Imagine your first art fair. You’ve planned for this day for some time. In the car you’ve packed your tent and poles, chair and panels, product is in containers. You’ve made a list, and double-checked it. Nothing is missing.
Now imagine having set up successfully, the show went smoothly. You feel confident with the first show coming to a close.
And then – the weather. The show closes with the threat of a storm. There is a degree of “let’s get this down before it rains”.
Then suddenly, you’ve just discovered you’ve forgotten how things were packed. Which containers held which prints? What order do things get taken down? How is it stored in the vehicle? This was my experience at my first show.
Funny how rain can suddenly bring into focus what would have been missed on a sunny afternoon. I wasn’t as prepared as I had thought!
Plan for bad weather
Since that first show, I’ve adopted the philosophy that all my planning is designed for bad weather. All containers are marked. Everything fits in the minivan with a plan. No longer do I think about what goes where.
Trimline Tent Container
For the canopy, walls and awning, I use a Sterilite 27 gallon, translucent plastic container. The top is clearly labeled for what this container holds.
I have found this works better than storage bags. When it is raining, the bags never seem to open as they should!
Trimline Parts Container
My Trimline canopy has a number of parts. Initially I carried all of the parts in a “tool bag”. Unfortunately, removing the parts and putting them back took time. Also, I couldn’t easily see what I was selecting.
To correct this, I use a Sterilite 7.5 gallon translucent plastic container. This holds all Trimline parts and my kneepads. It is also very easy to select the parts as needed. Inside the car, this container nests nicely sideways on top of the canopy container.
Trimline Pole bags
For all the Trimline poles, I use four Trimline pole bags. The poles are separated by function and stored in a specific bag. Each bag is then marked on the outside. It sounds almost unnecessary, though I have found it saves a lot of “what’s inside the bag” time.
Trimline Connectors Marked
With all the Trimline connecting corners looking somewhat similar, I have marked the right hand front and back corners with red magic marker, and the left front and back corners with black magic marker.
All poles that slide into the corresponding poles are also marked with magic marker, so I know quickly which end goes where. Additional markings are made on the side poles as these are required specifically at those locations.
Set up one time in the rain and you’ll be glad you didn’t have to think how this goes together. You can simply react (and stay drier).
Pro Panel Parts Container
Once again, I use the smaller translucent Sterilite 4 gallon plastic container to hold the Pro Panel panel and print bin connectors and corners. This container, like all of the others, is clearly marked on the outside as to what it contains.
Fishing Tackle Containers
Within the Pro Panel parts container, I have a small fishing tackle flat plastic box which stores the homemade Pro Panel extensions, the top connector straps for the panels, a number of white (Flourish) bungee cords (used to secure the panels to the support bars of the tent in 2 day shows or high winds), and extra Pro Panel parts.
The Trimline parts container also has a plastic fishing tackle container. This unit holds 5 white bungee cords (specifically used for the awning attachment), and two approximately six foot long ropes. These cotton ropes are used to tie down the dropped awning in the evening of a 2-day show.
Both of these translucent fishing tackle containers are clearly marked for their items.
The 16×20 matted prints are transported (and stored) in the Sterlite 27 gallon translucent plastic container. You’ll note this is the same size as the canopy bin, which is very useful when packing the car. The top of this bin – like the others – is clearly marked indicating what’s inside.
The 20×24 matted prints are stored and transported in Homz Underbed Clear Storage translucent plastic container. Three are required, one for most horizontal prints, one for most vertical prints and one for the remaining horizontal and vertical prints.
The smaller Dura Plaqs (12×18 and 16×24) are also stored and transported in Homz Underbed Clear Storage translucent plastic containers, the same size as used for the 20×24 matted prints. The larger Dura Plaqs (24×36 and triptych) are stored and transported in special plastic boxes I had customer ordered from Dura Plaq. I have padding between each printed Dura Plaq.
Each container is marked appropriately. Saving this “I think it goes here” is never an issue on sunny afternoons. It will be most appreciated during storms and rain.
Where do the pens, ipad for newsletter sign-up, receipt book, business cards, etc. go? I call this my “office” bin, which I use a Sterlite 10 gallon translucent plastic container. It’s large enough and deep enough to hold everything I use in the art fair “office”. (This office area of my booth is the Pro Panel 16″x16″ two-shelf desk, located on the front left in my booth).
To help with the office organization, I use again, a translucent fishing tackle box to hold the pens and stylus, a few extra band-aids, receipt book, note book, name tag and lanyard, PayPal card/chip reader, and business cards.
Develop your own system
This is my system, and it works very well for me. Everyone has their own system. If you’re thinking about entering art fairs, spend a little time just observing how people set up and tear down, and what their system provides.
Feel free to take a few ideas that might work for you.
Just plan for rain, and it will be that much easier when it’s sunny.