Gourd Art Enthusiasts

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 So far I have been getting by with tables covered with black fabric, a vintage wire candy rack/shelf painted black that holds paper covered muffin tins for the buffalo gourds, and one brushed alum shelf with curved frosted glass shelves.
 I don't have plans to do any big shows, but if I ever change my mind, I know my display would not pass in ones where they jury the booths as well as the art.The monthly art market here allows 8x8 for indoor booths, but we are considering expanding to two booths so it won't be so crowded.
 What i need to know: are there any sites with photos of booths; are there certain things that have really worked or not worked for you; do you prefer an open "U" where customers cone into your booth, or a closed one where they walk around the outside of booth?

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I do an "L" shape and if the booth is big enough a "U". A company in MO has nice display stuff. Store Supply Warehouse. storesupply.com. I use the folding 3 panel shelf displayer for the floor and cut one in half for the table. It came damaged and they didn't want it back, to my benefit, so I just cut it and use it on the table top. I also use wooden crates like the nested ones they sell. I also put bandanas on the shelv with my southwestern pieces and have Christmas and fall cotton runners for my seasonal pieces.
This might be TMI but hopefully it is helpful
thanks, paula. I am happy for *any* information!
Hi Melissa,

Another similar option is the display racks sold by a company in So. Cal. Their website is www.craftycraftstand.com. They have three different shelving units, slatted type, to chose from. I don't know this company personally but the two ladies that gave testimonials are in the same gourd patch that I'm in. We've also used these units at our gourd festival. They are really nice looking birch and you can adjust the shelves to suit the size of your gourds. They seem to be a little bit more expensive that the ones sold by Store Supply Warehouse, but it would just depend on what you're looking for. At least you can check out their website and make a decision.

Happy Gourding,

Marty
My advice and I do a lot of shows, follows the same things as discussed in the other comments. Make your booth set up versatile in that you never know exactly what shape and size booth you'll be given - 8 x 8, 10 x 10. Once I got a 6 x 14 and that was actually very nice for setting up the shelves. Keep colors simple (like the black) and use what highlights the art (no patterns of any kind). Keep your fixtures neutral or at least uniform. For instance, don't mix silver stands, with wooden boxes, with lucite risers because that is distracting. I use all unstained natural pine shelves, and slatted pine louvered doors for shelf units 6 ft wide by 6.5 feet tall. My riser shelves are pine, the riser boxes are pine. All tables covered to the floor with black microsuede cloth, and then I use a lot of black wrought iron candle stands to highlight specific pieces. Having your art on different levels is interesting and keeps the eye moving as customers look at your products. I chose to use 4 ft x 2 ft tables instead of 6 ft tables. The 4 ft tables can be set up in an L, or a square, or end to end for a 8 ft. run. I like to set shelves up in an L, but can set up with shelves on either side and tables in many different configurations. Definitely set up so that customers can come INSIDE the booth; otherwise they congregate in the aisle or just walk on by. Sit near the rear of your booth. Psychologically, that will draw people in to talk to you and sometimes customers are intimidated if you are at the front of the booth. Use lighting where possible even if you just get the small clip on lamps to attach to your top shelves. Use uniform signage too. If printing signs on your computer - use the same font, same colors. Make sure each and every piece is priced and that customers can find the prices - people do not like to ask about prices. Don't oversell the display - it should all be about the artwork and you! Wear a name tag that you made yourself. Keep your paper products, bags, wrap, boxes, labels, business cards coordinated. Customers appreciate and notice a professional look. Good luck.

