Gearing up for the 2016 Art Fair Season
It always takes me longer than I think it will.
I should just learn to multiply the amount of time I think all this will take by about four. Art display design, pricing labels, printing and matting prints, making sure I have a variety of bag sizes for people's purchases, prepping for a rainy weekend. It. Takes. Time.
[ FYI - When the weather might be a little hinky for an event, I pay attention to the forecast. The quickest place for me to post a last minute announcement is on my Facebook page — www.fb.com/BarbKelloggPhotography — look there first if you're wondering. ]
What goes in to doing an art fair?
This blog post is geared towards people who go to art fairs to shop and appreciate the work, not the art fair vendor themselves. If you've ever wondered what happens outside of your brief visit inside someone's art fair tent, read on!
The weekend I chose to figure out my tent layout, it was rainy, so setting up my tent walls inside the garage was a must. No need to get wet if you don't have to.
I had sketched out a few wall configurations, and after much mental deliberation, I chose this one. Translating a sketch to reality isn't my forte, but this time it worked out ok. I measured and taped out a 10x10 area on the garage floor, as that is the smallest area one has at an art fair.
What goes through my head when figuring this out? I need two areas to be able to put my director's chair. As the sun moves across the sky, the shady area of my tent changes. I can partially block either the left or right side of the front area, and I can also sit in the back right area. The area in the back is also my little cubby area that mostly blocks from view my plastic bins filled with bags, tarps, cooler for food, etc.
I also wanted the illusion of more space. Even my husband said the area looked larger than last year's, so that's good. I put a slight angle in the back left corner, instead of a 90 degree angle. And there is one fewer wall panel jutting into the walking area. I always have a method to my madness, but sometimes the method needs to be changed up a little. :)
To think the artwork hasn't even been hung yet!
I saved that for the next day. After taking more than a couple hours to set up the wall configuration (it didn't just go up lickity split), I wasn't in the mood for the jigsaw puzzle that hanging artwork is. (My view of it. For some people, that comes easy.)
I dragged a whole bunch of my artwork into the garage. I pretty much knew what I wanted to hang. It was just a matter of where on the walls. Some pieces just don't look good next to each other, either because of color or content.
In the end, it's never perfect. I'd go nuts if I tried to make it that way.
Video is all the rage right now. And it does make it a little more personal, too. You can hear my voice, hear that I don't speak perfectly. (And I was getting over a cold. You know how your voice doesn't sound quite normal.) It took me three tries for the talking portion of the video clip above. I don't write a script, so it's pretty off the cuff. I have a subscription to a video creator service, so that makes it much easier for me to put together these little video plus still montages you've been seeing off and on from me. (I need to do more of these!)
Creating this newsletter is one of the last steps in preparing for an art fair, as I had to wait until I had images to share with you. Future reminders of art fairs don't require this much work, as I've already done most of the work.
I have a list of those things I pack last minute, like a small battery charger, my little credit card thingy, cell phone, kleenex, food, tarp, plastic, clamps, sunscreen, a hat, small step stool, and the list grows. Once I'm there, there is no running home for something I've forgotten, so I need to be as prepared as possible for a variety of weather conditions, in addition to all the little things one needs to run a portable business.
The Actual Setup
The time it takes me and my husband to unload and set up my tent and artwork typically runs about 2.5 to 3 hours. Both the tent and the walls need to be assembled. (Gone are the days of my EZ-Up tent and a relatively quick set up — it just wasn't durable enough to survive high winds or heavy rain.) Tear down takes about 90 minutes to break it all down and load up our vehicles. It's a lot of work! Sometimes people try to reach me during this set up and tear down window, but my phone is nowhere near me—my focus is on getting things put together. No one likes to be out there any longer then they have to. (I do check my phone when we're finishing in case someone texted or called, just so you know I don't totally ignore you.)
It would be fun to do a time lapse of the set up, but that just doesn't work when other artists are trying to set up around you. It's often chaotic, and sometimes set up doesn't go as planned. ALWAYS try to respect your art fair neighbors. You are all in this crazy boat together.
I hope to see you at a future event! My schedule is posted at Art Fairs and Exhibits. Events get added throughout the year. I keep you updated via your email newsletter, and by updating this website.
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~Barb Kellogg, photographer, tea drinker, and dark chocolate lover