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Tips to Make Money with Art Fairs

Updated on March 24, 2015

Selling Art at Craft Fairs

Here are some tips to make money with art you create by going to arts and crafts fairs. These are things I've learned over the past 15 years selling my artwork at fairs that will help you get more people to buy your work. They are especially helpful during times when people are less apt to spend much money on art.

I love being at art fairs and having people appreciate my work. I also enjoy having people buy my art. Better yet, I love having people come back and buy more of it.

But, for any of this to happen, you've got to get people to stop and look at your work.

That is the challenge!!

Home-made spinning wheel
Home-made spinning wheel

Free Prizes at a Spin of a Wheel

Draw People In

Getting people to come into your booth is a challenge. The newest thing I tried was a prize spinning wheel which I made myself. I wrote a "How To" article with all the steps to make it, so I thought I'd give it a try.

People flocked to my booth and were overjoyed when they won free cards made from prints of my art work. Other winners got discounts on all purchases that day which range from 20% to 40%. Many didn't use the discount, but others bought multiple purchases with the discount. It was a very successful day and helped clear out some of my overstocked inventory.

Word about the wheel spread through the fair, and I got many people coming to the booth who wouldn't ordinarily stop, and several took advantage of the discounts.

The whole wheel was made from left over items I had in my workshop. I did spend $2.00 for some nylon bushings and a 1/4-inch dowel. The cards cost .05 cents a piece to make since I do them myself on my laser printer. All in all, It was profitable and fun day.

Colton, New York

Colton Gazebo Raffle
Colton Gazebo Raffle | Source

To Raffle or Not to Raffle. - That is the Question.

I've never really been very lucky having a raffle. You set up an item to give away and people give you the information you want, but they really are not interested in what you have to sell. Granted it does bring them into the booth but it doesn't really produced any significant sales. People are just looking for something free.

I live in a very small community and am very involved in volunteering. For lack of time, I usually donate some item from my painting collection to be raffled for a fundraiser for the organization.

This always generates a lot of interest, brings people into the booth with a very positive attitude, and usually generates sales at that time or in the future. Public relations is key to the success.

I not only get contact information on the people, but they get my contact information and readily call when they have a situation where they'd like something special.

So think about what and why you raffle.

Ultimately the raffle is to get more people to come in and buy, but they have to feel that you are giving for their benefit or the community's benefit more than just for your self.

Goldfinch Note Card. My "rent payer."
Goldfinch Note Card. My "rent payer." | Source

High Priced vs Low Priced

If you only have high priced items, you are going to walk away with very few sales

You need what I call "rent payers". These are little, inexpensive items that sell for $2 to $5 and represent the quality you produce in larger items, but at greatly reduced prices.

In my case, I started with refrigerator magnets which were miniature prints of the larger works. These sell like crazy, and usually produce more than enough income to pay the rent for the booth.

They were affordable, packed well for travelers, fit in note cards for people to send to friends and best of all, they acted as a reminder to people of my work and the larger print they were considering.

It is not unusual for people to call or come back to the show and purchase the larger print, because the magnet gave them time to see if the print worked in their home or if their family agreed with their choice. And, of course, my contact information was on the back, and unlike business cards of the same size, these were placed prominently on their refrigerators to be seen everyday, all day long, rather then being thrown away or stuck in draw.

Magnetic Business Cards
Magnetic Business Cards | Source

Magnetic Art Business Cards

If you would like to see how to make the magnets, I explain it step-by-step in my Hub, Art Magnetic Business Cards.

Once I saw the success of the magnets at the art fair, I developed other products with my art work on them that ranged in prices from $2, to $10 to $20, to $40, to $80 and on up. My sales dramatically increased and I started getting more repeat customers which is always nice.

You can see more of these on my website, www.filarecki.com

Metal display shelves centered in tent improved circulation of customers inside the tent
Metal display shelves centered in tent improved circulation of customers inside the tent | Source

Getting People to Stop and Look

I had a 10 x 10 tent with three walls of paintings hanging up, plus tables along the walls. On the outside front, I had a 3 foot wide by 6 foot high shelving that had individual slots to display about 24 different 8x10 prints. People stopped and looked at those prints, but I could rarely get them to come in. It was like they were afraid that if they went in, I would trap them.

