Outdoor Art/Craft Show Booth Basics
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!
Great resource for used display equipment- tents, panels, etc.
Freecycle probably wouldn't have entire tents for free, but perhaps parts of tents- walls, hardware, etc. Same goes for displays.
- Pro-Panels Trading Post
Pro-panels are sort of what I refer to as the "Rolls Royce of Art Show Display Panels." In my opinion they're the best of the best! They're expensive though, but the company is very helpful in putting up a forum on their own website where people can
- The Wet Canvas Swap Shop
This is a forum from the WetCanvas art website. There are mostly art supplies in this forum, but you may be able to find display equipment too.
Check Ebay for good deals on both new and used craft show supplies.
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.
- The Trimline Canopy made by Flourish.
At the time this lens was created, $845 gets you a great tent with all of this: Ultra-durable and sturdy steel frame. Vinyl roof and sides (rip-proof, water-proof, and flame resistant- which is required by some shows). Double wide skylight. 4 fully z
- Craft Hut Canopy, made by Newton, now supported by Flourish.
At the time this lens was created, $1195 gets you 4 fully zippered walls, double wide skylight, dual heat and wind vents, telescoping legs, PVC rafters, and included awning zippers front and back - all as standared features.
- Light Dome Canopy by Creative Energies, Inc.
Hemispherical canopy top is great for wind resistance and rain. At the time this lens was created, $829 will get you White vinyl top, 4 sides, silver anodized frame, 2 free bags. "From their website: The Light-dome has an X-member construction. A rou
- The Finale Canopy by Creative Energies, Inc.
Barrel top is great for wind resistance. At the time this lens was created, $849 will get you White vinyl top, 4 sides, silver anodized frame, 2 free bags. From their website: "The finale has a central ridge member for the top and three sets of rafte
- The Show-Off Canopy
At the time of this lens creation, $895 got you a ShowOff tent made from structural lightweight marine aluminum, an all aluminum anodized telescoping frame construction, YKK marine zippered sides, High frequency welded seam, Dabond UV protected threa
- EZ-up Shelters
EZ-up has a variety of different shelters in a range of prices. Not all of their models come with walls, and some models might not allow for side walls to be attached, so if you want them, be sure to check and see if they are an option for the canopy
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.
Carpeted, lightweight, heavy duty VERY nice looking panels. I've talked to artists who have been using these for over 10 years. They are highly recommended and my panels of choice. However I couldn't afford them for my first show, so at that time, I
- Armstrong Panels
Carpeted, lightweight, heavy duty VERY nice looking panels. Different break-down options, again for smaller vehicles. Also come in lots of different colors. For "The Gallery" panels, 38"wide x 7' tall, the cost is $125 apiece. You need 3 to complete
- Graphic Display Systems
Metal mesh panels that you can use as-is, or purchase fabric covers for them. Fabrics are offered in different colors or if you're crafty, you can make your own covers! I have talked to artists who have used these for over 10 years as well, and the p
Miscellaneous PVC pipe and garden wire. You would probably want to cover this with fabric, too. You can try to design your panels to the same sizes as the Graphics Display Panels and order covers from http://www.flourish.com/graphic_display_covers.
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.
Other great articles!
- Trade Show Booth Display Tips
With a these trade show insider secrets you'll spend a fraction of what your booth neighbors are paying for everything, and wind up having a far more profitable show.