All posts by Bob

What sells at art shows

What sells?

For photography, what sells in the smaller shows are mostly the matted prints or small framed prints if you offer them.  You should have some larger pieces of framed art on the walls to attract people to your booth area.  It is a good idea to have items of different price points.

In some shows, such as our local Phoenix First Fridays events, where many of the visitors are younger, art items that sell the most may be in the $20.00 to $40.00 range.  On a slow sale day, it is nice to sell even a low cost item under $20.00 every once in a while to keep your spirits up.  In general, you will not over the long term make a decent return unless you sell some more expensive items even if those items sell in smaller quantities.

Southwest Blue Door

About two years ago, I started showing and offering wrapped canvas prints as an option. While most of my works hanging on the walls are in traditional glass frames, I have about 30% on canvas. Read my article on printing photography on canvas for the fine art photographer for more information. Canvas prints make a nice presentation that the customers seem to like. It is also convenient for the customer since they are light and come ready to hang on the wall with no additional framing needed. Many full time art show photographers show the majority of their art on canvas. I let my customers know if they are interested in a larger print that I offer a wrapped canvas option.  The cost of printing on canvas has dropped drastically in the last few years due to the many competitors printing canvas.

For the last few years I have seen an increase in artist selling photography on aluminum. Most sell aluminum prints around the 11 x 14 to 16 x 20 size. Some photographers offer a few in the 20 x 30 or larger sizes. On my recent trip to California, I even saw prints from paintings on aluminum. This seems to be a trend that is lasting. While printing on aluminum is still expensive, prices have come down allowing artists to have reasonable prices and still make a profit.

One advantage with aluminum prints is, the same as in canvas prints, that you do not have to frame them which brings them closer in total price to similar sized prints that are framed.

As far as which subject matter sells the best, it really varies widely. Most photographers have a variety of local landscapes taken in locations near the area or State of the art shows or exhibits that they do. Landscapes are usually visually appealing to a greater audience and perhaps easier to sell than some more artistic photography. I show Southwest landscapes since that is the area I am in and landscapes are what Interior Designers seem to want for their corporate customers.

I also try to show my unique vision of a variety of other subjects that interest me that separates my work from other local photographers. I enjoy taking photos of old rusty cars or transportation related themes as well as photographing interesting objects from the past. Each artist should find his or her own style and try to be unique. Customers can recognize the passion you put into your work and see your style which attracts them to the artwork. This customer connection to the artist leads to sales.

After a while, you will see what types of items and what price ranges that your art or craft will sell at. You should look for a pattern on which type of items you customers are most interested in and purchase. While you should only create what you are interested in, your art booth should have more space devoted to the type of items that your customers are purchasing.

Knowing which artwork of yours sells is something that only personal experience can tell you and can vary depending on the area that you show. I have also found that some of my images are very hot and sell well for a while and then just drop off dramatically. I tend to sell out of those images, replace them with newer images and then 1 to 2 years later, bring them back for a new audience that has not seem them before.


Packing, setting up and take down for art shows

Packing Carefully:

It is important to pack your artwork carefully.  You should expect to damage or ruin some of your more fragile pieces every once in a while.  This loss is just part of the art field.  It is worth the extra time to pack the more fragile art items more carefully. Determining the proper packing materials specific for your art will in the long term reduce some of this damage risk.  Sometimes it takes a while to find the right box, container or packing material for your specific inventory.

Frames are generally brought home from the store or framer and just hung on the wall.  In this situation, they do not have time to get damaged.  At art shows, they travel and are handled much more.  They are also out in the elements at outdoor art shows with wind, sun and rain.  If you are not careful, the packing and unpacking will eventually damage some of your more fragile art. Most of my damage is on the frames and I take special care packing these items in specific.

Many artists pack their smaller art and art supplies in plastic bins. Since the tops and bottoms are flat, you can easily stack them and transport them in bulk by a hand truck. They are also water resistant and can add protection in bad weather.

I recommend that you purchase a more sturdy or quality plastic container with a top such as the ones made by Rubbermaid. I have found that the less art show supplies bin expensive plastic containers can not take the abuse of art shows packing and unpacking and will eventually crack. The clear containers are convenient so you can see what is inside them but usually are much thinner plastic. The bin to the right that I use will fit many 16×20 matted prints perfectly and is available at Lowe’s Model # 131957 Blue Hawk 27-gallon tote (Click on for link for container).

When packing my vehicle, I usually put the larger less fragile flat items such as tables or print bins in first on the bottom. I leave the more fragile items for the top, such as the boxes containing my frames, so no weight is on them. The plastic container or storage box leaves a flat top in which you can place other art items on or stack another plastic container.

Sometimes with smaller vehicles there is a tradeoff on how much packing material you use to pack you artwork. Extra packing material for some items does take up more space, but sometimes you do not have any choice. Frames, pottery, larger glass items or other fragile or breakable art needs to be packed well. In addition, all very expensive art should be packed well.

