Getting Ready for Art Fairs - Part I

Part of my booth from Kearney Art in the Park ©Beth Cole

Part of my booth from Kearney Art in the Park ©Beth Cole

Art fairs can be so much fun, but honestly – they are a lot of work!

My husband and I have been doing art fairs for a few years now, so I thought it would be fun to share a few of the things I have learned through the experience. I would love to hear about your experience as well, so feel free to comment.

This first post will be about the number and type of paintings to take, the second part will include an art fair checklist to help you remember everything, and the third part will be about relationships and following up after the show.

How Many Paintings to Take to an Art Fair

by Beth Cole

There are so many advantages to showing your work directly to art lovers and attendees. But how do you decide what to take and how many?

For me, the “what paintings to take” question starts way, way, way ahead of when the show will be held. At the beginning of every year, I try to take a look at what paintings I have as left overs from the previous year. I never want to take a painting to a show that I have already shown there once. To me, that is not a fresh approach so I want to take all new work to every art fair. I take my time thinking about each one and whether it should go to painting heaven, or if it can be made-over. This gives me an idea of how much work I will have toward the show.

Next, I start to think about a common theme in my painting, something I could pursue with the new pieces that might tie the work together. I’m really not very good at this, some people are able to create “collections” of work that really sing and I am still working on this skill. But nonetheless, I still think about it and try to stay within the direction I chose in the beginning whether it be water or prairie or vintage buildings, whatever.  Then, I start to set my painting goals for new pieces.

As far as how many to take, the answer is “it depends.” And it does depend on the size, price point, etc. I usually average between 20-25 paintings of various sizes at each show. I try to take at least one piece that is quite large, like 36 x 36 or 30 x 40. This will be the visual anchor for the display. Then I would probably take at least three or four 24 x 30 or 18 x 24 pieces, and fill in the rest of the booth with 11 x 14 and 8 x 10 pieces.  Sometimes I take small 6 x 6 cradled wood panels to set around and these are a nice accent. I have also taken small handmade things like essential oil perfume lockets, handmade journals and greeting cards. These always sell well but my problem is finding time to make everything ahead of time!

Next up, I’ll write about the things to remember when you’re packing up. We’ve forgotten important things many a time, one time we forgot one of our tents, ugh! So, now we both use checklists and hopefully that does the trick.

Thanks for reading!

Soli Deo Gloria

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