Teach n’ Tweet! Post n’ Profess: Advice for Emerging Art Fair Artists

Author: ZAPP Team
Date: August 20, 2013

In July we hosted a social media contest asking our Facebook and Twitter friends for the best advice seasoned art fair artists had for beginners. The winner of the contest won, by random drawing, a two-day conference registration to this year's Arts Festival Conference in Louisville, Kentucky.

Thanks to artists Ben Bensen, Gloria Danvers, Sandi Finney, Rose Ann Gussy, RoseAnn LaPorta, Holly Ollinger and Robin Mann for sharing the following words of wisdom with us!

1. Don't be afraid of your clients and customers, they are the people who understand you better than anyone else. There is a shared vision and a partnership between the one who creates and the one who appreciates. –Gloria Danvers, Jewelry

2. A great book for beginners with lots of sound tips from an experienced artist: Art Festival Guide: The Artist's Guide to Selling in Art Festivals… [Also] join one of the free artist centered groups on Facebook to get tips and industry information from your fellow exhibitors. – Holly Ollinger, Mixed Media

3. Buy a reliable used van. A big one. – Sandi Finney, Ceramics

4. Purchase, if you don't own, a director's chair. It keeps customers at eye level, even if you are sitting and it makes them feel more at ease when entering your space. – Ben Bensen, Painting

5. Buy the best canopy you can afford. If your budget only allows a pop-up canopy, make sure you understand how to weight it properly. You can read free advice in an article on this issue at

6. Use a credit card processing system as soon as you start you business. It will enhance your credibility and increase your sales. Square is a free and easy to use system that compliments your mobile device. – Holly Ollinger, Mixed Media

7. This is much easier said than done when sales at an art fair determine whether or not this month's mortgage payment can be made, but my advice would be to enjoy. I love doing shows — even in the rain (heavy winds, maybe not so much). The interaction with people, whether they buy one of my pieces or not, I find them very affirming. – Rose Ann LaPorta, Jewelry

8. Get a weather app for your mobile device so that you are not dependent on show staff for alerts in the event of severe weather. Even a few minutes notice for closing down your booth and securing your art can prevent catastrophic loss. – Holly Ollinger, Mixed Media

9. Pay for a skilled jury slide photographer who has specific experience to this industry. You cannot do it yourself and most photographers not in the industry do not understand jury shot requirements. – Holly Ollinger, Mixed Media

10. Love what you do and make time for it. – Robin Mann, Painting

11. When you setup your first website showcasing your artwork, make sure to post a sound return policy so both you and the customer understand when an exchange or refund can be expected. If you don't offer refunds state that too. – Holly Ollinger, Mixed Media

12. Remember, you are your own boss. Demand from yourself what you would ask an employee to do. You are self employed, not unemployed or underemployed! Even though it can be a challenge if you have a lot of other interests. – Birgit Kupke-Peyla, Jewelry