Art fairs are a terrific way for potential customers to view your work up close and personal. However, before jumping into this type of self-marketing scenario, there are a number of variables you should consider before committing to an art fair.
Are you getting your work out there?
We all have thousands of images these days. Hopefully, you’re starting to print them and put them in books or albums so they don’t get lost as time passes; the family vacations, the momentous events and even just the silly and fun family photos that are lurking on your hard drives. If you’re like me you have a box or twelve full of prints from your parents or your own past that you actually every so often pick through and remember those times and people. But, what about those “oh I should frame that” shots, or the images that other people have wanted to buy from you? Where are those and how do you go about getting them out there in the world for someone to discover?
There are plenty of websites to post images on and many of them offer a way for viewers to buy them. Do you know the quality of the labs used by these services? Not always. Are the buyers getting to know you, the artist? Not usually. While selling your images on the Internet can work, it’s very impersonal, you can’t meet and get to know your potential customers, they can’t get to know you and hear your story and you can’t hear theirs. Sometimes the personal touch is what it takes to get someone who is interested to actually purchase. They like you; they would love to own a piece of your artwork. The story behind that one image resonates and connects with them and that’s all it takes for them to purchase. That is really difficult to do via the Internet.
Checking into your local art organizations is a good place to start. Some of them host art fairs and offer discounted fees for members. Art fairs are not easy. They are a lot of work and they are definitely not going to be for everyone. They can also be very rewarding, maybe not always financially, but from a self-affirming, “maybe I’m not crazy for trying to sell my work” perspective.
Participating in art fairs can be a great way to feature your art, get to know the people in your community or nearby communities and to start getting your story and images out there. Engaging with the people attending, meeting people, hearing their stories, and making friends are beneficial to who you are as an artist. The people you meet may have a friend who would love that image if they don’t want or need it for themselves. You might meet a business owner looking to decorate their office and your work would be perfect. There are really endless opportunities that can come up just because you are physically there showing your work and getting to know people.
Art fairs can also be very beneficial for the interaction with other exhibiting artists, artists with connections that could lead to exhibiting in local gallery shows, exhibits and other special events where they exhibit artwork. Interactions and connections made at art fairs have lead to having pieces hanging in three local public spaces that are monthly rotating exhibits. Helping to organize and chair a fundraiser and art exhibit also opened up more opportunities and connections. You never know when that next person you meet is going to be the person who knows just the place or just the friend for your first sale or your next sale. Networking, need I say more?
Is the art fair circuit for you? You’ll have to determine that yourself. It is a lot of work. Inventory, tents, walls, how to hang, pricing, getting paid, worrying about the weather, not to mention just hoping you sell something at the end of the day! It is a business and needs to be treated as such. These are just a few of the things to think and ask yourself about. I’ve put together a basic guide of questions and topics to consider before even applying to your first art fair. You can request it for free HERE just put FREE ART FAIR GUIDE in the message and I will send you a copy.
In the end, have fun with it. If you’re enjoying yourself, your potential customers will too. That results in sales!
Getting your work out there for the world to see can be rewarding, and also ego bruising but it can be completely worth it. Art is personal and it’s hard to set aside that you’ve put your heart and soul into a piece to let someone decide whether or not they want it on their walls, but you don’t know if you don’t try. Smaller, local art fairs are a good way to get started. Good Luck. Have Fun!
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