Fair Well at Art Fairs
Outdoor art fairs are an ideal way to get your work in front of a new audience, meet with other artists and sell your creations. Never participated in an art fair before? Have some questions? We’ve got you covered.
Here are some pointers and tricks of the trade to help make your art fair experience a successful one. Enjoy!
Fun in the Sun
Don’t let the sun wreck your work. Always use quality materials. Most major manufacturers contribute to the efforts of the American Society for Testing Materials (ASTM) — the organization that devised a series of standards for evaluating pigments for lightfastness.
Quality manufacturers select pigments with an ASTM lightfastness rating of 1, or excellent, to make their products. Look for companies that display or cite light fastness ratings for their products. Examine products that provide the chemical name of the pigments they use along with the binder and any other additives.
Displaying work outdoors is never ideal. If you must, use acrylic glazing or UV glass when framing your work. Hang weighted, white fabric on the sides of your tent to create a sun shield. The weights prevent the fabric from moving in the breeze, and white is preferable over fabric with colors that will reflect onto your art.
On The Move
You may be wondering, “How do I move my work from my studio to an art fair?” The outdoor art community has a variety of durable painting carriers from which to choose — even those for transporting wet paintings. These are simply boxes with fixed dividers to keep the paintings, often ¹∕8- to ¼-inch thick, separated from one another. However, this system is not suitable for framed art.
If you can, recreate the same type of box but space the dividers farther apart to accommodate framed works of art. Another solution is to use a large, heavy-duty cardboard box as a container and double-thick cardboard as dividers. Cut the cardboard sheets to fit
Cut the cardboard sheets to fit snugly within the interior of the box. Place a painting in the box lying on its side and insert a layer of cardboard on top of it. Repeat until all paintings are secured and fill any void within the box with additional sheets of cardboard.
Used with care, these boxes will last a fairly long time. Spray paint the exterior of your boxes makes them more durable and potentially water resistant. Outfit the boxes with thick cords and handles to make them easier to carry.
Attracting Clients to Your Booth
Consider creating new work in your booth during shows. It’s a great way to engage clients about your process and inspiration, as well as draw them to your work. However, you should keep in mind a few essential steps:
- Painting with acrylic, for instance, assures fast drying, but you should still wait at least 48 hours before assuming the painting is completely dry.
- Warn customers that fresh paintings can appear dry but may transfer paint to clothing, skin or the interior of the car.
- Consider making disposable shadow box frames out of cardboard to protect the painting when placed in a clear bag. Not only will this help safeguard your hard work, but your potential customers will greatly appreciate the precaution.
Keep your work safe from curious hands. Signage is the best way to convey your wishes. Explain to your customers that acrylic paint is prone to attracting dirt from fingers that touch it.
Applying an acrylic solvent-based varnish will protect your artwork. It provides a tougher barrier than clear acrylic mediums or dispersion varnishes, and it’s less prone to retaining finger marks.
If marks do appear, it’s easier to wipe them off than those left on unvarnished work or those varnished with an acrylic medium or acrylic dispersion surface coating.
With these essential guidelines in mind, you are well on your way to enjoying productive, and hopefully profitable, art fairs!
Do you have any tips for ensuring success at an art fair? Tell us in the comments below.