Setting Up:

At first it will take a much longer time packing your vehicle for the art show, setting up and packing up again.  Over time this will get much faster.  You will learn how to fit the items into your vehicle more efficiently and in which order to remove the items for a faster setup.

California Pier

In your first few art show setups, give yourself at least two – three hours to setup until you get the hang of it. One you have already decided how your display layout will look, it will take less time. You may need to try many different layouts until you settle on one that works best.I do not recommend doing a few art shows and then decide to stop doing them because they are too much work and setting up your tent and booth is hard. It is a lot of work setting up but it does get easier and faster once you have a routine and know where everything goes.

If the art show allows you to set up the day before the show starts, take advantage of this option if you can. You can put up your tent, your tent walls, your art walls, tables, print racks, display cases and other materials as part of your art show setup. Depending of your art or craft medium, you may be able to leave some of your product in the tent, but make sure they offer some security the night before the first day of the art show if you do this.

The morning of the first selling day, you can arrive early and just need to bring your product and other materials not setup previously. One thing you need to be careful of is not to bring too many things over two days and then find out it will not fit in your vehicle when you take down your show on the final day. One advantage of setting up part of your tent the previous day is you will be less stressed and not as tired when the art show starts and you are talking to your customers.

It is best to be set up on-time, but the detailed arranging can be done during the start of the show.  You do not want to have your vehicle next to your tent still unloading when the customers are arriving at the opening. Many customers come before the official opening times to beat the crowds and the heat. These may be more serious buyers and if you are already set up, they will find you.

Usually each art show sends you an art show information packet that may list the artist show rules, show times, location of show, setup instruction and other information such as parking or a map showing your tent location.  It is a good idea to print this off and bring it with you.

After setting up, while you may be tempted to park right close to the art show, since those spots are available before the show starts, I suggest that you leave those closer spaces for the customers. Many times the art show requires the artist to park in an artist designated parking area.

The art show information packet, which you should print out and bring to the show, will have much of the set up information. Sometimes it shows a map with your space number located on it. If it does not, then when you get to the show location look for a check in table or the person who is running the art show to find where your location is.

It is a good idea to have a list of items you will need and review it as you are packing your vehicle.  I tend to leave an important item at home every once in a while and it is not so easy to run to the store or go home once you arrive and are setting up.  If you are missing a common item while setting up, ask some of the other artists if you can borrow the item and return it when you are done. I tend to borrow from my art show supplies box such as a calculator, tape or scissors and not bring them back and realize this when I need them at an art show. I now try to have extra of these items in my home and try not to borrow from my art supplies box that I bring to the shows.

One thing to consider is looking over the artist show information packet to see if it says how close your vehicle will be to your specific art location for unloading during setup and loading after the show. Many times you can park right near your tent and other times it is much further. If you need to carry the art supplies far, you should bring a hand truck or other device. If you have done this show before, you probably know how close you can park. If you know that you will need to carry your art show items far, you should come earlier since setup will take a longer time for this show.

It is always easier to carry items with a hand truck and if you do not have really heavy items you can get away with a less expensive $35 – $50 folding hand truck that folds flat and take up very little room in your vehicle.

Hand Trucks:

Different hand truck models can be found at your local hardware stores were you have the advantage of seeing them in person. Some different models can be seen online at Amazon (Hand truck samples). If space is not as much as a concern, I recommend (Platform trucks Samples).

Additional models can be seen online at Walmart (hand truck samples).

The first model pictured above is interesting if space is an issue since it folds very flat with even the wheels folding in (see video).

Take down:

Delicate Arch








The take down will be much faster than the setup.  If I bring walls and framed art, I will start taking down those items and pack them
about a half hour before the show ends.  This saves much of the packing time while much of my other artwork in print racks or on tables

is still being shown for customers to purchase. If your display depends on the walls, a steady stream of customers are still around, or this is a major art show, then you should leave your display as is until the end of the art show.

Once the show is over, I feel it is easier to pack up all the remaining art supplies at one time and place them in piles. It is easier for me to pack my vehicle at once since it generally gets packed in a specific order and I have everything ready to go.

If customers are still walking around at the end of the show, I usually wait until about 15 minutes after the show ends to drive my car slowly to the closest area to my booth.

Many artist drive in and park near their tents just as the show ends.
When you park, make sure you leave room when you can for other artist to drive by to get to their locations.

It is generally frowned upon to start taking down your tent / booth and leave before the end of the show.  In larger or juried art shows, this could lead to you not getting invited back again. If it is a local non juried small art/craft show and numerous other artists are packing it up, then you can usually leave early also. You can always ask the promoter if you can leave early if others are. You should just carry your supplied to your parked car and not bring your car to the booth area blocking the customer paths or other artist booths.

