Trading art at shows

Although I have been going to shows for six or seven years, I only do a few each year and still consider myself a "newbie" with a lot to learn. I started trading with other artists fairly early on. Another artist asked me if I traded and I thought that would be a great way to add to my collection so I said "Sure!" Since then I trade at 60% of the shows I do. Most of the artists I ask about trading are eager to "shop". The first, and only, man I asked looked at me like I had left a slime trail in his tent, so I don't ask guys anymore. There are artists and crafters at one show I do in Memphis that I trade with every year. We wear or display each others' things and send customers to each other.

I haven't found a mention here of artists trading at shows. Is this a taboo I have unknowing committed?  Or does everybody do it but it just hasn't been discussed here?

Votes: 0
E-mail me when people leave their comments –

You need to be a member of Art Fair Insiders to add comments!

Join Art Fair Insiders


  • You're on Leslie ;)
  • If I ever get to visit "down under" I'll look you up and we can swap! I was very hesitant to ask the first time. I never would have worked up the nerve if someone hadn't asked me first. I usually don't get a chance to trade if a show is good. It's the slow ones that make you want to get out and look around. When someone with an exhibitor's badge comes in my booth and looks interested in my work I let them know I am open to trading.
  • I've only traded once with another artist - I loved her work and she loved mine and we had the same thought  at the same time "want to swap!?"  I still treasure the piece I got from her that I may not have bought as that particular show wasn't that lucrative.   I've never fronted up and asked someone to do it though!
  • Most of my trades are a result of me shopping in someone's booth and then they have asked me if I would like to trade (I'm always flattered!).  Some trades are because I have become friends with the artists over the years.  I have bought a lot of pieces and have traded.  The trades just kind of happen.


  • Wendy, what shows do you do? If we are ever at the same show you have to come by and see if my jewelry is to your taste. Right now all my shows are in Mississippi and Tennesse, but I'm thinking about moving farther afield. Anybody out there coming to Pink Palace in Memphis , Peter Anderson in Ocean Springs, or Chimneyville in Jackson, come find me.
  • We traded a lot more when we first started out, then we realized we were coming home with more things than we had room for, things we would might not have bought if we weren't trading, etc.  Our current policy is if it's something we're willing to spend cash for, then we're willing to trade, otherwise we offer a discount to any other artist who expresses an interest in one of our pieces.  Seems to work out best for all involved.
  • I've had some very happy trades at art shows and I often find myself giving away smaller items to fellow artists that I've become friends with.  I think it is a wonderful way to support each other and a way to shop that doesn't hit our pocket books as hard as booth fees do.  Darn jewelry artists have gotten so much of my income, I'm grateful when they're interested in a portrait!


  • I usually ask artists who have stopped by my booth. Something alone the lines of "If you see anything you like I love to trade". That way if they don't like my particular style they don't have to say or do anything. This also allows them to come back at the end of the show or when things are slow. I'm not brave enough to walk in someone else's booth and ask. 
  • I don't think it is taboo, but I think you have to be careful on how you approach it.  The trades I've done started as sales that turned into a trade.  More like Artist A says... 'I'd like to buy something from you'.  Artist B says..."I was thinking the same thing, want to trade".  Not 'hey want to trade' or 'Do you trade'.  What do I say to you if I don't like your work? 
This reply was deleted.