Category Archives: Art show posts

Undercover art show tent and review

Undercover Tent Review:

I saw this tent at a local art show and was impressed with the quality and unique CRS Curtain wall hanging system for the side walls. I also wanted a tent with pinch proof release levels to raising the legs. The zippers on the Undercover tent seemed to be larger and stronger than the smaller zippers I had on my EZ-Up. I feel that the larger zippers will make it easier to zip up the tent.

The roof and also the side walls have a inner silver reflective undercoating which is designed to keep the tent cooler. It should also help me from getting sunburn from the sun passing through the tent. While the inside of the tent has a silver look, the outside of the tents top and walls are white so it should pass as a white tent for art shows that require a white tent.

The image below shows the Undercover tent with the polyester sides wrapped around the legs when open for business. The polyester sides seem to be more like flowing fabric were my EZ-Up came with thinner vinyl sides.

Undercover tent UC-2R10crs

Undercover CRS wall tent system

The image above shows the unique curtain type wall hanging CRS system for the sides as well as the silver undercoating on the inside of the walls.

You put up the walls by simply attaching  clips, located along the top edge of the walls to the hanging wire shown in the second image.  This makes putting up the walls fast and easy.  The hanging wire is incorporated as part of the tent.

Note: With this type of CRS wall system, it seems that you do not put the 10 foot wall section up on the one 10 foot tent side with the connecting wall zippers being in the corners of the tent as done with other tents. You place the 10 foot wall with five feet being on one side of the corner pole and the other five feet of the wall side on the other side of the corner pole. The actual location of the zippers used to attach two walls together will be in the middle of the tent side as shown in the second video and also in the first picture if you look for the vertical line in the wall’s center.

The image above shows the pinch proof method of raising or lowering the top sides.

The image above shows the legs having a separate pinch proof method on raising the legs.

Undercover Dial a Fit Peak Pole Extender
The image above shows the silver undercoating on the tent top (facing inside).

This image also shows a method of adjusting the top fit which they call “dial a fit peak pole extender” which could come in handy to make the top more stiff if it rains. Inside that shorter pole piece is a spring that pushes up. If you turn the dial, you can tighten the spring tension. Seems clever to me.

Undercover tent UC-2R10crs
The image above shows the Undercover UC-2R10CRS tent with all four walls up.

Undercover tent UC-2P10WCRS with sides
The image above shows the Undercover UC-2P10WCRS tent with all four walls up showing tent skirts over the corner legs in this model.

Undercover tent vent
The image above shows a vented peak on the top to let out hot air but not let in rain.

These features are what I was looking for on a tent at a reasonable price, that my older EZ-Up did not have. Your own preferences may be different.

See related 46 second video showing method of hanging a CRS wall
(Video 1: View full size).

Another 34 second video showing putting up all four CRS walls in fast motion (Video 2: View full size).

I purchase this Undercover tent UC-2R10CRS tent in March 2015 and am happy with it. It is available for purchase on Amazon at
(Undercover UC-2R10CRS) .

The tall storage bag that holds the tent also had two long zippers, one on each side of the bag. This makes taking out the tent or putting the tent back into the bag much easier.

See short video showing Undercover tent bag
(Video 3: View full size).


Undercover Tent: Purchase of the three different models

The first two Undercover tent models listed below have a 300 denier thick roof with the third listing a more expensive professional model having a 600 denier roof top as well has higher quality honeycombed tubing.

Undercover Tent 1:

(Undercover 10×10 with CRS sides model UC-2R10CRS medium quality tent and the tent that I use)

This UC-2R10CRS tent is good for those that do numerous art shows.

This UC-2R10CRS tent is available for purchase at Amazon as well as at Sam’s Club if you are a member.

(Model UC-2R10CRS from Amazon link)

(Model UC-2R10CRS from Sam’s Club link)


Undercover Tent 2:

(Undercover 10×10 with CRS sides model UC-3R10CRS basic quality tent).

If you do occasional local art shows, this tent may be enough for you. This UC-3R10CRS tent is available for purchase at Amazon at the picture link as well as at Costco if you are a member.

(Model UC-3R10CRS from Costco link)

Undercover Tent 3:

Undercover tent UC-2P10WCRS
Undercover tent UC-2P10WCRS with sides

(Undercover 10×10 without sides model UC-2P10WCRS best quality tent)

For artist doing art shows full time or do many shows in rain or harsher conditions, Undercover makes a tent that is of higher professional quality. This tent is sold by ecanopy. This tent does not come with the CRS sides but you can and should purchase the Undercover CRS sides separately.

Note: Do not purchase the non CRS sides made by Undercover.

Tent can be purchased at ecanopy at Undercover tent.

Sides can be purchased at ecanopy at Undercover CRS sides.



Bad weather at art shows, using weights and stakes

Rain / Wind/ Bad weather:

One thing bad weather such as cold, excessive heat, rain or heavy overcast will do is lower the number of people who visit the art show. This will most likely lead to lower sales. On a multiple day show, you can only hope that the weather will be nice on the next day.

I check the weather for the art show date a few days before to see what the temperature will be, what the estimated wind speed will be and also what the chance for rain is. I also do this the morning of the show for a more current weather forecast. If I feel it may rain, I bring all 4 sides of my tent and keep them in my vehicle just in case. Artist may want to have an emergency disposable camping poncho or rain coat, also available at sporting goods stores, in your supplies box or bring a regular rain jacket when it looks like rain.








It is really a good idea to always bring tent weights or Tent Stakes with you to an art show even if you do not think you will need them. This will give you the option to bring them out if needed for one day shows.  I would always recommend using your weights or stakes all the time your tent is up for safety reasons. For multiple day shows, you need weights or tent stakes. Attaching your walls, that you hang art on to your tent, will give you additional weight on windy days.

Here is Arizona, I found that it does not rain that much but wind is what causes most of the problems and damage. Since most art tents up at an art fair are only water resistant and not water proof, heavy rain during the show or overnight can cause much damage since water can pool up in the lower corners of your tent resulting in damage to your product or even a crushed tent.

