A fantastic way to make some money on your art in one evening is to participate in art fairs or trade shows. On nice summer days, so many people enjoy walking around, browsing for small items to support their local artists, looking for unique pieces to bring home or gift to others.
1-Attract people to your booth!
Decorate your space with interesting fabric, props, and product that speak to your brand. For my first fair, I brought a dark purple long piece of satin fabric to cover my table, my laptop that had a video of one of my shoots playing on loop (and many people did stand there to watch it), a lantern with a little light inside for when it got dark, and some fake flowers to make the space look earthy. A little bowl of candy is also a good way to bring people to your booth!
2- Have a variety of low and high priced items for people to buy
When you purchase fine art at a museum, you expect to pay a large amount. However, artists who only sell large pieces priced for many hundreds of dollars at an art fair may find themselves having a harder time making a sale. Some people definitely visit art fairs with hundreds of dollars in their pocket, but I usually go looking for a variety of smaller priced items that I can buy to support the artists in a way that I can afford. My top selling items were smaller unframed prints priced at $25-$40, necklaces priced at $25, and magnets priced at $10. I still walked away from my first art fair earning a few hundred dollars! The more lower-priced items you have, the more likely you are to catch the person who is “just looking” and you may end up earning what you would have earned if you sold just one high-priced piece.
3- Greet everyone that stops at your table.
Introverts, I get it. Talking and making conversation with people is often the thing that gets us the most nervous, and we are so worried that we’ll come off “salesy”. But, you’ll be surprised how much more inviting your booth is if you just give everyone a “hello” and a smile. Don’t worry about standing up or crowding them. Just say hello, smile, and show them with that gesture that they are invited to make conversation with you. A lot of people may have questions about what you create and how. It’s a wonderful way to connect with people who want to follow your work in the future AND you’re more likely to make a sale if you engage someone.
4- Have a demonstration or something people can watch
Did you know you are much more likely to make a sale if you get someone to “try out” your product? I used to work for a beauty company and getting lotions on the skin of the people who walked in the door was our number one goal. Of course, this isn’t really applicable to art fairs unless you are selling beauty products, so what else can you do that people can interact with or try? Consider playing a video of your behind-the-scenes shoots so people can see how much work goes into your creations. Consider bringing a few props and letting people try to make a costume on a dress-form with fabrics, artificial flowers, etc. These are things that engage people, let them have a little fun, and create a connection to your work.
5- Consider building your email list with a free item giveaway
Have at your table a little shoebox with a space cut in the top and some cards to fill out for people to win a free item at your booth! Maybe they could win a magnet, a small set of coasters, a 4x4” print. If you aren’t allowed to offer giveaways, then put a clipboard with a space for people to write their names and email addresses so they can receive email marketing from you. Make sure they know they are signing up for an email list so you are complying with CAN-SPAM laws.
Tip: Make up a name and put a fake email in the first spot or two. No one likes to be the first person to sign up.
I hope this list offers a few new ideas to increase engagement at your next art fair! If you have found any special secrets that have made your booth successful, please share them in the comments!
Are you a first time exhibitor? Download this checklist of items not to forget at your first art fair!