I spent quite a bit of time researching how to get started selling art at all the various art shows around the country. There was a lot of disjointed information out there, but then someone send me this article below. It was the most informative and comprehensive source I'd read. Normally I would just introduce the topic and then link to the author's page; however in this case the article came to me as a .pdf file and I cannot find any reference to the author's name nor website (a great example of why you always need to use bylines on your work).
So I'm going to just reproduce it below. (Sorry anonymous author,,, but if you come across this let me know and I will give you the proper credit and links to your work).
Making A Living In The Art Show Circuit – So you feel you’ve compiled a nice collection of images, and your family and friends are asking for prints to hang in their homes, you may be ready to take your photography to the next level. Maybe you’ve thought about selling your images to help finance your hobby, or even making a career in photography, art shows provide the store front to a large audience.The art show circuit can be a very lucrative way to market yourself, and your photography. Art shows are available from coast to coast, and if you don’t mind traveling you can find a show somewhere on every weekend of the year. The majority of art shows are held outdoors, and in the summer months the Midwest hosts some of the largest and well known shows. During the winter months Florida is the number one place to show your work.You’ll need to put together an impressive booth, have a large amount of inventory, and good sturdy canopy to protect your work from the weather. If done properly, you will be on your way to making a good income or help support your photography habit.
Canopies – With most art shows being held outdoors and venerable to the weather, protection of your artwork is a very important issue to consider when purchasing your canopy. I have witnessed firsthand the destruction and loss of artist’s canopies and artwork from violent storms. Two suppliers of canopies which I’ve listed below produce the sturdiest canopies and best protection available at this time. Don’t cut corners on the canopy, trying to save a few bucks by buying a lower priced product is a recipe for disaster. The cheaper canopies do not stand up as well in high winds and many times I’ve help artists save their products as canopy tops start to leak in a heavy rain.
lightdomecanopies.com Light-Dome and the Finale
canopiesflorish.com Trim line canopy
Display Walls – Presenting your artwork in a manner that will entice customers to enter your booth is critical to your bottom line. There are a few options for wall systems. I personally like the carpet covered walls produced by Pro Panels or Armstrong Products.Another option that is less expensive and easily transported is mesh roll up walls made by the canopy companies. They attaches to the framing system. I’m not a fan of the mesh walls as I don’t think there as attractive looking as the carpeted walls.
- Carpet Walls -
- Mesh Walls –
- Print Display Racks – You will need a number of print racks for your customers to view your prints.They are available in wood which looks nice, but are heavy and more expensive, and canvas at less cost and much lighter to carry. Check out Dick Blick’s art supplies
Materials – As with any business, to make money you need to keep your material cost as low as possible. Look for a framing wholesaler in your area and set up an account. Mat board, foam core, glass, Mounting tape, etc. a reall materials you will need for the finished products. Ask at one of your local framing stores for a name of their local wholesalers or check out my wholesalers.
- Frames – For the best prices on framing I’m happy to have found the company,Florida Frames. They have great pricing, excellent workmanship on the frame assembly and a wide variety of framing materials. Quick delivery and excellent packing of each shipment.
- Clear Bags – Most of your sales will come from unframed prints and a clear bag is needed to protect them. The bags are available in many different sizes.You simply slide the matted print into the bag and a flap with adhesive seals the bag shut.
- Mat Cutter – When I started I bought a Logan 201 mat cutter which is Logan’s lowest price cutter. It has cut thousands of mats and has worked well. Better models are available which are easier to work with and produce a finished mat a little quicker.
- Transportation – for your booth And Inventory Transporting your booth to and from the shows is a big expense as you need a vehicle large enough to hold your booth and inventory. I use a cargo van which is what most artists use, but large cube vans are also popular. If you don’t want to pay the price of a dedicated van you can purchase an enclosed trailer to pull behind your SUV or pick-up truck..Trailers can be tough to deal with as set-up at some shows can be tight and you better learn well how to back them up.
- Hand Carts – Some shows will allow you to pull your vehicle right to your booth and unload, but some shows you will have to carry you set-up from a distance.One show I had to go a quarter mile from my van to my space. A hand truck is what you’ll need to transport you booth and inventory.The cart shown here is what I have found to be the best cart. It has different names but I bought it from a music store and was called the“RockNRoller” cart. Rock bands use it to haul their equipment.
The Jury Process – Not everyone that applies to an art show is accepted, you have to go through a jury to qualify. The largest and most well known shows may have as many as a thousand artists applying for a limited amount of spaces. Each show will determine how many spaces are allotted to each category and photography will have a certain number of spaces that you will be competing for. The amount of spaces for photography will vary from show to show. Some show will start the application process six months in advance. You will be required to send the application,three or four images of your work, an image of your booth set-up, self addressed and stamped return envelope, and a check for the jury fee,and some will want the booth fee check at this time. Some show will not ask for the booth fee until you are accepted. A 10’X10’ Booth fee will run from $150.00 on the low end shows to $700.00 or $800.00 on the upper level shows. Every show will require a jury fee which will cost from $10.00 to $40.00. The jury fee goes to hiring juries, cost of travel for the jury, renting a place to hold jury process. When sending images many shows will ask for them on slides, and some are starting to allow digital CDs. For the shows that require slides you will need to take your digital images to a photo lab to have them converted to slides. A new method for applying is through online services like Zapplications, which you upload all your info and images and pay the jury and booth fees by credit card. The jury will view all the artists by projecting images from the slides or digital images on a large screen.They will issue a number score to each artist and the artists with the juries highest combine score will gain entry into the show. If you are not accepted you will receive your return envelope with a rejection notice, your booth fee check, and you are out the cost for the jury fee.
Finding the Shows – Once you have your canopy, display walls, print bins, and inventory ready to go you need to start applying to some shows. You might be already aware of a few art shows in your area, but you will need help to locate the vast amount of shows that exist in your state and across the country, if you decide to travel outside your area. The two main sources for art show information is the Art Fair Source book and the Sunshineartist magazine. The Art Fair Source book is sold by regions and will list the top performing art shows and all the possible information you will need to know before applying to those shows. The Sunshine Artist magazine is a monthly issue that covers art shows across the country and information about marketing, canopies,displaying your products, travel, etc.
Thanks to my sponsors,Fujifilm Lensbaby Florida Frames
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