Art Marketing Tips: 5 Things to do to Prepare for an Art Fair

Photo caption: Promotional postcards are inexpensive giveaway items that artists can give to potential collectors at art shows and art fairs. Photo by Sam Lion from Pexels.

As an artist of the New Renaissance, you have many digital weapons in your belt to promote your brand and create a career for yourself. The power and opportunity in social platforms like instagram is, in many ways, unparalleled. However, you can still create immensely beneficial relationships with your art buyers at in-person events like art fairs and art shows - If you know how to do it right. 

Currently, many of these events are not taking place. However, given how much art has been sold online in recent months, it’s fair to say that art buyers will likely go back out in droves to buy more art when it’s safe to do so. That being the case, it’s always good to prepare for a big event, like an art fair or show, in order to be ready when the time comes. For the hero artist, even downtime is used to its fullest!

In any event, success at these shows requires preparation, as well as conviction, motivation and purpose. Artists who bring these character traits to a show AND an excellent portfolio of work often find a new market for their work. If you have an opportunity to attend an art fair (or other live art-selling events) in the future, here are five things you can do to prepare. 

1. Find Out if You Need Any Seller’s Permits, Insurance, Etc. 

These items are just standard operating procedure in the majority of live shows. Once you’ve been accepted at the show, you’ll want to contact the event’s organizers right away to find out what you need to do to satisfy this requirement. All of your art marketing plans will be in vain if a lack of these documents keeps you out of the show.

On a related note, you’ll want to figure out how you’re going to accept payment for your wares. Attendees of these events usually pay by credit or debit card, so you’ll want to have a card reader on your phone and an account that allows you to accept payments. 

That said, you’ll also want to bring enough cash to get change and to allow you to buy snacks and drinks for yourself throughout the event.

2. Prepare Some Freebie Swag

One of the big benefits of an art show is that it brings literally thousands of pre-qualified art lovers right to your table (potentially). In other words, people literally come here to spend and to find new artists’ work that they love. 

Offering free swag items, like postcards, deluxe business cards or single-sheet calendars, is smart for a couple of reasons:

  1.  People like to keep these items, which means your work will be in front of them long after the show is over. All of your hard work and determination to make this show a success will be for naught if people forget about you. Having something to give them helps to keep you top of mind!
  2.  Having freebies to give away gives you an opportunity to break the ice and talk about your art to potential buyers. If you feel a bit shy talking to people, having a proper elevator pitch and some props to illustrate with. This will help to strengthen your resolve to talk to people and fill your socially-nervous heart with a bit of courage. 
  3. They can be part of a larger giveaway package. For example, if you’re giving away a print in exchange for people’s contact information (to build your mailing list), it’s nice to have items to give to everyone who expresses interest in your work. While not everyone can win the big giveaway, everyone who takes the time to talk to you can get a little something to remember you by. 

3. Stock Up on Art, Art Prints, Mugs and More

While it would be an artist’s dream to go to an art show and sell out, not having enough items to sell could end your fun early - so make sure you bring a variety of inventory. Having a number of different types of items for sale also allows you to offer items at a range of price points. 

Here are some ideas for items you can bring in addition to your originals:



Phone covers

Books and booklets

T-shirts and other wearables

Towels and other household decorative items

In terms of numbers, you may want to try to bring 20 to 30 different pieces of art and between 10 and 30 copies of each. Additionally, if you have one or two works that you’re known for, then you may want to bring a few more copies of those particular pieces.

4. Make a Plan for Taking Commissions

Art shows and fairs are exceptional places to secure commissions. Again, because these events attract ardent art collectors who are willing to spend a lot of money on art, it’s likely that you’ll meet more than a few people who would love to have a special piece made just for them. Getting personal commissions from an event like this allows you to leave your mark on the hearts of a few more “serious” fans. 

However, you’ll want to be prepared to make taking commissions as easy as possible. If you’ve already prepared your art marketing materials, you should have a price list and a commission policy. Make sure that you have all of this information printed up, as well as information about how long commissions will usually take, up-front prices, etc.

Do keep in mind that these shows get really busy, so you may want to take a potential collector’s contact information and call him/ her after the show. Doing this allows you to really spend time talking with that collector. 

It also allows you to be relaxed and give him/ her your undivided attention, which may help secure the sale. You’ll make a much more powerful presentation if you’re relaxed.

Finally, if you want to develop a comprehensive understanding of how to price your work and to take commissions, consider looking into the Mastery Program. This professional certificate program will teach you the things you need to know to become a professional artist in one year, including how to price your work and to take commissions.

5. Visit the Site Ahead of Time

Being at a live show requires you to set up a booth. This is often just a table and chairs. Vendors - that’s you - will need to bring things, like grids to hang their artwork on, storage bins, clothes pins, scissors, and more. A visit to the site gives you an opportunity to see how big your selling space will be and to ask questions of organizers and other vendors to ensure you don’t forget anything.

Final Words About Marketing Your Art at Art Fairs

Becoming a professional artist means you must be willing to take charge of your art career and to have a plan for selling your work. Live shows and fairs allow you to meet new collectors and to establish your brand in new places.

However, as inspiring as doing these events might be for you as an artist, they also require a great deal of planning, boldness of spirit and a commitment to your work and your career. 

If you face this task with bravery, you’ll become the superhero of your own life, in charge of your career and destiny, which is why you became an artist in the first place.

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