I have seen many artist use free standing easels and I have used them myself at times. From my experience, they will eventually lead to damage to your art from wind and I no longer recommend them for outdoor use. Flat art tends to pick up wind like a sail and fly off. If you do use an easel, then I would use a string or zip ties to more securely attach the art to the back of the easel. Another option is to put a weight such as a sandbag at the base of the easel to give it more weight.

While I have weights, when I know I will be setting my tent up on grass or dirt, I usually just bring four long tent stakes and a hammer. I buy these 10″ metal tent stakes at Walmart or at Amazon and they fit through the holes at the base of my tent legs. The tent stakes do not take much room so I always have them with me even if I decide not to use them.

Some smaller items to have in your art supply box for weather are some rope, Cable Zip Ties and a few different length Bungee Cords. Sometimes you have items such as trees or a bench next to your tent that you can anchor on to if necessary. I use white cable zip ties all the time to anchor the sides of my walls or my weights to the tents side polls. I prefer the 10″ size which are not too short or long. If I need a longer length, I use two zip ties in which a second zip tie loops on the first one allowing for a longer reach. Be sure to bring a pair of scissors or another method to cut the zip ties when done. For better presentation, you can cut off the extra zip ties length not using.

You can also always bring a few white tent side walls even if you do not plan to use them. The walls can also be used to block the sun from hitting you directly and reduce your sun exposure or in case of rain. If you have artwork hanging on only the inside walls, placing a white side wall up also presents a less distracting background if you have your art hanging on walls you can see through.

On numerous art shows I have heard walls from nearby tents fall over due to wind and you hear glass from frames breaking. This happens more often than you would think. When possible, it is best to attach your walls to the tent with cable ties or other methods. Having sections of the walls bent on an angle will give additional support. Falling walls can be a liability to yourself or your customers and nobody likes to pick up glass and have artwork damaged.

The first time this happened to me when I first started showing, I lost seven frames and most of the mats and photos inside the frames where cut by the glass. I learned my lesson and am now very careful on this festival weather

In case of rain, move your artwork closer to the center of the tent and put up your walls.  You can never have too many extra clips and they come in handy to quickly putting up walls. Be sure to watch for accumulation of water on the lower tent roof corners and use a longer stick like object to push up on the inside of the roof from inside and let the water fall off the sides. If lighting is in the area, you may think you want to stay dry under your tent, but you should also consider that your tent may also be a big metal lighting rod and an alternate shelter location may be prudent.

I store and transport most of my flat matted art in large plastic tubs with tops which are water resistant.  You can put the matted art back in the tubs during a large downpour if needed. If you feel it may rain, be very windy or storm overnight you will need to determine which items in your booth you want to store in your vehicle and bring home for the night. If overnight bad weather is possible, keep everything off of the ground. If you have boxes, artwork or supplies stored under your table during show hours, place them on top of your tables overnight with a waterproof tarp over them and secured with clips.

I keep a few clear large clear garbage bags
or very large bags with me. Folded up with a rubber band they take up little room. They can be used like a bag to pack up a large framed artwork for a customer. If you think it may rain, you could store your art show supplies or art in these bags overnight off of the ground level.

If you pack your tent while still wet, when you get it home take it out and open it up to let it dry. This will prevent mildew from forming on the fabric.

Swim noodles on art tentIf you think it will be windy overnight on multiple day shows, you can lower your legs on your tent a little giving it a lower profile and then raise them back up the next morning. While I have never tried this, you could lower the height of your tent during the show if wind is a problem.

On days/overnight in which rain is probable placing foam swim noodles in all four roof corners of EZup tents to “bend up” the tent corners will help if you have rain. This would reduce water gathering in the lower tent corners which could lead to leaking or collapsing of your tent overnight. The noodles can be purchased inexpensively at many local stores when needed.

One thing I do is purchase a waterproof spray
used to put on camping tents and is available at sporting goods stores. This can be sprayed on your tent roof with a few extra coats on the roof seams. This will help the water run off your tent when it rains. This spray will not make your tent totally waterproof or stop water from gathering in your tent corners. You need to spray these products outside with proper ventilation. I have heard that using some of these waterproof sprays will counteract the fire resistant coating that are on the tents so I would not do this if you are cooking or use flames under your tent. I actually did see one tent roof catch on file from a food vendor.

Tent weights:

I highly recommend bringing weights or stakes were permitted to hold down your tent during days with wind.  If you leave your tent up overnight, you must weight down your tent or it may not be there in the morning.  Some people make their own weights such as from PVC pipe and cement. You can see two sets of instructions here  (Click to see weight instructions) or
(Click for second weight instructions). Another options is to purchase weights from a store (Click to see tent weight samples).

I feel you need a weight of at least 35 lbs or more on each tent corner.  You can use adjustable truck straps or tie down straps with a S hook on each end to hang the weights to the tent corners.  A set of four straps can be found at Amazon (Click to see strap samples) or Walmart (Click to see strap sample).
If you have weights that stand up high such as the weight shown to the left, you can wrap a small bungee cord around the weight and tent leg to keep the weight from moving.

Coleman 10 inch steel nail tent pegs

When your tent is on the grass or another soft surface, you can also use metal stakes: I use the Coleman tent pegs available from Walmart (Click to see stake sample) and Amazon (Coleman 10-In. Steel Nail Tent Pegs)
. You may want to see if the holes in your tent leg base will allow your stakes to go through them. I also carry a small hammer with me to pound in the stakes and to also pull them out at the end of the art show.

Must watch scary video of dust devil sending tents air born. This gives you the incentive and reason to weight your tent down. I have personally seen a tent fly up in the air spinning about 60 feet and come down hard.


