Art Fair Insiders

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

I participated in my first mountain festival Aug 11, 2018.

I feel it was a success, sold quite a few pieces (mostly stickers and economical prints, a few giclee’s).

Lessons learned:

In setting up my booth I decided to professionally frame my 16x20’s and original sized artwork to grab the customers attention. It worked, but a lot of people did not want to purchase those they wanted the smaller size and I found myself constantly showing what that size looked like. I am curious to learn how other artists handle this. Do you display various sizes of your prints?

Another potentially critical issue was condensation on the inside of my framed art on the wall that had sun. This could have been disastrous and ruined my prints. I quickly pulled the frames off the wall and wiped the inside off. I was able to display them shortly after now that the glass was accilimated to the temp. Whew!

Make sure the air can flow through your tent. At one point my tent wanted to take flight. I thought with the heavy walls hanging from the railing would help (and it did) until the wind turned head on into my tent. Shortly after I added a bucket of water to the front of my tent on ea. side which took care of the wind issue.

I use Shopify for my website and POS. The only issue I had is I needed WiFi for the swipe reader to work, which was not available. I was able to manually type the card in but I felt like I spent a lot of time looking at my phone vs the customer. Does anyone have a suggestion to improve this issue for my next event?

Your constructive feedback and comments are requested and welcomed :)

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Comment by Cherie Smittle on September 3, 2018 at 11:17am
Interesting, I was not aware not having a floor was promoting condensation. My walls are not touching the floor. Thank you for the tip!
Comment by Reid Watts on September 3, 2018 at 11:14am

Cherie:  If you are on unpaved ground, and put down flooring over a waterproof tarp, you probably won't have any condensation problems.  If you do not want a floor covering, at least cover the ground with a tarp at night.  Works for me.

Comment by Cherie Smittle on September 1, 2018 at 3:23pm

Glad to hear I am not the only one dealing with condensation issues.  Thank you for the tip Joan.

Comment by Joan Tweedell on September 1, 2018 at 2:29pm

About the condensation, I have framed block prints and had that problem until I set up transparent shower curtains on the front crossbar, to be used when it rains. I found that they block the sun just enough to stop the condensation as well. I  just pull them across far enough to stop the sun, but they don't block the view of my booth.

Comment by Reid Watts on August 29, 2018 at 9:37pm

Correction: I overstated the minimum requirement.  It is actually 40 pounds, not 60.

Comment by Cherie Smittle on August 29, 2018 at 9:18pm
Good to know on the weight requirements, I will make sure they are 60lbs, thank you Reid. I do have stakes but have noticed a lot of the shows in CO do not allow them. I will also be sure to remove the canopy before taking the weights off, I am not trying to win any kite contests :). Thank you Barry for the tip!

I like having the framed art so I am glad to hear it works for David. I will be sure to have various sizes framed for future shows and have the non-framed art available for purchase.

Thank you all again for imparting your wisdom, I truly appreciate it.
Comment by Reid Watts on August 29, 2018 at 2:26pm

A number of shows are requiring at least 60 pounds of weight per leg, and they enforce it.  So if you purchase weights, get some that are at least 60 pounds.  The Flourish weight bags when filled with pea gravel weigh almost exactly 60 pounds.

Also, where you are able to, use stakes.  They are much more effective than weights.  The corkscrew style dog tie-out stakes work great in tight quarters, but it is nice to have a variety along for different situations and ground types.

Comment by David S Randall on August 29, 2018 at 9:48am

I have been selling art in, "brick and mortar" galleries for nearly 50 years.  If I didn't frame them I'd sell much less.  Of course I'm offering primarily original paintings.  Some clients only want originals, some only think prints.  It's two different markets. Maybe art fairs are slightly different but I doubt it.  Sure some folks want different framing but the other side of that is if your art isn't eye catching (framing them is part of that) you may not get a second look.  Some customers are looking for the cheapest option and  think they can get it framed for less than you are offering.  I get those people into my frame shop all the time. Sticker shock is everyday.   They are unfamiliar with framing costs because they are thinking cheap Chinese mass production frames.  Many artist think the same way unfortunately in a race to the bottom.  It's a mistake in my opinion.  Sure the Gallery wrap can be sharp and clean on certain work but is it best for everything?  I think not.  Not framing the works to look their best could be shooting yourself in the foot.  Good luck

Comment by Barry Shandler on August 28, 2018 at 4:56pm

One more piece of advice.  Always take the roof off before removing the weights. The weights are the first thing to clamp on  and last thing to remove from just the framework. Several times I had a sudden gust of wind completely flip my canopy. Luckily one time it went 50 yards into an empty field. Its no different than an umbrella.

Comment by Cherie Smittle on August 28, 2018 at 10:06am

Thank you so much for your suggestions and input.  I really appreciate you guys taking the time to provide your experience and suggestions.

The tent next to me had a square and had problems getting it to work.  They actually came to me to use my hotspot (I knew them so helped).  At least I was able to manually type in the cc.

I actually have weights that came with my tent but didn’t use them.  Was not aware I could be fined, will be sure to use them in the future.

Great idea on changing out my logo sign for a piece of art.  Yeah, no one was buying the framed art only the non-framed.  I anticipated that, I primarily did that to draw people in and so people could see what it would look like framed.  That part was successful but they were not purchasing those sizes so, I am going to take your advice and display different sizes next time.

Thank you again!


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