I am mentioning this since I saw this today, someone drove their car in and parked in front of their tent about 15 minutes before the art show ended. Some customers were still walking around and it is a big safety hazard as well as blocking customers from reaching other artist. In this case, the person supervising the art show noticed this and the car was removed.


Booth Presentation and general art show notes

Booth Presentation:

In showing art, a good idea to keep in mind is that you are setting up a little gallery at the art show as if you were at an indoor retail gallery.  Presentation is always important in the art world.

exhibiting at art shows

I recommend going to some small local art shows or the larger ones in your area to check out how other artist are doing things in your same art medium.  It takes time to get a good layout and it will improve with experience.

The placement of your art and related display areas is also very important.  Careful consideration should be given on where you place your tables, shelves, print racks, walls and other items.  Many people will walk down the row of booths and you need to give them a reason to stop and look for a few seconds to determine if they want to stay longer.

The booth display pictured on the right, has a very nice jewelry display. Notice the use of grid wall on the left and the fancy table cloth to add elegance. The great use of space by utilizing stacking of the jewelry displays on many different levels. For selling jewelry, you need a mirror.

You want to have enough artwork along the walking path to attract their attention and then explore more inside your booth area to examine more of your product.  If your booth gets crowded, a design that takes into consideration of customer flow of traffic can help.

Even if most of your sales are not the larger framed art, you should still show it to attract people to your booth.  Catch their eye and give them a reason to stop and enter your booth.  Most people will walk pass most booths and this is normal.  They may only be interested in certain things or specific art mediums.

If you have art on your walls, you may want to bring a few extra pieces to fill any open spaces due to sales. If no replacements are available, you could rearrange the art on the wall. Another option is to write the word “Sold” on the art title card with a thick black marker and leave an obvious space on your wall.

Keep your booth area clean at all times and not so overcrowded with merchandise, sometimes more is not always better. When you design your booth layout, do not have spaces that the customer may feel restricted in. The customer should always feel that they have an easy way out.

Do not block too much of the space in the front area with objects or you will reduce the number of customers that walk inside your booth area. The booth layout entrance should be inviting to the customers. Sometimes it is a design challenge to have objects close to the front entrance to your booth so they can easily see and gain interest to stop for a longer look or come inside your booth area and the relationship to not blocking the main booth area entrance area.

If there is space between the different booths, you can display your art on the outward side walls giving you much more display space for artwork that can be displayed on a wall.

Do not have artwork on the ground that is normally displayed on a wall. I see many artists do this at our local First Fridays event.

Many times at smaller art shows, the artists set up displays 1′-3′ out in front of their assigned 10′ x 10′ booth area. The problem with this is that the customers need to move 2′-4′ further away from the general traffic path when viewing your next door neighbor’s booth. This makes it harder for them to see their art and more likely to just pass on to the next booth. If your booths are right next to each other, I recommend that you keep within your assigned 10′ x10′ area. If the booths are spread out, you may be able to stick out a little and not disturb the next tents traffic flow.

Another item that many artists have in there booth is a larger wall sign or banner with the company name on it.

General Art Show Notes:

The initial costs for getting set up to show at art fairs can be substantial.  If you decide to stop doing art shows, your equipment such as tent, walls, display cases and tables can be sold to other artists.

Doing art shows is hard work.  It does help with setup, sales and takedown if you have another person with you but many artists do it themselves.  It is not for everyone.

Diver and Ghost Ship

It can be frustrating if you go the whole day and sell nothing or very little which happens often.  Selling at art shows can also be fun.  I enjoy talking to the customers and sometimes they need to see you at a few shows before they purchase from you.

It is best to learn about the art show market, how well your art sells and practice you’re selling skills on smaller and less expensive local art shows before going to the much more expensive art shows competing with seasoned full time art show professionals. This can save you money during your learning curve.

Many art shows have volunteer sitters who will sit in your booth for a short time so you can take a short break.  They will not sell your items, but will watch your booth while you are away.

The artists must be at the art show for the entire show at most all art shows.

Keep your cash on you and not store it in a cash box or hiding place unless it is just change.

While you should sit in your chair to rest sometimes, it is best to stand if you can during the busy times.

Having people in your booth brings in more people to your booth.

Special security precautions are needed for artists who sell jewelry not only during show hours but in your setting up, packing up, transportation and hotel room. You would never leave jewelry in your tent overnight even if the other artists leave up there art.

My customers also let me know which of my pieces are more popular by their comments as well as by purchasing.  If I want to bring in new artwork, I have a good idea of which pieces I should discontinue.  If a piece of artwork has not sold yet, but seems popular, I will keep it around longer.

When displaying art on your display booth walls, your back wall is viewed the most and your most impressive or best selling items should be on display in this location.

A good article for new artist on preparing for Art Festivals at A Newbie’s Guide to Art Festival Booths.


