Sink or Swim: What I Learned From My First Art Fair

Art Journal, Thoughts

Make it easy

My work to the right

Out of necessity I had to get clever about the placement of my display panels. I ended up jutting away from the tent a little. This I’m sure increased my sales. People often stopped to buy a piece off of my rack and put their blinders on through the tent to pay for it. I didn’t do this intentionally, but I will make use of it in the future. Make it easy for the casual browser.

Having Prints

There is an interesting psychology of having an original work (or large print) that everyone loves but is pricier than they want to spend and the prints to go with. I knew it was important to hit different price points. I had a mix of originals and prints ready. But I was intrigued by observing people admire the original and then purchase the print of it.

Forget sex sells: Cute sells.

I made cards for the Outback Art fair that I was certain would sell well to people who were familiar with it. The ‘Larry’s Chippy’ image was used on the previous year’s Blueberry Fest poster (Marquette, MI) and was very popular locally. What I didn’t expect was for it to be so popular with everyone. I sold out.

‘Larry’s Chippy’ Cards that sold out

Presentation

I believe that the presentation of my work also helped with sales. I had all my work packaged nicely in sleeves and matted to standard frame sizes. I have decided on one change. I will type up my price tags instead of handwriting them on stickers. I’m looking into a different way to hang them than clips, a few mats were damaged by people rehanging them.

Works on display

People love a story.

I never knew how much hearing the story behind a work would move people to purchase a work they admired. A customer would comment on my Corvid Study prints and after telling them the story about the reference bird they were more likely to buy one.

There’s a reason everyone’s setup is white on white

Not only do the white tents look clean and neat, but the artwork displays better. And we were cooking under the colored tent. It also looked cavelike with the dark panels. The artwork didn’t have the chance to shine that it would against a white background.

A good tent will more likely survive the worst

The entire weekend was fretful with forecast watching. Now that YOUR work is out there with a flimsy tent to cover it you start to think about these things. On the last day I went to check out tents and learned there was a whole world beyond the ‘easy-up.’ Tents that survive weather: Trimlines and other such wonderful beasts.

Consult the gods of Pinterest

Oh ho ho… of course I should have looked to Pinterest for a concentrated plethora of information on anything visual. Afterwards when I felt there had to be better ideas and approaches I consulted Pinterest to find that yes, I could have:

  • drawn up a layout before hand so we had a plan before getting to the site
  • found all the different ways a booth can be configured and planned and found the one that worked best for us
  • found creative ways to display art cohesively
  • thought about decorating the tent for added interest

I would love to hear from you. What lessons have you learned? Any resources you want to share with me?

Originals and Prints on display