Hi Melissa

I've done shows for many years and read lots on trade publications like Sunshine Artist and The Craft Report and they have all kinds of advice on booths. Sandy and I agree and many points she made on booth set ups. Such as, keeping the color theme all one and no patterns. I do black table covers and made them myself out of single knit material they are custom fit for my tables. I can cram them into a tote after a show and just shake them out and drop them on the tables at the next show and but the time the show starts the wrinkles have fallen out of the fabric and it looks great.  They're wash and go fabric if they get dirty keeps it easy to care for and they have been on the road for over eight years with no ill effects showing yet.  I also made shelving out of four garden trellises and common wire shelving found at any big box hardware store. I painted them all black and repainted them when needed (usually a touch up yearly). I like the fact that they are see through and fold flat for storage I found a fabric carry case for them as well. Any shelving that lets light pass through it will require less lighting on your part. Some shows do not have power so you'd have to bring your own generator to supply your booth with lights(some shows won't allow generators so check before you bring one). Lights do go a long way in getting folks into your booth. I also use a 8x8 bamboo indoor/outdoor rug in my booth is a neutral tone, it can be cleaned with a hose and let dry (also found at the big box hardware store). Your booth is like your mini house while your at a show and your job is to greet people as they walk by. You have about 4 seconds to greet them and get them to stop and try to get them into your house to see what you've created. Use a tall chair to sit up at eye level and I do sit out in front of my booth so I can greet people as they walk by. I also always have a project to work on when times are slow. It will get more people to stop at your booth than anything else. I have caused traffic jams at shows because so many people had stopped to see what I was working on. You have to sell your self to the customers first before they'll see your art. So be friendly and smile all day long till your cheeks hurt it will be worth it in the end. I also have a tall rolling box that holds all my paper products and check out materials. The tall box's lid is stashed in the box when it's opened up because a compartment holding a two part lid has been removed from the box. This two part lid folds open and is held in place with a wooden brace that goes over the hinge on the "table top" and the top edge of the box. The tall box makes it easy for you to package up sales and the customers to work off of when signing your guest book or their credit card receipt. I have a drape that Velcros to the back edge of the table top and covers the two side and the front leaving the back open (you can have a custom banner made with your company's name and logo on it for this piece). There are two shelves inside the box one holds bags and tissue paper all matched color, and the cash box and credit card machine and the rest of the stuff you need for a show (fire extinguisher, paper towel, Swiffer duster etc...). This tall box is a blessing, the wheels lock in place I have a small trash bag back there at the start of every show. I also carry a gourd bowl of dog biscuits to hand out to passing puppies. Always ask the dogs owner before you give the dog a treat or just hand the biscuit to the owner. At shows when it's really hot I also have a chrome bucket of water out for the dogs. Not all shows will allow dogs so just check your show's rules if they allow it there will be dogs there and you make a lot of friends when you offer a treat to them. Or a gourd bowl of wrapped hard candies work for the humans if your not an animal lover or no dogs are allowed.

And dress nicely you are there to impress folks with your art and yourself. Don't wear old jeans and a stained shirt. Look like a professional and act like one during the show. I've seen artist in all manner of dress at shows and those who are neat and tidy like their booths had better sales. OK if your a metal smith and you have a kiln at the show to demo your work you can have grubby clothes on, but have a sales person who's in nicer clothes.

When you move up to jury shows you'll need pictures of your booth set up. Do the pictures at home if possible. You can take them on an overcast day so you have the best lighting, You can set up lights outside the booth to high light your art or inside the booth to show it off for the camera. You won't have to worry about people walking in front of you while your trying to shoot pictures and you can rearrange it as many times as you like till it's just so. With no rushing around before the show starts. The booth picture is there to show the jury committee that you have a professional looking set up and have enough inventory to sell for the day(s) of their show. Your booth need not be crammed full of stuff to pass this test, just arranged well to show off your mini house to it's best advantage. I found that the higher up the show food chain you go the more selective the committees are. They want to see a  professional artist who is doing one thing very well and have the caliber of art they are looking for. So the pictures of your art they see must be the best possible. If you can't take good enough pictures or your getting rejected for most of the shows you try to get in your pictures are the reason. Have a pro do them and be sure they know how to shoot art and not just people. This make a difference too, some photographers can't seem to light art work correctly or get the hang of shooting close ups of small items well. If you plan on doing this for years get a tripod and a good digital camera and take a lesson on how to use it and do the photos yourself you'll save tons of money and a good photo shop editor can do worlds of good too. Well I wish you many years of shows and great sales.

K

I have home-made pedestals using luan board and black burlap. Since then, I have sold more and had more compliments. With the pedestals, you can arrange with any size booth. The sizes are 12" by 12" wide but with different heights. One foot to four feet high.The tops are 15" by 15". I can set two to three small ones on one pedestal. I also made black burlap curtains for hanging my mask or small signs. I use shelves painted black from louvered doors for the back. My idea was to make it look like a small gallery and it has helped. I did not want it to look to girlie or too masculine. This works for me. Good Luck

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