Submitting to art shows

Submitting to art shows:

Each art show’s application is a little different.  For most applications, you will be asked to send in contact information, art medium description, web site and State business licence number as well as samples of your work.  Many applications contain rules for the show and have you to initial that you have read the rules and sign the application. It is best to read the application carefully and give them all the applicable information they have requested and digital files in the requested format and size.  You do not want to give someone at the show a reason to disqualify you over a technical issue or missing information.

It is best to send in your application early if possible and consider the application deadline the date the art show wants to receive your application by. If it says, the application must be postmarked by a specific date, then send before that date.

Some local non juried art shows may just accept artist as they review them when the application is received. They may get full before the application deadline so there could be an advantage to sending in the application earlier. At your smaller local art shows, if you missed the deadline send them an email or give them a call. They may have unfilled spaces available and accept you.

Some small local art events or shows do not have an application fee and just a fee to participate in the event once selected. Most art shows that are bigger or have a jury select the artist will have a small application fee associated with it. If you do not get into a show, you do not get this application fee back. Once accepted, they ask you to send in your art show fee by a specific deadline. You do want to send in your art show payment before the deadline. Some art shows have an artist waiting list that they may give your booth space away to for non or late payment.

Some smaller local juried have no application fee but ask you to send in a check for the art show amount with the initial application. If you do not get into the art show, then they just destroy your check. If you do get in the show, they cash your check.

You can mark in your calendar which shows you applied for on the show date and then change the calendar message that you have been accepted or not when notified. I also mark down the acceptance notification dates for each show in my calendar. If not notified, I would wait a week or so after the notification date and then contact the show to check if you were accepted.

Keep track of the shows you have done in the past, especially the ones you have done well in. If you do not receive an automatic application the next year, contact them or visit their web site to get the application.

Sometimes when you do not get in, it has more to do with too many artists applying in your same art medium and not always about your art quality. Many times, the jury will change each year for a particular art show and have there preferences on the type of art they like. Another reason you may not get accepted even after participating in the art show in previous years is that the jury may want to give some variety to the art show and let some new people in. Not being accepted can be hard if you have been accepted to this show before. Try to not take this personally, if you do not get in, as this is part of the art show market. Even with the same jury images, you may get in one year and not in another to the same art show.

When selecting new art shows to apply to, it is difficult to tell how a particular art show will be in sales for you. One option is to just visit and walk the art show one year and check out the number of visitors, the number of booths in your same art medium and how your art work compares in quality.







I also look for customers carrying art around that they bought at the art show. You need to determine if this is an event people go to to just look or for the free entertainment or buy at. Many times you need to do a specific art show once or twice to see how well you do and if it is worth doing again.

An important general rule is that if an art show is harder to get into due to the competition of numerous artist applying every year way over the number of spaces available, this can indicate that this art show that has much better sales.

For the smaller local shows, you usually have a good chance of getting in.  These shows usually have no application fee or a small application fee and a less expensive art show fees such as $20 – $65 for a day or slightly more for a two day show.

Some art shows, although less common, have a smaller art show fee but charge you 12 – 20% of all your sales. When these type of shows ring up all the artist sales at their own register, they will absorb the credit card fees as well as send in the State and local sales tax that they collected from the customer for you. The artist is still required to claim the income for taxing purposes.

For the larger shows, even ones locally that have many professional artists from other States can be much more difficult to get into, especially for the first time.  The application fee will be larger and the art show fees may be up to $550.00 for a three day show but will bring a much larger and qualified crowd. The process of selecting the right images for the jury and the quality of your booth shot is much more complicated for the larger shows than for the small local shows that this article is about.


Pricing Art

Pricing Art:

Cowboy boots






This is a really tricky subject but you should price to make a profit.  Take into consideration your costs beyond just your material costs, gas and art show fees. The artist has a lot of overhead and should be compensated for his time and talent.

When setting your prices, a lot depends on a variety of factors such as:

1. Your experience
2. How you value your time
3. Time spent on a specific piece of art
4. Quality of your art
5. Material Costs
6. What the competition charges for similar artwork in your area
7. What your art work has actually sold for in the past
8. If you are more well known, the demand for your work

Some shows are geared for higher priced artwork and with small local shows this may not be true.  Also the show’s customer attendance, demographics and location play a roll.  Different artists have many different theories of what pricing strategy works best and it comes with experience.
Many photographers seem to charge by size of the image and not how difficult or costly the image was to take or time it took to produce. The price can vary based on other factors such as the associated costs of how the photograph is framed or printed on special paper or canvas.

As a photographer, I tend to see what other photographers are charging for their art on their web sites. Many of these photographers are charging two to four times the amount I do for what I consider the same quality of photography. When determining what you are going to charge at an art show, please remember that there is a difference of what people charge on-line and if they are selling at that price.

Propanel art show walls








On the photo, you will notice carpeted Pro Panel walls, large title card labels with easy to see prices and a sign stating which credit cards are accepted. This booth also has a work desk for taking orders. I recommend hanging title cards at least 1 inch from the framed or canvas art work. This prevents the shadow from the above artwork from falling on the title card making it harder to read some of the printed information.

Many painters charge by the square inch but this can vary widely between different artists. Even the same artist may have a different cost per square inch for different sizes such as a higher square inch cost for very small paintings or less per square inch for very large paintings. Also, artist should also not determine prices based on there own personal or emotional attachment to a specific art piece.

For commission work such as in paintings, many recommend charging a larger fee than your normal amount. A commission can be more work and sometimes a pain with some clients and this should be incorporated in your pricing.

When you are selling photography or prints, a customer may ask you if you offer larger sizes. This is a good sign since most customers think art is only offered in the sizes that they can see in your booth. I recommend that you have a printed sheet listing the different sizes that you offer along with prices to show your customer. I have a sheet listing the various enlargement print sizes I offer as well as wrapped canvas sizes. This allows the artist to create custom prints on demand for the customer without the need to carry large sizes in inventory.

