A couple summers ago I vended at a local craft show in Liberty Village. It was hosted by Toronto Art Crawl, and sponsored by Cirque du Soleil Luzia. I was so excited for this event, it was my first craft show, and put in so much time toward preparing! In retrospect, I feel I actually over prepared for an art show held in an area that did not actually suit my style. As a result, my sales were pretty lousy (Note to artists, be wary of craft shows in condo neighbourhoods if it’s not your usual market or niche…. But I still had a great time and I got to meet many other local artist who had tips of their own that I can now pass along.
For any artists looking to vend at their first craft show, here are some tips to prepare you for the event, and also help you choose what events you should apply for. I’ll also be writing a list of craft show supplies in a separate post. Stay tuned
Step 1: Find your local craft shows!
This is easier in a large city, but there are usually arts and craft shows in many smaller cities and towns as well. You just have to look for them and be weary of whether your product will fit the market (ie; will the local churchgoers enjoy your gothic themed home decor at the local church flea market?)
Here are the methods I’ve successfully used for finding my favorite craft shows to participate in:
- Facebook -> with an easy search tool, you can find any number of events, posts, or groups suggestions with leads to popular craft shows in your area. Try these search terms: “City you live” craft shows, art fairs, craft market, flea, bazaar – try any number of combos with the aim of finding events close to your area.
- BlogTo -> If you live in Toronto, BlogTo has a great article on the city’s most well loved craft fairs. They usually post updated lists each season or year. Here’s the most current: http://www.blogto.com/arts/2017/05/outdoor-art-fairs-toronto-2017/
- Google -> “Your City” craft shows / craft fairs / craft market, etc. Similar to the Facebook searches, you can search directly in google to find the top ranked markets in your area. This might be best for more obscure cities and towns that don’t have a huge online presence and might not have events posted to Facebook.
Step 2: After choosing your favorite craft shows, APPLY or SUBSCRIBE!
- If you found an upcoming craft show or market in your area that you want to participate in, make note of the application deadline, and send in the best application you can whip up with the time allowed! This might mean you need to submit photos of your products, or link to your website. Make sure everything you have online is up to date, beautiful and polished. And if you’re submitting photos, make them your best photos, edit the brightness/contrast to highlight your products in the best light, and show some variety. Consider doing a mock up craft table setup at home (maybe outside for the best lighting) and shoot photos of your table, with some close up shots of individual items. These images or the images you have on your website and online portfolios will be the most important aspect of your application, so you want to make the best first impression possible! Make sure your branding is concise across all platforms, and that your descriptions of your brand is up to date and well edited. If you need to, have a writing savvy friend or family member look over your content. And then SEND IN THOSE APPLICATIONS!
- Some Craft shows require that you subscribe to their mailing list, and they will email you news on upcoming shows with instructions on how to apply. Subscribe to craft shows where you think your products will be best represented, that serve a focused niche for the best outreach.
Step 3: Pay Your Dues
- Every craft show or art fair will require some sort of table fee or booth fee. Make sure you pay it on time to reserve your spot! Fees can vary depending on how popular the craft show is and the size of the space you want to rent. If you are just starting out, I would suggest trying out some smaller affordable craft shows before hitting the big ones so you can test your products on the market, see what they love best, and experiment with different setups.
Step 5: Get the info!
- Do you need to bring your own table? Are table and chairs provided?
- Do you need to build a booth to precise specifications?
- Do you need to bring or rent a 10×10 tent?
- Are you outside? Will you need an umbrella for shade?
- Are you allowed to bring your own lighting? Will you have access to outlets?
- Are dogs allowed?
- How much time do you have to set up and tear down?
- Are you required to stay until the end, or can you pack up early?
- Are you allowed to hang anything on the walls?
Each craft show is different, so be sure to take note of all the details and specifications, what’s included, etc, so you can move on to making your list of supplies to make set up a breeze.
My next post will list all the supplies, materials and equipment you might consider for your next craft show.