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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Anatomy of an Art Fair Display Part 2

(Continuing Anatomy of an Art Fair Display Part 1, which featured the main items involved in an art display setup. Now for a closer look into the nooks and crannies of the display!)


9. Curtain Hooks - I used curtain hooks to support my framed pieces. Be sure to get the ones with the super sharp ends! I was not happy to find the first batch of hooks I bought were the blunted kind, which equaled much cursing and trying to stab a carpet with a blunt object and failing. ($2 a pack at Lowe's)

10. Rotating Counter Rack - Great for the display of small prints or greeting cards and you can put a little sign on top. This particular rack has been with me for years now and has survived! ($35 at Displays2go)

11. Portfolios - I used an Itoya portfolio to display my large prints.  For the art cards, a simple trading card album worked well! ($5 - $11 at Hobby Lobby)

12. Print Bin - Actually a collapsible file box. Bottom comes out and it folds down, making it much easier to transport than my solid heavy print bin.  I'm thinking of replacing this with a much more rustic looking woven rectangular basket from Lowe's (which is advertised as 'closet storage baskets'). ($10 at Walmart)

13. Necklace Forms - I prefer the white ones as they show lint and dust less and my jewelry stands out against them. ($12 at Joanns, Hobby Lobby, and Michaels.)

14. 3 Tier Rotating Rack - These racks come with three levels of hooks which are great to display small items like bookmarks, keychains, earrings, and bracelets.  You can adjust the level of the tiers or remove them completely.  ($26 at Store Fixtures, USA)


15. Mannequin Head - This head came with pierced ears, making it great for displaying jewelry in addition to masks!  ($26 at Store Fixtures, USA).

16. Minion (aka. Mom) - Art fairs are sooo much easier if you can trick someone into working for you in exchange for food!  That way you can actually use the bathroom without having to burden your neighbors with watching your stuff while you run as fast as you can across the street to the poddy and back.  Minions also make load in and load out 200 x easier. (Priceless! I love my mum.)

17. Director's Chairs - My family was already using these to stake out sporting events. They fold up for easy transport and are much more comfy than plain folding chairs.  The drink holder is handy as well if you don't want to put your cup on uneven ground or on your table with your art. I think we got these chairs at Sam's Club, but I am unsure.

18. 3 Tiered Plastic Magazine Rack - Great for books, prints, and anything roughly 8.5x11 in. shaped! ($30 from displays2go.com)

19. Visa/Mastercard Sign - A simple plastic sign used to notify customers that I take credit and debit cards. I printed it off on cardstock and slipped it into the stand. You'd be amazed at how comforted people are to know that you can accept plastic money! Many people don't carry cash anymore, either because they prefer not to or because they're trying to limit their budget. Accepting cards is a good way to be that evil influence prompting people towards impulse purchases. That sounds bad, but hey, it's true! ($5 at Walmart or Staples)

20. Business Cards - Always ALWAYS have plenty of these on hand for customers (or for trading with your neighbors!) Networking is one of the biggest assets of actually venturing outside of your art cave and attending events!  I usually buy mine in 1k bulk packs from Vistaprint when they have special offers. They usually toss in a free pen or ink pad too, just watch that you don't click to confirm any subscriptions during their lengthy checkout!  I hear redtagprintsale.com has some nice prices on biz cards, but haven't tried them yet. (Roughly 10 cents per foil stamped card at Vistaprint.com)

21. Crushed Velvet Table  Cloth - This piece of material has been with me from the very beginning! It's actually just an oversized piece of crushed velvet I got at the store when it went on sale. I've used it as a backdrop when photographing crafts, as a backdrop for hung pieces, and also as a way to cover up my table when I leave and don't want people to be tempted by what's left underneath. (Approx. $3 a yard on sale at Joanns Fabrics)

And that's all for now!  I'm curious to see how my display will evolve over the next few events.
I'll be sure to let everyone know once it has leveled up!

Back to Part 1

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Anatomy of an Art Fair Display Part 1

So now for something completely different!  With the art fair season nearing and so many folks expressing their thanks for the usefulness of the Evolution of an Artist Alley Table posts, I thought it high time to post my art fair diagrams!

Mind, that this display is my very first setup and will probably change down the road as I learn, improve, and add things. Let this journal act as a record of where I began and hopefully as a tool for others looking into selling at fairs!

You might recognize some of these items and descriptions from the Artist Alley diagrams because I totally believe in re-using things where possible.

My first fair on Fayetteville's courthouse square!

1. EZ Up Tent - This tent is a great first tent for those who don't want to spend the $1k that most of the Craft Huts cost!  It can be set up by one person, is white (as per most art fair requirements), and fairly easy to transport in its included roller bag.  Here is a video on how to set it up with one person (because I didn't find the included instructions very helpful).  Be warned, however, as this tent is light and is known for blowing away and wreaking havoc!  I snagged some velcro weight bags which you can fill with sand or gravel and that strap to the poles so people won't trip over them. ($200 at Sam's Club)

2. Retractable Vertical Banner - A pricey item, to be sure, but the fact I don't have to carry around a big pvc pipe set nor have it taking up space in my car makes this item well worth it! This vinyl banner pulls out from and retracts back into a spring loaded base that is about as big as a tabletop easel and very lightweight. I've lashed it to the tent pole using velcro straps so it wouldn't blow away. Mine was printed by my brother's sign shop. ($300 at Graphic Signs Atlanta for stand with metal base. $100 for cheaper version at Staples)


3. Propanels - After much debate over whether to get carpet panels, roll up mesh panels (which are about half the price), or to jerry-rig my own from something, I decided to go all-out with Propanels. Mesh panels, while collapsible and therefore more transportable, were still about $1k after all was said and done.  I also can't use mesh panels without the support of the tent's rafters, whereas Propanels can stand on their own, making them useful for any cons or shows I do without a tent. The 'knock down' variety of panels pictured here can be split in half and transported far more easily than the full panels, even if I'm still having trouble fitting them in my teeny hatchback. ($2k from Propanels.com for the Booth A setup with Knock Down Panels plus required hardware. I owe my family favors for the rest of my life for this one. Ouch.)

4. Tables with Table Cloths - The two small display tables on the left of the picture are actually tail gating tables bought from Big Lots for cheap which fold up and have an easy carrying handle. They were super light, however, so I had to weight them down with objects on top. The table cloths were just scrap bits of material thrown on last minute, I admit. The larger table on the right is a white plastic table bought from Sam's Club that folds up and can also be carried. It is a bit heavier than the tail gate tables and doesn't really need to be weighted down. ($20 - $30 at Big Lots and Sam's Club.)

5. Easel with Signage - The stand up easel was purchased at Joanns Fabrics and is just a simple cheap wooden one without any bells and whistles. The sign was printed on foam core by my publisher and was eventually replaced in this setup with a piece of framed art instead. I'm fairly sure you can get foam core signs like this at Kinkos or other printing places. ($10 at Joann's Fabrics)

6. Folding Canvas Print Bin - This is the medium sized print bin available from Dickblick.  Prints ranging from 11x14 in. to 18x24 in. look best in it.  I noticed most people would stop and flip through it rather than venture into the tent. Note to self - MOAR flip through bins for people! Folks looove to browse through them for some reason. Folds up for easy transport. ($25 at Dickblick.com)

Stuff I forgot to include -  The Carpet - I like the idea of a carpet in a tent. It feels so much more cozy, as if you're walking into a little shop!  It also made the ground a little more even for customers to walk on.  We also used it to lay items on while we were setting up so they wouldn't get muddy.  My family picked this up in a flea market in Saudi Arabia years ago so I have no idea how much it costs.

This entry is going a bit long, so I'll be breaking up this grand monologue on art fair display into parts.

Stay tuned for a closer look at the particular display items nestled within the tent next time!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

My First Art Fair!

After a day of rest and a couple of Advil, I'm pleased to report I have survived my first art fair!  All in all, I did fairly well for a first timer. Made back my booth fee, got suggestions from the crowd on what they wanted to see, and learned the secret of good transportation of random stuff -- plastic tuberware!

What did I learn from this experience? Read on!

Start Early!

2 weeks was not enough to make even half of the items by hand that I wanted to fill up my artisan display tables. I found myself painting into the wee hours and relying on a lot of older stock I had lying around just to make my booth look presentable. First lesson learned! Start early, DO NOT STRESS YOURSELF by procrastinating!  Know your display capacities. Practice your setup in advance.  Last thing you want is it to look empty and rushed.  Also, check your current stock! I had to reorder many prints last minute because I didn't realize I was low till that moment. Doh!

Remember Your Traffic Flow

Probably the most important lesson I learned.  Day 1, I had a setup like this:

Heeey! Buy my stuff. Please? YOU KNOW YOU WANNA!