Some people feel you must keep your art prices the same everywhere you sell. Other artists may adjust prices to fit different shows or areas were artist costs may be higher.  I feel that you should be flexible. If you have a gallery nearby that represents your art in the area of the art show; then your prices should be the same as the gallery for that art show. The previous advice is my recommendation for the new artist that this article is geared for. For more experience artist that has their art in many galleries and are successfully enough to bring in a steady income from those galleries, then I do not recommend that artist have different prices at art shows or on-line from the type of pricing levels at those galleries.

To me the bottom line is that if your art is not selling; you need to lower your prices to where it will sell at a price you are comfortable with.  If you are selling a lot, you can try to raise your prices until you are losing sales.  You will eventually set a balance that both the artist and customers are happy with. With the economy being poor over the last few years, many people have been buying less art. This can effect what people will currently pay for the same art they may of been happy to pay more for 5 years ago.

I do not recommend lowering your prices to compete with other artists that are really undervaluing their art.  This is a no win situation and you cannot compete on price with someone who does not mind selling for little over the cost of his materials and not based on the total costs of running a business.

Daniel Rozmiarek wrote: “As the artist, if I want customers to give me money in exchange for my art, I don’t get to assign value my work. My customers are in control of valuing my work. My “price” is nothing more than a guess at an amount that I believe somebody else will agree to. I have every right to assign a price higher than that of other artists, but customers have no obligation to purchase.

Fine art is a pure luxury good. It is not a commodity that people need to survive. Every sale of fine art is about the perceived value the customer has for my work, and that customer’s willingness to exchange their cash for my art.
But, the reality is that nearly all potential customers at art shows are willing to pay something between $50-$500 for my work. They set the price. I’m only trying to guess what it is. If I guess too low, I’m not recovering the full value. If I guess too high, I don’t make a sale. When I guess correctly, I make a sale at the best price that customer is willing to offer.”

Additional articles and videos on pricing artwork:

  • Video of painter Skye Taylor describing how he prices his art and other good general advice: Video here




Discounting at art shows, Art price labels and Artist name tags

Customers like to get a discount:

I find you encourage and get additional sales if you mark your items such as matted artwork with a single price and then a discounted price for multiple purchases. An example would be a matted print price of $65.00 or two for $110.00.  You can also do this on small items such as note cards $4.50 or two for $8.00.  While discounting will lower your profits on that specific sale, I feel it is better to sell to that customer for a reasonable profit than not at all. My overall pricing will average out between initial asking price and discounts sales to a fair balance.

Art discount

Some customers are afraid to ask you for a lower price.  If they are looking at a piece for a while trying to make a decision to purchase it, I usually offer them a discount such as a set amount or a percentage discount.  Many of my sales are when I offer a discount.  I sometimes think I should raise my prices and then offer all my customers a discount.

If the item cost $69.00, I may say “I can offer you that art piece for $60.00” or “I can give you a 15% discount on that print”.  If the customer is looking closely at two prints to determine which one they would like to purchase, I may say that “I can offer you a 20% discount on the second print”.  Sometimes they purchase both prints. Unless the discount for multiple purchases is printed and displayed at the booth, I do not have a set discount I offer and pretty much make it up based on my mood at the time.

Some artists do not offer price discounts to the customer as they do not think they should discount their art. If that works for them, then they should price as they seem best. I think in this economy that not offering a discount as a hard rule will just cost you sales. Even the most high end galleries in great locations offer discounts upon request even on more established artists.

Offering a discount is different than having a sale. I do not recommend having a sales sign in your booth or a sign that says 50% off. These type of signs will bother the other artist. Signs that say “Sale” make it more of a lower end show and give it a flee market type feel. The customers may feel that they can expect large discounts at other artist booths.

Ghost Town Photography

I will offer a set discount without the customer asking if I feel they are hesitant to purchase a piece of my art and I think price is an issue for them. I think all artists should offer discounts to customers, even if it is a small one to encourage sales. While the artist should not sell art at a price they are uncomfortable with, I do not feel that art has a set price such as purchasing a toaster at Walmart. With a little negotiating, you can end up with a happy customer bringing home a piece of your art to hang on their wall and some money in your pocket. If you have not tried offering a discount, try it out a few times and see how it works for you.

Quite often, I am in the situation in which either the husband or the wife are in the booth. The customer is interested in purchasing some art but wants to bring there spouse, who is in another area of the art festival, back to the booth to approve of the purchase. Many times, they never come back. I decided to try this year to offer the customer an incentive before they leave to encourage a return. I recommend that you try different sales discount techniques and see what works best for you.

Every once in a while I get called by Interior Designers for a larger multiple piece order and I think they expect a discount of 10 – 20% because it may be the standard in their industry and they might select another artist if you do not. Even though I feel my regular prices are reasonable, in the middle range of what other similar work sells for, I will give Interior Designers a discount. Due to the economy, I have been also giving 10 – 20% discounts for larger orders from individuals when needed. I may try in the future to offer customers an extra smaller print of their choice instead of a monetary discount. This may be of greater value to the customer and cost me less than the monetary discount in the end.

Pricing Labels:

Pants and Bra
I find that you really need to price all your items.  The price on the labels also need to be larger than you think would be needed.  It seems that many people just cannot find the price even if it is right in front of them. You do not want customers to walk away because they do not see the price and do not want to ask. Price labels can be hand written or printed off. My basic suggestion is if you hear numerous times the customer ask you what is the price of an item, you should adjust the location of your price label or make it larger.

Pricing Labels can be found on Amazon or at your local craft stores.For individual items, such as those lying on a table, I would price them all separately.I price all my framed work on my walls with a separate price label. I display my matted prints grouped by size which have the same price. If they are in a print rack or boxed container on a table, I generally have one larger price label on the front center of the print rack or box.

I have seen some artist not price the more expensive framed or original paintings displayed on the walls. Like any other business, different business owners make different decisions based on their own experiences. For artwork that has a title card you have room to display more than the price such as the artwork title, medium and size. I feel that if the artwork is not the original, you should state that on the title card that it is a print or other term you wish to use.

