I did my first art show this weekend. It was a huge learning experience for me and one that was definitely worth it. I came into the experience with one other time doing outdoor sales, and one art showing at a small coffee shop. Those of course taught me a lot, mostly that people do like my work, but this was an eye opener.
Let me first describe the show though. It was the first time the state park in Cedar City ever had done a local art fair. There were about 20 vendors, 4 food trucks, 3 photographers and a variety of art stuff like jewelry, bags, sculptures and so forth. On average there may have been about 20-25 people per hour for the entire event. Kind of really slow. It was a smallish town event so that brought people not looking for big spending.
So here are the 5 tips I learned and I can pass on.
Big prints at the show was absolutely essential for bringing people in, but not really a good money maker. I had three 20×30 metal prints that could be seen from all across the way. They would stop people and get them talking to me about my photography that eventually allowed them to start flipping through my smaller works.
The biggest movers were my small prints. I had 8×12 prints in plastic bags. Those were by far the best money makers for me on the entire trip. A lot of people picked up the prints as gifts for friends and family or as vacation souvenirs. My biggest regret of the entire trip was not having enough of them. Once I ran out of my best prints, sales trickled and eventually came to a halt. This is where I wish I had put more money into them.
So if you were wondering how I presented them I did as followed. They were printed on high quality luster paper. I cut out a acid free mat for a backing so the photos were firmer and less likely to be damaged, and then placed them in a art plastic storage bag. I did not do the additional matting. I am not opposed to doing so, but I did not have the budget or the time.
To big to be small, to small to be big.
Since cameras these days use a 2×3 format, when I print my images I make them as such. This trip I printed 16×24 prints for big display and grab and go items. None of them sold. They were too expensive and big for grab and go, but not big enough to be expensive and amazing to justify the price. I think I will avoid printing this size for events like this. The optimal size is 12×18 for the larger grab and goes. It still is not too expensive but still a good size for people to put in their house.
Framing is something I am going to be trying in this next art show in two weeks. They will probably work best for the 12×18 prints as they are probably going to be hung in a home rather quickly. Also my biggest sales of the event was a 12×18 framed print. A few more of these sizes that are framed really nicely will be a good market for future venues.
I am flexible on pricing at events. My wife is more flexible than I am, but still flexible. Part of the reason why prices are cheaper at my events is because I can produce a lot of them at ounce and let the market decide. When I print them for online orders, I only print 1 image, I have additional travel costs to and from printers plus shipping. For photographers looking into this, do allow for some flexibility in pricing. We are all humans, and we all love to haggle for better prices and everyone loves saving a few dollars. Be willing to adjust for the opportunity to sell.
My biggest secret of the entire trip was my wife. She has worked as a waitress, she is a business major and she is amazing. She can up sell, she can talk to people and she is outgoing. I you have a friend or spouse like this, bring them and give them a portion of your earnings. They might be the difference between a good day and a bad day.