So you want to do an art show?

The birds are atwitter, the air is hot, and everything’s green, so you know we’re knee deep in art walk season. Killer displays, marketing materials, foot traffic, vendor fees, tax forms… getting ready for your first or hundredth art show can be stressful, so here are some tips and tricks to help you get ready for success.

Get a Biz Permit

If you plan on selling any goods at art festivals, art walks or exhibits, first on your list should be to get a business license. A business license is just what it sounds like, a government-issued permit to do business in the particular city or county you live in. It may sound absurd and intimidating, but when you start selling anything, even your creations, it becomes a business. Taking care of your business license first makes things like filing taxes and growing your business much easier in the future and you’re also no longer susceptible to being fined. So visit your local Chamber of Commerce or go online here for more information on Georgia’s requirements.

Disclaimer: The Creative Folks’ goal is to be 100% transparent with our readers, therefore our advice found in posts only serve as a suggestion and should not be taken over the words of a legal expert or professional. We will always recommend you seek legal and professional help when it comes to your business.

What’s Your Budget?

Now that the nitty gritty is out of the way, let’s talk about the fun stuff. When you’re looking for a great art show or exhibit to participate in, first you’ll need to figure out your budget. If you’ve ever thrown a party or get-together, you know a lot of work goes into organizing an event.

You can probably imagine how much goes into a large event, as you’re typically provided with a venue, an audience, marketing, sometimes more. It makes sense that an organization would require something from its participants in return.

There are art shows for every budget, some are even free. But caveat emptor; you usually get what you pay for.  Not only that, but some events require you to bring your own tables, tents, chairs, etc.. These details are usually straightforward, if not, be sure to ask the event’s coordinator.  If you don’t already own tents and tables, this will have to factor into your budget.

Scope It Out

If the event you’re looking into is recurring, check it out in person before committing to participating. If you do, pay particular attention to the attendance. The more people there are, the more opportunity you have to sell your product. This also gives you a chance to check if the event vibes well with your brand. Some art walks and festivals can have more of a celebratory feel to them. And depending on what you’re selling, it may not fit in with a party scene.

Presentation is Everything

Once you’ve decided on doing an exhibit or market, set up your display in a way that’s simple and inviting. Your presentation requires a great amount of ingenuity and creativity. You’ll need to merge practicality with visual aesthetic, which can be challenging in certain situations.

For example, many markets and festivals are held outdoors rain or shine, so you’ll have to battle with nature. Feisty winds have been known to ruin tents and artwork, so try and make your display versatile and secure.

With your product display, try to give your potential customers a complete picture.

  • Present your artwork as it would look in a home, have a demonstration of how your creation is used.
  • Display photos with sleeves or in frames. Sleeves are an inexpensive way to protect your work. Frames offer more protection but are decorative, giving your work an elegant finish.
  • Avoid having your work lying flat. Arranging your pieces upright, so your work can be seen from a distance.
  • Invest in business cards that have accurate, up-to-date contact information so potential clients or collaborators can reach you.

For inspiration, look at retail marketing presentations and the displays of your fellow creators.

Art walks, festivals and markets are a great way to build trust in your brand and grow the relationship with your business and your community. These events also allow you to see firsthand what the response is to your work. Handling all of the details can be overwhelming, especially when you’re first starting out. Ask questions, research online and in person, make your lists and check them twice. Remember, that you’re not the first person to do an event and you won’t be the last. It’s okay if you don’t know, just learn with every step you take toward feeding your hustle.

Feel free to find me and many other great creators at the Avondale Art Walk on June 9th from 5-9PM or at Marietta Square Artisan Market on June 23rd from 11AM-2PM!  See you soon!

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Author: Deborah Dumont

Deborah Dumont is an artist, mother and wife. She’s the mastermind behind DMD Studio Art and is interested in painting, cute things, writing, coffee and Asian language and culture. Deborah has been painting for over 20 years and mainly works with resin and fluid acrylics.

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