Name Tags:

I see most artists do not use a name tag but they seem to wear them if the art show supplies them.  I feel the artist should always wear a name tag.  The customer is not only buying art but also part of the experience is meeting with the artists and the forming of an emotional bond beyond just the artwork.

Often customers ask me if I am the artist even if I am the only person in the booth.  If you have more than one person in the booth and one is not the artists, then I feel it is even more important to have name tags.  Also if your booth is crowded and someone wants to ask the artist a question or make a purchase, they may not be able to tell the artist from anyone else in the booth.

Many times customer sees my name on my name tag, relates it to my signature on the artwork and seem to be surprised that the artist is in front of them. I am not really sure why this happens so often. Perhaps they are so used to purchasing items made in factories or faraway places that it does not occur to them that some items are still made by hand and sold by the maker.


General art show information for artist

General artist information:

Spider Rock







If you get a higher priced custom order or commission such as a painting or photograph at an art show, collect at least 50% at the show and then get the remaining amount before you deliver the finished art to the customer. With the exception of corporate buyers, I no longer send out the artwork to individuals unless I get the final payment first.

You may be tempted to start on a special customer request for your artwork or print the artwork before you receive the initial 50% deposit if they are sending it to you later, but I suggest you do not. Sometimes customers change their mind and you may be spending money and time on a custom order that has been cancelled. I sometimes take the deposit by credit card or Pay Pal using my web site and then request the remainder by check if possible.

The artist should consider providing bags to customers to bring home art purchases. I actually do not have any shopping type bags since most of my art I sell is matted prints already wrapped in Clear Bags. It could be considered a form of promotion for the customer to carry around your art in a clear bag for other customers at the art show to see. For artist to purchase custom larger flat bags from a manufacturer would be expensive since you need to purchase in larger numbers and artist generally do not have needs for that quantity of bags.

I have not had any complaints from customers who are usually parked close by and just carry the larger framed or canvas art to their car. Some artist at larger art shows may have some bubble wrap and tape a layer around the artwork. I have also heard of others who buy large clear garbage bags at Home Depot and use them to wrap art. I suppose they fold the extra bag area tight over the art and tape it neatly. If you sell larger prints that are not matted or framed, you could have some extra mailing tubes ready and just place the prints in the tube for the customer.

Gail Peck Says: “Talent is almost the least of it. To consistently sell you have to have images that people can relate to emotionally. Although I’m not the most talented photographer out there, I’ve sold from the very first day because people like what I do. They care very little about the qualities that most photographers stress over. What you need is a winning personality that can engage well with the buying public. One young man who has wonderful images sells very little because he lacks conversational skills. I can’t stress this enough!!!”
Read more at: Selling art at art festivals

Really informative art show videos and articles:

Informative video on selling art at art festivals. While this video is 1 hour 47 minutes long, the incite and information this video offers is worth the investment in time to watch at this link: How To Successfully Sell Pictures at Art Festivals and Fairs

This is a very informative article on how to sell photography at art shows that is geared more to larger professional art shows but has good advice that would also pertain to artist doing smaller local art shows”: How to sell photography at art shows

This is a nice article on how a painter got her start selling her art at art shows and her progression to being a well seasoned art show participant: Seven Years of Art Festivals – Sharing My Experiences with New and Aspiring Artists

Art Show Magazines:

Sunshine artist –
This magazine is the main magazine used by the professional outdoor art show artist and includes show location information as well as articles of interest to the art show artist.

Professional Artist Magazine –
This magazine is for professional artist with good art business articles but geared mostly for painters.


Using credit cards at art shows – The Square


How important are credit cards?

I say that if you do many art shows or if you sell items for more money than customers usually carry around, you should take credit cards.  The loss of only a few sales due to not taking credit cards is not worth it since it is easy to set up an account to take credit cards and the cost for entry is very low if you already have a smart phone.

Recently, numerous companies such as Squareup (The Square reader), Paypal and Amazon have come out with small credit card readers that attach to many Apple or Android smart phones or the Ipad. These credit card readers are also compatible with many Android tablets.

Not too many years ago, many artist that took credit cards, with similar capabilities to what the Square does now, used expensive stand alone machines with heavy monthly service charges even on months that no credit cards were run. These credit card machines were not financially practical for the artist or small shop keeper at outdoor events that did not sell in enough quantity to justify the cost. Most vendors at art shows are now using the small readers that work with there existing smart phones. The percentage rates to the credit companies are very competitive so even vendors that take only the occasional credit card can justify the cost since you are only charged when you use the reader.

For all of these card readers, I recommend getting at least two from your vendor of choice. If you have trouble running a customer’s card, you can try using the second reader. There is no need to loose a sale for not having a second free or low cost card reader.

If you take credit cards, be sure to place a sign such as Visa/Master Card/AMX logo on your table or wall in plain sight.  You can search the internet for “credit card signs” or look on Ebay to purchase some at reasonable prices.

The Square credit card reader: Magnetic strip, embedded chip and Apple Pay

Below I describe the three different credit card readers from Square. The first one is the reader that most people are currently using that reads only reads the credit cards magnetic strip.

The second reader which is new and currently available will eventually replace the older credit card readers. This second reader will be able to read the credit cards embedded chip as well as the credit cards magnetic strip. This reader is what everyone will be using soon and it is recommended that you switch to this newer model.

The third type reader is optional and allows you to not only read credit cards with the embedded chip in them, but additionally allows you to take credit cards wirelessly using Apple Pay.

Square credit card at art showOne popular credit card reader (card reader type 1), shown in photo to left, is the “Square” which is available at The Square is what I see most people use and has reasonable percentage fees with no other monthly service costs. This Square reader will read the magnetic strip on the credit card.

Once you run your charge using the Square, you will receive an email letting you know that they have received your charge. You will receive another email when they transfer the money into your bank account. I currently use the Square on a LG smart phone.