While this isn't terrible, I think I did this because I'm so used to setting up at conventions where you put the table out front and people come up to you to talk.  This layout drives people right up to you, but what I noticed at the fair is most people will talk to you, but then not browse your wares, or they're intimidated by your presence and just want to be left alone to shop.  I also had a technical issue where I couldn't find the stiffeners for my walls, so I couldn't line the sides of the booth with them, leaving it looking pretty empty on the left.

After walking around the fair a bit and getting some ideas from other artists (and fanagling walls with velcro), I ended up with a setup like this for Day 2:

Psst! Hay man. Need a kidney? Operating table in the back!

Much more open space and plenty of room for multiple browsers to go down the line of pretties!  Artist hidden away and only there if you need her to checkout or to ask questions.  More people came in this time round and didn't have to peer over my head to come right up to the artwork.

Best Selling Items?

This was a huge surprise for me! I thought my crafts would do well, but I only sold a few things. Mainly I sold art cards and prints because people wanted small artwork to inspire them (but didn't want to buy the more expensive larger pieces on the wall). I also sold a few books to people who saw my work elsewhere and liked that I offered personalized goodies for free if they bought it directly from me.  I didn't sell a single mask.

I had a good many requests for hair brooches with chopsticks and lapel pins of the butterflies.  No doubt due to having a generally older crowd (with grandkids along) who were looking for things for their home or small gifts, of which matted/framed Fantasy art is generally not well suited for your average collector.

Next time I do an outdoor fair, I plan to carry more personal items (hair brooches and pins), more ornate masks framed in shadowboxes, and more accessible 2D art items (perhaps carved leather butterflies in framed 'specimen' arrangements?)  If people can see the use of an item for their home or their personal decor, I imagine they'd be more inclined to buy at these sorts of events!  I can save my fantasy art for more themed fests, like the Renaissance Faire or the cons I attend.  That's at least one joy of being a multi-faceted artist!

Final Thoughts

I am sore and sleep-deprived far more than I ever was for a plain ol convention!  Art fairs are physically grueling work and not for those who can't handle the hauling, unloading, and long hours.  It's also a HUGE investment of time and money.

The fair season has only begun for me, however, so I'm not going to give up on it just yet! Being able to talk to fellow art lovers and curiosity seekers was quite enjoyable for me!  Even moreso when they would tell me they saw my work online or at the gallery next door.  Getting your face out there can be very gratifying and just as important as sales.  For my shy artist friends, however, this definitely may not be the thing for you!

If you're a fan of my Facebook Fan Page, I'm having a sale on leftover hand-painted butterflies. Get 'em while they're cheap because they'll be going up on Etsy for a higher price after this week!

See one you like? Check out my sekrit sale!

Stay tuned for a post on what makes up an art fair display. Till then, I'm going to attend to the mess that is my trashed studio after an event. *cry!

Monday, April 4, 2011

E-Marketing for Artists 101

(UPDATE! I gave this blog entry as a panel at this year's DragonCon! 
Check out the recording of my panel and Powerpoint presentation on YouTube.)

This week I wanted to share an article I wrote for the new fantasy magazine, Dark Muse: Issue 2! You should go check out the mag for more useful articles on everything from creating knotwork to podcast interviews with other working artists.

I hope to make this e-marketing topic a series of blogs on the matter, as it's one of my passions!

E-Marketing for Artists 101 

Have you been ignoring the hullaballoo of that loud, annoying place called the internet? Tsk! Nowadays, artists of every possible subject matter, style, and media can find a niche in the massive audience that is the world wide web, making it an invaluable tool for artists. This is especially useful for those of us who work in very niche genres!

In particular, social media (or social networks) are a great way to quickly update your fans and to connect with other artists. Connecting with other artists can be especially motivating when we find ourselves alone in the art cave craving human interaction! Here are a few of my favorite sites which I've noticed the best results and that have also shown a significant presence of participating artists. These descriptions are based on my personal interaction on these sites, meaning that things may work differently for you based on your own preferences!

One must also remember that the key to social networking is to be social. Spamming your work and then leaving without interacting with anyone else is a recipe for fail on just about any social networking site (unless you're just already that popular!). Social networks are not to be confused with specific online communities dedicated to artists, as opposed to social networks whose general purpose is socialization between all types of people. A rundown of handy art communities will be covered in a future article!

Twitter - http://twitter.com

You have 140 characters a post to say something meaningful, this short length making posts quick and easy to digest. Twitter lets you Follow others so that you can instantly see their posts, allowing you to keep a finger on the pulse of other artists and communities without the total distraction of instant messaging.

