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July 2011
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What art to take to an outdoor show

The following is my answer to a long questions about what to bring art-wise, hang a few pieces, a lot, display pieces, hauling it, etc…all good questions but a little impossible to reply to in just one post BUT the  basics are here!
Go into any mall and look at the window displays. They did not drag someone off the floor to set up a window display-a professional does that.
Same with a grocery store. Sellers of the products to the stores will pay the store more to display at “end caps” and at eye level. It is also one reason that certain colors are used in products to market. Many years and lots of money goes into research that helps companies learn what attracts consumers.
So at an art show:
I make sure my walls have my art on them. Nothing displayed below waist high if possible. The medium and price are clearly marked (that does not mean they see them!)  A small amount of space between them, but not much :-) .
Prints in a separate rack, complimentary colors with any drapery in the booth. Ideally tables should be high enough so people are not bending over them (stick 6″ PVC pipe on bottom of legs to raise them ) Any written material set out clearly. You out of your chair and available to chat with prospects.
There is always a learning curve! We have been at beach shows where people remarked more over the horse paintings than the beach paintings.
Much will also depend on the show you attend. One or two paintings on each wall of your booth with high end lights, drapery, etc….may work fine in a very exclusive show. But frankly the average artist at an average juried show is there to sell and it does not unfortunately help to say “I have one at home in the studio.” The best decision is to make every effort to streamline your carry in/carry out. Hand carts are a must, plastic bins are a must…anything with wheels will make your day.
Finding a travel/show buddy is an excellent idea (as mentioned earlier) as two can spread the labor. I suspect that checking around will find more people than an artist thinks in her area that have wished for a sharing the load situation.
I cannot emphasize more bluntly than to say don’t put up a crappy exhibit. Make bags to insert your framed images so they don’t get banged up.  Be able to alternate exhibits and always have your stuff “road ready”….which also means that you have to be the type of person who knows where your insurance info is, your bills, your client list, etc etc.
Know your organizational weaknesses and make a decision to overcome them because if you do not, then every show will become an ordeal……very often it is not the work that is the biggest issue but how we are seeing it and handling it!.
A show is work but taking your “gallery” to the public is an excellent way to become known….use common sense-hit the shows in your immediate area as much as you can!

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