That's me at my first-ever art show...Boomtown Days Dunnellon, FL. circa ~1990.
I was doing Quick Sketch Portraits that day and I even won a prize for one of my paintings! I didn't own a tent so my husband made me a peg board stand to hang my art on.
Back in the day, in a time before personal computers and cell phones, there was no such thing as Ebay, Etsy, or Fine Arts America as an option to selling and marketing your work. Selling at art shows and festivals was, and still is, a pretty sweet gig. Marketing your art was simpler, more straight forward and in my case more local...
Drawing a quick sketch portrait at a festival in Lakeland.
Nowadays, we are able to market our craft to a much larger audience via the Internet. While the Internet is a powerful tool to market your art, nothing compares to the experience of selling you craft on the ground and in person.
For this reason and many others, art festivals and crafts shows still hold a place as a great way to sell your work full time or supplement your income with the occasional local show.
One of the greatest benefits of selling at art fairs are that you can make direct sales to your customers in person. You have to opportunity to network with other artists, and possibly drive business to your online stores.
Here are a couple of tips for the first-timer:
- It's a good idea to check out shows you are interested in before applying...do you think your art or craft will sell in this venue?
- When planning your show schedule, be sure to carefully read the application requirements to participate. Many well established juried art shows have strict rules regarding set up and the type of tent you can use, while smaller festivals and shows may only require a table set up.
- Don't forget to pay attention to deadlines. Deadlines to apply for a show can range from a year ahead to a couple of weeks before the show.
- A trial setting up this is always a good idea, it prepares you for the real thing. It's also a good time to make a list of your set up items as well as get some photos since some shows may require you to send a photo of your set up.
Here is a short list of things you will need:
- The proper tent or tables (show requirements vary)
- A way to display your art (show requirements vary)
- Packaging/ bags to wrap sold works
- Folding chairs
- Business cards and brochures
- Cash box with change and sales tickets
- A way to take credit cards as payment, Square Up and Paypal have credit card scanners that are perfect for this
- A cooler for snacks and drinks
- A large enough car or truck to safely carry your art and set up.
- Your fully charged phone and a back up charger
Check out these resources for finding shows in Florida and other places in the US:
"Where the Shows Are" This magazine has been around for many years, and today it has evolved into an online data base as well as a physical magazine publication. The shows listed in this publication include high-end shows as well as smaller church festivals and farmers markets. They cover shows in Florida and across the US.
"No White Tent" This Florida based site focuses on the art festivals that do not have heavy restrictions on display, style, and they try to post shows that cost $50 or less to attend. This site is fashioned more like an artist/crafter community. The members share info about upcoming art shows, show reviews, and if they will be attending a show.
"Sunshine Artist Magazine" In this publication, you will find the Best 200 Juried Shows in the US.
My booth with set up with whimsical art at a festival in Tampa.
Unfortunately, my lifestyle and schedule don't allow me to do weekend shows any longer, but I look forward to getting back to some of the the local shows when life allows.
Let's start a conversation! Are you new to the art show circuit? If you are a seasoned art show participant, please feel free to share your experiences and tips.
Questions, and comments are welcomed!