Selling at Art Fairs and Festivals

Well, this weekend I take the plunge to sell my art locally at the High Fliers Art Market on LBI.  I shut my eyes, held my nose, and decided not to stick my toe in the waters. Instead, I am jumping in with both feet.

I was expecting that this venture would have some start-up costs, and I was prepared for most of them. But the closer the day gets, the more things I realize I need to do this successfully, and a lot of the costs will not likely be recouped for awhile, but that’s what happens when you become serious about this as a business.

For anyone thinking about doing this, I have a quick to do/to get list for you and it is by no means complete…

First, have an online presence with your brand–and make your name as an artist part of that brand.  That means twitter, facebook, and an online website or blog to showcase your art. And do keep it current!

Second, you need inventory. I had lots of paintings, but most were of subjects relating to my time in Asia. Around here, country scenes and seaside subjects would sell far better.. I am not the quickest oil painter in the world, so I refrained from starting down this road until I had enough originals to show well in a sales booth. Make sure you remember to wire them all before the week of the show.

Original oils cost money, so to make my booth more appealing, I also had some nice inexpensive prints made up and a couple of really nice fine arts prints made of the paintings I thought would sell best. These options allow for several different price points.

Now, this is as far as I had originally gone when I decided to make the move to sell. I quickly realized there were MANY more things needed to do this and look like I knew what I was doing. Here is a short list. If you are just starting out, borrow the things you can until you see how this is going to work for you. Another alternative is to ask fellow artists in your local guild or art association. Often, there are members who no longer want to do these shows but may be willing to art with some or all of their display equipment.

The take list:

tent, with sides (especially at the windy shore areas), stakes and sandbags

a banner with your brand and preferable some of your art showcased on it

racks for your art (by the way, at a recent festival I saw someone zip tie low-cost wire fencing to the legs of their tent and it worked great. I wish I had thought of that before buying racks), and single drapery hooks to hang the art

receipt book (I use an order book so I can get buyers’ addresses for my records + a “PAID” stamp

a means to take credit card sales on your phone -this is imperative if you are selling originals or any art over $100 — squared up can get you started for free in this but there are many companies

cash box stocked with change (by the way, be smart and price your art to end in 5s and 0s -much easier for making change)

a couple of camp chairs because 8 hours in a tent standing up is NOT comfortable

price tags, markers, red dots (to mark sold pieces)

small folding table (I got 24 x 48 because my banner is 4 ft wide and I can affix it right to the front of the table

I got clip on cup holders for the table so my coffee wouldn’t spill when the table inevitably gets bumped and end up all over my receipts

table easels, boxes, etc to place art at different heights

table cloth, covers for boxes and stands

business cards, promo information, flyers with your business info on it

plastic sleeves, backing, mats, –whatever you need to package your work for customers and make it waterproof

safe storage for transporting your art — the wise ladies in my art association snap up old blankets and comforters at garage sales and sew them up into art bags with handles to cushion large pieces. You can also make flat padded rectangles for placing between works in the same bag

coffee thermos or cold drinks and toilet paper (never fails to be prepared)

price guidelines for your work (in case there are any questions on site)

umbrella, sweatshirt, snacks, sunscreen, bug repellent, sunglasses – whatever you need for your environment

if you can, take some art to work on while there–folks love to see you at work

A fishbowl or big clear cookie jar with a sign to drop in your email/name/address or business cards for a drawing for a free print (i.e. new client list)

pad and pen, just in case

for us over 50s -don’t forget your reading glasses

Finally, take your sense of humor and a big dose of patience–things go wrong so be ready to be flexible.





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