How to prepare for your first art stall

Hello everybody,

This is a little guide on what I have learned for far in preparing for my first art stall at Rowledge Village Fayre. It hasn’t happened yet, so things could still go very very wrong… But I feel like I have learned a lot, so thought I would share my learnings with you today!

1. Never underestimate how much you have to invest: Bulk buying greeting cards, giclee prints and other items is EXPENSIVE. I was prepared for that. What I wasn’t prepared for was how much everything else costs!

You know those little mounts that you get around fine art prints, and even school photographs? They are as expensive as the print itself. And they just get thrown away. Then you add plastic wallets to put them in. EX PEN SIVE.

To keep my (and the customer’s) costs down, I got plastic wallets and just plain cardboard which I attached photo corners to to keep the print secure… considerably reducing the price of presentation of each print, but not impacting on how professional they still look.

2. People need to be shown exactly how to display your goods: Don’t leave it up to imagination, if your prints look great with a black frame and a smart mount, show people by investing in a nice frame. I am getting an A3 kingfisher framed to show people just how fantastic it looks. As proud painter and owner of the original, I hate to say it, but the framed print looks better!

3. The most simple of stalls still has many complex things holding it together. How do you create height to make an interesting display? How do you make all of your products look professional? How do you catch people’s eye in the first place? How do you hang items? Next time you visit a stall, look at all of these things. They all take lots of planning and lots of cost, especially the first time round.

I am planning on using coloured boxes to display my prints, cards and paintings at different heights on the table. I have borrowed two three-panel boards from my mum to hang my paintings off. I have drawn birds eye views of where the table, easel, boards and stock will go. Next weekend I plan on having a practice set up of everything to see how it all looks together.

4. Your painting time will seriously suffer: I am spending so much of my time thinking, writing blogs and newsletters, planning and buying for the fayre that any time spent actually painting is very limited. Someone once told me that when starting a new art business, about 50% of your time will be taken up with running the business, not actually painting. More like 80%!

5. Test the market by getting greeting cards in many many designs: A good quality place will send proofs through to you to make sure the colours are right before you buy. The proofs of mine are done and look great! I am getting between ten and twenty of each card, because who am I to say what people will like the best? I know which are my favourites, but which are yours?

6. Email addresses of interested customers are like gold dust: Create a newsletter so you can get people to subscribe to it – emails and advertising! In my opinion, my newsletter is full of interest and creativity, and I enjoy reading it… but for those that need extra incentive, I am choosing one lucky subscriber at random to win a painting on June 1st. I will tell every customer about this amazing opportunity so hopefully I will get lots of interest!

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7. The little details will make you memorable: In each print and each greeting card, I am putting one of my business cards with a handwritten note saying “thank you for your custom!” or similar. I really really appreciate ANYONE who buys from me and supports my business, no matter how small a purchase. Even just a like on facebook. I appreciate it all! So tell them.

8. Be prepared for your boyfriend to appoint himself Managing Director and Marketing Manager of your company: I actually got told to “check with me before you make any business decisions please.” He was being serious. His Dad also seems to have appointed himself ‘Marketing Executive’… I feel there may be competition!

What important lessons have you learned in the lead up to a big event?

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