One easy way for artists to test the waters of selling their own work is to market themselves at Art Shows, Festivals, and Outdoor Exhibitions. Understanding the methods and differences in these venues will take some skill and practice. Here are some guidelines.
Finding An Art Event
Many cities, counties, and organizations sponsor these shows. There are Art Associations that list many of these local Art exhibitions. Make sure to start with these organizations. For nationwide listings, here are links to two show directories:
Choose shows that interest you and are within your geographical area. Call or email the contact person of the show for an application if it does not appear online.
Submitting Your Art Show Application
When you are submitting an application, check the deadline first thing. The application will explain show regulations, entry fees, and many other rules. Be careful to follow the directions in the application. The fees involved may be expensive, depending on the show’s location, history, and prestige. There will be an application or jury fee – paid to decide whether you will be admitted as a seller/exhibitor. Then there are booth or place fees. The standard booth space is 10 feet by 10 feet and it can range in cost from $20 to $500.
How To Get Accepted
After the jury has seen your application, you will receive one of three replies: A Letter of Acceptance, A Letter of Rejection, or a Standby Notice. The Standby letter means that your work did not make the first round, but that you will be in if any artist should cancel the exhibition. You can choose to remain on the Standby list or withdraw from the show.
Most of the time, images or pieces of your work will be requested with the application. More and more shows are starting to request digital scans or photos. The quality of these images is very important to jurors in the process of judging your work. Many shows will request a “Booth Slide” to visualize your complete display.
Getting Your Art Show Display Correct
To make a good photo of an outdoor display with a canopy you should make sure your booth looks its best. Your canopy or tent may be taken to the show, or rented from some shows on site. The best canopy will protect your artwork from the weather. You can shop online for good canopies and make sure to read reviews on the various products offered. Some canopies have an array of features like doors, awnings, and skylights.
Display panels are necessary to hang your flatwork on. A flip bin is an excellent way to display matted or un-matted works on paper. There are several companies who sell displays with all the accessories. Weights are necessary for the canopy. The wind can destroy your displays if the canopy is swept away. All of the legs of the canopy should be weighted as well as any other spots that are vulnerable. Concrete blocks or sandbags will work but covered weights are available for a more attractive appearance.
Make sure that you have the capability to accept payment in the most popular ways. If you want to accept checks make sure to ask for identification. If you have a merchant account you can accept major credit cards. Paypal is another popular option. This definitely increases your odds of making sales.
It is important to people who attend the show to know how to contact you for possible later sales. Business cards, brochures, refrigerator magnets are all good ways to stay in easy contact with people who like your work. Attitude is important. Smile and greet viewers who enter your area or show interest in your art. Make sure to dress neatly, but comfortably.
Build A Mailing List
One activity that is often overlooked is that of collecting contact information of people interested in your art. All you need is their name and email address, and their approval to allow you to send them emails from time to time with show details, new art announcements, etc.
For beginning exhibitors at Art Fairs, Festivals, and Outdoor Exhibitions this should help to get you
on your way to a successful art fair – and hopefully some sales.