Many credit cards currently in use already have the more secure chip embedded in them, as shown in the photo to the right. My understanding is that due to a law change, all new credit cards sent out after October 2015 will be required to have the new chip in them.

Square credit card chip readerSquare reading credit card with chipThe new and slightly larger Square reader (card reader type 2), shown to the right, is currently available for $29.00 at
(New Square chip card reader purchase link). This new reader has two slots that will read both the magnetic strips on older cards and also be able to read the credit cards with the chip in them.

The new Square chip reader does have a small battery in it that will need to be charged with USB charger slot found on the bottom of the reader. I believe that the reader comes with the recharging cord. You may want to charge up the reader before any major show or at least have a spare reader.

See how to use the new Square chip reader 2 in this short video.

Not to get too confusing, but Square is also coming out in Fall 2015 with a third reader (card reader type 3), shown below. This much larger reader will read Apple Pay and EMV (Europay, Master Card and Visa) which in English mean cards with chips in them. I do not think this reader has the ability to read the credit card magnetic strip, so you will have to have to keep your older Square reader for this.

square card reader for apple pay






See how to use the new Square chip reader 3 in this short video.

This card reader type 3 will have a $49.00 purchase cost but you will be able to get a partial or full credit of that fee if you use the device a lot over the first three months. I am not clear how this reader works yet, but they state that the device will connect to your Square app so it will probably connect wirelessly using Bluetooth to your phone or Ipad. This device also runs off of a battery.

General Square card reader information:

You probably can get away with using the current free card reader, shown at the top left, for a while since the new cards that contain the chip will also have a magnetic strip on them. If you do many charges, the better security of card readers that can read the chip, will have some advantages such as better fraud protection and not needing to scan the magnetic strip multiple times to get it to work.

Another reason to get a card reader that reads the chip is that eventually, the banks may hold the artist responsible for any credit card fraud if you accept a credit card charge by using the magnetic strip. Currently the banks usually eat the cost of fraud but eventually may say that using the magnetic strip makes you liable for any fraud since that method (magnetic strip) is the weakest security link.

Note: I received an email from Square in June 2015 informing me that one of my older Square readers (magnetic strip only reader type 1) would soon no longer work and suggested that I get a free replacement. The message stated “If you’re not sure which of your Readers is the older model, flip the Reader upside down—If the bottom of your reader nearest to the audio jack says “S4 China”, you are not required to upgrade.”. One of my readers stated “S3/Mexico”, so I will be replacing that Square reader. If you have some older Square readers, you may want to check out what version they are.

The following information was found on the Squareup web site (link here). Tax law requires that we provide account holders who process over $20,000 and 200 credit card payments per calendar year with a Form 1099-K before January 31st. We are also required to file a corresponding tax form with the IRS. Whether you reach $20,000 in payments and more than 200 payments will be determined by looking at the SSN associated with your Square Account.


The Paypal and Amazon credit card readers:

Another company that has a credit card reader for smart phones is Pay Pal with additional information at (Paypal reader link). Pay Pal does have a customer service phone number if you have any problems. I feel that there rates are also reasonable.

Paypal update: Paypal also has a new chip reader, shown to right, for credit cards with chips and Apple Pay. See information at (Product link here).

Amazon also has a credit card reader for smart phones. Amazon’s reader only works on selected phones so check if your phone or tablet is compatible before ordering. Amazon (Product link here).


Art Marketing/Promotion: Email, Websites, Business Cards and Banners

Marketing / Promotion:

It is a fact that art generally does not sell itself. You may find that places that sell your art for you do not do as well as when you are in front of your customers as an artist selling yourself. Part of selling art is promotion that can be approached from many ways at once.

Promotional Emails or Newletters:

When at an art show, have an email sign up list for visitors to fill out. When you have a new art show or any art related event in that area, send out a simple email blast inviting them. Many artist design and send out on a regular basis a more sophisticated newsletter with this information included in it. Many artist use a reasonably priced bulk email company such as or to send out these emails. One nice thing about these services is that you can have separate email lists under different titles and you can target only those lists you want to for a specific event. Also, the customer can easily unsubscribe from your email list automatically without any extra work on the artist side.

For my art exhibits, I create postcards or print off 4×6 prints, as shown in the photo, and leave them around in local businesses close to the exhibit. These locations are mainly art or photography related and customers pick them up. The remaining prints are placed at the exhibit as a fancy business card for those attending to take home. I find the 4×6 prints on sale to be cost effective on smaller quantities versus 500 or 1000 postcards. This can also be done for art shows with the option of mailing them to past exhibit postcard







I found signing up with and entering your event in the event calendar, which is also free, has great benefits and is available on a national level. If your event is selected, they will mention your event such as an art show in their email newsletter to a great number of customers with an art interest. These customers are targeted to the general location of the event along with a link to a web page with additional event detail. I am really surprised that more artist do not take advantage of this free service, but now you know about it and you can with a little effort. Once you spend the initial time to figure how to enter an event, all your future events will only take about 10 minutes to submit.

When more serious art collectors see your art work at different events such as art shows, displaying at galleries, public art events, solo shows and group shows around your area they may be more likely to purchase some of your art at art shows. I feel all of this promotion adds up to give you more credibility as an artist. I feel collectors would rather buy art from an artist that they feel will be around in 5 to 10 years more than someone they see on and off for a year and then disappears from the art scene.

My theory is that even if you live in a very populated and spread out area such as I do near Phoenix, AZ, the number of people that visit art shows is a much smaller number. These people will visit many art shows as something they enjoy to do and not just to look for art to purchase. They will get around and if you do enough shows or other type of public exhibits, even in different areas, they will start to recognize your art work. It is something like print ads were some customers need to see your product (art work) numerous times before they make a purchase.

