Sunday, July 31, 2011

First Show in the Books!!!

It's been an exhausting few weeks to get ready for the show, but I have to say it was well worth it! The biggest preparation by far was the "booth" and the framing of my art, but now that it's all done, it will be a little easier for the next show. Here are some of the things I've learned (and this is geared toward any artist getting ready to do their first event....

DO get a proper tent...I have the Easy up that I bought online and I've had great success with it in past glass shows and now my first painting show.

DO set up your display in your yard before attending the show....and take pictures to bring along to simplify and speed up the set up.

Do take pictures of your booth, you will need it to enter juried and stricter shows.

DO prepare all tags, pricing, inventory sheet with prices ahead of time, you will not have time that day to do it. I had several tags blow off, etc, and when someone wanted to buy an unmarked piece, it was nice to have a prepared list to refer's too hard to try to make it up on the fly and you don't seem credible to the buyer.

DO bring sunscreen and a huge cooler of bottled water to outdoor summer shows, not just for yourself, but for your patrons....whether it be a hot tired child, a pregnant mom to be, or an elderly person in a wheelchair, you will know it if you see it, if they need a bit of shade and water in your tent.

DO have several assistants to help you in setup if it's your first time. I arrived the earliest I was allowed in, had 3 helpers, and still barely made the deadline for set up!

DO have your vehicle packed and ready the night before....trying to do it the morning of does not work and you will be delayed.

For paintings or any hanging art, I created my own display with Screen by the roll that you can find at any major hardware store ( I bought the 4 foot length roll of pet safe screen, it's the strongest you can buy, it keeps out the sun, and allows air to flow thru your tent.....I used 5 foot pvc and connecters and stapled the top like a curtain rod....It worked wonderfully, contact me if you need further instruction.....It also was the most economical method I could find to display my art in a professional manner) Long Zip tyes are ESSENTIAL to this setup, and don't forget the scissors to cut it down.

DO Bring milk jugs filled with water and plenty of rope to weigh down your tent.....I usually zip tye 3 jugs together per corner and tie the whole deal to the top of the never know when the wind will pick up and throw everything across the show!

DO have a wide price range and size for your customers and prints or cards if possible. Many wanted to walk away with something, but didn't have the funds....almost all of what I sold was around the $65 price range....small scale art....and all the new owners walked away proud and happy to have an "original"

Find a place outside your tent to sit where you are readily accessible, but out of the customers way, they like to shop and comment in piece and will find you if they have a question.

DO tell them about the significance to you of a particular piece of art they are interested in.

Have lots of business card handy, and give them out like candy.

DO have a framed bio somewhere in your display, many many people read mine, and it opens a line of communication with potential buyers who are more likely to buy if they feel connected to you or the art.

DO make friends with the other artists....they are an excellent resource for their experience with shows and setups.....

DO keep your expectations real and do not be discouraged if you don't sell what you expect....there are lots of variables and you will learn as I am. I've learned that as much as people admire my larger paintings, they probably won't buy them (at least at this show) I sold 10 paintings today, and HOPED to sell only expectations were surpassed and I was pleased.

These are all the things I learned in ONE show.....I imagine I will learn much more in shows to come, feel free to contact me with any questions if you are nervous about your first show! Like all beginning artists I hope to someday not have to do these kinds of shows and have such demand for my art or be represented by galleries that I do not have to do this.....but the positive side of all this work is meeting your customers face to face, hearing so many compliments about your work, and getting out of your studio for the day and meeting other people just like you! Good Luck!


  1. Kristen, Thank you so much for taking the time to share your suggestions for setting up a booth. I am doing my first show at the end of the month. This post was so timely for me!! And what great, GREAT advice!! I am going to use your blog as my "blog find of the week" over on my blog. And Congratulations on your sales!!

  2. You're welcome Karla! Would love to hear anything you may learn as well! Good luck on your show!

  3. Another daily painter in Ohio?! Fantastic! So glad to discover your blog! Your show booth looks great and the tips are appreciated. I will be back to visit again.

  4. Thanks Diane! They are few and far between here, nice to meet another one! I've wanted to find a group of us to get together monthly to share paintings, tips, and even have a monthly challenge....let me know if you're interested

  5. Great information, Kristen! Thank you for taking the time to document and share your wounderful suggestions.