Five things to know and prepare before a local art event or art walk

Ready for the show

Hey there ! It’s been a long while since my last blog in June 2022 which was in setting up a new artists website!

Well, I have been more than busy! Apart from family and work duties, I have been immersed in loads and loads of ART including studying new medium and processes as part of a Mastery in Fine Arts programme , exhibiting in group and solo shows -national and international and also conducting demos and workshops ! Each experience has been educational in its own way and over the coming months I am planning to write several blogs to capture my thoughts , tips and learning points ! So stay tuned !! And let me know your questions and feedback so I can address your points.

Table set up

Today I am going to give you a few tips on how to prepare for a local art show ! It is not meant to be comprehensive more an aide memor to put things on your radar. The timing will hopefully help you prepare well in advance for any art events you might be attending in the coming spring summer months

  • 1 So first and foremost assuming you have already booked some events to do this year , you will have some idea of the space that will be allocated .

If outdoors and if danger of rain you may need to enquire about a gazebo and take some clear plastic sheets with you to throw over your precious goods!

Table and Gazebo outside

  • 2 It’s important to consider the layout and display arrangements..Ask the organisers whether you will need to take your own table ( and chair, oh yes those legs are gonna hurt so invest in one folding chair if needed) and whether the venue offers any walls or stands to display your paintings . Depending on the size of your artworks you can consider mixture of upstanding display panels ( available online), browsers for prints / mounted paintings , and I also like to keep boxes of smaller unframed artwork on the table for the buyers to peruse . Use of free standing and table top easels can give a ‘fresh from studio’ vibe . Super tip -A couple of decorative pots or objects d’art to scatter around to add a layer of lifestyle interest is also a good idea!

  • Now that you have a basic idea of your layout and space , it’s time to think of mix of artworks you are going to display.

Mix of artworks

Think of taking variety of sizes at different price points . Average visitors don’t want to make huge investments during one off visits ,nevertheless one big beautiful and pricey painting , I think, is worth it to attract people to your stall and give them an idea of your skill levels . It may even prompt them to buy the smaller items more readily ! And some might commission you to paint a bigger piece for them later. Similarly, on the other side of spectrum you can get greeting cards printed with your art work and contact info / social media handles so people can take something small with them that day and if interested follow you in future !

Also it is a good idea to keep some unframed but mounted ( if on paper ) original paintings. It makes it cheaper and people often like to use their own frames anyway. Mounts are easily available online . I would also advise to pack them in cellophane bags to avoid damage from thumbprints and showers !

Artwork on display

  • 3 So apart from the actual artwork you are going to need a few more things to make your day comfortable and successful .

  • Plan your travel and parking in advance .

  • Will you be travelling alone or with a spouse /buddy ? These angels are worth their weight in gold as packing , unpacking and all the umpteen tasks on the day are back breaking work !

  • Lunch , snacks and drinks on the ready as you may get busy with not enough time to buy food.

  • Payment systems . Are you going to accept just cash and bank tranfers ? Or you can easily get a card payment system which is very handy . For eg Sum up . People don’t carry cash around as they used to so this is very useful . Also carry a few coins as change to give back to people who do give cash.

  • Table cloths , easels , racks , boxes etc to store and display . Super tip -pack them neatly in big plastic containers which can be used with a trolley if there is a lot of walking involved to get to your stand !

  • Packaging materials , scissors , cellotapes , blue tack , pens . Do you want to wrap sold work in bubble wrap or brown paper?. Do you want to add your business card or thank you card inside ?. If some of your artwork is in plastic bags already you may not need to but you should always offer to pack it in case it’s a surprise gift !

Preparations for the show

  • 4 Get to know the organisers and nearby stall holders . It makes the day pleasurable and you can share stall minding duties when you need comfort breaks.Besides they are a mine of information about other art events in your area , tips for the stand display and selling. Follow them on their social media and like , comment etc to encourage them on their work . Over time such contacts make a supportive network and you feel more engaged in the art world .

  • 5 and now Marketing and selling !

You have prepared for your art event with your best paintings and best display. Now you need to bring your A game in marketing and selling !

In some ways this should start months in advance in the form of posting on social media about your intentions to exhibit or informing your online or local audience as a chance to come and see your new work.

Most visitors like to support local artists so have a positive friendly engaging demeanour .

Dot business cards around . Or, super tip -you can keep small postcards with your art and contact info printed on it ! Chances are people are more likely to keep it propped up somewhere in their home whereas the business cards often go missing within hours !

I also like to provide my iPad or leave some paper for visitors to write down their emails if they want to stay in touch with me ( well, you might know building your email list is a big thing and I will probably do a separate blog on that in future) .

Depending on how further on you are in your experience you may want to make a banner with your logo and name . However I have sometimes found these are not the most convenient to hang up ( and I prefer to use any available space for my paintings!) Super tip – you can also get A frames with your logo and brand info which can be stood next to your table !

And above all do not forget to enjoy your day . If you are relaxed and happy it shows . If there are not many visitors you can take a sketchbook and get busy making art . It’s more appealing than an artist spending time on their mobile phone . Also do not forget to chat in a friendly ‘non-salesy’ manner with your visitors . Get to know what they like on your stand and what connects with them . You will probably not get a better objective assessment of your art elsewhere! This information helps guide ideas for the future . Super tip – write down some of the words they use to describe your art . This gives you some idea of words that connect with your buyers when you post on social media and gets your followers more engaged .

Gazebo for my show

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