As a sculptor, woodworker or artisan producing large-scale pieces, the idea of selling your work at fairs, festivals and shows can be intimidating. Your finished pieces are hefty, and even if they don't weigh a lot, they're still awkward to move from your work space to the event site. Don't let that stop you. Other handcrafted art experts are successfully building their businesses by taking the show on the road. And you can emulate their strategy of selling at events designed specifically for the type of consumer who is interested in your style of craftsmanship.
Select the Right Show
Dozens of arts and crafts shows are held each month within a fairly short driving distance from home. Your first task is to pick the best show among many for potential sales and artistic recognition.
Review local show listings. Eliminate those that favor hobbyist vendors and second-hand item sellers. Instead, focus on those that feature paintings, upscale ceramics, furniture and metalwork.
Check the prices. Like all entrepreneurial ventures, you'll need to spend money to make money. But exhibiting your works doesn't necessarily need to be costly. A single booth space is typically 10-feet by 10-feet square, and in-line booths are often less expensive than a corner space. To keep your show expenses low, you may opt for the smallest space and display only a few of your best works plus photos of the rest. If you truly need more room, ask the show organizers about discount rates for renting two side-by-side booths.
Complete the application. But before you do, make sure you understand the terms. Some shows require only a deposit to reserve the space. Others require full payment before they'll assign booth space. And some shows are set up for a low booth rental fee plus a percentage of the sales you make on the day. In this case, make sure you price your large-scale works high enough to cover the amount you'll need to pay the promoters, but low enough to make them attractive to prospective buyers.
Arrange Transportation – And Helpers
Prospective buyers will be attracted to your massive art, but the final decision to buy is often based on their interaction with you – the artist. You'll handle it all with aplomb if you make arrangements in advance for smooth, easy set-up and support.
Rent a vehicle to transport your art from your studio or workshop to the show. A small moving truck should be sufficient, but go bigger if you have a lot of booth space to fill and extra-large pieces to display. Make sure the rental has a walk-up ramp or a tailgate lift to make loading and unloading easier. For help finding an appropriate rental truck, check out websites like http://www.elitetruckrental.com.
Coordinate the rental time with the show schedule and your security needs. Optimally, you'll pick up the rental the night before, load and go very early the next morning, and return the vehicle after you unpack that evening. Some shows allow you to set up the day before the show, so adjust accordingly. Never leave a loaded rental sitting in a parking lot overnight unless there is ample lighting, and security measures are in place to prevent the possibility of theft or mischief.
Organize assistance for loading and unloading your super-size works of art. You'll also want someone along to stay in the booth during the day when you need to take a bathroom break or get a bite to eat.
You'll learn a lot from your first few art festival and craft show experiences. Soon you'll see what works best for moving and displaying your large pieces of art – and what didn't work at all. As you refine your process, the world of art fairs and craft shows can become a welcome outlet for sales and satisfaction.