Tuesday, October 5, 2010

New to Art Festivals? My Top 5 Suggestions..

So I did it - my first art festival in 2 years. I am tired as well as a little sore. Between bringing all my work down the stairs from my studio earlier in the week, and then setting up and tearing down my booth this weekend, I worked muscles that had not moved in quite awhile.

Just like I imagined, it was great seeing old friends as soon as I got there. Socializing may have been a stall tactic too. This is what my space looked like before I got down to business.

Even though I have had this space before, I never put it together the same way twice. It takes awhile and many false starts before it starts to look and feel right. It’s like putting a puzzle together. Get a few key pieces in place and the rest sort of follows organically.

Show Time!

Besides the Sacramento Arts Festival, there were also a couple of craft fairs and other events happening this weekend. I received a few phone calls and emails from students asking for a little advice as they got ready to set up and sell their photographs for the first time. I also met a couple of artists at this show who were just starting their “art festival adventure” and spent some time answering their questions as well.

That’s where I got the idea for this blog post. So what are the 5 things I recommend to every artist just starting out?

#1 – Remember to have fun! It’s close to impossible to sell your art if you are sitting there looking bored or worse - angry that no one is coming into your booth. If you look like you are having a good time, people will feel better about stepping in to get a closer look. Trust me – this can be difficult at slow shows and takes some practice, but do this and you significantly increase your chances of having a financially successful show. I don't suggest having fun just so you can make money. Use this time to make new friends and enjoy yourself. You are not going anywhere, so you might as well make the best of it!

#2 - Be sure to get as many email and snail mail addresses as you can from people showing interest in your work. Close to 75% of my sales this weekend were from people who had received my postcards and/or the email I sent out last week.

#3 – Don’t try to put every piece you have ever created in your booth. Try not to overwhelm your audience and be sure to only show your best work.

#4 – Be a good art festival neighbor. Don’t look at your neighbors as competition; instead be courteous and respectful of their art and their booth. We are all in this together and the community of artists is a huge part of why I do art festivals. I could write a whole blog post about this (and I probably will).

#5 – Be patient. Success does not usually happen right away. It takes awhile to build up your lists and figure out the best booth layout for your type of work. Also, try not to spend money you don’t have buying brand new panels, tables etc. (I am guilty of this and most of you know where that got me.) Go slow, be creative and most important – go back to #1 – have fun!


  1. I have to say, your booth was one of the best looking if not it was the best looking booth at the Art Festival. Great to see you! Oh...and I'm not just saying that! :o)

  2. Hi Dianne,

    I've never sold through an art festival/fair format so it was fun to see how it all comes together. I have to agree with Bob above. Your space looks fantastic!

  3. Thank you! I enjoy putting my booth together when I have plenty of time to do it. I appreciate your comments! Bob - it was great seeing you too. Hannah - I am glad you enjoyed the "behind the scenes" look at the festival. Thanks again!

  4. Great post Dianne! Setting up a good booth display really is like trying to solve a puzzle. Sooo much work... Your booth looks great! I hope you sold a ton. :)

  5. Thanks Melissa! I know you can appreciate how much work goes into putting a booth together.

  6. one of the "things" that has irritated me about sellers has been the openly critical comments about the shoppers - "oh, a lot of lookey-lookey, feely-feely people" as other shoppers walk by (like me).

    in this economy, all we can hope for is passing on "good vibes" with our art (and a business card) so when the time does come to buy, they will remember us as "that cheerful person at the art festival who was SO much fun to talk with!"

  7. Thank you Debbie! This is so true!
    When one artist starts having that attitude, it affects everyone around them and it just goes downhill from there. It can be very difficult to stay positive at times, but it is soooo importan!