Recommended art supply stores and canvas printer

Purchase of art supplies:

Some personal items that you may want to bring to the art show are water, lunch, snacks, hat, sun tan lotion and a small cooler.  Many times, food is not available, unhealthy or overpriced at art shows so you should bring some just in case.

I usually carry Scotch tape, extra paper to make labels, scissors, pliers, lots of extra 4″ and 6″ metal spring clamps, screw drivers, first aid kit, pens, pencil, marker, small hammer, hanging hooks for artwork, 10″ Nylon Cable Zip Ties, business cards and holder, shopping bags, extra cash and coins for change, Windex, paper towels or towel, dust cloth, change of clothes, aspirin, order book, calculator, folding table, print racks, labels, table cloth, tent, walls, weights, chair and credit card device, forms and signs saying I take credit cards.  If lighting is needed, bring those supplies.  Also a sign up book to collect email addresses for future marketing.

I find that various sized clamps and cable or zip ties come in handy in many different situation like some people feel about duct tape. You should always have these items around while doing art shows. I recommend only getting metal clamps since the plastic ones seem to break over time. On the metal clamps, many times the soft red part pieces fall off over time and you can drop some glue under them at purchase time to reduce this. I recommend zip ties of at least 10″, I find that the shorter ones do not have much reach for art show purposes and you can always cut off the extra length after on with a pair of scissors.

The two links below contain detail lists of items to bring to art shows. Many of these lists are long for use in 3 day shows while on the road and some items are particular to specific art mediums. It is good to review which items apply to your needs and make your own list to review when packing. When you need something at an art show and do not have it, it’s a good time to add that item to your list.

Art Show list 1 from

Art Show list 2 from


CG Pro Prints: Canvas wrapped prints


Great every day low prices for canvas wrapped prints such as 16″x20″ at $27.99 , 20″x30″ at $39.99 or super large and impressive 32″x48″ for $99.99. Other things I like is quick turnaround, tight corners, 1 1/4″ depth, 8 color printing and they place a piece of thick black board on the back which gives the canvas a nice finished look.

Also below the front canvas picture area is a hard surface which I have not seen other printers do. On the back, metal sawtooth hangers are attached for hanging. Note: The larger prints have two sawtooth hangers and I do not recommend running picture wire between them. The metal sawtooth hangers are designed to be hung from one or two hook or similar method to support the artwork.

They also have a nice software user interface that shows you what part of the image will wrap (not show on the front) or can choose a solid color on the sides. They offer the optional drop shipping direct to the customer with no invoice in the box. The boxes also make nice storage containers to transfer to art shows since they are efficient in size and reseal easily.

Note: You get $10 off first order with the link below and I get a $10 credit. The shipping cost is greatly reduced if you order more than one print. Get a sample print or two and check them out. Click on the left box below for more information and discount.


Matting supplies: Clearbags, mats, double stick tape and print racks

Matting supplies: Clear bags, mats, framing supplies, double stick tape and print racks

Clear Bags: – These are the clear plastic sleeves that go over matted prints and come in a variety of sizes for most needs.

To be cost effective, you usually need to buy in quantity’s of 100 in each size needed. Listed below are some common sizes to fit 5 x 7 ClearBags (cards),

8 x 10 ClearBags, 11 x 14 ClearBags, 16 x 20 ClearBags and18 x 24 ClearBags matted prints in quantity of 100 from Amazon. Amazon also sells in quantity of 25 in many sizes. Clearbags come in a variety of size and different types of bags for jewelry or many other products that you may sell.

While I recommend the quality of Clearbags, if you have a Hobby Lobby nearby you can purchase smaller quantities locally at a reasonable price with their one item for 40% off coupon they have (Crystal Clear bags link).

I recommend the bags called “Protective Closure”, for matted prints, which are the ones with the adhesive strip on the bag. I do not recommend the bags with the adhesive strip on the flap because the print will stick to the flap when pulling out the print. The clear bag shown to the right is over a matted print before the top flap is folded to the back.

You can see a short video showing the protective closure Clearbag here.


I usually purchase my mats in bulk. I always have my outside mat dimensions at a standard frame size but my inside opening is custom sized to display as much of my image in the 2 x 3 proportion I print at. Many artist select the mat color of white, but some use a black or colored mat. I currently use Antique white with a white core. I recommnet using white core mat for artwork. White core mats will show a white center that you see in the inside cut beveled edge. White core has only a slightly higher cost and avoids seeing that more yellow or off color on the inside cut beveled edge found on cheaper mats.

When I list a mat size for the customer, I give the mat outside dimensions and not the picture opening size which I feel is standard in the industry. This better allows the customer to know the size of frame the matted print will fit in. In general, the more you purchase in quantity of a given size, the larger discount you get. Since mats in bulk can be heavy, take into consideration the mailing cost. Some places may seem more expensive but include the shipping into the price.

You can get custom mats cut at Mat board Plus or Dixie Matting listed below as well as many other suppliers.

