Let me show you my best painting secret!
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This follows on my previous article on why you should try selling at art fairs. You have decided to go for it so how can you maximise on the opportunity. If you do not approach the event with intention you will very likely have a long and boring day.
So here are ten suggestions based on personal experience.
1) Attend in person: Sounds obvious, but it is very tempting for studio loving artists to rope in as many helpers as possible to "mind the store". The argument runs along the lines that you are an artist not a saleperson, talking is not your forte and so forth. (I had to get over this issue myself). If you are selling you need sales skills. Folks want to meet the artist and most importantly only you know your art inside and out. Speaking from experience I can attest to becoming a chatterbox about art even though I am a bit of an introvert. Its my passion and its yours too so trust your knowledge.
2) Presentation: A few basic improvements to how you present your work will pay for themselves. Consider the following:
3) Signage: Try to get a sign made professionally. This could be a canvas sign or banner with your name and possibly a logo. It will also describe what you do eg. Malcolm Dewey Fine Art. You may come up with other creative methods, but make sure people can tell at a glance who you are and what you do.
4) Framing: do you need to frame your art? If so then go for it. Too expensive? then frame a few anchor pieces and offer others unframed with a framing option. Price accordingly. Framing helps tremendously so if you go this route do not skimp by using cheap and skinny frames. Its a tricky matter, but there it is. Emphasis the benefits of buying with a frame and you will sell the framed painting. Emphsise the benefits of buying unframed and you could make those a success too.
5) Display Stands: There is no need to buy expensive easels. A bit of basic woodworking can produce basic display easels. Trellis can be used to hang paintings on hooks too. Convert an old wooden ladder into a tiered easel. Be creative and you will save costs and gain positive responses.
6) Quality over quantity. This a balancing act. Too much and a sense of clutter follows. Too little and your stall may look the poorer for it. However quality always comes first. Art fairs do not means you should try selling your lesser quality work.
7) Comfort: If indoors is it necessary or even possible to install better lighting? Maybe a fan will help with comfor in summer? Here are more tips about canopies and tents for your stall.
8) Marketing: This is critical and its all about give and take. Give you business card with your website and phone details. Better still send them your info digitally once you get their contact info. Forget about expensive flyers or brochures - they do not work. Get visitor's contact details then follow up with e-mail to those who expressed interest in you. Run a giveaway for those who give out their contact info. Free gifts or some other benefit such as discounts on art lessons, discount on your next book, paintings you name it. Just do not pass up the opportunity to get future networking links. Make it easy by having a short form vistors can complete. An enlarged scanable qr code prominently displayed? Do your best to prepare your system.
9) Price: Price your art according to its value. Do not compete on price. Your art is unique - show its value and benefits to the collector. Price normally. Give discounts - negotiate, but do not compromise. Here some more tips about pricing your art.
10) Payment: Since your art may be beyond the usual cash amounts carried around you will need to consider electronic payment options. If this is out of the question your other option may be to arrange for payment by electronic transfer and deliver the painting later. Tricky this as sales can fall away very quickly. If technology does not scare you then look into wireless computing whether on laptop, tablet or smart phone. Several online service providers offer credit card processing online. Some require you to have a merchant account with a bank others do not. Research online - try Paygate and Wappoint) It is worth it. Times are changing fast and card scanners are going to be the next big shift in democratising payment options. (look up Square.com to see what lies ahead). Of course there is the traditional merchant account credit card machines from one of the big banks, but that could mean long term costs and much hassle.
Be as self-reliant as possible!
More tips from an art fair veteran.
Do you have tips or experiences to share about your art fair marketing? Please share them by commenting below. Thank you.
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