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Outdoor Art/Craft Show Booth Basics

Updated on June 8, 2011

Outdoor Art Show Display Tips & Resources

When I did my first art show a few years ago, I wished there was just ONE nice, organized website where I could go and read about all of my different options! It's overwhelming, the different tents and panels and displays for artwork. As a favor to other artists starting to do craft shows, here's a comprehensive page with a bunch of resources that I hope will help you in preparing for your shows!

Start with the basics!

Display costs add up, FAST. Here are the basics you'll need for your first show.

In descending order of importance:

1. 10' x 10' White tent. I find this essential as this is standard for almost all art/craft shows. It offers protection from the sun and rain, and you can close it up at night and leave some of your stuff inside (display, etc.) if you're comfortable doing that. If you're positively guaranteed to have nice weather, I've seen people use a really nice, big outdoor umbrella for shade, which looks very nice, especially on the beach or near the water. Sometimes artists leave their display completely open with no tent. I like the convenience of being able to leave my display walls up and zip up the tent at night.

2. Display panels. There are many companies that make these, and you can even make your own- but you've gotta have something to hang your artwork on and show it off! Do some research and figure out what system works the best for you and your art. Different styles of art lend themselves nicely to all kinds of display options. Some even hang prints and artwork on lines around their booth with clothespins! This looks cute, but they will definitely dent your mats. Try not to dent your artwork if you use clothespins. Budget ideas I've seen include using wood or plastic lattice from a hardware store, pegboard, structures made of wood or PVC pipe, combined with chicken wire (not for heavy framed art, though) or heavy duty garden fencing wire.

3. Chair. A lot of people like a director's style chair because it's sturdy- things tend to get beat up when being taken from show to show to show to show- and folds easily for storage and transport. The height of the chair is up to you- a lot of artists prefer the taller ones that put you up at people's eye level, but those are more expensive than the shorter chairs.

4. Somewhere to keep your money. Some artists like a lockable money box. Some like an apron with pockets where they can keep the money right on them throughout the show. I use an old metal candybox and it works fine, so you needn't spend a lot of money on a moneybox. Just make sure you have one!

5. Business cards. Different companies run sales on these all the time, or you can make your own. Do some research and find out what works best for you, and definitely have some of these on hand at shows to give to people.

Excellent places to search for USED art show tents & displays! - Save yourself some money! (And be ecofriendly, too!)

Do a search in your area and if you live within a couple hours of other cities, do a search in those areas as well. You could just drive a couple hours and save a few hundred bucks!!

Try searching for these terms & combinations of them:

"Canopy, Art Show, Display, Tent, Craft-Hut, TrimLine, Booth, EZup" for tents

"Panels, Display, Walls" for panels on which to hang artwork.

If you don't see what you need, post a Wanted ad!

Lots of people hate taking the time to type up and place an ad (yeah, we're lazy). If they've got a tent sitting in their garage and see your ad, they'll probably contact you!

You can also look into renting tents, and sometimes panels, too. Some tent rental companies will even set it up for you (it's their stuff, they want to make sure it's done right)! In my area, it cost as much to rent a tent for a weekend as to buy an EZup, but all areas are different, so check around!

Some Tent Companies - Some of the different manufacturers of the ubiquitous 10'x10' white tent.

If you're going to buy a tent (new or used) here are a bunch of different ones to read about! You can research them and see which one you think will be best for you and your needs.

A few Panel options - Some basic information in panel considerations

There are so many manufacturers of panels out there. You can panel up your booth in so many different ways, too! Walls on 3 sides, walls and miscellaneous walls that stick out and about, making your booth a little like a maze (but in a good way), or just a wall in the back. I'll price these out by panel, and give you a few more pricing options for walls and booth as well. For these below, cost and wall size is figured for a 10'x10' booth.

Suggestions from Amazon - Useful product links to help get you going:

How to hang your artwork

After seeing this article, I've been asked "How do you hang your artwork?" So here are some options. Use drapery hooks if you're using propanels or metal-mesh panels. You can use other kinds of clips to hang art from the metal structure of your tent, or set up a string like a clothes line and hang art from that.

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