Matboard Plus: Matboard Plus  Wholesale matting at good prices.

Dixie Matting:   Wholesale matting – good prices. Call Bevin to order.

Purchase Pre-cut Mats:

Another popular option is purchasing matting kits that contain a quantity of pre-cut front mats and matching rear backing mats as well as sleeved bags. These matting kits come in a variety of pre-cut mat sizes as well as quantities. You can also purchase the pre-cut front and backing board seperately.
Amazon: US Art Supply and Golden State Art (Pre-cut art mat link).

Some common mat kit sizes: Pre-Cut 8×10 Mats

, Pre-Cut 11×14 Mats

, Pre-Cut 16X20 Mats

and Pre-cut 18×24 mats.

Sample 16 x 20 mat kit:

High Quality Acid-Free Pre-Cut 16X20 White Picture Mat Matte Sets. Includes a Pack of 25 White Core Bevel Cut Mattes for 11×14 Photos, Pack of 25 Backers & Pack of 25 Crystal Clear Plastic Sleeves Bags.

Some common pre-cut front mat sizes (acid-free with white core bevel):

8×10 mats ,

11×14 mats ,

16×20 mats and

18×24 mats .


Some common 4 ply backing boards sizes:

8×10 Backing Board ,

11×14 Backing Board ,

12×18 Backing Board ,

16×20 Backing Board and

18×24 Backing Board.


Framing Suppies:

Some of my favorite framing supplies are shown below. One is picture wire in bulk that is vinyl coated which is much easier to work with and will not hurt your fingers when winding up the ends.

I also find that using D-rings and matching screws work well to wire the back of a frame with the vinyl coated picture wire.

Over my art work table, I use a larger protective green mat that is very cut resistant and come in a variety of sizes. I have used an X-Acto knife cutting mats on it for many years and it still looks good. These mats not only provide a flat surface with a grid pattern to align things up with but keep your art table from being cut up.

You can never have too many picture hangers. The picture hangers come in a variety of weights to hang frames of 10 lbs, 20 lbs, 30 lbs and heavy frames. When you sell a canvas or framed print, it is nice to supply the customer a picture hanger along with the purchase. This allows the customers to be able to hang the artwork when they get home. The brass ones make a nicer presentation.

Many artist use hinging tape to attatch the front mat to the backing board and self sticking mounting strips to attatch the artwork to the backing board. Click on the photos below for further information.


ATG Gun with double stick tape and photo corners:

You can purchase the (Scotch ATG 700 Adhesive Applicator link)
and (Scotch ATG 1/2 inch 36 yard double stick tape link)
from Amazon by clicking on photos to the right.

This device makes it easy to dispense the tape to your mats allowing you to quickly put your front and back mat together. I found that this tape gives you the opportunity to separate your mats if you need to reuse them without any damage.

I use this applicator device and tape along with the photo corners shown below for a great combination in my matting method. This tape is also convenient to tack on your artist bio page to the back of your matted prints with a small amount of tape on the bio page’s back four corners. See video below on how to use photo corners.

One of my favorite products is Lineco Archival Polypropylene 1-1/4″ Full-View Mounting Corners (250 corners). These make matting my 16×20 prints or smaller much easier and faster. These require very little white border or image space of your print and you can easily remove your print from the corners with no damage and reuse your print or the mat.


Print Racks:

art display rack

The small and medium print racks shown to the right, that I use, are very common at art shows. These print racks are reasonably priced and can be purchased from Jerry’s Artarama (print rack link). Other print racks can be purchased from Amazon as shown below.

I also purchase better quality rubber leg tips from Home Depot (print rack rubber leg tips, 4 pack link). Amazon also sells in larger quantities (1-Inch Rubber Leg Tips, 24-Pack link).
These give the print racks more stability on uneven ground and only cost slightly over $2.00 for a set of four. These higher quality rubber leg tips work well to replace the original plastic leg tips when they break off or you can fit them over the existing leg tips on a new print rack.

One advantage of using print racks is that you can place a lot more art in a smaller area. While you may have some of your art on the walls, you could have many times that number of art pieces in your print racks or print bins. In my case, I have most of my photography images matted and placed in print bins. A painter could also make prints of their paintings and place them in print bins. Having prints of your art can also add another pricing option to your customers who can not afford the originals.

I have seen other artist put original paintings in print bins with a foam core or cardboard backing and clear bag. I recommend to artist that put original art in the print bin to state that it is an original painting or your art medium name on each piece. This is so the customer does not confuse an original with a print. Basically any art medium that is flat in nature and can handle customers repeatedly flipping through the different pieces would work well in a print rack.

