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Thread: Tips for Art Festivals

  1. #11
    Drew Bedo's Avatar
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    Re: Tips for Art Festivals

    I have very limited experience with this sort of event.

    My two cents worth: While professional presentation and an efficient payment system are paramount, simplicity of set-up and tear-down are a priority that is just second if not on par with the first two.

    I just did a 10x10 booth at The Abilities Expo trade show in Holuston this weekend. The show sponser provided a 10ft wide back drop that would support framed prints. I put up 8-10 in 16x20 and 11x14 frames. A 6' table on one side held a crate of matted prints and a portfolio of unmatted prints. The booths were side-by-side and I chose to only utilize the back and one side for print display to keep it open and inviting.

    When it came time to tear it all down, The matted prints went back into a full sized suitcase with the portfolio. The framed prints went into a slightly larger suitcase . both bought at Goodwill. In about ten minutes, we were walking out to the convention hall loading dock.

    Paert of this streamlined approach was driven by union rules forbidding the use of cargo dollies and a limit of one trip per person . . . . and so on (don't get me started!).
    Last edited by Drew Bedo; 7-Aug-2017 at 05:22.
    Drew Bedo
    http://www.artsyhome.com/author/drew-bedo




    There are only three types of mounting flanges; too big, too small and wrong thread!

  2. #12

    Join Date
    Aug 2013
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    Atlanta, Georgia USA
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    Re: Tips for Art Festivals

    In addition to water weights, sand bags, etc. there is another way to secure a canopy tent to the ground: purchase metal screw-in anchors that are normally used for dogs.
    I get mine at the dollar store.

    Once the screws are in the ground then run ropes or cables to the upper part of the tent. Tighten well.
    Add flags to help folks not trip over the tie-down.
    Any good camping supply store will be able to help you.
    Last edited by AtlantaTerry; 7-Aug-2017 at 02:50. Reason: Polishing my prose.

  3. #13

    Join Date
    Jul 2008
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    72

    Re: Tips for Art Festivals

    I've done a few hundred Art Festivals over the last 25 years. They can be fun and lucrative. They can also turn out to be a waste of time, money and energy. Still, I always start out planning for the former.
    One thing I'd suggest is to have a bio sheet, with information about your technique (especially if you're doing alt process work- including silver gelatin, these days), and contact info. Include the sheet in the bagged, matted work.
    Be consistent in the work you're showing. Mixing color, black and white, platinum, etc. can be (believe it or not) confusing to people who want to purchase what they see as your specialty. If you do want to mix, display an equal amount of each, and display like processes together.
    People are more prone to buy from someone they like, assuming they like the work, so share your passion for what you do. Customers like making a connection with the artist which they can share with their friends.
    Try matting in standard sizes. Being able to tell someone they can pick up a 16x20 frame for under $20.00 at Michael's makes selling matted work easier. My sales are about 80% matted, 20% framed. As was mentioned earlier, all of my frames are the same, too. It makes for better booth consistency, but often, a different frame will be a better choice for your customer. Let them know they can find a more appropriate frame cheaply. Everyone assumes framing is expensive, not realizing that you've covered one of the large costs- matting- for them.
    Set up your booth to allow easy access/egress. People are hesitant to enter a booth where they can be cornered by the artist. Jim's booth (though a double) is a good example of an inviting booth. There's no spot in it where a person might feel "trapped".
    If you're hanging different sized framed prints, have larger ones up front, where they catch peoples eyes from a distance. If you hang them in the rear, they are only visible for the 10 feet people walk past the booth. If they are at the front, they'll notice it as they're walking down the row of booths.
    If someone expresses an interest in a framed item, take it off the wall and put it in their hands, so they can see it in "better light" outside of your booth. There was once a study done by one of the art festival magazines showing that doing so increased the chance of a sale by 20-25%. Apparently, people equate weight with value. I know it sounds absurd, but my experience shows it to be true.

    Also, if you plan on doing more shows, look at how people (especially 2D artists) design their booths. Take notes so you can improve your booth next time out.
    Finally, have fun... don't let a slow start to sales frustrate you... pay attention to which images are drawing attention... pay attention to how your interaction with people is keeping their interest. Listen to the sales "spiel" of your neighbors who have been doing shows for years. They have honed the craft of selling for a long time.
    Good luck. I hope it's successful for you. Please let us know how it turns out.

