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My First Art Fair Booth

Updated: Sep 21, 2021

Since I was a kid my family has been going to an art festival in the town my grandparents live in, the Virtu Art Festival on Memorial Day weekend. As I got into art and photography we thought maybe i’ll be able to do participate one day. Each year I’d buy a small print from one of the photographers there, building up a small collection and observing how they do their booth, shoot their photographs, etc.

As COVID came on us mid March, the festival was cancelled. Suddenly at the end of July they announced they would have a COVID safe, smaller version at the end of August, the weekend of my birthday. Because I collected unemployment during the pandemic, I was able to fund doing the fair. I probably wouldn’t have been able to do it for a couple more years if I hadn’t, so I’m very lucky and fortunate.

Since I only had exactly a month to apply, get accepted, and prepare, I got my ass in gear and worked constantly at this. As this is my first show and I had absolutely nothing to use for it, I had to start from the ground up. I immediately researched for any post or guide about how to even go about this, and a breakdown of it all. I couldn’t find what I wanted in such a short amount of time but I found pieces of recourses here and there.

I’m writing this post so I can help someone completely, I’m a believer in passing down knowledge. So i’ll be breaking down what I bought, costs, where I bought, how I set up, what i’ll do differently next time.

So to start off, I spent around $1,300 and sold $281 worth of prints. I only made back 21% of what I spent. But I expected this and those numbers are okay and expected!! Why? Because you have to buy the set up, which can be a one time purchase. So if I do the booth again, i’ll spend maybe half this time and hopefully sell around the same or more. Plus, we’re in the middle of a pandemic. Nothing is going well!! This festival had nearly half the artists and a ton less crowd for customers.

I found this checklist photo and pretty much followed it as closely as it was relevant to my particular setup.

Then I began buying the big things for the set up itself and curating a selection of my photographs that I want to sell. With that selection I then laid out the photos by sizing I wanted them in. This is the final version of that process although I did make a slight change when actually ordering the prints.

Next I started unloading all my money onto stores!

The price to have a spot in the festival was $220

Tent (Walmart) - $66.99 (Do not buy this)

Business cards (250) - $24.65 (I honestly didn't need these, I had enough already)

Logo Stickers (240) - $59.18 (didn't need this much but I'll have them for future prints or fair)

Logo Banner - $14.31 (make sure you get the holes for hanging, I messed up on that)

6' Table - $56.46

Tent Weights - $35 (needed more than just this because of how windy it was & couldn't use stakes)

Grid Walls - $139.95

Grid Hooks - $37.95 (would chose something different)

100 12x15 Shop Bags (2 orders) - $11.99 (I shouldn't have gotten 2 orders obviously)

Wagon - $63.51

Prints - $135.24

I got 2 prints of each photo so if I sold one I would have another to sell. And that’s on being prepared. Bay Photo is great quality, definitely suggest (make sure you don't get color corrected prints).

30 4x6 Lustre

2 4x4 Lustre

24 8x10 Lustre

2 8x16 Lustre

2 11x11 Lustre

12 11x14 Lustre

Mats - $98.24

I have ordered from this company before, great quality. I did have some of the sizes I needed from before. I did get one extra of two sizes just in case of messing up or something. For any matting you order that’s not a kit, make sure you get the optional backing and clear bag.

(Shipping was expensive unfortunately)

4 16x20 for 11x14

7 5x7 for 4x6

25 11x14 for 8x10 kits

25 5x7 for 4x6 kits

2 5x5 for 4x4 *(I should have made these customs bigger to match the standard

borders of a mat)

2 9x17 for 8x16*

2 12x12 for 11x11*

RedBubble - $49.26

12 each for 3 diecut stickers

CVS - ~$25

4 standing frames to list prices ($4 ea)

reusable dry erase wall mat ($7)

Walmart - ~$125

4' table ($40)

3 bins (~$6)

3 set small organizers ($3)

2 dry erase boards ($1.97ea)

2 hand sanitizers (2.50ea)

4 super glues ($3ea)

Square Card Reader ($6.44)

Invoice Book ($5.88)

Mini boxes for cards ($1ea)

Storage Bin ($15)

White Marker ($2.24)

Temporary Sales Tax - $10 (I have yet to actually learn about this. But I needed a temporary sales tax for the weekend and that was just $10 and because my artwork is original and not a craft (like jewelry or something I think), I didn’t have to claim taxes on my sales)

Some things counted in that price I didn't include because they either ended up not being used or were a more general thing that’s insignificant

All print decisions, quantities, everything, I decided with COVID in mind. The festival was unexpected and much more last minute, poorly advertised, reconfigured, and limited. For artists, I believe it usually hosts around 150, with limitless visitors in the park. For a COVID safe festival, there were only 60 artists with a lot of space and split up between two sections and were controlling the amount of people in each along with screening for everyone.

My booth! Isn't is cute? Dry erase boards to write my links, little

boxes to hold my business cards

(spraypainted in a color similar to my

brand), organizer bin for the stickers,

email newsletter sign up

Bins for prints, hand sanitizer, standing Grid walls with hooks

frames for prices, party tablecloths

For each print I signed the front, put a logo sticker on the back, wrote the matting and photo dimensions for if they change it or frame it, and enclosed a business card. Because my work is travel based, I also wrote the location, and a title if it was fitting.

What will I do different next time?

Buy a better quality, more industrial tent. Mind couldn't handle average wind and was cheap and breaking. I threw it out right after the festival.

I'll make more larger prints and hang up more, either with more grid walls or if I can find them, walling for the tents that allow hanging up on.

Find something different for weights or buy more of what I got. Either way, it needs a lot more weight than 20 lbs.

Any questions? Reach out to me!!

I hope this helps anyone researching to do a fair themselves!

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