Beat the Heat: The Artist’s Guide for a Successful Festival Season

By Andrea Rosenfeld on June 19th, 2014 / Comments

Not two second after excitedly announcing that I’d been asked to add my art business expertise to Michipreneur, my friend shot back, “So, what are some things artists SHOULDN’T do at a Fair & Festival?” Did I smell an ambush? Was the exhibitions manager of this historic, Detroit gallery trying to stump me? I smiled and calmly replied, “Don’t be grumpy.” His eyes crinkled into a knowing smile and we burst out laughing. It’s true! Don’t be grumpy when selling to potential clients! Sounds obvious but I see it so very often when I visit artist’s booths.

As a fine artist, wholesale business specialist and founder of Mind Your Art Business, I explain to students and clients that growing and sustaining a creative venture is very much like being in a relationship: it’s hard to see it fully from the inside. You need healthy, expert guidance and outside support from people you respect.

Picture this. You’re busy working on your creative business moving from one responsibility to the next like a zombie. Studio work. Sales. Marketing. Networking. Pricing. Ordering supplies. Tool maintenance. Web design. PR. Applying to calls, and on and on.  You can’t POSSIBLY see the big picture or realize when you’re making small mistakes that may affect your profit opportunities and creativity without help from others. And believe me, every business owner has this issue, even me because although I KNOW business strategy, I can get caught up growing Mind Your Art Business. Because of this, I surround myself with many admired colleagues (inside and outside of the art community) that I meet and brainstorm with.  I offer them suggestions to improve on their business model and I CHERISH their fresh eyes looking at my my ideas, clarifying what’s blurry to me because I’m just too darn close!

I’d like you to consider me a member of your support group. I would be honored to be your art business education, go-to maven. I’ll shine the light on brand new and important strategies which will give you ah-hah moments while also offering simple reminders to keep you on a strong business track.

I’ll begin assisting your creative business by writing art business guests posts for Michigpreneur.  As we’re entering the Fair and Festival season, let’s begin by discovering five ways to succeed in outdoor sales opportunities.

1. Find the right venues first. To increase your sales opportunities, make sure that you’re really specific by mainly entering fairs and festivals that attract your ideal client and offer art similar in price and quality.  Research the available shows online AND by visiting the fair/festival yourself to see first-hand who attends, both artist and guests. A spreadsheet checklist with items to look for and questions to ask will keep you organized and allow you to compare the shows.

2. Set up your booth (in your home or studio) months before the season begins. Walk around it “with clients’ eyes” checking visual engagement and walking space. Is it too bland?  Too confusing?  Modify your booth well before the shows begin so you’re prepared although tweak during the show as you see ACTUAL guest’s response.

3. Get organized and save time. Create computer and/or actual files for each and every fair and festival and put goal dates on your calendar. A spreadsheet checklist detailing each show’s requirements, contact information and pricing is necessary and will save you time and money.

4. Showing quality visuals of your art are imperative.  When a client leaves your booth with or without a purchase, you want them to have the BEST visual representation of your work possible.  Take clear, well-lit images of your art to use for all of your booth’s promotional materials. Place the materials all around your booth, not just in one location and try to keep your banners above the table legs so they’re visible.

5. Don’t “sell”, instead begin a relationship with clients.  Have your mission or vision statement ready and talk about your art positively and with passion.  At the same time, ask the client questions about themselves or their time at the show and listen as they speak.  Learn about them so you can determine their needs and fill them and have detailed information when you e-mail them a follow-up after the show.

6. Try working at the festival. Guests enjoy interacting with artists and watching them work so if possible, set up a workspace in your booth. Manipulating your tools and creating your art will give you talking points and you can get a bit of work done too!

*Yes, I realize I said “five ways to succeed” but there’s so much to teach that I just couldn’t stop…

I appreciate this opportunity to guest blog for Michipreneur and I look forward to you joining our growing, Mind Your Art Business community!  Those of you who wish to grow your fair and festival sales should download my 45-minute audio/visual MP4, Fairs & Festivals: Step-by-Step Success!

Also, if you’re in the Detroit area join us Monday, June 23rd for a workshop on Growing Your Creative Venture. 

**SPECIAL OFFER: Purchase and download before June 30th, 2014 and receive official Mind Your Art Business, detailed organizer forms to print and fill-out, saving you time and money while you’re researching and preparing for your shows!

About the Author

Andrea Rosenfeld

A professional artist, business consultant and former Director of Merchandising and Operations for Isaac Mizrahi, Ltd. is the Founder/CEO of Detroit Art & Business Institute. DABI increases the value of artists and entrepreneurs through best business and healthy relationship strategy education and community advocacy. DABI offers artists, makers and designers various options to profit from and enjoy their creative enterprise; targeted, private consulting; group seminars; 8-week courses; and art brokering programs. To further strengthen the art sector, DABI is popping up D*FINDS, a studio supply, consignment boutique. An advocate, Rosenfeld mentors creative entrepreneurs and is active in the local art community. For more information about Andrea Rosenfeld, her DABI business education programs and events, visit: