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.

Views: 1053

Comment by Connie Mettler on June 16, 2020 at 12:31pm

The idea of having work in back to bring out for interested customers is a good one. One of my favorite sales "techniques" once upon a time, was, "yes, that is a nice size, but let me show you it in a larger size, framed, to see if that will work for you." Then I whipped to the storage area and pulled it out and sealed the sale. Yes, you can do this. So many artists have way too much work in their booths anyway that it makes it hard for customers to decide. You have to help. 

The people who come to the shows, wearing masks, will be glad to see you and be eager for the interaction. As word gets around about all the precautions in place I hope we will see decent audiences at the events. And, if the crowds are smaller, it makes the parking easier, and people who don't like to be in crowds or inconvenienced by others, may start showing up. Hoping, hoping.

Comment by Mark Zirinsky on June 17, 2020 at 9:31am

My ideal booth setup is where it is open on all 4 sides,  I can show work on the inside and outside surfaces, so i effectively have 3 outside and 3 inside surfaces, 10' long each. so, effectively 60' of wall space. When I have to set up with only a open front, without using any of the outside surfaces then I only have the inside surfaces so effectively only 30' of wall space.

The idea has not occurred to me yet how to do a plexiglass shield, or if this is even practical. Especially when I only have the 3 inside surfaces ,  do I lose a complete corner so I can barricade myself in there? 

Since we haven't actually had a show yet, haven't seen what other ideas people have come up with for how to lay out the booth.

Two shows coming up in September, Main St Ft Worth, and Deep Ellum (also Ft Worth), their booth layout still shows as booths next to each other; I do not know if they are planning on spacing out between the booths

Comment by Connie Mettler on June 17, 2020 at 11:02am

That's good too, Mark. When we started doing art fairs Norm created a quadrant that stood in the middle of the booth so people could circulate around it ... then a browse bin/table near the front. The fairs weren't as stringent on backup/storage at that time, so we just piled that on the curb with a tarp over it. Something like that might work in today's climate also.

Comment by Jane Shaffer on June 17, 2020 at 11:12am

Great ideas! Any suggestions for a jeweler?  I know I could put it all in a bag, but customers like to touch it and try it on before they buy it.

Comment by Connie Mettler on June 17, 2020 at 11:26am

Hi Jane. I know, pretty tricky. There was a post on here in May with some ideas for jewelers, maybe not looking at this directly, but perhaps helpful:

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.

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 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 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 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. 


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