One windy day, I decided to put the shelving in the center of the tent to help stabilize it, and I moved some of the smaller tables out front with the less expensive items on them.... Bingo!! More people stopped to look at the variety of things that caught their eye and they came into the tent.

The shelving created a u-shaped space that enabled them to walk in and around and back out without threat. If I, or someone else was blocking one side, they could turn around and go out the way they came in...Non- threatening... That was the key.

Catalina Sunrise

Catalina Sunrise
Catalina Sunrise | Source

Spotlighting Your Best Seller

You always want to have your best-selling items out front. They are the ones that make people stop. Once they stop you have the opportunity to talk to them, without being pushy, as you see what items interest them.

Catalina-Sunrise

People like to "just look" and give you a cue if they want to interact with you or not. Usually, when you are sensitive to what they want and don't "pitch" them, they are more receptive.

Once they feel comfortable with you and you have an a feel for what they want, you can suggest items that might interest them outside and inside the booth.

Don't forget, smile and say "Hi!"
Don't forget, smile and say "Hi!" | Source

Just Say "Hi"

So many times I have watched other vendors sitting reading a book or talking on a cell phone, and they don't even acknowledge that the customer exists.This projects such a negative atmosphere to the display. It is like the customer is of no importance.

I don't mean to say that you should fall all over the customer, but at least say "Hi" and let them know you are there if they have questions. It is the rare customer that doesn't appreciate the "hello".

Periodically a customer ignores your welcome, and that is expected. When that happens, though, I feel kind of slighted. If I feel that way, I wonder how another customer feels when I ignore them.

Stormy Sky Painting

Stormy Sky
Stormy Sky | Source

Demonstrate

If you have anything you can demonstrate, DO IT.

I'm lucky because art work is easy to demonstrate. People love to stand over my shoulder and watch as I paint or draw. The one thing it does is answer the frequently asked question,"Are you the Artist?" Children especially are very intrigued and draw in their parents to watch.

I've been doing a lot of painting on my computer with Painter X3 and a Wacom tablet in more recent years, and this is great for demonstrating techniques. I wrote a Hub on painting the clouds seen here and actually videotaped the whole thing. If you get a chance, check out my Hub, Painting Clouds . There is a video demonstration of painting this "Stormy Sky."

I also produce instructional DVD's on how to paint. I set up my netbook computer and play the entire DVD over and over again. People are fascinated and stand and watch for long periods of time. It really opens up an opportunity for discussion. It not only results in sales of the DVD, but it also gives me the opportunity to tell them about classes I teach and that results in new students.

Any demonstration that is well done is an immediate draw for people and opens up the opportunity for questions and answers. Just don't be a huckster and make it sound like a carnival act. Make your demonstration interesting and people will stop to watch on their own.

The interesting thing about people is that if one person stops to look, then others think it must be good and they stop to look, too. It's the old thing about feast or famine. Either there are no people in your booth or it is packed full of people.

Are you a Go Giver or a Go Getter?

Probably your first response is that you should be a "Go Getter." After all we have always been taught that you have to get out there and promote yourself. No body is going to find you if you don't.

Well that is true as far as doing things to get yourself out in public such as you do by doing arts and crafts fairs. If you don't bring your creations out to the public, how are they ever going to know they exist.

But there is another side to it. If you get it all out there, but you try to force yourself on the public, then they will turn away. This is where you need to be a Go Giver.

More recently, marketing specialists have started focus on the principle that it is better to give than receive. I'm sure that you are all familiar with that phrase. It dates back centuries.

I read a great little book that demonstrates the effectiveness of this philosophy in marketing. It tells five different stories about the five principles that support the success you can have when you focus more on being a Go Giver rather than the go Getter once you are face to face with your potential customer.

