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blog category: Artist Resources

FestivalNet, Asheville, NC

Top 7 Art Fair Tips for Artists

by FestivalNet, posted 11/22/21 17:45:23   category » Artist Resources
Top 7 Art Fair Tips for Artists

Art fairs and festivals are an ideal opportunity for artists to sell their creations to grow their audiences and brands, in addition to custom orders, e-commerce, and personal sales. Artists can create a community, build an audience, & attract the attention and curiosity of curators and galleries all while exhibiting at art fairs. If you are looking to make festivals one of the ways to develop your art career, the following tips will be helpful.

1. Do Research

Research is a priority for event exhibitors. Prepare adequately and ensure that you have enough information to decide if the event is for you! Using a membership gives you access to lots of event details, contact information, and organizational tools. Keep in mind, always double check the information found on websites and social media, as details can change.

Be sure to read and understand the event contract: be aware of any refund policy, details relating to deadlines, fees, rain or shine guidelines, and all rules related to set up, the actual event, and tear down. From where to park to what the event requires of their vendors (tent color, tent weights, electricity needs, insurance, and more), there is a lot of be aware of and understand before deciding to send the application fees & committing to doing a show! If you are brand new to doing shows, consider attending a few and studying what other vendors do!

2. Follow Instructions

From the event's “how to apply” specifics to what time you are allowed to break down your display at the end of the day, be sure to follow instructions from start to finish to make a good impression and be welcomed back. Professional and successful organizers always have protocols and procedures laid out to make the events more successful. Proper coordination ensures that the attendees, artists, performers, & vendors get the best out of the festival.

When you follow the guidelines, you will be able to make the entire festival more successful, and you will also establish a better relationship with the organizers. This means that they will invite you next time and refer you to their partners and friends. More opportunities come your way when you have a good rapport with the festival organizers.

3. Stay Organized

Get organized before the fair and try to stay organized throughout. Set up systems, from containers for your items, to sales and business supplies, and be prepared! From changes in weather to rips or breaks to materials, have items on hand to take care of any nuisance. Time will be a truly precious asset when the event is taking place and when you are properly organized, you will be able to make good use of every moment. You will also be able to make a better impression when you are well organized. Remember to think about the little things like water, snacks, hand sanitizer, and back up batteries for your phone or payment processor.

4. Brand Consistency

Always pay attention to your brand when you are working in the public. How you present yourself is how is you represent your business. Your materials and presentation should be able to match your brand right down to the small details. Be authentic and consistent about your brand, and you will realize the enormous impact you will make at the fair. In addition to brand consistency, staying positive and portraying a happy demeanor while working in the public will be better all the way around.

5. A Spacious Booth

Your booth should be comfortable for your audience. Shoppers should be able to breathe easily when you are presenting to them. You will get a better crowd when your booth is adequately spacious and not overcrowded with unnecessary props. Prepare your booth well in advance and ensure that you have planned what you will include and leave out. If you are a first time exhibitor, be sure to set up completely at home, first, to learn what works and what doesn't.

Consider your chair. You don't want to sit too low behind a table. Many artists opt for a taller “director's chair” so that they can be comfortable while also maintaining their presence at events!

6. Follow up on Leads

Have business cards to hand out and encourage your new friends and customers to like or follow your social media pages! Collect email addresses and build your customer base at events. Sometimes, the best sales happen after the festival as you build rapport with your audience. Email marketing is still an important part of small business success, so take it seriously and stay consistent!

7. The Basics in Sales


When someone enters your tent, greet them and let them know you are available to answer any questions. If someone is showing interest in a piece, it's a good idea to share a story or tell a little about the process behind that piece. When you appeal to someone's emotions with a story or about the efforts spent, you're that much closer to earning a sale, or gaining a fan!

Don't talk too much & leave a little to mystery.

It's a good idea to try and offer items at various prices points. Do not put too much stock out at once, it's never a good idea to have a crowded display. Restock as needed. Offering little perks like gift wrap, shipping, or custom orders can help you stand out in the crowd as well.

