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New art show vendor seeking advice

My application for the Southtown Arts District 1st & 2nd Saturday Markets for November in San Antonio was accepted. I have had a table at a little flea market once but have not done a show before. Looking forward to it but am a bit nervous. Anybody got some good advice for a newby to this way of selling art?

I found a ton of information on the internet before I did this for the first time, for example https://www.artworkarchive.com/blog/13-do-s-and-don-ts-to-stand-out-at-an-art-fair
One of the best tips is to look approachable. I have seen artists sitting in the back of their booth, looking all grumpy. Not very inviting. Smile, even though it has been a long day and you haven’t sold anything. Sometimes the sales happen at the end. Have a story ready about your work.
First time doing this I was nervous as hell. Now I enjoy meeting all the people and talking with them. For booth or table set up you can search for pictures to get ideas. Try to make it cohesive and don’t try to cram too much in there. Things need room to breathe. I also set up my table at home to play around with how I was going to set it up to get an idea for what looked best (and still changed it when I got to the fair). It can save you time on the set up when there is pressure.
Good luck and have fun!


After many years of doing outdoor shows and hearing many pieces of advice,I’d like to focus on an oft forgotten subject…yourself! Too many times I’ve had to come to the aid of a newbie that has remembered everything for the sales of their work but didn’t take the necessary steps of caring for themselves during the long hours of presenting it. It really is common sense that gets neglected in the excitement of being accepted and setting up a show. Think of it as a camping trip. You need 1)shelter,: it can be a simple market umbrella or tent. 2)food: not all shows have food vendors or nearby shops to purchase a sandwich or snack .,and do you really want to leave your work for very long? Keep easy to hold and eat snacks because no sooner than you’d bite into that big sandwich a new customer will appear asking questions while you try to swallow that mouthful & check fro the mustard on your cheek! Trail mix bars ,a fruit etc. keeps your energy up and can be quickly set aside.3) WATER!!! I always carried at the minimum 6 -12 bottles …if you don’t need it there will always be a newbie that forgot theirs as the temps in the day steadily rose! 4) Seating …at least one chair or stool…it’s a long day and yes, you should stand to greet all that enter your tent but take a moment or two to rest or even offer a seat to the exhausted art lover that may just enjoy a moment to rest in the shade and have a conversation that may just lead to sharing your thoughts about your work…maybe a sale. I wish you the best and for my last advice …ENJOY every moment and learn !


Taking care of yourself, very true! I always bring water and snacks. I don’t like to run out of my booth to get food, so I make sure I have enough little snacks, things that are not messy. Knowing myself I’d get a stain on my clothes :slight_smile:
Also try to meet up with the vendors near you. It is fun to get to know them, exchange business cards, and if you are by yourself they can keep an eye on your booth for a minute while you go to the bathroom.
Another tip is to make a list of things you might need to bring, so you don’t forget anything. Keep this list, and add or subtract from it for next time. I still refer to this list even though I think I have everything in my head what I need to bring.

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I usually do some internet searches on previous shows at the same venue. Often, I will find photos of previous shows - and some artists post photos of their own previous show. If there is time, I go in-person to check out shows before I am “live” at the one (or I go to similar ones). They all seem to vary regarding requirements so read any prospectus/rules carefully. I make a list of what I may need (water, chair, table, etc.), and what I want to bring plus any extras (like tape, scissors), I even decide ahead of time what I’m wearing (especially for an outdoor show where I like to dress in layers). Keep in mind that you can have items/extra things in your car as a “just in case of” (Outdoor shows I keep an extra pair of socks just in case! Cold feet can ruin a day) I always create a buddy system with my neighbor artists at a show. And remember, to ENJOY yourself & try not to get overwhelmed.

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Thank you all for such good advice. I have taken your ideas and made a preliminary check list of things to take. I really appreciate it.

Im getting ready for art fair my self, i will be happy to share with u what i have figure out.

  1. Make sure your tent is solid white color because some art fairs want all tents to look same, and often they would accept only solid white tents, if you run into such fair organizers make sure you are covered.
  2. Lightening is standard and same for all, for your paintings have extra stand lamps and long extension cords so you can plug in. Art changes with light so be ready if you need better lighten space.
  3. Griddle is best to hang painting, and fairly inexpensive. You will save more if you buy insted self adjustable “grid cube” at Walmart. You can build them as tall-wide as you wish by conecting more grid panels. They sell them as day care cage for pets, toys, storage etc… chek it out on their website in “storage” category.
  4. All your art must be listed on your sales sheet, size, name, price, etc… so you can track your inventory.
  5. Biznis card and contact info must be attached to each sold painting. Its a low hanging fruit to turn one time buyers into collectors.
  6. All sold painting must be updated on your website as “sold”. People love to see their art published in media/website/ blog… what ever you got.
  7. You must make all you paintings “ready to hang” Cheapest deal is box of sawtooth picture frame hangers, at Home depot, 35 in a boxfor $5. Larger peaces secure with “D hooks” and nylon wire. You can get roll of shipping paper at dollar store and cover the back of painting prior to attaching hooks.
  8. While organizers want all boots to look identical you should do what it takes to stand out, think about painting or banner in front your tent, music, light or whatever organizers allow you to do that other seller didnt fo it yet. Be diffrent.
  9. You can not leave or finish early. Pack your stuff for 12 hour stay.
  10. City fair organizers only care to collect sale tax and fees. Be ready to stay 2h longer after show is over. They will audit your sales- inventory sheets so have all written down so you deal with them less. Smaller organizers are more business oriented, friendly and would only ask you for minimum of your time and investment. Keep this in mind, so you know with whom u deal.
  11. Selling is just a smalker part of fair, which you can do even on your own. Meeting gallery owners, art collectors, art guild members, museum and cultural societies members, media - those social and professional contacts are more important in my oppinion because those contacts supersed what u know about art business.
  12. Good luck out there! :dancer::man_cartwheeling:⚘:framed_picture::art::v:
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Hi Gregory,
Here’s another website you can get additional info on art fairs. You can ask questions and get answers from people who have done them for years.

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How did your first show go?

Richard McKinley…long time successful artist, also “how to” pastel books…STRONGLY recommends spending for a nice frame to really set off your art work !..and I agree completely… you can always offer to sell it without the frame to save the buyer some money , but doubt that will happen.