Who are the buying customers?
One thing I picked up is that people who are on vacation or traveling seem to be more likely to purchase art. They like to bring back something to remember their trip or purchase artwork in a style not available where they live.
If you are selling in a tourist area or area in which tourist visit, you will have more sales on average than one with just locals visiting. When people travel, they seem to be more in a buying mood. Perhaps they are just having fun with an impulse buy or feel that they can not always come back later to purchase the item.
Travelers are concerned on how to get art purchases back with not only smaller pieces that will fit in there suitcase but larger art purchases. Customers are always looking for excuses for not making a purchase at this time and it is the artist job to offer solutions.
In this case, if the customer does not know how to get the art back home, offer to ship it to them at your costs or at a reasonable rate. For the majority of artist, you do not need to add sales tax if shipping across State lines which can make the shipping option affordable to the customer. It does not hurt to also put a sign on your table or wall that states that shipping is available.
Younger people are more likely to purchase items under 20 or 50 dollars. Seniors who may have downsized their homes or already have their wall space filled with art are less likely to buy. With this in mind, I still treat every customer the same. Many people in Arizona come for the winter and are in smaller homes with little wall space but will buy art to bring home with them. I have found that selling art in more wealthy areas can also increases art sales but does not guaranty better sales or the ability to raise your prices for these locations.
My average buyer is between 30 and 55 years old and both men and woman evenly. With artwork that hangs on the wall, it is sometimes a harder sale since both husband and wife need to approve and their tastes are not always the same. With items geared more to one sex or small enough to store in a drawer such as jewelry, you do not have this problem as much.
How I determine which art pieces to show:
For my photography, I produce more pieces than I can show. Because of this, I try to reduce the number of even finished pieces down to what I think is just my best work. To do this, I place new photographs on Flickr and see what the viewer response is. I also ask my friends which ones they like to reduce my selections even more. Eventually these selected new images are displayed in my booth to be seen by the customer. In the end, the customers select which prints will be popular. The images that do not get as much a positive response or sales as the others get moved to the back of the print bin. These prints are eventually removed and replaced with new images. The most popular selling images have a long life and the remaining prints end up in storage. I usually remove the old print and replace with a new print image allowing me to reuse the mat. By adding a new Clear Bag, the image presentation looks new.
With some other art medium that are not reproducible as photography, you should display all your art pieces since so much time might have been put into their production. In this case, I would rotate the artwork you have at different shows since it may not fit all in your booth at once. If a show has a particular theme or location associated with it, you may want to bring artwork that best matches the customers that may come to that event.
Sometimes it is difficult for the artist to tell what will be popular with the public. The artist is sometimes more emotionally attached to a particular piece due to a related experience during creation. The customer will see the artwork based on their own experience and emotional response. I do not show any artwork that I am not happy with, but when selling art, with limited wall space, you need to display the artwork that has a history of selling on your display booth walls. I leave some of my more personal pieces for art exhibits or the print rack.
Now after I said that, I would like to point out that I see some artist fill the majority of there wall space with the same art pieces for 3, 4 or more years in the same general area or at the same art shows. For me this could give the customer the feeling that the artist is no longer producing new work or perhaps feel that they can pass by this artist booth since they may have nothing new. I suppose that this is a personal decision that needs to be made by the artist.
I reserve my limited wall space to images that will draw attention to my booth and have customers stop and look longer instead of just walking by. Sometimes these images are not the best sellers but do draw the customer’s attention. Your walls should include artwork that has sold in the past. I also hang a few newer pieces so that visitors that attend my exhibits repeatedly see that I am still producing new work.
Most of the art displayed in your booth will be in your standard or most popular sizes. For photographers, I suggest that you have at least one larger framed or canvas photograph to give the customer’s the idea that you can print larger sizes. Let your customers know that you can print any of your images in larger sizes since it is not always obvious that you offer this customized service.