The interesting thing is that these same principles are appropriate for your personal life, so if you apply these principles, you will not only succeed in business but also in life.

The name of the book is "The Go Giver" by John David Mann, Bob Burg.

it is available at your local library and book stores as well as though Amazon.

Please share Your Making Money Tips and Comments with me here.

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    • Judy Filarecki profile image
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      Judy Filarecki 8 years ago from SW Arizona and Northern New York

      Hope you are all enjoying the tips

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      [in reply to Judy_Filarecki]

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      Hey, nice job. Keep up the good work.

    • profile image

      Cal-A-Mari 8 years ago

      Nice lens, lots of good info for folks who sell at fairs and very well written. I always like to pick up work from local artists when I travel anywhere.

    • Judy Filarecki profile image
      Author

      Judy Filarecki 8 years ago from SW Arizona and Northern New York

      [in reply to Cal-A-Mari] Thanks for the encouragement. I appreciate it.

    • profile image

      jessicahoward 8 years ago

      great job....paintings are amazing...thanx for sharing

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      Thanks Jessica. I'm glad that you enjoy the paintings. The biggest reward in showing and selling my paintings is the enjoyment that I see when people look at my paintings.

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      great lens full of great tips

    • Judy Filarecki profile image
      Author

      Judy Filarecki 8 years ago from SW Arizona and Northern New York

      [in reply to henzy] Thanks for your support. I've been writing, teaching and painting for a long time, but I am new to Squidoo, so I appreciate any comments on how I am doing. Hopefully, I will have lots of articles that will help others.

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      You know how great I think your art is and these articles are wonderful too.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Hey there,

      This is a really cool lens! I actually love taking snap shots with my cell phone of random abstract art and environments. I currently submit my art on a few different websites and I make about $500 a month for doing. I love getting paid to take pictures!

    • Judy Filarecki profile image
      Author

      Judy Filarecki 7 years ago from SW Arizona and Northern New York

      [in reply to hungryaffiliate] Thanks for the comment. I do a lot of photography, too, but I mainly use it for reference for the paintings I sell.

    • David Stone1 profile image

      David Stone 6 years ago from New York City

      Not much to add. You touched the important bases, but I have seen increased buying when a customer is told that we take credit cards. We use PayPal, and with Virtual Terminal, I can complete a charge quickly, just using my iPhone. It certainly helps melt some of the resistance as credit cards do everywhere.

    • Judy Filarecki profile image
      Author

      Judy Filarecki 6 years ago from SW Arizona and Northern New York

      @David Stone1: Thanks for a great suggestion. I have PayPal but I have never used it for shows. I'll have to look into it. The virtual terminal with your iPhone really sounds like it simplifies the process.

    • CherylsArt profile image

      Cheryl Paton 5 years ago from West Virginia

      I enjoyed reading your selling tips. I'll actually be attending an art festival where I'll be giving out free postcards with my artwork on them. Thanks for sharing your ideas and experience.

    • Judy Filarecki profile image
      Author

      Judy Filarecki 5 years ago from SW Arizona and Northern New York

      @CherylsArt: I'm glad you enjoyed it. Some of the most basic things work with a little thought. good luck at your art fair.

    • profile image

      ShellB 5 years ago

      I like your tips! I know spin wheels always get my attention!

    • Judy Filarecki profile image
      Author

      Judy Filarecki 5 years ago from SW Arizona and Northern New York

      @ShellB: We all definitely had a lot of fun with it and besides good PR, it generated some unexpected sales.

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      purpleslug 5 years ago

      You have been sooooo helpful. Wonderful lens, thanks so much.

    • Judy Filarecki profile image
      Author

      Judy Filarecki 5 years ago from SW Arizona and Northern New York

      @purpleslug: Glad you enjoyed it. Hope it helps.

    • imaginemdd lm profile image

      imaginemdd lm 5 years ago

      What a helpful page. Thanks for the tips for artists selling at art fairs. We can use this at jewelry shows, too.

