The Park City Arts Festival was a great success. Sales were good and I didn’t spend more than two minutes all weekend without someone in my booth. The amount of people that view your work at something like this really is unmatched in any other venue I’ve exhibited in to this point. I guess that’s kind of an obvious statement, being that this was my first arts festival. It is a great feeling to have droves of perfect strangers compliment you on something to which you are so committed and passionate about. It’s another level of satisfaction entirely to have someone enjoy your work enough to pay top dollar, and then hang it on their wall. The days are long, but the more people you engage, and the more connections you’re able to make with potential buyers, the quicker it goes. Preparing and setting up the booth was a huge undertaking and I have to thank my lovely wife for her tireless help.
For those interested in participating in a show of their own similar to this, I have comprised a list of tips below. I’m obviously not the most experienced at this sort of thing, but I learned a lot this time around, and fortunately didn’t learn too much “the hard way”.
The first show is a big investment. I bought everything for my booth except the pop-up tent (borrowed from a buddy) which probably would have been the cheapest part. Propanels, lighting, table, misc. materials, promotional postcards, matted prints, framed prints, print bins, etc. Lots of stuff, and lots of money. I spent a lot of money (for me anyway) preparing for this show and, fortunately, made nearly all of it back. I didn’t expect to make even that much from this show, and knew that this initial investment would be paid off from a) other shows in the future and b) all of the interaction I had with other potential buyers at the show. From the other artists I was speaking with, I seem to have had a very successful show. I’ll chalk it up to beginner’s luck and knock on wood.
I had around 25 framed prints on display, but had quite a few more at home to choose from if I wanted to swap anything out or something sold and I needed to fill the space. All of the images were printed at a pro lab I use (West Coast Imaging), and framed by a framer I have used numerous times who does great work. They all looked immaculate, which I think is very important if you want to sell. I was one of the only booths with lighting–which obviously makes a huge difference in how your prints are displayed. A couple things I would suggest if you are thinking about doing it:
1. Do it right. Spend the money to have a nice looking booth, great looking images (framed and just mounted/matted) and an overall professional appearance.
2. Choose your very best work, but choose what you think will sell. This is a tough one, but just because an image is your favorite as a photog and it’s a great image photographically, it doesn’t mean people will buy it. Common places that will be familiar to the local contingent, or iconic landscape locations seem to sell most often. From my experience, people need to have some sort of emotional connection to the place to ultimately spend a decent amount of cash and hang it on their wall.
3. Light your booth. Nuff said.
4. Interact with people. So many artists just sit in their chairs and won’t get up unless they think someone is a potential buyer. As far as I’m concerned, everyone that lays eyes on my work is a potential buyer, and should be treated as such. I handed out more business cards than I can count, and I imagine this will pay off in the coming months and weeks. It helps that I am a personable individual, and enjoy associating with people. If you’re not, force yourself to leave your comfort zone and engage everyone that lays eyes on your work.
5. Have a broad selection of smaller mounted/matted prints in plastic available for purchase. This is huge. Everyone browses these. I probably had about 100 prints divided in size between 5×7, 8×10 and 12×18 and it was nowhere near enough. Make sure they look professional, and put a label with your website and the price on the back of the plastic envelope.
6. All of the framed images I sold were either 16×24 or 20×30. Have a broad selection in sizes for sure, but these seemed to be the most popular sizes.
7. Don’t give away your work, but work with someone for multiple purchases. I made an $1,800 sale (3 framed pieces) in the last 15 minutes of the show partly because I offered a 10% discount for a multiple print purchase. I think they would have bought regardless, but I’m not sure they would have bought three.
Now get out there and live the dream!