Art Show Series #1

Denver Handmade Homemade Market - March 10th 2018

This is the first post in a new series I'll be working on that covers my experiences at art fairs in Colorado. As I only began my full-time art career back in September of 2017, this is my first year of doing shows. My goal with these posts is to collect my own thoughts and have a record to look back on, but to also give others an idea of what to expect should they be diving into the world of art and craft fairs.

Since I will have only had one experience with these shows, my posts will focus more on my setup, inventory, and generally my own practices rather than the quality of the show itself. I feel that I can't give a quality assessment of a show by only attending it once (barring extreme examples). I will however offer information on how busy the show was and maybe some other random tips.

I was a vendor at the March 10th Denver Handmade Homemade Market AKA Denver HAHO. This show is a monthly event on the second Saturday of the month, held in the western part of Denver (right next to i25).

I decided to try this market because it was low-risk going in. They charge a $50 security deposit and then you pay a small percentage of your sales if you made over $200 and the % only goes to some of your sales so that the maximum you end up paying is an additional $235. A show that costs under $300 only if you have a great show sounded pretty good to me.

Each vendor gets a 6 foot wide space. The depth varies so you can really only count on having that 6 feet of table space. For example, my spot was up against a wall, so it was about 3 feet deep. There are corner spaces but I don't recall if you can request or pay more for them, etc.

Jumping into my setup, here's a photo of it (and me!):

Denver HAHO 2017 Setup

My thought process for this amount of space was that it's very limited so I better use ALL of it.

Things that worked:

  • Paintings chosen for display. I was happy with the spread of paintings because they were a good mix of style, subject matter, and size.

  • Height. I should also note that there was not enough space behind me for any kind of backdrop. At least, not for the backdrop that I own which has big feet on it. However, my display stand was a nice height and many people stopped and at least looked at the prints on the outer edge of the stand.

Things to improve:

  • Interaction with items. Very few people touched anything on the table, the necklaces least of all. There is something to it when a person picks up an item and makes a connection with it. I've seen it boost my sales at a different show (more on this in an upcoming post). Solution: rearrange items, add print bins (people fricken love print bins).

  • Clutter. Like I mentioned, I felt the need to cram most of my inventory into this 6 foot space. I'm not so sure that was the way to go. Having so many items competing for attention a viewer could get overwhelmed and not pay attention to any one piece very long. Solution: Reduce items by one or two. Give people's eyes more of a break and let them rest on each piece without being distracted by the next one.

Over all, this show was not a winner for me. Sales were low and I estimated about a 1% conversion rate.

It's hard to gauge why it was like this because I certainly had some things to improve but attendance at the show was not great (a few hundred, maybe?). I would apply to this market again in the future but I will wait until their summer or holiday markets. It's such a low-risk show that really all I'd lose is time and maybe $50 in trying again.

I hope this was helpful! I'd love to hear opinions about show setups in the comments. Have any of these points rung true with your experiences? Let me know!

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