When you’re setting up for your first art show, things seem simple enough, right? You just figure out how much space you have available, set up a few tables, put your pictures out and take the cash. Not so fast – though you could make a few sales by doing so, you can do much better by following these tips from a two-decade art show veteran:
How to Plan Your Art Show Booth and Sales
- Have you read through the entire show application package? Though a lot of artisans fill out the application and send it back without reading, they’re missing out on options that make the show go more easily. Are there helpers to take over for a few minutes while you grab a bite to eat? Do they include a certain number of tables and chairs? Are there dividers provided between each booth? What about an additional charge for access to electricity? There’s no sense in reinventing the wheel, so if they show will provide items that are effective and help you avoid additional work, use them.
- Booth display goes way past putting up a few tables. If you have time, go to a show and see what the most successful people are doing. They have table skirts that cover their under-table storage, keeping their patrons focused on their art instead of their mess. They have tables raised slightly using bed risers or sticks of PVC pipe so it’s easier to see what they have available. There are lights in their booth that attract attention and make it easier to see the beauty of their work.
- Do a mock-up. Set up your entire booth, even if it’s just in your front yard. Take advantage of vertical space, even if it’s just by hanging a few pieces of wire or pegboard to attach your prints to so you can get your artwork up at eye level. Try to mimic the lighting conditions you’ll be working under. Have a few friends look over the display and honestly tell you what they do or don’t like. Price everything before the event – you can’t concentrate on people interested in your work if you’re still doing administrative work.Remember to trial packing it into your vehicle – there’s nothing worse than realizing things won’t fit the evening you’re headed to set up.
- Talk up your sales pitch. It doesn’t have to be pushy, just start a conversation. If someone’s taking a few minutes to admire a piece, ask them what they like about it. Though it can be tempting to lecture about your inspiration or the setting, remember that conversations are two-sided, so ask questions to keep it going. If it’s going to be a busy show, get a helper who knows your work.
- Use price points to your advantage. Make small prints for kids or those on limited income. Mid-sized prints can go into crates or tip trays for patrons to browse, while large prints and framed pieces can go up on booth walls or easels that set them apart for people on the hunt for that special piece. Print everything in the best quality you can afford – that $5 mini-print that was bought by someone running short of payday may inspire them to reach out for other pieces later on.
Now that you know how to plan your art show booth and how to handle sales, it’s time to take action. Do your setup and walk-through to determine whether your setup works well, work up your sales talk, get feedback from a few trusted friends and rock your first art show.