Art Fairs are an exciting opportunity for an artist to exhibit their work. It gives them a chance to get in front of an audience, demonstrate their work, and build a customer list. With the tips listed above, artists can achieve better results from art fairs and festivals.

🎨 6 Myths About The Artist's Life

by Carrie Lewis, posted 11/18/21 10:37:23   category » Artist Resources
🎨 6 Myths About The Artist's Life

I've been drawing from the time I was old enough to clutch a crayon in a pudgy hand. There was never a doubt about what I'd be when I grew up; my dreams were clear and well-defined.

I would be an artist.

However. . . I've come to realize those youthful dreams about what it meant to be an artist were in error. Here are 6 of my early misconceptions:

1. The life of an artist is easy

All I had to do was make art, right? No nine-to-five job. No commute. Just stand (or sit) at an easel and paint things I loved to paint. How difficult is that?

Sure, when the juices are flowing and you're in the zone, making art is easy. But there are times when making art isn't easy. If you're a professional artist-if making art is how you make a living-you have to make art regardless of whether or not you're in the mood.

You have to finish difficult paintings. You have to accept commissions you'd rather not in order to meet expenses. And you have to paint even when the latest painting grows tiresome and due dates loom.

That's when the life of an artist is anything but easy. It is, in fact, just like the life of any working person. You do it because has to be done, plain and simple.

2. If I paint it, it will sell

This one makes me chuckle these days, but in my younger years, I believed anything I painted would sell. All I had to do was paint it.

Later on, I realized that people couldn't buy what they didn't know about, so I started going to shows. All I had to do was present my work. Once they saw it, they wouldn't be able to resist it.

I can now safely say that not only does an artist have to turn out the best work they can, they also have to create something that people want and get it in front of them at a time when they have the means to buy it.

All of that is an ongoing process. . . there's no "one-and-done" solution for artists.

3. I won't be the one marketing my art

I'm an artist. Artists make art. That's all I have to do. Of course, we artists understand the creating part. That's what we were born to do. Marketing, however?

Not so much. In fact, for most of us, it's more like "No way! I'm an artist. I don't market!"

Think again, friend.

No one knows your work better than you do; the motivation for each piece, the things that inspire you, and all those other personal, behind-the-scenes things that go into each piece of art.

Sure, you can hire a gallery to exhibit your work or a publicist to market for you, but you're still responsible for marketing in some form. You have to get out and among the people and engage with them.

Spend all your time in the studio and you're likely to have a small or non-existent fan base and a studio full of unsold art.

4. I don't need to go to college

I knew in the beginning that I needed to learn everything I could about painting in order to be the best I could be. But I eschewed college because at the time I went to college, non-representational art was all the rage.

"Let's just express ourselves!" was the mantra. But I wasn't into self-expression. . . that's not why I made art. I wanted to learn how to put paint on a canvas in the best possible way to make my equine subjects look like they could blink or snort. The few classes I took didn't teach that, so I thought I didn't need school.

In some ways, this was the right decision. My vision wasn't diluted by whatever was popular at the time or by the personal agenda of an art teacher whose artistic goals were in opposition to mine.

But as I've grown older, I've come to see I also failed to gain some things that could have been gained only in a classroom setting.

5. I will be able to make my living creating art

At the time, I also thought I'd be making a living from my art quickly. As in, within years of graduating high school. All I had to do was find the right client and I'd be set.

If that's the key, then I'm still looking all these many years later.

Art has been paying for itself for many, many years. But those dreams of being a self-supporting artist have never come true. Nor are my dreams the same as they used to be.

You see, I used to think living on my art meant living on the portraits I painted. Yes, some artists do live on the sales of their artwork, but many supplement sales with other things. Teaching. Merchandise. Licensing. A day job or a spouse's day job. Writing for art blogs.

I've been blessed with great clients. I've also been blessed to have day jobs that help me continue making art and to now have a husband who is willing to sacrifice the income of a second day job in exchange for giving me the opportunity to do more painting.

6. I will be famous

This last dream went something like this:

I'd be so well-known for my horse portraits that famous and wealthy people would pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for one of my paintings. They'd pay travel expenses to have me visit their farms or race tracks or show rings so I could see their horse and create the portrait. I'd fly all around the world, painting pictures wherever I went to wide acclaim. In my own, private jet.

