Considering Art Fairs?
Are you considering selling your art in art fairs? Congratulations.
You may have one nagging question: “How do I get started in art fairs?”
A Year Of Research
When I first considered entering art fairs, I spent a full year researching the many different aspects of this venture.
What would I need for a canopy, panels, print bins, insurance, inventory? How would I transport this, and store it for transport? How would I layout my booth display?
As I researched all of this and more, I kept careful notes of my findings, generating more questions along the way. Fortunately, I met a couple of artists that eagerly shared their time and experience with me, answering my questions as it related to their experience.
In visiting shows in the area, in a very non-scientific way, I evaluated shows from my perspective.
Where they too busy, such that no one could move conveniently between booths? Or was it void of traffic?
What were people carrying? Art they purchased, or popcorn? (I still use this method to evaluate shows).
The Unknown - Projected Budget
Part of my business plan for art shows was an unknown.
What would my investment be to enter the shows?
Could I purchase some things that would last, while others could be replace if needed?
The “Entrance” Budget
My 2011 initial “entrance” art fair budget (planning for the 2012 season) was $6,600.00, not long after refined to $7,300.00.
At first I thought I was too high, but after review by the very helpful artists who understood what was needed for photography, my estimate was determined to be in the ball park.
Trimline Canopy 10×10 (Flourish Company)
Three wall mesh panels set with Sta-bar (Flourish Company)
Great Weights (Flourish Company)
Initial Print Inventory (mats, prints, etc)
Booth space & jury fee (6 shows)
Business Insurance (camera equip, liability, etc)
Miscellaneous (containers, etc)
Estimated total = $7,300.00
What Did This All Entail?
Because I have my camera equipment fully insured, and carry a $1M liability, product inventory, etc., my insurance is higher than others.
Within the above estimate, I had $3,000.00 for art fair print inventory. Admittedly, this will change for everyone, and the initial show does not have to be near this high.
I used it for “worst case” planning, which helped covered other areas I hadn’t anticipated. As it turned out, my initial inventory wasn’t this high for my first show, though as I framed more items, the inventory cost started climbing.
To keep my expenses down, and because I’m marketing to a geographic area, I’ve always done shows within 2 hours or less from my home. I can drive back easily on a two-day show, and not incur the additional expenses of food and lodging.
Although some things in my booth have changed over the years, as an example – switching to Pro Panel print bins and Pro Panel panels – my Trimline canopy has remained. It was money well spent.
How to Pack and Transport Everything
Since I already had a mini-van, transportation, itself, wasn’t a problem. Making sure it all fit was!
Initially it was easy, but as my inventory grew, and then switching to Pro Panels print bins and panels, how it fit in the minivan became the puzzle.
It quickly became obvious that everything had to go into the vehicle in exactly is correct location, every time, without exception.
Storing and transporting the print inventory was – I thought at first – easy. That changed after my first show when I forget during tear-down, where, and how, everything was stored. That changed by my second show, and now have everything fit in the containers.
Pre-planning at home has since proven very beneficial.
The Time Factor
One area I had never considered in my evaluation was the amount of time it would take to set up and tear down at any given show.
I had a good idea what my first shows would be, and planned plenty of time. I just never thought it would take approximately 2 1/2 hours for each show, six year later!
Despite all of my best efforts, it just takes about that long. Although an intangible, your time should definitely be considered in your art far investment check-list.
Good Luck With Your Planning
If you are considering doing shows in the future, I wish you the best of luck on your endeavor.
As you participate in art shows, you may find the need to make a few changes.
adding a front awning and front door to the Trimline canopy
changing out the flip bins for Pro Panel bins
switching the mesh panels for Pro Panels
print display and layout
carrying only 16x20 and 20x24 matted prints
having 'display-only Dura Plaq prints
and many more small things
Having said all of this, in your own planning, and ultimately when doing the shows, remember — always make it fun!