A special note on print racks, you do not want the type that comes to a V point at the bottom as this damages the prints. The print racks with a flat base are much better on this and also hold more prints. Most artist use the canvas print racks but they also come in wood. You can use a small print rack to place mats about 11″ x 14″ in size and display on a table top. A medium floor standing print rack will hold 16″ x 20″ mats with the jumbo print rack holding larger mat sizes. You can also use the jumbo print rack, shown to the right, to hold panoramic prints or a combination of mat sizes together such as two columns of 16×20 prints next to each other. I prefer the canvas print racks that fold flat for easier storage. One recommendation is to tighten the screws on these canvas print racks every few months during the season since they tend to get loose, fall out and it is hard to find replacements for these screws.

Above are a few examples of two medium sized print racks and two large or jumbo print racks available from Amazon.

Do not overcrowd your print racks with too many prints. Sometimes more is not always better in displaying art. If you have too many prints, then pick out a combination of your favorites, newest or best sellers to be included. With too many prints, you not only can damage the prints but it may be hard for the customer to see the whole image if not enough of an angle or space is permitted for optimum viewing.

Another option for displaying 11″ x 14″ matted prints or other similar small mat sizes, on a table top are using rectangular baskets that you can find at a variety of stores such as Michaels or Hobby Lobby. These baskets are often on sale for 40% off or you can bring a coupon for 40-50 off that these stores offer. To make sure you get the right size basket, you will need to bring a sample mat to the store and try it out in the basket to make sure works for you. Some people make their own custom wood boxes to display matted prints.


Greeting the Customer at an art show

Greeting the Customer / Customer Interaction:

If a customer enters your booth area or has been looking for a minute, greet them with your own personal statement.  This initial greeting will vary with every artist and said along with a smile and eye contact is just a method of letting the customer know that you recognize their presence and you are open to assist them if needed. I vary my statements but could be “Hello”, “Welcome to my gallery” or “Let me know if you have any questions”. Some customers want interaction from the artist and some want their space.I live near the town of Scottsdale, AZ were many higher end galleries are grouped together in a single area. When I enter these galleries they seem to greet me with something like “How is your day going” or “Are you visiting from out of town”. For me, it is not so much what they say but the warm pleasant attitude they seem to have while saying it. They usually let me know that they can help me if I have any show promotion

If a customer is looking at a particular art piece for an extended time, I may tell them a short story about the art piece.  It is not only the art piece they are interested in but also the connection to the artist.  This artist connection is something art patrons can get at an art show that they may not get at a gallery.   It is really a fine art to read the needs for an individual customer and how much interaction they want with the artist.

I feel it is better to always have a happy or more positive attitude when dealing with customers even if you are tired and at the end of a long day. Part of the customer experience is the joy of the purchase. They would be more likely to purchase from an artist that they have a good feeling about since the artist is connected to the artwork they are bringing home.

It also does not hurt to smile a lot as the lady in the photo is doing.

Many times, customer’s ask you what I would consider silly questions such as did you take all these photographs or are these paintings (not my art medium).  In most cases, they are unfamiliar on how to approach the artist and are just starting a dialog with you.  It is best to answer their question which can lead to a continued conversation with this customer.

Artists with different art mediums may get asked different questions from the customers. I am often asked if I am local in which I say yes since all my shows are local. An artist selling jewelry may get asked if she makes her own jewelry or if her jewelry is produced in China. Once you start selling, you will get some common questions and determine a standard answer for your customers.

On occasion, you will run into a rude customer. It is best not to deal with this in a negative way as this could turn off other customers in your booth. I just move on to a different customer and eventually the rude customer leaves. For the most part, the customers are very nice and often compliment your artwork.

When I do art shows and set up my 10 x 10 canopy, I noticed that customers are hesitant to crossing over the “hidden line” on the edge of your canopies main entry side. They tend to look at my art on the walls from a distance or print racks at the edge of my booth area. If you make the customer feel at ease and comfortable to cross that outside line into your booth, then you are doing something right.


Art show tables and fitted table cloths


Art display tables








I prefer the 6′ tables or 4′ tables that fold in the center which may fit better in vehicles when transporting

Many artists have multiple tables since they may lay their art flat.  Many artists layer the art items on the tables at different levels.  Much depends on what you are selling.

Standard 4′ or 6′ tables are available locally at WalMart (table link).

Tables are also available at Amazon (Mainstays 6′ Centerfold Table link)

and (Lifetime 4′ Centerfold Table link).

Art show folding table

Table Cloths:

Most every artist places a fitted table cloth
over the table for a more professional look.
Fitted table cloths are also available at Amazon (TEKTRUM 6-Feet black table cloth link)
or (TEKTRUM 4-Feet black table cloth link).

Many artist use the standard black table cloth, but others choose different colors that may show off their product best. Using a table cloth, allows you to hide your extra product, boxes, supplies, lunch and other items under the table for a more professional clean look. I find it helpful to have some Mini Spring Clamps
with me to hold down the table cloths sides on a windy day.

When purchasing a fitted table cloth, check your table’s width, length and height to match against available table cloths sizes.

