The outdoor art show season is here in New England! Beautiful settings in towns, along the sea and in beautiful parks. But do the attendees appreciate the amount of work it really takes as they wander through the tents? I’ll speak to participants here but attendees will get an idea of the work involved in participating in an outdoor show.
Firstly, decide if these outdoor venues are for you. As an artist, is this how you’d like to spend your time–working in your home studio, or driving to a location maybe hours away, setting up a display in the very early morning, talking and repeating yourself to untold numbers of visitors, or patiently waiting for the occasional visitor to stop by, wondering if the weather will cooperate–sun, rain, wind or other, and of course preparing enough work for your display. Entry fees range from $30.00-over $300.00 per show. Professional tent setups range from 1200. -2000. depending on configuration.
Secondly, decide if your family situation is suited to your traveling and being away every weekend of the summer or at least many weekends. This will obviously impact your relationships with spouse and children. Its best if they are on board with this decision as it will mean a lot of time away and may be stressful on the family.
Thirdly, is your work appealing enough for visitors to purchase on an ‘impulse’ buy? Or do they need more than one interaction with the work and decide not to buy at the show. You can consider doing a series specifically for shows that may be a bit different than your other series or studio work.
Fourth, are you ready to do the work to learn to sell your work?–since it doesn’t sell itself. Learning how to approach visitors during a show is critical. Visitors like to interact with the artists as you build your fan base. A simple–‘hello, what kind of art are you usually interested in’, or ‘what kind of subject matter do you find appealing’? Yes, you will keep the entire price you receive for a painting rather than splitting a gallery fee which can be as high as 50/50. This is a great part of doing direct sales to your customers. Some shows can be very successful financially for artists who have worked at finding just the right ‘work’ that sells.
Lastly, provide visitors with a way to contact you in the future. Give them a chance to think about how much they loved your work. Provide a flier, web address, social media contacts, note card with art sample or other memorable trinket. A one or two-day show can provide a lot of exposure to new audiences for your work. With so many artists it can be hard to stand out in a crowd of good artists.
Lesson learned: Try the show circuit and decide if all aspects of it make you happy. IF not, find another sales option such as galleries for your work.
You can find me and 40 other artists at the Uncommon Art on the Common, Saturday, August 6th 2016 in Goffstown, New Hampshire. Facebook #UncommonArtontheCommon