Three things you should know when deciding to Show At an Art Fair

How do you know if an Art Fair is the right place to show your work? For any artist, this can be a big decision as there is a lot of preparation, time, and financial cost involved. 

Picture showing banner for art fair outside Landmark Arts Centre in Teddington

The three most important things to consider are research, affordability & practicality.

Let’s cover the basics first, location, date, and costs.

Where is the fair? Is it close to where you are based? Will you need to pay for accommodation, food, transport, and parking?

Are you available for the dates of the fair? Will you be able to finish and frame the work to meet the deadlines of the fair, including labels and pricing?

Do you know any artists who have exhibited at the fair in the last year? Consider reaching out to them and asking them what they thought. Can you get hold of a previous catalog or list of artists and check them out? Prioritise investigating who is organizing the event. Check if there have been any changes to the management. 

Do you know any people who visited the fair as customers? What did they think? Did they buy any art? Was it easy to buy art? Did it feel spacious or were the artists crammed in? Was there a generally good vibe and buzz at the event? Were people leaving with paintings?

Can you find out what the footfall of the last fair was or the expected footfall for this year? Are there any reports of the previous year’s sales numbers? Remember not to compare yourself to other artists. Making sales is not the only goal. However, being armed with background facts on this topic is an advantage.

What is the process for sales? Are the artists responsible for packing or is there a packing facility managed by the event organizers?

What sort of publicity and marketing is on offer? Is there a social media presence? What excitement is being created for the event? Are there signposts in the local vicinity directing visitors to the event?

Is there plenty of parking for visitors and are the transport networks good?

Recently a friend did an art fair in Central London where there was no parking during the week, so she had to pay for a courier to deliver her work, meet them at a specific time and then hang her work in an allocated one-hour slot, this all needs to be taken into account as it can impact your costs.

Do you have time to attend the fair, so you can see for yourself if your work would fit, what the visitors are like, what the set-up is like, is there a buzz at the fair? Are sales being made? 

Is there an entrance fee for visitors? Is there an opening night? Does this include additional attractions of refreshments or music? 

Most important, the fair needs to be the right fit for you. Will you be able to meet the deadlines, cover the costs, deal with the logistics, and feel comfortable talking about your work in this environment, being in a busy hall with lots of other artists and possibly Galleries?

Checklist to help decide if an Art Fair is right for you.

  • Do some desktop research, research, research – do as much as you can
  • Check online to find a previous list of exhibitors, reach out to them and ask what was their experience?
  • Contact and speak to the organizers. Has anything changed in how the fair is managed since the last event?
  • Is it an established event?
  • What is the expected footfall, was this achieved last year?
  • What were the sales last year? 
  • Are there any online reviews from previous fairs
  • Check social media, does the fair have a good following? Is there regular marketing?
  • Visit the Fair – if this is possible it is well worth taking the time to visit the art fair in person. 
  • Is there good signage in the vicinity of the fair so visitors know where to find it? 
  • If you can attend the opening night or the private view. What kind of vibe was there?
  • How are the stands laid out in the venue?
  • Get a copy of the stand layout. Are there stands that are a bit out of the way or hidden? 
  • Be brave, talk to the artists exhibiting. Ask them if they have exhibited at that venue before. In my experience, they are always happy to share their knowledge.
  • How are the drop-off and hanging organized? Often you are allocated a specific time to drop off your work, does this work for you? Can you do it yourself or would you need to hire a courier (for example if the fair is in Central London)
  • Is there parking available for the duration of the Art Fair and if so what is the cost?
  • Where is the Art Fair, will you be able to commute daily or would you need to book accommodation, as this will be an additional cost.
  • Does the Art Fair organize the packing, is there a charge?
  • Is there a commission charged
  • What type of work is on display, would your work fit in and be shown to its absolute best?
  • What is the price range of work?
  • How do the stands look?
    • Is there good lighting?
    • Would you need any additional furniture?
    • A table to put a signup form on and display cards
    • A folding browser for unframed work
  • What is the cost of the stand?
  • Will you need accommodation?
  • What are the transportation Costs?
  • What are the parking Costs?
  • Are you available on the dates of the fair?

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2 thoughts on “Three things you should know when deciding to Show At an Art Fair

  1. Thanks so much for this timely newsletter, I’m considering an art fair for next year, this info is so useful, I hope you are keeping well xxx

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