First Time Exhibitors and Experienced Artists
DISPLAY AREA — This is as much a part of marketing as advertising!
Plan out how you will exhibit your work — BEFORE you arrive at the venue.
Most venues do NOT provide exhibit materials; plan ahead what you will use to show off your work to its fullest.
Do you need tables? Portable walls? Electricity for Lighting?
Table covers provide a clean surface to exhibit your wares AND hide your storage below the table. Unless you have really large table covers, use two to completely cover the front view of your table.
Keep extra art tucked away to fill in blank spaces when sales are made.
TIP: Put your table on risers and get your items closer to eye level. Higher tables also make it more comfortable for your visitors to stay with you longer.
Consider using your storage bins (stacked and covered) as small tables to show small items.
Use vertical AND horizontal space to show off your work. Your work shows better when there are several levels to your display.
Bring your BEST work and proudly display it.
TIP: Bring the artwork you used as your catalog image and FEATURE it as SPECIAL. Many people come to your booth specifically to see the catalog art.
Plan for area(s) on the table or wall to promote yourself.
TIP: Exhibits look professional with ample white space between your pieces. When you cram too many pieces together, visitors don’t get to see more of your work, they actually see LESS of it.
Bring a TALL chair. Tall chairs allow you to look visitors in the eye for better customer service. Folding camp chairs might be easy to haul, but when seated in a slouchy chair, your eyes are at naval height (or a lower region!) of your visitors. Many venues do not allow garden or camp chairs.
TIP: Stand up and Make EYE contact.
Put away your phone unless you are using it to calculate price or take payment. Nothing turns off potential sales than the appearance that you don’t care.
Take photos of your booth. Remember the parts that worked well and change those that didn’t. Use photos from previous crawls and events in your marketing campaign and/or applications.
Market yourself — before, during, and after the show.
Send out email blitz announcements BEFORE your show. List your show(s) on Facebook, Twitter, and all social media that you follow. Post images of your work. If you have new pieces that you plan to introduce at the show, MAKE A BIG DEAL OUT OF IT!
Bring plenty of business cards!
Print out a list of future shows and pass them out to whoever will take them!
Ask visitors to sign a guest book to build your contact list and support base. Consider a drawing to entice visitors to give you their email. (Sign here for a chance to win “XXX.”)
Get the name and contact info of buyers!
After the show, send email notes to visitors who purchased your work and those who gave you their email addresses and THANK them for their support! (Always include a means to unsubscribe in your emails).
For more “Tips” on marketing see: Marketing Tips
Pricing your art — Make Prices clear for visitors.
- Gallery Tags include the title of the piece, brief description, price AND all the info that is on your business card. It looks very professional and buyers take home the gallery tag, attach it to the back of their new art, and have your contact info easily accessible.
- Your business cards can be used as gallery tags with the title and price clearly written.
- Color Code systems work well for booths with many items with up to five price points. Be as clear as possible and ask a trusted friend if your system is easy to understand at first glance.
Methods of Payment
Cash is always good, but few people carry exact change.
- Have a good supply of small bills and change. Consider investing in a pen which detects fraudulent bills and use it for older bills of large denominations. There have been incidents of counterfeit bills passed at art shows.
- Checks can be dicey. If you accept checks, consider asking for ID and a phone number.
- Credit Cards are easy, though you pay variable banking fees.
TIP: Use a device that fit into your tablet, phone, or other handheld electronics; Square and Paypal have trusted systems in place to get secure credit card payments. They are easy to get and easy to learn.
TIP: Even if you do not have a Square, you can take credit cards if you have an account such as PayPal. In these cases you will need to document the card number, CSV code, and card holder’s billing zip code (the card holder’s phone number is helpful with this system). After the show, log into your PayPal account and plug in all the information.
DAY OF EVENT CHECKLIST
Before the Show:
Find out where artists may park and unload at your venue. It may be a different entrance than the one visitors use.
Check in with the Venue host BEFORE you begin unload or set up. Some venues have assigned placement; others have a first come policy.
Be as efficient as possible when unloading your vehicle and move it as soon as possible so other artists have a turn.
Keep your stuff in YOUR booth space; avoid spilling over into your neighbors’ space.
Do not block traffic with your stuff.
Introduce yourself to your neighbors as soon as you can. Art Fairs are a GREAT way to expand your support in the arts community. More importantly, good neighbors cover for one another — which can be a godsend when you are on your own.
After the Sale:
Have a clear plan on how your collectors can get your art home safely. Have a supply of bags, boxes, and padding. Consider stickers or other markings on carrying bags which tell the world where the art was purchased.
TIP: Newspaper often leaves inky residue on art – do NOT use it! Use unprinted newsprint, tissue paper, bubble wrap, or other padding for breakables.
After the Event:
Never clean up early — even if sales are disappointing.
The ONLY exceptions to this would be if the show is shortened by the coordinator due to weather, an emergency or if you become suddenly ill at the show.
Pack things away carefully, so they are ready for your next show. Tossing your art into storage boxes might quicken your clean-up, but you have to go back and re–pack for the next show. And, careless storage can lead to damage.
Clean up EVERYTHING from your booth space. Pick up some papers, tape bits, etc that may have fallen during the show.
Check out with the Venue Host before you leave the premises.
Get a good night’s sleep.
Pack snacks and beverages. Choose food that is easy to eat, not messy, and does not leave icky residue on your teeth or nasty breath. (Avoid Oreos and garlic, for example).
If you do not have a booth partner, make friends with your neighbors. They might cover for you to take short breaks if you are cooperative with them. If you have small, low-cost items (such as art cards) you might consider giving your helpful neighbors a thank you gift at the end of the show.
TIP: If you are sick on the day of the show, seriously consider staying home. You won’t be a good spokesman for your work if you are sick. Your art neighbors will shun you as they try to avoid your crud; visitors will notice you are sick and flee. Take the financial hit and lose your booth fee; you most likely won’t have good sales when you are sick anyway.
Yes! Collecting sales tax is part of being a professional artist.
A participating artist agrees to have a valid Minnesota Sales Tax ID Number for sales of artwork.
TIP: To apply for a MN Sales and Use Tax number go to: Minnesota Department of Revenue
Examples for taxing your art:
- Add the tax directly to your art price. $50 + 7.5% = $3.75 total $53.75
- Include the tax in your art price. $50 includes $46.25 (art) + $3.75 (tax) total $50
- Rounding the tax up (or down) to the nearest dollar or quarter or whatever amount you choose to minimize dealing with small change. $50 +$4 tax rounded up total $54.00
(Note: tax paid to the state is determined by the value of items sold, NOT the amount of tax collected).
Tax rates vary by zip code. Determine the tax rate in each city before you show.
This may seem daunting at first, but it becomes part of your routine. Using a Square or Paypal device makes this a breeze — it is calculated for you, once you set the proper tax rate.
For further questions contact the State of Minnesota