May 27, 2012
This spring, the Pacific Northwest Artfire Guild was discussing what to not forget when setting up a booth at an art fair or craft show. I said I would share my ‘do not forget list’ and thought I’d share it with you too. Rather than simply paste my list here, I want to explain my process.
The ‘bones’ of my booth are my walls and tables so those are set up first. I use Pro Panels which are a bit spendy if you’re just starting out. I used peg boards at my first art festivals, that slid into a sturdy base my husband built for me. Some artists use metal grids and others hang items from their pop-up tents. My tables are inexpensive sturdy 2′ x 4′ that I found at Costco; and I use narrow plastic shelving units as extra ‘table space’, found at Home Depot. In my 10 x 10 booth, 4 tables nestle against two of my walls, and the lower narrower plastic shelves fit across half of one wall, leaving it more open for customers to easily see my wall pieces. This leaves a 2′ space for my director’s chair that I bought at Cost Plus. It’s in a corner near the jewelry so I can encourage folks to try on a bracelet or hold my earrings up to the light to see their sparkle.
Because I only participate in shows that are indoors, lighting is very important. I bring 4 to 5 extension cords and two surge protector outlets. My wall lights slide into posts at the top of my booth and table lights are halogen lamps that I bought at Home Depot, plus gooseneck spotlights that I bought at Ikea.
Once the wall lights are in place, plugged in and checked for burnt out bulbs, I dress the tables with coverings that are as close to the wall color that I could find. I like a neutral beige so that my work stands out and doesn’t fade into a background color. It is flame retardant fabric that I bought at a Portland fabric store. I think I originally bought 10 to 15 yards after measuring for 8′ tables plus 3′ on either side for draping then added a a bit more for ‘just in case’.
Displaying my work is always a challenge because I want to put everything I have out. When I do that it looks like a jumbled mess, so I’ve finally learned to only put out what fits in the space. And trust me, it’s still a close fit! I place my newest or favorites out first in a rainbow of color or grouped in themes. My back up work is under the tables, hidden by table coverings; as are my empty storage boxes.
When the show opens, I’m ready with bubble wrap and tissue paper, shopping bags, receipt books, pens, a calculator, my mailing list sign up sheet, business cards, postcards of my work, any other printed material about me and my work, enough change to get through the end of the show, and my square for credit card purchases. By the way, if you’re an artist and still using the old card processors you’re spending more money than you have to with all their fees. Do yourself a favor and get the square for your smart phone to process credit cards.
Oh, and the MOST important part? Smile! When you smile, you’re inviting the customer into your booth. If you’re having a bad day, smile anyway. Smile even if your sales are not strong. Even on my worst sale days, I’ve met and talked with interesting people perusing the show; made friends with my booth neighbors; added names to my mailing list; and picked up a new gift shop here and there to wholesale my work.
When the show is busy and crowds are throwing money around it’s a blast. You can’t help but laugh and have fun all day. If it’s slow, no need to stand around and pout, I take inventory of what I’m running low on or what color is missing from my display. I clean fingerprints off my glass and straighten or refresh my display. If those tasks are done and it’s still slow, I start sketching and designing new ideas. Whatever you do, DO NOT READ A BOOK! Should that one customer walk by who is actually looking to purchase something, you’ve closed them off from your booth. They perceive you as not caring about being there since you’d rather be reading.
Put your work into the hands of that prospective buyer. When someone holds your art, or tries on your jewelry, you’re closer to wrapping it up for them. Don’t be afraid to ask for the sale. If the piece they like is beyond their budget, maybe you have a similar piece that’s smaller, or not as detailed that will fit their budget. Or perhaps you can work out a layaway plan. Talk with those interested in your work, they want to know all about you; and if you are willing to ask questions and get to know them, you may be building a lasting relationship and future sales.
When you make the sale and wrap up the purchase, include your business card, any promotional materials you have about your work and be sure to put your new customer on your mailing list. With their permission, of course!
Lastly, when the show is over, and you’re packing up, be courteous to your booth neighbors. Don’t stack your packed up booth components in the center of the aisle so that no one may pass. Don’t knock into your neighbors walls. It’s not a race. Everyone is tired and wants to go home.
Wishing you all success…now here’s my ‘do not forget’ list that I check before every show as I’m packing up, then double check while loading my car:
Booth: pro panels, support bars, connectors, curtain hooks, t-pins, director’s chair, fireproof info, flowers, hammer, nails, screwdrivers phillips & regular, jewelry display, step-ladder, shims, lights, extra bulbs, extension cords, power strip, signage, display stands & risers, table coverings and night covers, safety pins, measuring tape, tables, duct tape, carpet, travel vacuum cleaner, zip ties, cleaning cloth, my work and a hand truck to move it all into my booth space.
Literature: business cards, brochures, postcards, teaching/show schedules, mailing list sign up sheet.
Conducting Business: change, receipt book, pens, calculator, square, phone, stylus, charger, glasses, bags, gift boxes, wrapping paper, bubble wrap, scissors, paper punch, laptop, name tag, price tags, tape, tax id in WA.
For quick custom jewelry: ear wires, jewelry pliers, leather cord & scissors, tweezers.
Extras: camera, water, snacks, lunch, lozenges, chocolate for guests, sketchpad.
I’d love to know what you take that isn’t on my list, or what you do differently! Please share in the comments section below!!
