I spent a fair amount of time looking at booth displays online in preparation for Handmade NW and I’ve pinned quite a few to a new board for your inspiration. With the busy holiday season upon us, I wanted to share the art of my art fair booth display. It was a creative challenge that I enjoyed quite a bit. I reused the reclaimed fence board wall I built two years ago as the main part of my display, but otherwise I redesigned my booth entirely. Without further ado, here are some photographs of my booth.
After taking a small amount of input, I opted for no sign at all and decided to let my canvas gallery wraps draw people over to my booth. I did find some awesome chunky wooden letters to spell out the word PHOTOS and went to a bit of trouble to figure out how to attach them to my fence wall but then forgot to put them up until the holiday bazaar was 3/4 over. Oops. The total footprint of my art fair booth was 6′ by 4′ and I had the following products to display: holiday greeting card sets, 2014 calendars, my first photo book (another blog post on that will be up
this week soon), large prints, One Branch postcard subscriptions and clearance inventory.
Side note: isn’t the trickiest part of doing an art fair deciding how much inventory to make and bring?! Yikes!
My mother-in-law Betty had the vision to try my IKEA Expedit unit in front of the fence wall, and it worked so brilliantly that I bought a second unit. I also purchased two clamp lights from IKEA as I knew I would have access to electricity. I shopped high and low for weeks for vintage (or new) wire baskets to fit in the cubbies and in the end, I borrowed the woven baskets I already had at home. My other incredible in-laws, Bob and Marcia not only lent me their iPad for a slideshow of my work, but they built me a gorgeous iPad stand from a Pinterest DIY!
I have switched to selling prints of my photographs only in large formats, but I still had some inventory from when I sold 8x12s and 8x10s. For my booth, I needed a way to let shoppers browse both my large format photographs and my clearance inventory. As luck would have it, I had a piece of expanded sheet metal* in my basement that exactly fit the opening to my IKEA Expedit pieces. It was white so I went to my local Blick art supply store and got a can of Montana Gold Acrylic spray paint to make it dark brown. My husband had the genius idea to attach the sheet metal to the Expedit unit with twine. (Well let’s be honest, he used a bright orange bungee cord that didn’t quite mesh with my overall aesthetic.) It was actually the quickest part of the display to set up on show day and it made it very easy for shoppers to browse my inventory of 16×24 and 20×30 photographs.
I knew I would be showcasing my One Branch cancer support postcards and not only did I hire one of my favorite local florists, Elizabeth from Espe Floral, to do a floral design for my booth, I also hired one of my favorite bloggers and illustrators, Bonnie from Going Home to Roost to design a custom illustration for my showcase product. Both of these talented women used their expertise to bring the quote that inspired the product’s name to life.
Although I was very disappointed in my sales totals, I also knew it was not a reflection of me or my work. It is only a reflection of the crowd of shoppers there that day. I received wonderful feedback on my booth, my photography and my One Branch postcards. My art fair booth definitely stood out among all the standard six-foot folding tables. I hope my booth inspires you to think outside of the folding table for your next art fair, craft fair or holiday bazaar.
* Thank you cousin Jarrad for that idea and terminology. In fact, I would like to take a moment and thank my entire family and several close friends who supported me in prepping for my first art fair in two years. It sure does take a village to raise children and put art into the world.