Outdoor Shows: Make it easy on yourself

Yesterday was a terrific outdoor show in Harvey Cedars, NJ but it was not without its challenges. With the humidity, the “feels like” temperature was 115 F and it was still a wonderful show, but it could have been miserable from a physical standpoint. So today, with the art festival fresh in my mind, I thought I would blog about being prepared for the challenges of these outdoor shows.

Certain things are a given-

Always have your tent sides handy. Take sufficient weights for the wind even if you don’t think you will need them and set up using them so you don’t have to rush to attach them in a panic later. ALso take a tarp to lay down on the wet ground. If the area in your tent gets really soggy that will be helpful to customers. Or save the tarp till the end of the day and you have a dry place to out your paintings as they come off of your racks/walls for packing.

Next is your READY box.

Hooks for hanging, receipt book, change in an envelope, business cards, scissors, red dots, big binder clips (they come in handy a lot!), insurance papers in a zip bag, pack of baby wipes, twine, box cutter, blue tape (in case the wire edges are rough on the back), my Square, or other apparatus, for taking credit cards. I always have a blank journal where I record the painting, name of the buyer, and contact information. I also invite lookers to add themselves to my mail list if they’d like info on their favorite painting subjects or previews of new work. It is good to have fishing line to tie down paintings if need be, some extra hanging wire, screw-eyes, and a screwdriver. If you put pricing cards up next to your work, have a black Sharpie and a stack of blank cards in the box in case you have forgotten any of the pre-printed ones.

Taking care of yourself-

Take a change of shirt. You’ll feel better if you are not wearing a shirt drenched in perspiration all day. You’ll probably look and smell fresher, too.

I also include sunscreen and bugspray (or better yet, a combined one) in the box along with some Bandaids and something for the nagging headaches that sometimes develop. I like to take along a hat. Yesterday a number of my fellow vendors looked like boiled lobsters at day’s end. Don’t set yourself up as a crispy critter.

Make sure you have sufficient liquids with you. Dehydration is your enemy. I used to drink a lot of water during the day, but sometimes after shows I have come home and developed wicked leg cramps in the evening. I’ve recently started taking drinks with electrolytes (they have sugar free ones, too) and that seems to help a lot. Cramps have disappeared completely since I am replacing the electrolytes and not diluting them. You may want to have a salty snack or two, if you are likely to be sweating a lot throughout the day.

On days like yesterday, I also pack a small insulated bag with a couple of ice packs and several wet towels. If the heat is a killer, you can cool yourself off and rotate them to stay cool throughout the day.

Being prepared makes everything go more smoothly and helps you maintain a more positive demeanor all day long. If you have comments to add to the list I’ve given, I would love to hear from you.

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