photo credit Duane Gordon
photo credit Duane Gordon

Parallax Art Fair 25-26 July 2015 was my first time showing in an international artist-based fair (where the artist hangs the art and works the booth instead of a gallery). It was a great time, and I learned a few things in the process that I thought I’d share-

  1. Bring an extra outfit for opening night. You can have a catastrophic tear issue or coffee spill that leaves you rummaging in the suitcase. I know this from experience.
  2. Read through the show requirements and make your shopping & packing lists well ahead of time. Get them in your scheduler. Pay attention to the details – the specific hangers Parallax required aren’t available in the states and had to be shipped from overseas.
  3. Practice the coinage ahead of time. It makes purchases so much easier if you can count it out correctly (and you don’t annoy the people waiting in line behind you).
  4. Set up social media ahead of time on a scheduler like a Hootsuite app. If you are in a different time zone than most of your fans, you can at least schedule it for when most aren’t asleep.
  5. Might be worth paying for some cellular data roaming ahead of time. Delete or disable apps that use data roaming (ones you won’t need while on travel).
  6. Bring a signup sheet – and I suggest adding a section for Comments. Some people won’t want to give you their email address, but might interact with a comment if they like your work and add it anyway. Sometimes, when someone’s stopped and looked and said, “Lovely!” or, better yet, made an insightful comment on the work, I’ll write that down myself. Some people then sign up as a result – and if not, I have that lovely comment down on paper!
  7. Aside from a signup sheet, have a reason for them to sign up. For me, my DIY Pouring Paint (No it’s Not Resin!) blog coming out in late August was an incentive. There was a lot of interest in the medium – it really does look like resin.
  8. Ask questions ahead of time. The Parallax Manager was wonderful with me, answering whatever question I had. As to questions, make sure you understand sales procedures. If they don’t explain ahead of time, ask early, and long before you start making sales. You don’t want to appear like you don’t know what you are doing.
  9. Especially if you are flying a long distance, go a few days early to get over jetlag before hanging and opening night. It is hard to be enthusiastic about your art when you can’t stop yawning.
  10. During times when the attendance is low (our Sunday was very rainy, and it didn’t pick up until later), take short breaks, explore and meet the other artists, especially those whose work rings a bell for you. Pick up their cards so that you can contact them afterwards. I met a few new friends that way – plus, if you are at all like me, I love when the show is busy and I’m constantly talking with patrons. I’m not great when it’s slow. Taking breaks to interact with others keeps me from getting antsy. Patrons can smell antsy a mile off and they don’t like it much.

photo credit Duane Gordon
photo credit Duane Gordon

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Just plain advice:

I remind myself of this at any art exhibition I participate in: It’s Not All About the Sales. It’s about contacts, handing out a ton of cards, engaging with people interested in your art. You started the art conversation by creating the work – engage in that conversation with the people that get your work. And, often, the best things happen after the show.