Thursday, July 15, 2010

Art Fair Booths

Having a more professional looking booth to sell my pottery is one of my goals. In previous years I used my work tables covered with table cloths. After visiting art fairs over the last several months I decided I wanted to improve the look of my booth. I plan on setting up my tent in the back yard and making up a mock display in the next couple of weeks. Many art fairs request a photo and that way I'll have one to send to them.

I reflected back to an art show I did in California where many folks seemed to walk right by my booth. As I watched the people walking by I saw their eyes weren't even glancing towards my booth. A light went on and I thought to myself, they don't notice my work because it's below their eye level as they walk by; I need something taller. So with that in mind, I decided to research some taller shelves. My friend Hil-Dee ordered these folding and stackable shelves from this company. The beauty of this type of book case is that it folds up for storage and is stackable for extra height.

Ideally I'd like to have work I can keep packed so I don't have to unpack it each time. I have plastic bins which stack that I pack my work in right now. These work well as they are light weight and they can be stacked. I need to label them though.

I also want a professional sign or banner for my pottery. Previously I had a sign but it was printed and placed in a placard display on my table. I'd like a banner type sign that I can place at the top of my booth on the outside. It will have to be sturdy and able to withstand the elements of sun, wind, and rain. Look at this nice pottery sign for Whynot Pottery I saw in a photo I found on google images. Isn't Meredith cute and look at how professional her booth looks. Here's a post about the wonderful banner's that Tracey Broome made for her pottery booth. Potter's are so creative. Here's a post Jen Mecca did with shots of pottery booths at Larkspur.

I've noticed lots of folks use pedestals in their booths. I remember reading about some pedestals on Michael Kline's blog that he has used for years. The photo above is from the place he ordered the pedestals.

Of course in this day and age budget is a big consideration but these are some of the ideas I'm thinking about. I figure over time I can slowly improve the look of my booth. Just visiting art fairs and looking at google images has given me a lot of ideas. If you have any tips for creating a professional looking pottery booth, please let me know. Oh, I promised my cat, Binky, I'd put his photo in the blog since Betty and Butter were in the last post. Comments, suggestions, and questions are welcome.


  1. Hey Linda! That picture of me with Tom Starland of Carolina Arts is funny- as usually I am talking!
    Booths are funny creatures we are talking about some thing different all the time.
    We find that what works for one show might not work for another.
    Some booths are 10x10 and then sometimes you will get there and find it is not quite what you thought it would be.
    Last time we forgot the sign.
    Mark found a printer who blew up our business card.
    It worked out well.
    I know some potters who have two booths- one for outdoors and one for in,
    There is so much to think about!

  2. I am guilty of being drawn to how something is displayed as much as what is.
    Sounds like you are on the right track. Goodness, and I thought potting was the hard part.
    Thoughtful to give Binky equal time. They know.

  3. Boy, presentation is everything. Well, we all know it's not "everything," but it sure makes a difference in how a prospective buyer sees things! I haven't done any art shows/fairs and am interested in how things proceed for you. Thanks for posting these resources.

  4. i have an Abstracta display that is light and portable and can be set up in many different configurations... the downside is that they are spendy and i often have difficulty getting some of the connectors apart. jeff has a full booth set up with walls and pedestals... it takes some time to put together, works well for multi-day fairs. you need a truck or van to transport something that elaborate and it looks great. i agree that different set ups work for different venues. it's never easy, is it?

  5. I've been thinking about redoing my booth, too. Right now it's pretty simple, which is fine for some outdoor shows, but perhaps not sophisticated enough for higher end shows.

    How many shows do you do a year? I don't do that many, but might to apply for more if my booth were more presentable. I like your idea of setting your booth up in the yard for photos. A dry run probably would help things go smoother when you're setting up at a show.

    I know I have to invest in myself and my business, but there is never enough money to go around. Especially since I have to buy a new canopy since mine disappeared from a friend's house.

  6. Hi Meredith, thanks, I was wondering who you were talking to, now I know. There really too much to think about, I just know I need some taller shelves since I think the pottery catches the eye better that way and the shelves take up less room in a 10 x 10 booth. I'll take a visit to a printer and see what they have to offer, blowing up the business card, what a good idea.

