This is my first year exhibiting at art/craft fairs. This weekend will be my fourth event and there's two more to come in the next few weeks. Each time I make little changes based on what worked, what didn't, and ideas I want to steal from others. I certainly don't have it all figured out, I'm learning as I go. I'm getting better and this post is just a way for me to gather together my thoughts on what is working and the things I've learned.
There's a traffic flow to these events. It's awesome if you've been to it before and know the flow. If not, I walk through the space like I'm a customer...where would I enter? Which way would I go? (In general people tend to make right turns at intersections.) This gives me an idea from which direction they will be entering my booth.
The photo below is from my first event, the spring Hip Handmade Market. I was pretty happy with my first set up except I should I have reversed it. People were coming from the left side of the photo so I should have had my shelving on the right, facing them.
People are hesitant to enter into booths when they are crowded or space is tight. This is something I try to work on every time. Some people set up their booths to have angles so that they can kind of corral the crowd. (I like this idea but haven't found a way for it to work with my set up yet). Other people set up their table and stuff on the edges of the booth space so that customers can view everything while staying in the traffic flow. (I like this too but it really limits the amount of space you have for your work.)
I knew I needed a table to complete purchases so my husband and I built this one. We were up late the night before the event working on it. I was really happy with how it turned it, pretty close to my inspiration photo. (see it on my booth Pinterest board) Except now I don't use it in my booth and I feel sorta guilty about all the time we put into it. :( My husband has started using it as a standing desk, so that helps.
Presentation matters to me. It always has. I take the look and quality of my booth very seriously and I want it to reflect my overall brand. When I first began, I thought about my photos and my website and tried to create a booth that matched. I have lots of wood, white, and natural. My booth has slowly changed to not just be a place to sell my art but a place to interact with people. I bring my painting supplies and I paint there. I bring my old sketchbooks and let people pick them up and look though them. I hang lots of signs explaining what "year of creative habits" is.
Today we built this leaning shelf. (It also came from Pinterest.) This weekend I have a booth against a wall so I'll be able to just lean it there. At home I can use it to display books, art, etc. I think it's going to make a good addition to my current set up.
I know I'll continue to change things that's just how I am. Each event I make a plan based on my booth assignment and the type of show that it is. I'm getting better at the little things too:
- having enough business cards on hand
- wearing layers. I'm almost always cold, unless I'm packing up for the day in which case I'll be sweating
- having signs that answer the questions that I know people will ask me (Do you paint custom pet portraits? Yes, yes I do.)
- bringing plenty of water and snacks
- having sacks and boxes and stickers and other packaging
- having cash! I never carry cash so this was a big one for me
And then the last thing I've learned is that it's good to have a few different price points. I like to keep things simple so I have three. I have my larger paintings that are at the high end of my price range. I have my normal sized paintings which are in the middle, and then a few small items that are priced under $20.
At one of my events this year, there were lots of high school students. They were really into the idea of year of creative habits and I could tell they really wanted to support me/my work but there was just no way they could afford to buy a painting. Now I have several things in that under $20 category and I'm probably the most excited about those items. We'll see how it goes this weekend at the Hip Handmade Market. I'll let you know. :)