shows have seemed slow – only to blossom weeks later with an offer or an order I never would have garnered otherwise.
2. Pack wonderful tasty snacks to get you hydrated and fed – body and soul – throughout the day. Treat yourself, make it high quality everything. Include soul food. Soul Food = chocolate et al – stuff you love. In moderation.
3. Don’t complain. Not no way. Not no how. Not during the event. That vibe is sticky and will cling to all your good intentions in your work. If you have suggestions for improvements – thoughtfully provide those to the appropriate audience after the show.
4. A slow show does not mean your work isn’t worthy. Never forget that.
5. An awesome show doesn’t necessarily mean you’re an awesome artist either – see #6.
6. What defines you as an artist is YOU. Not your sales. I have had amazingly profitable shows, and crazily horrible shows. The work is the work. These externals might distract you from your Vision. Stay mindful of that.

art fair

Celebrate Every Show You’re In!

7. That said – note trends in your sales and adjustwhat you sell accordingly! That’s not prostituting your Vision – that’s sharing it in ways The Public is ready to accept at the moment.
8. Never forget that you are creatively educating people in all of this amazing effort of yours.
9. Give yourself a present after every show. You deserve it. It doesn’t have to be extravagant but it should be a pat on your own back for a job well done.

10. You are an amazing example for others!
11. Go YOU! You are Brave, Hard-working, Persevering,  Dedicated, Patient, a Visionary par excellence! Not many people can stake a claim in this many wonderful traits.

Lucky? Hardly!

Do you hear people say “I wish I was as lucky as you, getting to do what you love?”. I do, too. A ton. I usually chuckle and state “Luck has nothing to do with it!”. I work hard at making this dream come true. You do too. Those folks could too – we have made this a choice we’re willing to work – and work hard – for.

We deserve every good opportunity that comes our way from putting our work out there for all the world to see and react to right in front of us! We can minimize whatever negative challenges that come our way by alway, always treating ourselves as a treasured employee – because we most certainly are! Without us this business would literally disappear over night!

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Comment by Richard L. Sherer on July 13, 2012 at 9:32am
Most of the shows I do are in Colorado summer resort areas. Besides the business of the shows I look at these time as a vacation from spending ninety percent of my studio time on my feet at the bench. These are my mini vacation rewards. We often invite family or friends to stay with us at a rented condo. I learned early on that renting a condo and eating in was cheaper than a motel and eating out. Even if sales are slow these times are relaxing (good Mexican beer and hot tub ) and rejuvenating. I usually plan a hike after a show to bag some peak in the mountains. At age 69 I can still make it up some 13 and 14teeners ( that's 13,000' and 14,000' elevation peaks for all you "flat landers"). The shows give me time to look at and take pride in what I have created, think about what I could do during the coming winter, and chat with folks who visit my booth.
Comment by Marti McGinnis on July 13, 2012 at 10:07am

Wonderful thinking Richard! Way to go!!

Comment by Amy Perrier on July 13, 2012 at 10:26am

Very nice post Marti! I'm on my way to a wonderful little show on northern Lake Michigan.  The weather is beautiful and the turnout will be good. Thanks for the reminder that no matter what, it's an awesome day! I get to talk about my ar,t  show it to people, and hopefully make some sales.  It doesn't get a whole lot better that that!

Comment by Martha Giberson on July 13, 2012 at 10:34am

Marti - these are fantastic, we should print them out and tape them somewhere inside a set up box to read before each show as reminder when we're hot, sticky and tired from setting up that a great event is about to happen.


#3 Should become a Mantra.  NO COMPLAINING IN YOUR BOOTH OR ANYONE ELSE'S BOOTH.  No matter how bad the show is for you there is nothing worse than complaining about it.  It brings you down, your neighbors down and the patrons start to avoid you like the plague.  Those people walking by your booth, your potential customers, they can hear you when you tell another exhibitor or customer that "this is a lousy show" or "I'm having a terrible show" and they glance in and wonder "what's wrong with that work".  They can see the unhappy look on your face and they don't want to enter your booth to look at anything. 


It's hard to look happy when you're not making any money and the show sucks for you but you just never know who is going to walk in and drop big money on you.  I was having my worst show ever, but with a big smile on my face, when a woman walked into my booth and asked how the show was going and I said "great".  She replied "no wonder, your work is beautiful".  And proceeded to buy 10 pieces of jewelry and I ended up over $3,500 richer for that sale alone.  I'm not sure that would have been the case if I had replied "terrible".  It aint over until it's over.  Or as they say in the opera world, until the fat lady sings!  Keep on smiling and keep on having a positive attitude until you have to pack up.


May everyone have a successful show this summer and make wads of money - martha 

Comment by Jacquelyn Zajac on July 13, 2012 at 12:31pm

These are all great tips, doing a show this weekend with a 40-50% chance of rain and a heat index of 100 degrees, first time new set up tonight, can't wait to see how it all turns out. Will furnish a picture for all of you that gave me great suggestions and after you see the pic, feel free to add to them. Have a great weekend! 

Comment by Connie Mettler on July 13, 2012 at 1:25pm

Thanks for all of this, Marti, wonderful information. I have printed it up, given you credit, and plan to pass it our to people along the way. It is a strong manifesto to our life style.

Comment by Marti McGinnis on July 13, 2012 at 1:31pm

How wonderful, Connie! It is so great to be a part of such a supportive community. And Martha, Amy and Jacqueline - I hope all your shows bring you much of the good stuff!

Comment by Jacki Bilsborrow on July 14, 2012 at 6:37pm

Marti, thanks for the pep talk.  Everybody needs it once in awhile.  This is good stuff.

Comment by Annette Piper on July 14, 2012 at 6:54pm

Good reminders Marti!

Comment by Richard L. Sherer on July 14, 2012 at 7:13pm
Really like Martha Giberson's comment, especially it ain't over til it's over. I don't like to trip over people looking at stuff when we are taking down but a cheerful smile has led to some nice 11 th hour sales in Colorado resorts. People flying out on Mondays doing last minute shopping.


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