    • Judy Filarecki profile image
      Author

      Judy Filarecki 5 years ago from SW Arizona and Northern New York

      @imaginemdd lm: Best of luck at your shows

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      How funny. I like to sell my graphic design services by printing fridge magnets and selling them for $6. I plan to expand my off-line business in summer while slowly building my online store. thanks for the heads up. Cheers.

    • Judy Filarecki profile image
      Author

      Judy Filarecki 5 years ago from SW Arizona and Northern New York

      @anonymous: Glad you found the article useful and have had success with your own magnets. Good luck in expanding your online store.

    • Oneshotvariety LM profile image

      Oneshotvariety LM 5 years ago

      Very useful information! Thank you! :]

    • BookWormLaser profile image

      Alan 5 years ago from Mobile, AL

      Good advice. I have a laser engraving business and up til now, business has only been online. Hoping to expand to off-line a little. Thanks

    • Judy Filarecki profile image
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      Judy Filarecki 5 years ago from SW Arizona and Northern New York

      @BookWormLaser: Good luck with you new adventure. Hope it works for you.

    • Judy Filarecki profile image
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      Judy Filarecki 5 years ago from SW Arizona and Northern New York

      @Oneshotvariety LM: Hope it helps.

    • Judy Filarecki profile image
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      Judy Filarecki 4 years ago from SW Arizona and Northern New York

      @BookWormLaser: Good Luck with your new adventure.

    • profile image

      sheezie77 4 years ago

      Nice info here, Squidlike!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Great thanks.

    • profile image

      KarenCookieJar 4 years ago

      Really great information! I like your idea of the prize wheel. I've been thinking of trying to sell some crafts at a local market, but I don't have enough inventory made yet, but I'll take your advice when I do. Thanks.

    • kevkev227 lm profile image

      kevkev227 lm 4 years ago

      Great lens...my wife is an artist and I am going to share these tips with her :)

    • potovanja profile image

      potovanja 4 years ago

      I find your lens very great, so i give you your 36 likes:). Thank you 4 visit my...

    • John Dyhouse profile image

      John Dyhouse 4 years ago from UK

      Wonderful tips. I have not yet tried art/craft fairs but as I have recently retired I am looking for ways of monetizing my hobby. Lots to think about here - thanks.

    • MarcoG profile image

      Marc 4 years ago from Edinburgh

      Brilliant lens! Some great ideas here. I've had a few art shows and wish I read this lens before all of them. The thing I find the hardest is talking to the customers...I'm so insecure about my work, I keep thinking "what if they hate it? what if they think my ideas are stupid?"...I just want to shy away whilst they inspect my babies, lol.

    • Judy Filarecki profile image
      Author

      Judy Filarecki 4 years ago from SW Arizona and Northern New York

      @MarcoG: Thanks for the comment. Perhaps you have to start focusing on "What if they love my work." People love to hear how you came about painting what you did." Each painting should have a little story about it so if they want to hear it, you have it ready. The story should be fun or exciting or fascinating without being too long, detailed or boring. When you show exuberance the then they will also feel it.

    • profile image

      MintySea 4 years ago

      this lens is amazing. You have some great tips. I never have done an art show before and have been thinking about it.

    • articents lm profile image

      articents lm 4 years ago

      You've shared a lot of great ideas, nice job!

    • Jogalog profile image

      Jogalog 4 years ago

      I love going to art shows and picking up unusual items. I don't make my own things to sell though so I've never looked at it from that point of view before.

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 4 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      You have shared some great Money Making Tips for Art Fairs. We have a big Spring Jubilee Juried Arts and Crafts Fair in our town the first full weekend in April. I am involved in the promotion of it and try to get around to all the vendors. Love your art.

    • profile image

      Hollajack_Clothing_Company 4 years ago

      Hello, my name is Jack Frazier. I own a website called Holllajack Clothing Company found and hollajack.com. We are looking for REAL art to display on our website. We are not contacting every artist we see, just the ones that amaze us. We want to showcase art that wows people, and makes them ask "where did you get that"?. We hope you might be interested in sharing your designs with the rest of the world while making a commission that you set (we recommend $1-$5 because it adds to the total cost of the product). We are just starting out and you would be taking a chance on us....but we hope you take that chance. We hope you Holla, and can't wait to see your other work!