Many artists have multiple tables since they may lay their art flat. Many artists layer the art items on the tables at different levels. Much depends on what you are selling.


Art show wall – Gridwall


Grid Wall:

(Grid wall selection link)

Inexpensive, heavier but stronger than other walls, can set up in a variety of configurations to best fit your specific art/craft items. While the standard size is a 2′ x 6′ grid wall, they do come in different lengths such as 6′, 7′ or 8′ and even a few different widths. Make sure the length you choose fits in your vehicle before purchase. Grid wall come in colors such as chrome, white and black. Since these wall are heavy, I suggest that if you purchase grid wall online, you look for free shipping such as on Amazon.

Many artist just starting out at art shows use grid walls. They will not break, so you can easily sell them to another artist if you later upgrade to another wall system. You may be able to find grid wall and accessories locally at a place that sells store fixtures. It takes about five 2′ x 6′ grid walls to fill up one 10′ wall section. You can purchase grid wall in groups of three at a reasonable price. Grid wall has many useful accessories such as Grid Wall Shelf’s, Joining Clips to attach grid walls together and Utility Hooks which can be used to hang art on. Many different type of Gridwall Hooks are available to hang a variety of items.

A few of many available accessories for Grid wall (Click on pictures):

2′ x 6′ Grid wall (three pack)

Joining Clips (connects the grid wall together)

Hooks chrome

Hooks black


(Link for leg pair)
Leg Stands

2′ x 6′ Grid wall (three pack), Joining Clips, Hooks chrome or black, Grid wall shelf’s, grid wall leg stands

2′ x 6′ Grid wall (three pack) with leg stands

hooks, six grid walls with 2 triangle base combo

Triangle base.


Art Show Walls – Graphic Display / Propanel / Armstrong / Mesh Walls

tent 17
Many artists have been very creative in making walls from scratch as shown in this article (Article Link).
I have seen them made from attaching doors together to using pegboard and hinges.  Sometimes you can look for artist selling their walls or other art supplies when upgrading or no longer doing art show.  This can save you money and if your walls are still in good condition, you may be able to sell them for close to what you paid for them used. You can see below some common wall options that many artist use. They cover a range of costs and functionality.

Some common wall options:

Graphic Display Panels:          gdspanels

Both Graphic Display panels are shown above. These display panels can come in one piece per wall but I prefer the model that comes in two pieces per wall as shown.
The two piece per wall model has the advantage of fitting better in your vehicle and perhaps easier to handle.

The walls are light in weight and come with floor base hardware to support the walls.  About $90 a panel. The company sells many accessories and configurations to support many wall designs for multiple art mediums and professional needs. I suggest using their hanging hooks but standard “S” hooks will also work. Note: A company called Flourish makes nice cloth covers for the Graphic display panels at (Graphic Display panel covers link).


Pro Panels:

                armstongpanels       propanelcarpet

These are carpeted walls, what professional art show artist use, flexible in setup, durable, cleanable, stable, come in a variant of colors and expensive.

Have a high resale value for used ones. The company sells many accessories and configurations to support many wall designs for multiple art mediums and professional needs.

Armstrong Product Panels:
These are also carpeted walls similar to Pro panels that many professional art show artist use. You can also arrange these panels in many configurations and use many optional accessories.

armstongpanels armstrongcarpet

Flourish Mesh Panels:

These are flexible Flourish Mesh Display Panels
that can be folded for travel but make tight walls for hanging art when installed. Since the walls can be folded they take up much less room while transporting. Many professional artist use these walls. If you do not have your outside tent walls up, the mesh panels allow for better air circulation inside the tent area as well has the ability to hang art on both sides. You need to get the Mesh panels and stabar configuration that fits the type of tent that you have.

While these walls may seem initially expensive, but less then most Pro panel configurations, they should have a good resale value when sold. Your long term cost on professional walls is the difference between how much you paid minus your selling value divided by how many years or shows you used them for.

Click on the first image to bring up mesh panels cost on Amazon.




The second image below shows a close up of the mesh detail. The holes are used for S or drapery hooks to hang your art on.

The third image shows the Stabar system used to attach your mesh panels to a top Stabar for some tent models.


The fourth image shows a close up how to attach the top of your mesh panels to other tent models.

The fifth image shows the lower bar of the Stabar system used to attach your mesh panels to your tent . It also shows the option of a shorter back mesh wall with a door opening.meshdisplay

The sixth image is another example of tent display using the mesh panels with three 10′ walls.


The seventh image shows a short video of the mesh panels being installed to a tent.



Art show tents (EZ-up, Undercover, Trimline and Caravan)

Art Show Tents (canopies):

Monument Valley

Most all art shows require white tents.  I do not recommend getting a colored tent.  While many of these colored tents are less expensive, the light weight design is more for sun shading and not art shows.