I laugh now as I write this, but not for the reasons you might think. You see, of all the things I've mentioned, this is the dream I gave up willingly. All of the rest were given up after lessons learned in the School of Life Experience. They were let go with reluctance, for the most part.

Being famous? I let that go without batting an eye. Why? Because I found other ways to measure success.

  • Teary-eyed clients, joyful over a posthumous portrait of a beloved pet
  • The satisfaction of a painting well done
  • The joy of creation-yes, even when it's hard work
  • The places I've been and the things I've done because of my paintings

In short, I've learned there are things more important than wealth or fame. Things that only an artist can do. More specifically, things only I can do.

Does all this mean I've given up on my dreams? No way.

I've lived a true artist's life, and I've learned that those early dreams only existed in a rose-colored version of the real world. That's not where I live. I've grown as an artist and as a human being, and as a result, my goals and aspirations have also grown and matured.

As an artist who's always wanted to live the artist's life . . it's a good place to be.

From the FN Artist Newsletter Archives
By Carrie Lewis for Empty Easel

5 Ways to Make Your Art Booth a Little More Customer-Friendly

by Niki Hilsabeck, posted 11/01/21 10:45:07   category » Artist Resources

So, the more you can do to make your booth customer-friendly, the greater chance you have of selling your work and gaining new potential collectors. Here are a few tips that have worked well for me:

1. Label your pieces clearly

The first two questions customers tend to ask when viewing your work often involve medium and price.

Putting labels on each piece which state the title, size, medium and price will answer those questions before you even have a conversation with your customer, letting them quickly decide if they're interested in knowing more about your technique or purchasing your work. Remember, your booth is functioning partly as a store—you probably don't like to ask what everything costs when you go shopping, and neither do your customers.

2. Provide space to "take in" your work

Art collectors know that paintings look best when viewed from 5-10 feet back, so give your viewers room to walk around, take in each piece, and then stand back and look at it. Also try to make sure there is "breathing room" between your pieces—loading up your booth with too much art makes it difficult for some visitors to focus on individual paintings.

When a visitor to my booth takes the time to step back and view a piece from a few angles, I know there's a chance they're imagining the piece in their home—this is one of the first steps to a possible purchase.

3. Limit personal visitors and be approachable

I've never made a sale while I had personal visitors in my booth. It's great to have friends and family stop by, but it can be intimidating for potential buyers to walk into your booth and see a group of people having a good time together—like walking into a party where everyone knows each other but you.
There's also the issue of space—people visiting are taking up room, so share a quick few minutes with family or friends, then send them off with a hug so you can get back to work.

If you've got a helper, take turns being alone in the booth. If you and your helper are working together, be sure to greet visitors as they walk in and then physically separate yourself from your partner. Of course, make sure you identify yourself as the artist, so the customer feels comfortable approaching you with questions or conversation.

4. Allow viewers the chance to pick something up

This may sound like a scary proposition, and it won't work if you've only got large pieces that shouldn't be handled. . . but if possible, set out a table of small pieces that visitors can connect with through touch. This will give them a small taste of ownership.

Of course, if a customer expresses interest in a piece that's hanging up, it doesn't hurt to take the piece down and let that person hold it for a moment (provided you feel comfortable doing so).

5. Be intuitive with suggestions and information

If someone shows interest in a piece, offer a few details about it—how you created it, what inspired it, or how other viewers have reacted to it. If someone mentions they're from out of town, mention your shipping services or offer to package it up for the trip home.

Whenever possible, provide a display that details your technique so customers feel knowledgeable about you as an artist. Also make sure to display your acceptable payment methods and mention it if the subject of payment comes up. If the buyer wants to continue to shop after purchasing, offer to hold the purchased items until they're ready to leave.

. . . and here are a few "dont's" as well

Don't eat in front of customers if you can help it—it makes things awkward—and no matter how rough a day you're having, refrain from complaining about your day.