    • Michael Oksa profile image

      Michael Oksa 4 years ago

      Excellent tips! I was wondering, do you have any tips for selecting which art fairs you go to? Do things like location, day of the week, or local population make a difference?

    • Judy Filarecki profile image
      Author

      Judy Filarecki 4 years ago from SW Arizona and Northern New York

      @Michael Oksa: Hi Michael,

      I usually go for shows within a 50 mile radius. I do have a small RV to stay in, so I look for shows that are Friday, Saturday, and Sunday to make it worth the trip and setup time. I use an EasyUp (LOL) Tent with zipper sides so I can leave everything set up. I avoid big, high priced shows where very expensive items are sold, mainly because I sell framed and unframed prints of my original artwork, so my prices do not compare to those selling original and I would have to sell an aweful lot to make just the fees for the show. You also have to be sure that there are not special regulations about selling in certain town. One town here in Arizona makes you have a business license for their town even though you are only there 1 or 2 times a year as part of show group. You definitely have to be aware of the population in the area of the show. Low income areas, for example are not going to buy a $100 print from me, while in a mixed income area, quite a few would. I do a Wednesday show which is only 6 hours, but it is in a fixed location and has a long history of 2 Wednesdays a month on a regular basis. People know it will be there consistently and the customers also know where to find when they want to buy something else from you. Hope that helps.

      Judy

    • Judy Filarecki profile image
      Author

      Judy Filarecki 4 years ago from SW Arizona and Northern New York

      @Michael Oksa: Hi Michael,

      I usually go for shows within a 50 mile radius. I do have a small RV to stay in, so I look for shows that are Friday, Saturday, and Sunday to make it worth the trip and setup time. I use an EasyUp (LOL) Tent with zipper sides so I can leave everything set up. I avoid big, high priced shows where very expensive items are sold, mainly because I sell framed and unframed prints of my original artwork, so my prices do not compare to those selling original and I would have to sell an aweful lot to make just the fees for the show. You also have to be sure that there are not special regulations about selling in certain town. One town here in Arizona makes you have a business license for their town even though you are only there 1 or 2 times a year as part of show group. You definitely have to be aware of the population in the area of the show. Low income areas, for example are not going to buy a $100 print from me, while in a mixed income area, quite a few would. I do a Wednesday show which is only 6 hours, but it is in a fixed location and has a long history of 2 Wednesdays a month on a regular basis. People know it will be there consistently and the customers also know where to find when they want to buy something else from you. Hope that helps.

      Judy

    • davenjilli lm profile image

      davenjilli lm 3 years ago

      some great tips in here on holding a booth exhibition for what ever you are promoting

    • Judy Filarecki profile image
      Author

      Judy Filarecki 3 years ago from SW Arizona and Northern New York

      @davenjilli lm: Thanks for taking the time to comment. I hope that some of the tips are useful to you.

    • profile image

      RoSelou 3 years ago

      I am not doing an artwork but I plan to sell some artworks from people I knew who paint. I hope it will work.

    • profile image

      RoSelou 3 years ago

      I am not doing an artwork but I plan to sell some artworks from people I knew who paint. I hope it will work.

    • MJ Martin profile image

      MJ Martin aka Ruby H Rose 3 years ago from Washington State

      Art fairs are so much fun, I love all your tips and products. Beautiful work. Yes, it is true, just letting them know you appreciate them for stopping by works wonders.

    • mel-kav profile image

      mel-kav 3 years ago

      I love arts and crafts fair. My best friend and I used to do them all the time. Sometimes we made decent sales and other times not - but we always had a great time.

    • takkhisa profile image

      Takkhis 3 years ago

      Arts fair gives us a lot of things to do and think. Thanks for sharing these useful tips.

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 2 years ago from USA

      These are excellent tips to sell your items at a crafts fair or bazaar.

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