Friday, June 29, 2018

Art on the Street: Preparing for Summer Art Shows


For art lovers, there’s nothing quite like summer art shows. They let attendees see a variety of works, meet the artists who create them and bring their favorite pieces home.
And for Toledo watercolor artist Katie Heft, they give her a rare treat: the looks on the faces of people who pass her booth.

“There have been dozens of people to glance in my tent, keep walking, stop, backpedal; look again, and smile or laugh,” Heft said. “I love those reactions. That tells me I'm doing a good job making them believable. I wouldn't be able to see those reactions over a computer.”
Heft creates detailed art featuring imaginary creatures like rattlesnake-kangaroo hybrids and raven-sea urchin mashups. She primarily sells them on her
Etsy shop, but said the exchanges leave her craving buyer feedback.
So last year, she journeyed beyond the world of anonymous online sales to participate in art shows, showing her work at University of Toledo's Art on the Mall, Wild About Art at the Toledo Zoo, and The Point Place Art Walk on the Bay.
But attending art shows didn’t exactly prepare her for participating in one, especially when it came to her tent.

“At my first show, I realized that by the end of the day, my paintings were weighing down my tent and almost snapped the metal that was holding the canopy up,” Heft said.
Luckily, Heft sold enough prints at her first show to afford a new tent. A large part of art shows, she said, is investing money in yourself and your art.

“Investing in yourself is the most intimidating thing in the world,” according to Heft. “You need to make sure you have enough inventory to keep your tent full of work. This can mean spending hundreds or even thousands of dollars before you even know how you will do at the festival. Terrifying. You just have to believe in yourself and in your art.”
Considering renting a booth at your first art show? Here are some other things to keep in mind.

Have Plenty of Prints

Heft’s originals are large and cumbersome to haul to and from shows. So she instead settled on prints, which are more popular among art show buyers.
“I take my large paintings and shrink them down to standard sizes like 11x14, 16x20, and 22x28, which people are much more ready to buy,” Heft said.

Heft asked her family and friends to point out their favorite pieces of hers and stocked up of smaller size prints of those, as most shoppers opt for easily portable artwork.
Heft said she buys all her prints, frames, and mats from American Frame.

“American Frame is the only place that I've found that has quality archival papers and a fantastic print team,” Heft said. “If something is wrong with the image they will notify you and will even do touch-ups! All of my prints look amazing and I know they will last for years to come.”
American Frame offers volume discounts starting at quantities of five for items of the same size and material, as well as museum-quality, giclee printing services so you can prepare for the show quickly.
Another helpful tip? Stock up on business cards. Shoppers may not be ready to buy from you at the fair, but may contact you later to buy existing art or commission you for a specific project.
Research the Fair

Before your first show, attend as many as possible. Get a feel for the kind of art on offer, as well as any tips you may be able to apply to your own booth. “It helps to walk around and see all the different ways people display and present their art. There are always ways to improve your display, your pitch, and your product,” Heft said.

Collage artist Steven Wipfli has been selling his work at art shows for six years. He said the look of the booth is one of the most important factors.
The immediate visual impact of a booth is very, very important,” he said. “A potential customer must be drawn into the space, sometimes from quite a distance away.”
Wipfli believes a well-coordinated booth can draw interest, while a random-looking one can scare potential shoppers away.
“Is the work about color,” he said. “Is it black and white photography? Is it natural-toned ceramics? A hodgepodge of many different styles, techniques, and media does not usually draw visitors in to look more closely. Consistent framing is one way to establish that look.”
Wipfli achieves a consistent frame look by shopping only at American frame and limiting his purchases to a few complimentary collections.
“I frame with only two or three different frame styles and colors,” he said. “My matting width is consistent and I use three mat colors. This establishes an identifiable look which, even from a distance, defines the work and give the patron a quick idea about what’s in store.”
Talk to Other Artists

Don’t view other artists as your competition, but as an important resource. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the way they prepare for a show, Heft said. 
“Most everyone has been in your position before and everyone just wants to have a good time and bring art and smiles to people's lives,” she said. “They may also have great tips on new shows or ways to get more involved in the art community! Be interactive with your customers and try to stay positive regardless of the weather or the clientele.”
Share your art show prep with us. Tweet a photo of your prep process, or your booth to @AmericanFrame using #AmericanFramed or email it to

Have questions? Our framing experts are just a phone call away.

For tips and exciting offers, sign up for our e-Tip newsletter.

Laura Jajko
Laura Jajko is President of American Frame and a longtime contributor to "A Good Frame of Mind." Here, she delights in bonding with others over her love of art and framing. With more than 40 years of practical experience, she brings a unique perspective in a straightforward style that she hopes will spark lots of interesting and relevant dialogue in our online community. Connect with Laura directly here on the blog or follow her on Twitter @LauraJajko.


  1. As a printmaker who creates all original fine art printmaking I find this article rather misleading. First of all you are creating reproductions of these artists work and not real prints. It would be great since your market is artists if you could use the appropriate terminology. The word prints should only be used for work that is created using a hand pulled printmaking process and not when something is printed on a machine using a digital file. In addition many people continue to actively visit fine art shows and purchase original art. To say that the market leans toward reproductions does a tremendous disservice to both existing artists but also to new artists who are thinking about getting out there and sharing their work.

  2. It was a busy summer for you, right? Do you need help with your reflection paper writing? Tell me if you do.

  3. We are the best Marketing Paper Writing Services company providing Business Writing Service services written by highly skilled writers. Our writers are skillful in their areas of expertise since they have years of experience in their subject areas.

  4. You are such a lovely artist. I was busy with an Mba Assignment Help Uk native provider and I got tired of my assignments so thought of visiting you. I believe you got a lot of creative things to share. You help my creativity multiple too. I love your advice and I will always enjoy it if you keep sharing blogs like these. I want to keep reading blogs of yours and I will appreciate it if you keep on doing that.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...