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Did you ever visit an arts festival in the streets of a town, or stretched out over a park or field and think it might be fun to participate? The venders display booths featuring vast diversity of hand crafted wares, fine art in many styles, friendly people waiting to chat with you about their creations…music, face painting, enticing foods, performers- This artist has been showing in such festivals for many years, and I will fill you in on just what to expect if you want to give it a try for yourself.
Visit a show and first look at the vender displays. You will need some items appropriate to display your wares. Painters will need display racks. Jewelry, ceramic, fabric, and wood artists will need tables. Prints may need browsing bins. In fact every item you wish to sell will need an attractive way to hold it- even business cards. Most artists cover their display with a canopy; a temporary shelter from the sun and rain. This will need some weights to keep it from taking off in the wind as well! Art Display Art Display here is a link to a rack display source:
~How will payment be accepted
The easiest sales are made with cash. However, you must decide if you will accept personal checks and your criteria for them. I have never had a bad check from a customer. Credit cards and paypal are a tremendous convenience for your customers; they allow for an unplanned purchase if your customer falls in love with your work but has no cash or check. But you will need a smart phone and an account set up in order to accept such payments.
Your state may require you to take sales tax on each purchase as well, so you will need to set up an account with your state office of taxation. Most festivals want your tax ID number. Of course you will then have to file your taxes in your state’s required manner.
~Entering a show
You will need to look ahead for this. Many shows require you to apply many months in advance. The bigger the show, the further ahead is the deadline. Many shows charge less money months ahead of time; the cost goes up as the show application deadline grows nearer. The cost will be from very minimal to over $300 dollars. Or more. This depends on the size and projected crowd attending the show. Obviously the more people who attend, the better the chance you will have of making a profit. This cost covers the business end of running an arts festival- publicity, entrainment, staff, administration, etc…
Some of the finest arts festivals have the highest standards. You may be required to submit images of your work as well of your show display in order to be accepted. Quality shows are run well, assure a good turn out and a fine event; they wish to present fine work to their audience. Jury fees may apply for this. Many shows are not juried though, anyone will be accepted. These shows can be very good too!
OK, you have a letter of acceptance from the festival- mark it on your calender and start to plan. How will you pack to transport your items? What kind of vehicle will you need? Where will you put the racks or tables- on the roof racks? If you have to carry your items a distance to set up, will you buy a cart to carry it? Price your items ahead of time. Clean everything. Make it handle proof- wrap your matted work in plastic. Bring water and food, you will get hungry with all the work. Plan your display to market it attractively. Will you need table clothes? A pretty flower bouquet? Even an outdoor rug to cover the ground? Some artists cover their racks with cloth, to hide the wire. Will you hang a sign with your name, craft, location on the front of your stand? Or a plastic banner? Buy some curtain hooks to hang your work on the wire racks. Buy some clips and don’t forget the weights for the wind!
Oh my! The worst thing I have seen at a show was a high wind strike a stand head on and blow over the stand, breaking all the glass and destroying the framed artwork. Luckily no one was injured- but you do not want this to happen to you or your work. Bring weights and stakes if you will be on grass. Plan for the weather. Pray for a warm and sunny day. A surprise rain shower found me unprepared- watercolors do not fair well in the rain. Bring a lot of plastic to cover your work as you transport it to your car to go home. Bring shade and water for the possible heat, sunscreen and bug spray. Bring a jacket for the coolness. Bring tarps against the rain. Some shows are held rain or shine, and if you have laid out the cash in advance, it hurts to not attend. Plan ahead.
~Just before the show
Finish up your product preparation. Make a check list. Look at directions to the show, times of check- in, show requirements. I suggest you pack your vehicle the day before the show. You will be getting up early to arrive on time; festivals are all set to go before the crowds arrive. Arrange for pet care, if you are bringing your children with you plan on activities and their occupation during the long day. Kids do find it long!
Next to come: Festival Day and The Rewards of participating in outdoor arts festivals-
Festival Day We awaken early- 6:30 am for a local show. Get dressed in clothing suited both for function and artsy-ness- lol- grab a cooler of snacks and water and get into the car packed up to the roof. Arrive at the festival by 8;00 am check in time, wait in lines of cars of other artists to get to our assigned space, usually 10 x 10 feet. Unpack the entire car and take it off to park while the other starts to set up. Up with the canopy, up with the racks, unload and hang the paintings. Arrange the matted work in the bins, hang all the signs, set up box tables with browsing bins and card rack. Tidy the stand, set up two chairs and say – ahh- We meet and greet the artist neighbors we have, fuel up with a snack, then greet the people who arrive to look at the work. And greet and chat and talk about art and answer questions for hours. We take turns leaving our stand, strolling the festival grounds to chat with artist friends, find lunch, look at art and take photos. If there are many people the day flies by! If there are few people the day draaaggggs. By 5 or 6 pm we are allowed to take down our stands,wait in lines to get our cars to our spots, re pack and go home. It’s funny, setting up takes over an hour; tearing down only half the time. If sales and contacts have been good, we arrive home tired and happy. If not so good we arrive home just plain tired.
The Rewards of participating in outdoor arts festivals-
So why would you even think of participating in an outdoor festival of the arts? It is fun! When the weather is good there is nothing quite like it; you get caught up in the carnival atmosphere, with the colors, sights, music and crowds. There is so much to see, and so many people looking at your creations, exciting stuff! ~selling your art At a good festival day you can make many art sales. This is something that most artists need to keep them going! ~talking to customers There is direct contact between you and the people who want to purchase your work. They may have questions about a piece, want to hear the origin of your creation, discuss other work of yours, get to know what makes you as an artist tick. I think most artists enjoy talking about their work, the very nature of creating is an exciting process, and fun to share! Even if your customers do not wish to make a purchase, many are fascinated by what you do; students of art want to learn from you, children love art, and some will make a future purchase.
Some of the nicest people participate in these shows. They are so helpful and encouraging to each other, it is heart warming. Artists mostly support other artists just about everywhere and outdoor festival are no exception. They will lend a screw driver, help put up a tent, tend your stand when you must take a break, and admire your work. Sometimes they buy work from each other too! Galleries and other venues regularly attend art shows to seek artists for their events as well. The rewards of outdoor art festivals are many; excitement, customer contact, artistic support, great conversation and ultimately the sales. Direct sales at shows and connections for the future keep you in art supplies, pay the bills and keep your creative dreams alive.
My painting here is titled Art Faire Questions and comments are welcome! Have a fine day~