One thing I do is numerous public art exhibits. While I like to show my newer work mostly, for larger exhibits of my art, I always include a few older classic images that I have shown at shows in the past. I do this so people who may not remember your name may remember one of the older images if they liked it. They will then realize that this is an artist they have seen before and that this is new work from you that they have not seen. This is part of my need to see your work numerous times to get credibility to some collectors plus who doesn’t like to show their classics.

Business Cards:

At first thought the artist may think that this is a no brainier, have business cards easily accessible at art shows is a good thing. At art shows, for customers purchasing art is more of an “In the moment decision”. Once the customer leaves your booth, they will most not likely be back. Sometimes taking a business card is just a nice way for the customer to leave your booth without purchasing.

photography exhibit postcard








Artists handle business cards in different ways. Some place them in the front of the booth that is easy to find and take. Other artist may place them within the booth area but in a section more inside the booth in which a more serious customer looking for a business card could find. I see artist at the higher end shows sometimes have business cards in the back out of site and supply business cards to the customer upon request. This has the advantage of having the customer requiring a brief personal contact with the artist to receive the card.

Although it is unlikely that people who take business cards will contact you later, it does happen and the cost of business cards is so small that I feel they are worth having. Having a well designed business card also has a more professional look. I recommend that your business card have more of an artist look and can have one of your art images or custom business logo on it. Some business card information you may include are the artist name, business name, business address, web site, email address and phone number. In my case, I have all this information on my web sites contact page. If you feel that many of your customers do not use the internet, then I would definitely have a phone number on the business card.

Many places from local print shops to the popular VistaPrint can print business cards for you. If you go the online route, I recommend getting on the mailing list first so you will get discount offers before ordering. The more business cards you purchase at the same time, the less expensive each card becomes. One suggestion on business cards is to not have both sides coated unless you are having print on both sides. If you only coat the text/image side to give it a glossier look and leave the blank side uncoated, you will be able to write on the blank side. It is nice to use the blank side of the card to write down for the customer the title, sizes or prices of the art pieces that they are interested in for later referral.

For artist, I do not think that the pre-designed business cards that you can choose for free at these sites and just add your contact information will be best since artist should show in their business card that they are creative and have custom looking cards. If you just want to get some business cards starting out and use a more basic card design, that is fine but for the long term, I suggest a more impressive business card.

What do I do? I used to have business cards, but now I produce 4×6 photo prints at Costco that act as my business cards. I have some set forms that I add 3-4 photos on and the customers seem to like them. At this time I have five different versions with different themes such as landscapes, doors, or cars and if a customer is interested in a particular subject matter in my booth, I give them a related theme card. You can see an example of one of my cards here. I tend to change out my card images every year and see them as more of a trading card that customers who visit me often may collect.

I do not always wait for a customer to pick up a business card. If a customer seems serious by looking at many of my images and taking their time but not ready to purchase at that time, I will offer them a business card by handing one to them as they are leaving the booth. The artist should not give a business card to the customer without the customer asking for one until the artist is sure that the customer is not going to purchase at that time and is leaving the booth.
Another reason to have business cards is if you have an exhibit in a public place such as a library or store. Having business cards available is a way for customers to take some information home with them to be able to contact the artist. Business cards are also handy to hand out to fellow artist or to others as part of your normal artist business activities.

Another alternative option or addition to handing out business cards is to offer to send the customer an email showing the art they are interested in. If the customer is interested in a specific image or images, ask for the customers name and email address. Then send out later that day or the next morning an email to the customer including the following information.

1. Thanking them for visiting your artist booth.
2. Perhaps something personal that you talked about.
3. Include image or images of artwork that the customer was interested in. These should be inline images and not as attachments if possible.
4. Artwork information such as title, size and price.
5. A closing statement to contact you to further discuss or purchase. Include your contact information.

Do not be afraid to resend a similar email out a few weeks later. Having an interested customer’s email address can also be used to send invites to future art shows.

Custom business cards from Vistaprint are available through Amazon. Prices are reasonable with quantity’s of 500 or 1000.

Web Sites:

I feel that every artist today should have a web site or web presence.  You can put your art on-line at many sites such as and many more without needing to know much about computers. If you do not know how to create high quality digital files of your art, you can have someone scan or photograph your art that will be used to upload to these sites.  Many of these on-line galleries sites will even make a print from your submitted digital file and fulfill the order by sending the print directly to the customer for you.

There are many of these art related web site galleries around and many are free to display your art. Others may be free but charge you a fee if you sell any art. Some of the more sophisticated sights may charge a monthly fee, just to display, depending on how many art images you have on your own personal gallery. These sights may look more like your own individual web site and not just one more artist grouped into a large group of artists. There are many choices to choose from and no reason you cannot select more than one.

If you can manage your own web site or pay someone to do this for you, it is always best to have your own web site for flexibility and customization for your specific needs.  When you sell off of your own web site, you do not need to share a commission. Most commercial web sites are geared to selling original artwork or a photography print of one size. They do not handle multiple sized prints which is best for photography or painters wanting to sell prints besides the originals. With your own customized web site, you can display multiple prints sizes and prices such as I do here on my own web site using a drop down menu.

Another advantage of having your own web site or multiple gallery web sites is that many on-line gallery web sites have been going out of business and all your hard work setting them up is then gone. For this reason, always keep a copy of all your digital art files on your computer for later use. I have my art on my own web site and also on a variety of other on-line gallery sites that bring in additional views of my art work. On some of these other web sites that may have only 3 -10 images shown, I then list my own personal web site for customers to visit to view additional art images.

Artist can use their web site to market future art shows. I have a specific web page on my site just for this. I list the event, date, hours, address and show web site and contact information if available. This information, if done in advance, can be picked up by search engines. Recently, I have started to send out tweets in Twitter about my art show events as well as other art related events and new images. With Twitter you have a limited number of words you can use so I give a link to my web site’s page to show more detail information about the art event if they are interested. While I do not use Facebook myself, if you do this can also be a powerful marketing tool to promote your art and events.

