I’ve been looking back at some of our older booth setups. It’s interesting how things have evolved.
This was our very first booth, our first real show. I invested something like $60 in a tent (maybe less, I cannot remember, but I do remember it was blue, and dark and hot inside, and I got it from Aldi.)
At first I was also selling all my books and crosses I was making, along with the art. This wire shelving thing turned out to be bad for our booth because it took way too long to set up and take down. In addition, it really didn’t display things as well as I had hoped.
I was also selling other small items, like message clothespins I made and very small prints (2 by 1 inch!).
However, I quickly saw that all this was rather confusing. After all, I was about the art, not chotchkies. So I focused on that going forward. But from the beginning, the magazine racks we painted were perfect. (Something we actually did right, right from the start!).
They helped uniform the look of my booth and set the mood I wanted. At the time, I loved the colorful, plastic tablecloths I was using, but looking back, they do not compare to the black, cloth table covers I’m using now.
Also, I really was trying to cram too much stuff on the table. I think the more clear you booth is, the better people will be able to see all that you offer. It gives them a clear, instant view of your brand and your work.
See those boxes behind the magazine racks? I still use those. I love them. They add height so I can put things at various levels. I can’t always bring as many as I’d like but I still find them helpful, and I’m still using the ones I bought at the very beginning.
You can see just a hint of that blue tent in this picture. I love the color blue, of course, but I got the tent because it was cheap. I still wasn’t sure I’d be able to sell at art fairs and was really just trying it all out.
I look back at all this and still can’t believe it was just three years ago. I mean, we’ve come a long way! That first year we only did a couple shows. The next year, we did a couple more. But nothing like the schedule I have now. In fact, that first year I wasn’t even doing the really large shows.
Then, the following year, we changed our booth again. We still had the big blue tent (because, even though I knew we needed a new one this one was still in good shape! I was going to use this thing until I couldn’t any more.)
I realized I needed some kind of sign (which you can see in the bottom right of the picture – although it has a shiny glare), and I changed the table coverings from the lighter teal plastic to the cobalt plastic.
I was still selling all my books. I later realized this was not a good venue for the whole lot, although the art-related books sell well and the poetry sells because it is connected to the art.
I also started highlighting individual prints by placing them in holders. This helped with the display and to call attention to some of the more popular prints.
Those first two years we did a couple shows. Not much. But enough where I saw that there was a market for my art. In fact, in those first two years I wasn’t even in shops or galleries yet.
That changed the following year when I started calling on places and quickly found “my” kind of store. Now, I’m in artsy boutiques and galleries throughout the Milwaukee, Madison, and Chicago areas. Last year I was also in GreenCraft Magazine, which raised my profile again and helped people get familiar with my style of art and poetry. And last week’s article on the Artsy Shark website was also a thrill, because that site is about art and business. I’ve been a subscriber for a long time.
This was our booth at a show recently. Wow, how it’s changed!
First, the white tent is so much better. (The big blue tent finally bit the dust and I had to get a new one.) The bunting I have around the edges really helps identify this booth as mine. It has my art on each little flag. The big prints out front help show the detail in my paintings. We don’t always have sides clear like we do in this setup (sometimes we are jammed really close to the booth next to us) but when we do have a side open we take advantage of it but showing prints on each end. I still have a few of the boxes for display.
My “Art and Faith” sign helps people understand right away what my booth is about. And see how much lighter the white makes the inside?
I love that we are still using the magazine racks, and still in the same color. They compliment the art nicely and are completely functional. People stand there and flip through each print, and by now I have quite a lot of them! Over 100, so there is a lot of variety to look through. I love that this helps set up a vibe that welcomes people in so they can chill out and look through the art at their own pace. You need to do this with art. It is a different type of product than other types of things and you need the quiet space to just figure out how you feel about it.
I also like that we now have black cloth table coverings. They look so much better!
Instead of all my books, I now only sell art-related ones. Here is my latest coloring book and you can also see a copy of my prayer warrior journal in there. I also sell limited copies of Poiema there. There are some folks who really enjoy the poetry that is on my art and they ask me about it, so it’s nice to show them the book because really, it’s all related.
I still sell cards, and my booth is the only place I do sell them, although I do hope to be able to sell them online eventually.
Yay, magazine racks! I love how functional and pretty they are. Even as banged up (like this one) some of them are they still fit with my boho, reuse it, vibe.
And when I remember, I encourage people to sign up for my email newsletter! Sometimes things get really busy and I forget. But I try to have this out because I’ve found that the people who come to my booth enjoy knowing about sales and news and new art and all the things that my newsletter contains.
Finally, I started selling bags. I thought about selling them forever, but I had to try out quite a few vendors before I found one I liked. It was important to me that they be super sturdy, stain resistant, and true to the colors in my art.
I was thrilled when I not only found a vendor I liked but that I could also offer them online here in my shop. The bags are another way to show people the art and also give them an option if they are looking for a gift or something for themselves and they aren’t sure they want a print. See how clear the details come through on those bags? I looked long and hard to find a vendor that would provide that! I put a lot of details into my art and wanted the bags to be clear and a proper reflection of the art.
When I look back at these pictures, it warms my heart so see how far everything has come with each new show. In just three years my art booth has evolved as it needed to and I’m grateful for every person that stops in and supports me. It means everything to me. Truly!