Now that summer is really over and apparently fall is over as well (currently staring at piles of snow outside my window) I wanted to reflect on my experiences this summer doing my first art markets.
Whenever I would go to arts/crafts fairs (like Fetch f.k.a. the Denver Flea) I admired the artists and vendors there. I looked up to them and I saw it as a lofty thing that I felt I could never do. Then I had a friend, also an artist, start doing arts/crafts fairs. When I visited her at her booth, I was very impressed just seeing her out there selling her art and doing her thing! It made me think, well MAYBE if she can do it, I can do it too.
Fast forward to 2019 – I set a goal for this year to apply to be in 1 art market. So I applied to be an art vendor at the Taste of Louisville in June, which had an arts/crafts section, opening day of the farmer’s market as well as other business and food vendors. It was going to be a pretty big event.
After hearing that I was accepted to be a vendor I had to work on creating art, turning my art into prints and greeting cards, finding the best printers to make said products, ordering inventory, designing out my booth and then ordering booth supplies and display items. Figuring out prices and payment methods and ordering a Square card processor. It was a lot of work but it was fun to figure it all out.
As the date drew closer the fear built up inside of me. The day before the event I was a mess. As an introverted person, I was pretty damn scared to do this. It was such a big unknown. Would I sell ANYTHING? I felt very vulnerable because my art feels very personal, as it is something I work hard on and I would be out there showing it to the public. Would I just be standing there awkwardly all day without anyone even acknowledging my art? My goal was to just make 1 sale.
Set up went smoothly, luckily I had done a test run of setting everything up in my living room days before, figuring out how I would hang my paintings and my sign. Although I was nervous, I knew how to set everything up. My husband was a huge help in getting my booth set up – helping me lift up the tent, and adjusting my sign to make sure it was not crooked.
So many friends and family stopped by and even bought things – it was so exciting to see all the support from them.
After a long day in the sun smiling and talking to people – I had made it through my first ever art market. I was elated. I had surpassed my goal of 1 sale – by making 10 sales! I was so happy. I really enjoyed talking to the people passing by, everyone was really nice. One lady bought a print of my abstract flower and said it would go perfectly in her daughter’s bathroom. I thought that was so nice. And one lady bought a print and matching card for both her mother and her mother-in-law – so sweet! It was so interesting seeing what people were drawn to – some people were drawn to the abstract florals, well mostly women, and some were drawn to my more abstract/non-objective work. I was exhausted and dehydrated but felt fulfilled and happy – and proud.
I had done something that I had set out to do, and that I was scared to do. I learned a lot and am so glad I did it.
I ended up signing up for another Art Market later this summer, since I still had some inventory and since I already had my booth set up I figured I might as well make more use of it. This time it was an evening event so I had to get some lighting for when it got dark but it was so much easier the second time around. I felt much more relaxed.
I didn’t sell as much money-wise, but had about the same number of sales and I still had a good time. I really enjoyed hearing feedback about my work. A woman with her daughter came by my booth and the mom was helping her daughter with buying something – she said she gave her an allowance to buy something at this market and she wanted to buy one of my bookmarks. It was so touching! I was honored that she wanted to use her special money to buy something that I made. I hope she enjoys it.
I don’t know when I will do another art market, nothing is on the books as of yet, but I will probably do another one some time in the near future!
If you happen to be an artist/maker and are considering doing art markets..
Here are some Tips for Art Market events, from what I’ve learned so far….
It helps to have an assistant! Grab a friend or significant other to help. Fortunately, my husband helped me so much with set up and tear down of my booth. It is so much easier to put up a tent with two people. And you will need someone to check-in with you, bring you food or give you a quick bathroom break!
Don’t forget sunscreen if it is outdoors! Even under a tent the sun may still be shining on you all day.
Have snacks and a water bottle. Even though I had a water bottle I still got super dehydrated because I was pretty busy. I didn’t remember to drink enough water!
Do a test run the day (or two) before to make sure you know how to set everything up and to see how things look. Then you can make last minute changes to your display if need be and you will feel much more prepared the day of.
Have your supplies/inventory organized – I got two plastic bins w/lids to easily carry all the smaller art inventory and table display items so I wouldn’t lose anything and I could easily hide it under my table during my show.
Have a cash box – well I only had 1 cash sale but it was still good to have just in case!