We captured a rare moment with the booth empty or I wasn’t talking to someone. With so many people, the day just few by! I am not particularly shy, but I am an introvert, so I wasn’t sure how I would enjoy a full day of talking to people would be. Turns out it was great! It’s hard not to enjoy such a positive response to my work or the opportunity talk about how the images were captured or where they were taken.
The weather was extremely cooperative – thank you Universe! It was supposed to be hot and humid, but we were beneath a tree out of the sun and it was quite nice. When I was planning this in April with the late snow I found it hard to believe anyone wouldn’t be bundled up, but I was lovely. There was even a risk of a thunderstorm, but thankfully we avoided the rain.
I learned a lot from others who were doing art fairs, so the following is my giving back to that community.
We definitely had some learning experiences:
Having a second person to help was really, really helpful. If I am talking to someone the second person can answer questions for another person rather than risk having them walk away. They can always call out to you if they need answers from you. If doing it alone, I would consider a chair and a book or some kind of busy work and invite the person in.
We need a ground sheet to work on with the backdrops to avoid getting the backdrops dirty. We were able to brush off any dirt that day, but I can see how difficult it could have been if it had rained the night before.
The chicken wire and drapery hooks worked great for hanging the work, but you have to be willing to accept that the images won’t be exactly perfectly aligned with each other (OCD sufferers – take note!). But if you want to move any of the work around, it is really easy to do so if you are selling a lot, this can make life much easier.
The two outside canvases (with the fog) were hung by screws screwed into wood. If you want them to be even, this is the way to go.
I liked the ease of stapling the cloth to the frames. The back wall was done this way. But getting them off was not as easy. We used clamps for the other side, once the frames were up. Easier to dismantle, a lot harder than I thought it would be to get them up. We are still thinking about bungee-cording them for tautness (is that a word? My computer thinks not), but I am also considering velcro.
We needed more time for set up, but what we really needed was for one kid not to have had an early morning soccer practice at th same time we were supposed to be arriving at the location and especially for me also not to have forgotten where that practice was. The argument about forgotten shoes also would have been nice to miss.
The fact that we were down to one car after the started went on our Saturn meant we had to take two trips instead of one which also would have been preferable to avoid. So given all that, we did pretty ok all in all. The learning here is something we like to say in our house – there is a very high probability of low probability things happening. You are not going to know what hits you, but it will probably be something, so you have to be flexible in your plans and resourceful. Have options. Figure out what the priorities are ahead of time, think worst case, best case scenarios (that is my project manager in me, not my artist talking). That will help you make better decisions under pressure.
On the flip side, we were not competing for space to unload so I am not sure how confusing that could have been.
Get more sleep. Ahhahaha! Ok, never mind.
Bring snacks and water. Maybe have someone else look after that for you.
Next time I would spend more time on developing an organizing system for little things and then learn it. Organizing things don’t actually help you as much as you think unless it’s easy to remember under stress and flexible enough that if things don’t go according to plan, you can still find the thing. When I was a camera assistant I used to have everything labeled and color-coded and category systems for finding things quickly and packing and unpacking. You would think that I am a control freak by this admission, but in reality it’s just the opposite. It’s more like a safety net for when my brain falls out of my had.
I had ended up using a card table which, when planning, I thought it was too bulky but in reality, we needed that surface space. I think a narrow longer table would be the best option, but if so, I might opt in for a table top easel rather than the standing once I had. A ten by ten space is not that large, and anything that inhibits people from walking in needs to be considered. Although I am pictured inside, for the most part I stood outside to allow people to walk in. Most of the other booths had some form of table so walking into a booth wasn’t the default behavior of most of the visitors unless someone was already in there looking at the work.
About the easel, I have read by several other art fair people not to use easels. But at the last-minute I brought one in and we put one of the metal prints at eye level. This turned out to work out very well and caught a lot of people’s eye. The downside is that it is bulky and it inhibits people from easily looking at any nearby work.
Business cards just fanned out on the table worked better than those in a holder. Easier to grab. Putting a few images on the table allowed people to gravitate the table.
I’d put an eye-catching sign that said I took orders. I would have a price list of different options of things I wasn’t currently carrying available as I got asked if I would do bigger work and what sizes and that’s all in a spread sheet on my computer somewhere.
I was going to have a photo album of my other work. I didn’t do it because I didn’t have time, but I really don’t think this is a good idea now. I have a degree in image arts specializing in film. I’ve since spent countless hours learning and practicing my craft. Why would I anyone want to view my work the same way they view their own snapshots? I think if someone is considering a work for a particular space or asks you about other work you have, then that might be the appropriate time to bring something like that out.
The back of the frame walls bothered me as there wasn’t a booth next to us, and I think next time I’d like to get some waterproof tarp material to deal with that. Had I known, I might have considered hanging images on that side but I’m not sure I’d feel comfortable trying to keep an eye on it if I as talking to someone else.
I think you really need walls. We had one side that we were going to leave open since I was going to put the table and easel on that side. But it is just too hard to look at images with a busy background, so we ended up hanging the backdrop.