Handle criticism graciously. Yes, it's irritating when people are rude in your booth, but being unpleasant back will make your booth uncomfortable, and that's the last thing you want. Instead, take the high road and stroll out of your booth along with those annoying visitors (don't worry—they'll follow you) getting all the bad energy out of the booth. Good luck at your next art fair or exhibit!

From our Newsletter Archives, by Niki Hilsabeck.

Ten Steps to Successful Custom Work

by Quinn McDonald, posted 09/02/21 12:52:46   category » Artist Resources
Ten Steps to Successful Custom Work

Custom work can be rewarding and exciting, but it takes time and good communication skills. If you like talking to clients, are interested in others' ideas, don't mind sticking to deadlines, and are good at follow-up, custom work can be rewarding-financially and artistically. Here are some steps that will help both you and your client to enjoy the experience.

1. Decide whether or not you want to do custom work before the client asks. A client who hears "I'm not sure," or "I guess so," is not filled with the confidence that leads to a successful transaction. Until you are sure you want to, say 'not yet,' to clients.

2. Get off to a good start with a client. If you are in a store or at a show, agree on a time to talk at length. Taking down details while you are helping other clients is too distracting. Follow up and call the client at the time you said you would.

3. Listen. Try to picture what the client wants. Let the client talk without interrupting. Take notes to remember questions. Repeat what the client said to make sure you are both saying the same thing. Once you are clear on the idea the client has, you can introduce your own viewpoint.

4. Talk money. Once you and the client agree on size, complexity, colors, exact wording or image, materials, and delivery time, you will want to clear the price with the client. If you can't figure it out immediately, tell the client you will get back with the estimate within three days. Be clear about how you get paid-by the hour, by the word, by the project.

5. Deliver the estimate in writing-either in print or via e-mail. Keep it short and clear. Repeat all the details the client wants. Give the estimate amount, and then spell out how you want to be paid. A deposit of half and he remaining half at delivery is fine. Include information that clarifies the amount of client input. For example, agree to show the client three thumbnail sketches to get approval on layout and overall idea, but once the thumbnail is approved, any other changes will result in additional charges.

6. Get the client's signature on your estimate. The signature shows the client you are serious, both about the work and about getting paid. A useful contract explains that if the client has a change of heart, you will be paid for your time and materials. If the client is hesitant about signing a contract, don't start work until you have the signature and the deposit. If a client wants to pull out, the ideal time to do so is before you start work.

7. Don't make business decisions out of fear. Most mistakes happen because the artist is afraid the client will be offended talking about money or rules. In 15 years of doing custom work, the only time I ran into trouble was when I wasn't clear about how I charged.

8. Stick to the schedule. Build in extra time for yourself as you make the schedule. Give yourself one extra day for every three days you think it will take. That gives you time for family and work emergencies

9. Prepare for the presentation. Before you show your work to the client, review the details from the original discussion. The client might not remember that she asked for "something romantic" and is now thinking along the lines of "whimsical." Getting back to the original is a great way to stay on track. If your preliminary approval sketches are very different, explain what makes them different. Then show the client the choices you brought.

10. Be the expert. The client hired you because you are an expert in your field. Keep artistic control at the approval stage. Avoid having the client combine elements of all your ideas. You want the client to be attracted to one style or concept, so say, "you can choose or reject anything I show you, but you can't combine parts of the separate concepts." Setting up the rule first helps that happen.

Quinn McDonald is an artist & writer.
Image: istockphoto@Vesnaandjic

Should You Quit Your Day Job?

by Carolyn Edlund, posted 10/25/17 16:28:09   category » Artist Resources

Should You Quit Your Day Job?
Carolyn Edlund


Several people lately have asked my opinion of simply quitting their day jobs and going solo as an artist. I'm self-employed myself, and owned a studio for over twenty years, so I'm a big fan of the independence and satisfaction of being a business owner. But it's not for everyone.

It partly depends on your personality. Does facing a challenge, like coming up with next month's rent through sales of your work, energize and motivate you? Or does it throw you into sudden panic and possibly an anxiety attack? Only you can tell what your comfort level is here. But, you can overcome some of the stress by putting a plan into place that works on multiple levels to bring in the income you will need when you quit that day job.

Read more!