10 Tips for Selling at Art Shows and Festivals - From An Artist Who Has Done 160 Plus Shows

Posted by Lisa Ramos on

MONOLISA Booth by California Artist Lisa Ramos from Blog Article: 10 Tips for Selling at Art Shows and Festivals - From An Artist Who Has Done 160 Plus Shows

If you are you curious about some tips for selling at art shows and festivals you have arrived at the right place. I am a handbag and jewelry artist and have done over 160 art shows and festivals since launching my business, MONOLISA. I have been writing about my art shows and festival journey in my monthly Artist Life Blog. Participating in art shows has been quite the experience and many teaching moments along the way. Participating in shows has taught me about marketing techniques, art show logistics, how to improve sales performance and the psychology behind customers. One thing that never changes, it is extremely hard work. In this blog article I am discussing 10 tips for selling at art shows and festivals - don't miss the photo gallery with extra tips below. 

 "Sharing experiences can help others - so why not do it?"
MONOLISA Booth with California Artist Lisa Ramos from Blog Article: 10 Tips for Selling at Art Shows and Festivals - From An Artist Who Has Done 160 Plus Shows


Tips for Selling Your Work at Art Shows and Festivals 

Know Your Target Market 

Understand who your target market is. This means who is buying your work and shows interest? If you ask yourself what type of spending power do your customers have that will help guide you geographically - where you are likely to find your ideal customer? For example, if you are selling expensive art pieces then you want to participate in shows that bring shoppers with disposable income and who appreciate art.

Gain Show Experience 

Participating in shows will help an artist obtain a better understanding about their target audience and how people are responding to their work. Having different show experiences provides a better understanding about where your customer shops and if they are connecting with your work. Don't be shy, speak to customers. Having conversations with people may inspire you to create new pieces or fine tune what you have. For example when I first started selling handbags I kept hearing customers say, it would be great if your crossbody bag had an adjustable strap. After hearing that statement over and over I decided to create some bags with adjustable straps. That small change helped increase my sales and meet those customer needs. Keep in mind it takes time to start building a customer base and doesn't happen overnight - it takes patience and time. Don't overthink doing shows, get out there and work on getting comfortable selling.

Be a Great Salesperson 

If you can be a great sales person you will be on the road to success. Sales requires customer interaction and patience before a sale. Just keep practicing at shows. Perfecting a short introduction (under 30 seconds) about your collection is a nice starting point when meeting people who enter your booth. I enjoy discussing details: how I make  my collection, the materials I work with and why my pieces are unique is a nice entry point. The goal of an introduction is to start connecting with others. A short introduction is a fine balance of introducing yourself and not talking too much - avoid annoying the customer. Most people want to learn about your story - how you got started and your business journey. There will be some people who aren't interested in hearing your story so practice patience and understanding. 

Send A Monthly Newsletter

Marketing to your customers and potential customers is essential to growing a business. One of the best and easiest ways to do this is to create an email database list - customers and interested customers. I prefer using an app such as Mail Chimp to collect the emails, because I often can't read people's handwriting. Sending a consistent monthly email informing customers about your show schedule is a nice reminder about your work. This marketing technique will pay off - I have seen the results over the years for my business. PS it also helps the art show community - artists, entrepreneurs and the event organizer. If some of my customers come to a show then they may purchase other artist's pieces - we are all in this together.

Invest in an Awning

Keep customers comfortable and encourage shopping by investing in a awning for those hot sunny days. It took me a few years before I could find a professional looking and durable awning. The awning I recommend to vendors is the standard 10 foot awning kit at Camelback Displays. The only thing I regret is not finding it sooner - I lost sales opportunities during hot days when customers couldn't quickly find shade. Now my awning keeps the sun out of my booth and the customers coming in. Just check with your event promotor to make sure you can use an awning. There are some cities that don't permit awning usage due to fire code rules.  

Bring an Industrial Dolly

Having a durable dolly is one of the most important pieces of equipment - it makes load in and out a breeze. I see so many vendors struggling with transporting their equipment and art work. It doesn't have to be that way if you have the right dolly. I use an industrial dolly called the  RocknRoller Multi-Cart  R18RT "Mega Plus". It is designed with a powder-coated steel tube frame and goes from 42-60 inches in length. Its has a load capacity of 700 pounds, it easily collapses and weighs only 37 pounds. It is the best dolly I have ever used and worth every penny. 

Listen to Customer Feedback

Listening to others goes a long way. While I am interacting with customers at shows I appreciate their feedback - positive and negative. I find customer feedback insightful and valuable information to help grow my business. Their feedback develops an understanding about my market and what people are shopping for. I have fined tuned and added to my body of work over the years based on customer feedback - observing customer reactions and seeing what sells. This strategy has resulted in better a better collection of my work and has delivered more sales.

Be Prepared For Any Type of Weather

Mother Nature is out to get you all of the time - be prepared. Heat, wind, rain and cold weather can effect sales. It can also have an effect on you physically. Must haves for outdoor show days - a hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, sneakers, frozen water, snacks, jacket, and allergy medicine, Tylenol, cough drops to sooth your voice from talking all day, standing mats, comfortable chair and portable fans to stay cool. Other essentials include strong tent weights, durable displays, rain cover for transporting your work, extra pair of shoes and socks - your feet will get wet if you are walking through grass at 6am. It has happened to me multiple times. 

Load in Tips

Arrive to shows early. Arriving early can mean setting up quicker and finding a great parking space. My philosophy, I can sleep later. If you arrive when it is too crowded your patience will likely be tested - who wants that before starting a show? Another bonus, if your booth is ready before the start of a show I guarantee you will make some early sales when you least expect it.  

Load Out Tips

After taking down my booth over 100 times I have almost perfected how load out time works best for me. First, I take down my entire booth. Then I load all of my art work on the dolly - six bins and my plastic cases on top. Next, I make sure that the rest of my equipment - table, weights and display equipment is off to the side near the curb. This allows me to easily collapse my pop-up tent. I make three dolly trips to my car,  avoiding vendor car grid lock. Although my method ends up being a lot of work physically,  I don't have to fight vendor traffic and usually get out sooner than others. A bonus about this strategy, I burn some serious calories pushing that dolly. My goal is to get out, not get stuck in traffic and head home.

       "I am writing this to help new artists starting their business and for those entrepreneurs who are curious about about what I have learned doing shows."

      Handbag & Jewelry Designer, Lisa Ramos | Picture from The Art World - Getting Your Work into Art Shows Blog Article
      This blog post is written by California Handbag Designer, Lisa Ramos who has featured her handmade MONOLISA collection at over 160 events in California. 

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