One of the most exciting things for an artist is to participate in a show as a vendor. Displaying your art at a well organized venue and selling many of your creations is a satisfying way to end the day.
That sounds easy but it is a little more complex than setting up a table and putting out your art. A good presentation takes some thought and pre organization. It is a good idea to do some research on other vendors displays and see what makes them successful. A well designed booth and display will beckon people to come in and visit.
So, you have several things to think about:
Your tables should be covered and have floor length skirts. All tables should have the same coverings or something similar in color and style. I usually use an off white table cloth with a black skirt. Darker shades or neutral colored table cloths are more attractive than bold bright colors. You should also think about what you are placing on the table so that the tablecloth does not overwhelm your art or be so flashy as to overcome your items displayed. Too much design can take away from your art and be confusing to customers. Simplicity is the key to decorating a booth. After all, you are trying to sell your art. Just remember, an attractive display is a calling card for customers.
After I have my tables covered and the table skirts attached, I place a narrow black runner down the middle of the table to create a stark contrast from the off white tablecloth. Since my gourds usually have designs close to the bottom, I place mirrors under some gourds. This gives customers a chance to see the bottom of the gourd without having to pick it up. These can be purchased from your local hobby store. They come in various sizes and have beveled edges. The light reflected in the mirror creates a “pizazz”.
Sometimes I also use a simple garland of leaves to stream across the middle of my tables. The season determines the kind of garland I use….simple green with red berries for Christmas or fall colored leaved for the fall season. My gourds are then snuggled in the leaves for an attractive display. You can even use a single strand of gold beads down the middle of the table if you prefer.
I use stands of different heights on which to place my gourds. This creates interest and keeps your table from becoming boring. Another idea is to cover boxes with black material to use as stands.
Some places request that you bring your own backdrops for separating booths, while others supply the dividing backdrops. Always ask if you need the separation curtain and who is to supply them.
Be sure to bring everything you need in order to make attractive tables/shelves and all supplies that you will use to conduct business. I saved on my computer a detailed list of items that I need to carry with me to a show and before each show I make a copy to use as a check-off list. That prevents you from arriving to your show destination and finding out that you have forgotten important things, such as ticket books, calculator, or a money bag, just to name a few. It can also prevent you from leaving tables and shelves sitting at home when you are hundreds of miles away.
Before each show recheck the number of business cards you have on hand and also check to see if any information needs to be updated. I usually buy the business card stock from my local store and with an avery.com template I can print dozens of cards in a jiffy. These templates are easy to use and cards can be custom made for a minimum amount of money. Make sure there are no misspelled words on your cards, for you will need them to look very professional- stylish, simple, and easy to read.
A few other things that are important to have at your show are sacks/bags to wrap your art. I use simple bags with handles. Have a variety of sizes available. Don’t forget tissue paper. You can buy a large package of tissue paper at Hobby Lobby for a nominal price.
People love to stop and watch an artist at work, so if possible, be working on some art. This gives you an opportunity to engage in a conversation with your customers. I have found that I sell more art when I actively talk to browsers and show an interest in my art than when I don’t. That brings up another point… don’t sit behind a table and ignore customers. Stand up or walk around and converse with them and explain an interesting process of your art.
The saying, “You never get a second chance to make a good first impression” is so true. Dress appropriately and professionally. That doesn’t mean a suit and tie, but is also doesn’t mean shorts or jeans and flip flops. Be tasteful in your attire. And wear comfortable shoes -you’ll be on your feet all day. Also, a smile goes a long way!
The bottom line is… do your homework, get organized, and prepare to have a great show!