  4. #14
    Corran's Avatar
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    Re: Tips for Art Festivals

    Thanks! Some excellent suggestions. I am going full-on with the silver gelatin b&w handmade print angle - that's all I have.

    Terry - that's a great idea generally but unfortunately this festival bans all anchors/stakes in the ground.
    Bryan | Blog | YouTube | Instagram
    All comments and thoughtful critique welcome

  5. #15

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    Re: Tips for Art Festivals

    Quote Originally Posted by Corran View Post
    I am going full-on with the silver gelatin b&w handmade print angle - that's all I have.
    That's all you need. Just make sure the public is aware of it. (I have the same bio/technique sheet I add to the bagged work dry mounted and hanging in a few locations on my walls). I've noticed a renewed interest in traditional photography over the last few years. People seem more open to buying a hand-crafted print than they were before.

    A few things I forgot in my last post:
    Cover your table with a floor length cloth. Underneath is a good storage area, but you want to cover up the clutter.
    For credit cards, I use Square. I think you need to buy the reader now, but I've been pleased with them. Payment only takes a few days, and the swiped/ chip transaction costs are reasonable. Manually entered transactions are more, but still under 4%.

  6. #16
    Corran's Avatar
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    Re: Tips for Art Festivals

    Great idea on the tablecloth. I also love the idea of a printed bio inside the bag. I've seen that before, but had forgotten about it. Will do.
    Bryan | Blog | YouTube | Instagram
    All comments and thoughtful critique welcome

  7. #17

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    Re: Tips for Art Festivals

    The bio sheet is important. It helps your customer brag about their purchase to friends, once it's hanging on their wall. ( It also has contact information they can give to their friends who like what they see. I've had sales made because someone saw my work on a friend's/ relatives wall).

    The best piece of advice I can share is the importance of your interaction with a potential buyer. You must come across with passion for what you do, but also be likable and engaging. It doesn't matter how much they like your work. If they don't like you, they're not buying. I tell newbies they're spending 50% because they like the work and 50% because they like you. It's really not much of an exaggeration.

  8. #18
    Corran's Avatar
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    Re: Tips for Art Festivals

    Thanks again everyone for the helpful suggestions. This is a great thread for others here wanting to do an Art Festival and are looking for tips.

    I ended up investing in a nicer tent, a mid-range model that was definitely a big step up in headroom and stability. I ordered a really nice hanging system for the tent but it got back-ordered - I ended up making a pretty nice hanging system though out of fishing line and tackle. Worked for lighter, unframed prints. Anyway, the new tent, a rolling storage bin, and strapping my table/chairs to the tent enabled me to be able to roll in with everything in one go round between me and my wife, so that worked great.

    The bad news is the "art festival" ended up being more of a "craft show" type thing. Talking to the other vendors, it seemed no one much sold work except some mass-produced yard pieces (technically not allowed per the rules...). But it was a good learning experience, I did sell enough to make back the fees involved, and it sounds like I actually sold more photographic prints than most of the other vendors. Passed out cards, talked to hundreds of folks, so maybe I'll turn a few more prints in the coming days/weeks.

    I will continue to experiment with festivals now that I have a reliable setup and further refine my approach. I really want to thank everyone, especially Jim Becia, for their helpful input.
    Bryan | Blog | YouTube | Instagram
    All comments and thoughtful critique welcome

  9. #19
    Silver Fox
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    Re: Tips for Art Festivals

    Another bit of information: The Ann Arbor Art Fair fills 4- or 5-gallon buckets with concrete and insert into the wet concrete reinforcing rod made into an up-side-down "U". The whole thing cures and is about 75 - 100+ lb of anchor. Four anchors per canopy, all placed on the street or sidewalks (where the canopies are set up). There's no soil at this venue into which heavy stakes might be placed. I have seen gusts able to lift the canopies and would take them elsewhere except that the weight of the anchors prevailed.

    Why? Well, in the middle of July when the Fair is held, the Midwest weather can do and will do anything. They've been having the Fair for more than 50 years, and have seen some truly unimaginable take-downs due to storms and their gusts. No tornadoes. No hurricanes. Just Weather.
    Peter Collins

    "Growing older is not for sissies." --anon.

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