13 Do's and Don'ts to Stand Out at an Art Fair

Paige Simianer | June 12, 2016

With artist after artist lining the aisles, it's difficult to stand out at an art fair. 

How can you compete with all those booths?

Standing out might be easier than you think. Presentation and professionalism can go a long way in making an impact on your art fair customers.

Whether you need help getting art buyers to your booth or making sales to those who stop by, follow these do’s and don’ts to achieve your art fair goals.

Do Present Your Booth Well

The best way to lure potential buyers to your booth is to have a good looking setup.

Invest in a high-quality, colorful sign of your name or art business logo. Then, arrange your art strategically by exhibiting your best pieces in places that will catch the attention of people walking by or browsing from a distance.

You can even hang small awards that promote your expertise. And, art fair booths don't have to break the bank. Check out these easy and affordable DIY options.

Don’t Eat or Read (we know, we love food too)

People might feel they are interrupting or as if you aren’t invested in the fair if you’re eating or reading. Artist Career Training’s Aletta de Wal explains this could cause a good sale to walk right on by. Don’t worry, we aren’t suggesting to fast all day long. You need your sustenance, so just step outside or behind the booth for a quick bite.

Do Look Welcoming

Besides your booth’s welcoming appearance, you should look friendly and attentive by smiling, with arms at your side, ready to greet customers. Otherwise, they may not feel comfortable in your space.

Lori McNee proposes you invite guests into your element by doing demonstrations or painting at the front of the booth.

Don’t Fall Back on Friends and Family

While the support of family and friends is encouraging in what can be a stressful event, remember that your goal is to sell your artwork. Another tip from Aletta de Wal: don’t pack your booth with support to the point where passersby can’t peruse and chat with you about your art.

Do Know Your Audience

Why not make it easier for yourself to make a sale? Artsy Shark’s Carolyn Edlund advises to only apply to shows that fit you.

Do your research on what style and price point art fair attendees will respond to so that your art isn’t something they have to pass on. Once you’ve picked the perfect art fair, personally invite fans on your mailing list, suggests Lori McNee, and ask them to pass along the invite to interested friends.

The more interested potential buyers, the better!

Don’t Clutter Your Space

Between furniture and art, having too much in your booth can overwhelm your customers. Avoid blocking access to your art with unnecessary tables or cluttering your space with every piece of art you’ve ever created, recommends Aletta de Wal.

It’s easier for customers to decide when their choices are limited. Decorate your booth with a crisp and clean aesthetic, with more art stored nearby to replenish your walls.

Do Act Professionally

Remember: to be taken seriously, you must be professional. This includes everything from asking them to sign a visitor’s book (which Lori McNee says can be used for future marketing purposes) to staying positive in any situation. Most guests are very complimentary, but not everyone may appreciate your particular style. Remain understanding, respond kindly, and never complain about your problems that day.

Plus, check out these five different ways to handle that awkward comment, "Your art is too expensive."

Don’t Overcrowd Your Customers

If a potential buyer dying to know more about your inspiration strikes up a conversation, great! But, some people may not want to engage in chit-chat and would rather be free to peruse your art at their own pace. Try to read the crowd and when in doubt, sit back and let them know you are there to answer questions.

Want more selling advice? Learn how to sell to the 5 people you'll meet at an art fair.

Do More Than Say “Thank You” (Engage a Conversation!)

“Thank you” should not be your only response to compliments. Why? It ends the conversation.

Your customer is giving you the open door to discussion, so instead of simply responding with “thank you,” segue into a story about yourself and your story behind the art. This builds an emotional connection to the piece that customers are likely to remember and appreciate.

Don’t Sell Your Work Without Properly Packing It Up

You worked so hard on both making and selling your piece that you wouldn’t want it to get damaged on the ride home.

Be prepared that the buyer will expect you to handle the packaging of their new piece.

If you don’t, they may say it’s not worth the trouble, and you could lose your sale. Instead, give your buyers great customer service so they spread the good word about your art business.

Do Take Credit Cards

It’d be a shame to lose a sale simply because you weren’t equipped to take credit cards. If you have a smartphone, Square is a popular solution that even sends you a free credit card reader. You just stick it into your phone, your customer swipes and signs, and you collect your money through an easy-to-use app! Learn more about Square here.

Don’t Forget to Show Gratitude

Always remember to thank your customers sincerely. Aletta de Wal remembers, “I often get a greater show of appreciation from someone who sold me a piece for $25 than $250. That’s just wrong. I’ll be more likely to go back to the artist who appreciates my business next time.”

Do Have Business Cards

Keep the relationship alive with your satisfied customers. Whether you ask them for feedback when they’ve installed your piece or to share your information with others, professional and creative business cards are a wonderful way to form a connection for future art sales. Learn the secret to effective business cards here. Don’t forget to snag their business cards as well! Leverage your contact list by sending thank you notes or invites to your next show.

Now you can tackle any art fair.

With so much talented competition present at art fairs and festivals, you need a way to stand out. From the moment potential buyers see your booth to the last thank you after selling your art, following these do’s and don’t’s will help you put your best foot forward at your next art fair.

Want to find your next art fair? Check out 5 Opportunity Sites and 5 More Opportunity Sites Every Artist Should Know About.

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