Getting Ready for Art Fairs - Part II

My booth from a few years ago - 2016 ©Beth Cole - my art has CHANGED since then.

My booth from a few years ago - 2016 ©Beth Cole - my art has CHANGED since then.

This is the second in a series of posts about getting ready for summer art shows. You can read the first post here.

Art Fair Checklist

By Beth Cole

The first time I went to an art show I was amazed at how much time it took me to get ready. Not only do you need to prepare your paintings well in advance, there are many other little details to consider before you can say “let’s go.”

One big consideration is how will you display the work. There are many ready made setups you can buy, but we like to go the low-cost route whenever possible. We found my wire mesh booth setup at a garage sale and it has worked very well for many years. My husband has nice looking gray material walls, but he was able to construct them himself and it looks just as nice as the purchased ones.  Some artists forego walls and use tables, easels and whatever to create interest and variety in their booths and this is totally fine.

Another thing to consider is the flow of people through your booth. I always take a table to the show, it is a smaller style that you can raise to bar level height. When I first started I put the table in the front, kind of like a sales counter and that works well. I have also experimented with moving the table to the back of the booth so people are not blocked from entering. I think I like this configuration a little better.

Speaking of people entering, I have found if I stay completely out of the booth and set up my chair across from the booth or a little ways apart, people are more likely to come in and browse. If someone stays for quite awhile, then I will greet them and tell them about the piece they are viewing. Otherwise, I really try to give people space. If someone has been at my booth once, and then comes back later, I know they are interested in something and may take something home. People know what they want and like so I always try to respect that and give them room. You may take a different approach, if so, I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

Your art show is the perfect opportunity to invite people to sign up for your mailing or newsletter list. I always take a clipboard with a place for people to share their name and email address. If you have an iPad and MailChimp, you could also use that to take signups. I just got my iPad so I haven’t tried that, but I think I will this summer.

Taking payments is a breeze with Square (I am not being paid to say this, ha!). Gary and I both have Square accounts so we just switch in and out of the app to take credit cards payments throughout the day. It works beautifully and I couldn’t recommend it more. Be sure to take the little stickers that show you accept VISA, MC, etc. and display them on your table. Of course you can also take cash or check, and if people pay cash they might want a receipt, so you can pick up a receipt book at one of the box stores so you are all set. I have a bank bag I use to keep checks, cash, etc. so it’s in one spot throughout the show.

An important thing to remember is your painting description and price tags. The tag should have the painting name, medium, price. I use Artwork Archive to keep my painting inventory organized and it has a tool to print gallery wall descriptions so that is what I use to take to art shows. The description is optional but I think people enjoy reading the story of your painting.

Here is a checklist you can use to help you remember your stuff and have a great show! I have created a PDF Art Show Checklist you can access here.

To remember……

  • Paintings
  • Painting description and price tags
  • Notecards, miscellaneous items for sale
  • Business cards
  • Square reader for taking credit cards
  • Credit card signage to display
  • Mailing list signup sheet or tablet
  • Marketing material for classes or other promotions
  • Booth walls
  • Hangers for the art
  • Tent for the booth
  • Display table
  • Tablecloth
  • Easels for smaller paintings or floor easel to display a bigger piece
  • Laundry basket or box to hide away things you are not using during the show
  • A couple of writing pens
  • Your name signage for the booth wall
  • Lawn chair
  • Water and snacks
  • A happy face

That’s about all I can think of for now. I’m probably missing something, so if you think of anything, feel free to leave a comment. I would love to hear your experience and wisdom. Thanks for reading! Oh, and here's that checklist again.

Soli Deo Gloria

PS - You can now receive blog posts right in your inbox! Come along with me, you are always welcome.