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May 23, 2012
My last show of the season is now history. I didn’t have much time to document, but I love this venue and want to share what I have. The Columbia Gorge Art Festival is a fundraiser for the Corbett Education Foundation which provides scholarships to Corbett students.
Before the doors open, it’s quiet enough to grab a few shots.
Pam is the marvelous show coordinator and runs the event with a cool head and impeccable business skills. She is fabulous to work with and we all adore her.
My east neighbor for the weekend was Tacy Jones of Eagle Creek Rock Jewelry and felted bags. Her rocks, jewelry and felted bags & hats are beautiful.
My west neighbor was Laurie Miller who has been my neighbor at this venue for many years. She has some very cool garden signs (one of which I purchased) that I loved so much, I commissioned her to make several (ok, a dozen) more for me. I didn’t get a picture of her booth, so lifted this image from her blog.
Had a great time connecting with other artists, visiting with volunteers and schmoozing with patrons. Next stop, replenishing my galleries; then preparing to teach at Half Moon Creek LLC in Palmer Alaska (where my class is full!!) and Pacific Art Glass in L.A. CA. If you’re near LA I believe there are still spots open & I’d love to see you!
May 16, 2012
This weekend is my last art show of the season and one of the most fun. It’s a fundraiser for Corbett Education Foundation, held at the Corbett Grade School May 19-20. The volunteers who run this show are fabulous – they take great care of the artists and our customers. They help us move in and back out; provide students to help us with labeling; conduct all sales for us; and are even available to answer questions about our work so we don’t have to be there if needed elsewhere. I will be there all weekend because I love talking with you about my work! Oh and they provide YOUR lunch for a donation!
The hardest part is deciding what to take and what to leave at home. In addition to my kiln-formed glass, and my friend Alex Farnham‘s blown glass you’ll find woodworking, ceramics, paintings, jewelry, basketry, candles, soap, photography, fiber art, and even plants!
I-84 to the Exit 22, go up Corbett Hill Road to Historic
Hwy and turn right. Event is about 1/4 mile on left.
Hope to see you there!!
May 13, 2012
Mother’s Day – a day to celebrate our Mothers and all the influential women in our lives. Not everyone chooses to have children and there are several women in my life who I honor even though I’m not their daughter.
In addition to my mother who made it in a ‘Man’s World’ and her sisters who I adore, I have to include Mom’s best friend Rae as one of those women. Rae moved in with us to help pay our rent when I was 5 or 6. Rae’s mom had one of the first gardens I remember with the sweetest raspberries and petrified wood. I wish I could have told Rae how much she meant to me before she passed on to the next world.
When I was a teen, Mom’s friend Carol made our house payment a time or two so we wouldn’t lose our house. Carol and her partner always treated my sisters & I as though we were important enough to listen to. She laughed at our jokes & always had a smile for us.
Donna, an ex-nun also worked with Mom & was absolutely outrageous to a teenager. She smoked, drank, cussed & told us racy jokes as if we were old enough to understand them. She let me drive her red convertible sports car anytime and anywhere I wanted. Mom insisted I only drive it around the block.
I did get to tell them both later in life how they influenced me, but I’m not sure they heard me as I had a very soft voice back then. I’d sure like to find them again to be sure they know. That I love them for loving us unconditionally back then, even though we didn’t know that’s what they were doing. Unconditional love. It was a huge feeling for someone who didn’t know what it meant…until later.
None of those extraordinary friends of my mom had children of their own. They are why I always celebrate all the women who are positive influences in the life of a child. Mother’s Day is for every woman who touches the heart of a child. Thank you ladies, for touching mine and for helping to shape the woman I am today. I love you. Unconditionally.
May 10, 2012
Just in time for Mother’s Day, I’ll be at the Central Gorge Master Gardeners – OSU Plant Sale on Saturday May 12, 9am – 1pm. It’s at the OSU Extension Office, 2990 Experiment Station Drive, Hood River Oregon. In the Learning Garden. See you there with my garden art: glass ladybugs, butterflies, buggettes and more! There may be some plants for sale if I don’t buy them all first!!
Next weekend I’ll be at the Corbett School near Portland Oregon for the Columbia Gorge Art Festival, and will post their announcement soon. If you can’t make it to either event, you can find my work 24/7 at Steider Studios Shop on Zibbet.
I’m feeling particularly exhausted after this year’s Glass Gallery. The last two days were spent basking in the sun photographing birds and flowers in my garden as new colors emerge from the earth. Today is back to reality with two more shows coming right up!
This year’s Glass Gallery was wonderful. The artists were fabulous. Our customers were delightful. I’ve shown you how the show and my booth are set up, so this epilogue will simply be some of my friends & ‘booth neighbors’ who I caught when they weren’t busy with customers. Some of my favorite artists were always so busy that I couldn’t digitally catch them this year. Starting with Carolyn & Kathy, my neighbors … then random order:
Art Glass by Dale Rohrer with Donna Mason
Debra Fenzl of MSR Studio
Natalie Vinsant of Live Laugh Love Glass
Julie Vincent of Corte Designs
Don Bietschek of Aquila Glass School demonstrating.
And just to show you I DID get out of my guild area for a couple of minutes, here is my friend, Karen Saró Troeger of Touch the Sky in the Handweavers Guild having just as much fun as I did!
It’s always a treat to meet new art collectors and network with old friends at this show, probably the largest one that I participate in. Over the three days I was privileged to have several particularly poignant conversations. Some of which I cannot let go of … that I keep thinking about … and am grateful … honored that I was chosen to have those stories shared with me.