The web site is also a good place for customers to look up more information on you as an artist. I have a page that shows articles that have been written on my art, a page that lists my past exhibitions and a page that lists an artist statement / bio and general information about the artist. I tend to think of my web site as an on-line resume / portfolio and not just for selling my artwork.

My experience is that web sites will not bring in sales that often but when they come in; tend to be much larger orders.   A web site is also a good place for Interior Designers to find you as well as an on-line portfolio for people to review that may want to exhibit your art. A web site has many benefits beyond its sales potential.

Be careful of large or strangely written email order inquiries that you get from people looking at your web site. Most of them are just people trying to scam you using email. You will start to recognize them easily once you get a bunch of them. You can read the article How artist can protect themselves from internet scam orders for more information and examples of scam emails I have received.


One way to get art show visitors to notice you is to put up a custom banner. Visitors tend to walk by the artists tents at a fast pace and something needs to catch their eye to slow down or stop to look in more detail. One thing that can do that is a banner since it is usually in a place that is very viewable from a distance. You can have a banner on the top inside of the back wall or at the top inside of a side wall, at the front of your tent high up as a few examples. I have a 6′ x 3′ vinyl banner that I have even hung from the front of my 6′ table inside my tent.

I recommend vinyl banners with four grommets in the corner so you can use rope or bungee cord to place them in your tent area. Many local office supply stores can do banners. You normally need to pick a size and then custom design one before you have it printed. Most online printing companies have a step by step process that you go through. You can even upload your own images.

Here are a few sample sizes but many others are available from the printing company Signsinasnap.

This is the design of one of my vinyl banners.

photography exhibit postcard


Artist Bio or Artist Statement

Artist Bio or Artist Statement / Labeling Art:

For most artworks I find that the title and price are always needed with size as an option. For photography, many customers want to know the location of the subject matter.

Artist biography













For painters, as a customer, I prefer a label that says if it is an original or print/Giclee especially if if the painting is printed on canvas or framed. It also is nice to list on the label the more specific painting type such as watercolor, acrylic or oil since not everyone is as art knowledgeable as the artist.

Many artists place a printed page of information about themselves such as an artist statement or bio and a small artist head shot on the back of the matted artwork.
I see no reason you can not do this on original or framed artwork also. Customers seem to like this as I see them turning over the matted prints looking at the additional information. Here is a link of a sample bio for back of art Sample Bio in Word format.

This artist bio/artist statement page also gives a stronger bond between the art piece and the artist which helps in an overall stronger relationship between the customer and the artist. As I have said before, the customer is not just buying the art but also part of the purchase is related to the connection to the artist.

With a picture of the artist on the bio, it helps the customer relate and recognize that the artist is in the booth. To my surprise, many customers do not always understand that most of the time, the artist is the one in the booth. One of the most asked questions I get is “Did you take these” or “Are all these photographs yours”.

I place a business card in the packaging of every order I sell.  I also have a stamp with my name and web site that goes on the back of each matted or framed print.  If they wish to order another piece of art in the future, I try to make it easy for them to find me.   My web site is also my name and will come up on top during a web search of my name.


Art: Limited edition prints and Certificate of Authenticity

Limited Edition Prints:

This is up to the artist to decide whether to do this and to define what they want their definition of a limited edition is since many artists do it differently.  A few of the larger nationally known art shows require limited edition prints to participate in that specific art show.
Some artists are very sensitive on this subject and either are very for it or very against it. I just chose not to do it anymore.

I personally do not think it is a good idea and worth the paperwork for most artists to keep track of for photography for the art show market.  I have never had a customer tell me he was not going to purchase a piece because it was not a limited edition.  To me it is more of a gallery marketing thing and since photography prints can now be duplicated with exactly the same quality when printed in bulk or at a later date, I am not sure it applies to the original reason for limited edition printing.   For some States such as artists selling in California or New York, more specific rules are set up for limited edition paperwork and should be reviewed.

If you sell photography to more of a serious collectors market or thru an art gallery, I can see a benefit to selling limited edition prints in smaller editions. Some photographers limit there editions in smaller amounts such as 15 -50 prints per image. Many times these smaller edition prints are much more expensive to purchase and may be each individually hand done such as in a darkroom or using an alternative photography process.

When I first started out I did have selected prints marked as LE of 100, 150 or 250. When reality hit and I saw that even if I had a popular print, it may only sell 5 to 15 times over many years due to the limited amount of shows I did. Because of this, I decided that it was not for me. I have seen artist put very high LE numbers such as 1000 or higher and I wonder if it is really limited at those numbers. You should always stick to what your limited edition agreement was in your printed statement for those artworks sold under a limited edition agreement. I see very few artist selling limited edition prints at art shows now a days as compared to what I saw in the past. It is really a personal choice for the artist and in some mediums such as bronze sculptures, it could be the norm.

Certificate of Authenticity:

 Certificate of Authenticity







Some artists do place a sheet called a Certificate of Authenticity on the back of matted or framed prints. In addition to the artist name and contact information, the certificate may also give print information specific to that print such as art title, size, special type of paper it was printed on, ink used along with the artist signature. These are similar to what would be on a limited edition certificate without any edition size listed.

Shown above, you can see a sample COA from California photographer Roy Kerckhoffs. Some States require COA with your prints and you should determine if this applies to you.

A few articles with additional information on Certificate of Authenticity can be found here in article one and article two. Some examples of COA can be seen here.

Some artists print these out on fancier certificate colored paper with nice borders that adds a personal touch and value to the artwork. Here are some samples of Certificate Paper which can come with a fancy border. I use a ivory colored 110 lbs thick card stock paper, shown below, that I purchase at Staples and can print two to a 8 1/2 x 11 sheet.

 Certificate of Authenticity







Shown above is my COA form. I give this COA form filled out to the customer when they purchase a framed, metal or canvas wrapped print as well as large custom sized paper prints. I do not give out a COA for my matted only prints since they already have my Bio sheet on the back and my signature is already on the mat.