It is common for these lightweight tents to easily fly up in the air, especially if not properly weighted down on windy days. This can result in damage to your art, nearby booths or customers as they come down. Also these colored tents will pass on the colored roof color on to your art as a color cast.

The most common tent found at smaller art shows and many larger art shows is made by EZ-up or are EZ-up type tents.  They are quick to put up and take down which is a major advantage.  These type of tents are referred to as pop-up tents and most people can put up and taken down this type of tent by themselves. When you first start using your tent, you may want to ask for some help until you get the hang of it. I feel they are fine for the small or occasional weekend art show.  They will not hold up as well in bad weather as the better tents will but I see them used by new artist to full time professional artist.  I have seen cheap EZ-up tents crushed by overnight storms.

Many artist will put up one to three sides during the show to give the tent area some shade to protect them from the sun as it travels across the sky. Another reason to put up your sides is to give a clean white or less distracting background to your hanging art. Many times I decide what sides to put up based on the location of my tent. If I have no one next to me, I may put artwork on both sides of one wall and then not put up my sides on that wall.

If you leave your tent up overnight, you should put all four sides up before you leave. For one day shows, I sometimes have one or two sides in my vehicle in case I choose to put them up later in the day as needed.

You want your tent to come with walls or sides.  I like the walls that have zippers to connect the tent walls to each other. Some tents come with out zippers and some use velcro.  Some walls may have zippers and Velcro, but the Velcro is used for securing the wall to the tent top or corner legs. Your tent may also come with a storage bag and a sun visor.

Pay attention to the Denier number of the tent top with the higher the Denier number, the better.  A denier top of 300 should be the least you should purchase with a denier of 500 or 600, being better. Do not purchase a tent that does not list the denier number or at least call the manufacturer or retailer and ask first. Since shipping is expensive, compare prices based on the total tent and shipping costs since some stores include shipping in the price.

If you are new to tents or setting up tents, the following short videos will be very helpful. When you put up your tent for the first few times, you will probably need someone to help you. You will eventually be able to do it by yourself.


Two short video instruction on how to set up 10 x 10 art show tents:

Short video instruction on how to take down 10 x 10 art show tents:

Video answering common questions on art show pop up tents and what options and features are available allowing you to better choose the type of tent for your needs:

Below you will see a variety of common tents that you will see at art shows such as the Trimline, Caravan and the EZ-up. I recently saw a Undercover tent at an art show and was impressed so I also listed that brand. I also purchased one and find it of good quality.


TrimLine Canopies:

The very high quality professional TrimLine Canopies are made by Flourish at
These tents take a while to put up because they are not the pop up type. This tent will hold up in strong winds and bad weather better than most tents. These tents would be best for those who do many 2 or 3 days shows, full time professional artist participating in many art shows or do art shows in locations in which it rains a lot or often run into bad weather.

Video of TrimLine Canopy, along with Flourish mesh display panels, being put up in fast motion:


Caravan Canopies:

Caravan Canopy

The high quality professional line of Caravan Canopies can be seen at The Caravan tents are also easy to put up. Note: One tent in the Caravan line that seems to be popular on Amazon is listed above. You will need to buy the sides separately which are also sold at Amazon.


Undercover tents:

The Undercover 10′ x 10′ tents are easy to put up and come with a variety of tent quality versions suitable for different needs such as standard models for light use to professional quality models for heavy use.  (Undercover 10×10 tent with CRS Polyester Walls)

See the Undercover tent review, showing details on three models in another blog.

EZ-up tents:

The reasonably quality and very popular EZ-up tents can be seen at

EZ-UP tent

The EZ-up type tents have been on sale for about $300 lately.  I do not recommend you buy a tent from Costco or Sam’s club unless you can verify the tents specs to make sure they meet your needs.  There are different quality levels of EZ-up type tents and they are not all the same. With online vendors, you usually get a list of information about the different tents specs, features and accessories offered in the box. When the manufacture says that this line of their tents are “Professional” or “Commercial”, then these are the higher quality tents.

I started out with an EZup Encore II tent and used it for many years.  The weather is usually good here in Arizona and I do not run into a lot of bad weather.  I mostly worry about wind.  You will not get the same protection from wind and rain from an EZ-up tent as a higher end Trimline tent, but they are much less expensive and faster to put up.

The standard walls for an EZup are not as high quality as what would come with the Caravan or Trimline tents but are used by most artist with good results. You can also purchase thicker and higher quality walls for your EZup later at an additional cost.


Some on-line stores that sell 10 x 10 tents for reasonable prices:
EZ-UP ES100 S with sides can also be purchased at Amazon at picture link to right.

Z-Shade commercial tent with zippered sides can also be purchased at Amazon at picture link to right.


E-Z Up Express II tent without sides can also be purchased at Amazon at picture link to right.

(Model Z-Shade from Ecanopy link)
Zshade Pop Up Canopy with velcro attached sides.