    Hi Patti, thanks, I guess that's why they have merchandise display artists because they are good at what they do and draw the buyers in to make a purchase. Probably some of it is subliminal. yes the cats get jealous if one gets more attention than the other.

    Hi Patricia, thanks, there seem to be a lot of shows here in the winter due to the better weather then so I am gearing up for those and there are a lot of visitors from other states that come here then, snowbirds, so hopefully I can sell some pots, so I can make more. Gary is saying my pottery is taking up way too much space.

    Hi Michele, thanks, I looked at the abstracta shelving, but they looked like they have glass shelves? is that correct. I didn't want glass or anything heavy. I do have a suburban so I have 8 feet behind the front seat so I can haul quite a bit. What pedestals does Jeff have?

    Hi Kari, thanks, I was doing two shows a month in California, but just for the summer and then three around the holidays, the one where I noticed folks walking by was a three day indoor event, it was also when the economy first started a nose dive so not many folks had sales there no matter what their booth looked like. Here in Florida I haven't done any yet, just visiting them to see how they are and what the booths are like. In winter there are lots of shows here, so I plan to start signing up for them. I could probably do a show every weekend in winter, but that would be too much for me. I hope to do two a month. Since we are in the middle of the state the driving distance shouldn't be too bad to go to them. You are right everything costs so much. I would love to have one of the curved tents, but just can't afford one now and I am shopping for the best deal on shelving and a sign. I already have one of the Costco white tents. I was using the six foot fold up tables which I already have. I am using them in my studio now and had before I had to take everything off them to use them. I hope to get set up for giving some classes here once our tile is completed, probably in winter and perhaps bead making which wouldn't take up much space in the kiln. We haven't found the tent in the bus yet, it's probably at the very back since that's murphy's law for us.

  7. hi linda - my abstracta was purchased without the glass shelves... we cut and painted thin plywood panels to fit inside... i have borrowed glass shelves and they are too heavy to shlep around... and ONE more thing to have to worry about breaking.
    jeff made his own pedestals... i will try to dig up a picture of his booth from the league on NH craft fair at sunapee

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  9. Do keep us posted on this..pleeze! As artists/crafters, booths are important. I had one a long time was so heavy. I'm shooting for next year.

  10. Hi Michele, thanks, I'll take a look at the abstracta again. A photo of Jeff's booth would be great.

    HI 吳婷婷, trying to tell me something?

    Hi Turquoisemoon, thanks, I have to have Gary help me when I go to the fairs. I wish I could have a booth in our treasure bus or one of those antique flower cart trucks where the sides just rolled up, wouldn' that be cool.

    By the way May Luk said Pier 1 has some nice looking tall shelves too.

  11. I have those folding wooden shelves, but I found them locally at two very different stores. I found them at Ollie's bargain outlet which is a discount/overstock store AND at our Wegman's which is a higher end grocery store. At both stores they were $39. Over the last 3 years I have purchased 6 of them. I wear them out fast since we have events nearly every weekend, but they are convenient since they fold up, They are sturdy and they look sharp. Vertical display is so important! If you to a lot of plates that can hang on a wall Gridwall systems work really well. Lined with fabric they can become the wall of your display. They can be free stading or bound together in 3's to make a free standing triangle displays too which work well for hanging mugs. I'm lucky in a lot of my events I can actually display in front of the booth too, which really helps to draw people in.

    For packing up I buy the hard sided 18 gallon totes available at most home improvement stores. I typically buy them in the fall and in the winter at Wal-Mart because the price drops on them to $3.99/each. Lowe's and Home Depot usually have them for $5.99-6.99.

    I also buy newsprint end rolls from our local newspaper company. We get charged a nominal amount by the pound.I don't remember what it is, but it's cheap. I then take a new blade on the utility knife and cut the paper off the roll which gives me pieces 8-14 inches wide to wrap the pots in. The bigger pieces go with the bigger pots and the smaller ones for the little wee bowls and mugs.

  12. Hi Charles, thanks, you are wealth of information and I really appreciate it. I can't believe the good price on the bookshelfs you have gotten, that is truly amazing. Also good idea about the newsprint end rolls, thanks ever so much, good luck with your sales, don't wear yourself out too much going to all those shows. I'll add your blog to my list, I know I have been on your site before. Thanks again.


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