I don't have the guilt of leaving Twitter conversations as much as I do if I have a popup message from a friend on an instant messaging system, which makes Twitter a nice compromise for those of us who may want to chat with others without getting completely buried by instant message windows. The only danger of this is how easy it can be to become addicted to checking Tweets! But that's something to do while we're waiting for paint layers to dry, isn't it? I'd like to think so!

There are also hash tags (words that are demarcated by a # symbol) you can include in your posts which allow others to search by that topic, which allows artists to find other artists by topic. For example, some of the more popular art-related tags are #fridaynightartdorks and #wip. Start your own hash tag trend, share interesting links, and keep in touch with others instantly!


I love this site for the way that it helps me interact person-to-person in conversation with others in my field. I feel like I know these people and have already met a few of them at cons based on the fact we've chatted on Twitter beforehand!

As an example of Twitter's amazing powers, besides helping to lead revolutions in other countries, I remember a past convention where I had aboslutely no artists to help me out with a panel where I needed folks to paint for charity. I posted on Twitter for help and word circulated through this digital grapevine, until I had more than enough volunteers to help my panel succeed!

To add butter to your toast, Twitter allows you a profile to add a link to your website and talk about your interests. What you list on your profile and who you Follow also fuels Twitter's intuitive Suggested Follows system, which will automatically suggest other artists for you to Follow based on who you are already Following and their interests.

All in all, it's my favorite way to discover new artists and interact online! You can also link your Twitter and Facebook accounts to mirror your posts, which leaves you more time for creating work instead of yacking on the computer.

Read on at Tweetable Art: 10 Twitter Tips for Artists for more great info!
http://mashable.com/2009/02/23/twitter-artists/

Facebook - http://facebook.com

I know people tend to hiss when they think of the inanity of Facebook, but I have to admit it's become a central driving force in my business! I have a fan page where my fans can keep in touch with me directly, upload fan photos, and keep up with my studio announcements of new products and the like. I can also upload videos and photo albums here, making it the next best thing for those of us who may not have the resources to host our own websites yet!

Facebook gets pretty high rankings in search engines and fan pages also do not require fans to login to see your info, as you would with a personal Facebook account. It's a great place to start your marketing efforts that is fairly easy to manage on your own. If you cannot manage it on your own, there's also the ability to add multiple admins to your fan page.

You can read more about the differences between a fan page, a group, and a personal account at my article on the matter:
http://blog.angelicshades.com/2010/10/facebook-profile-vs-fan-page-vs-group.html?spref=tw

Blogspot (aka. Blogger) - http://blogspot.com

This is a great free site which lets you start your own blog, or online journal, where people can easily follow you if they have a Google, Yahoo, or RSS Reader. I keep up with many artist friends this way as well as professional communities where I can stay informed of events going on in my industry. Most artists keep journals to share their works-in-progress, chat about their inspirations, and share advice.

Another great advantage of having your own blog is that if your website isn't updated regularly with new work (because you're a slower paced worker like me), the blog can be a way to have a consistent source of new material to keep people coming back to check on you. Don't want people to forget you exist, do you?

There are many online blog formats, but I've personally found Blogger to be the easiest to maintain with a vast network of connections throughout the web. If you don't like that blogspot name in your url, there's also a function to replace it with your professional domain name.

Check out these useful blogs on Blogger:

http://artorder.blogspot.com - Ran by Jon Schindehette, an art director with Wizards of the Coast (the makers of Magic the Gathering, Dungeons and Dragons, to name a few). As an art director, Jon shares his opinions on what he looks for when hiring artists, what artists need to learn when they're breaking into the business, amongst other nuggets of wisdom! This blog also features interviews with working artists with even more insight into the business. If that wasn't enough to make you tune in, ArtOrder runs Challenges where you are given a hypothetical assignment, entries to be judged by various art directors. It's a great way to get your foot in the door!

http://muddycolors.blogspot.com - Maintained by a few of the industry's leading artists (Donato Giancola and Dan Dos Santos, to name a few!) This is the blog to watch for advice from the pros, glimpses into processes, and other useful bits of info! The cast of artists is shuffled up from time to time to make sure there's always fresh blood and enthusiasm on this blog.

For more info on why blogging can help your career, check out this useful article on "Why Artists Should Blog" by artist, Kirsty Hall:
http://kirstyhall.co.uk/2007/08/22/why-artists-should-blog/

Angela's Shameless Plugging
If you're curious about how I've set myself up on these networks, check out my social media links!

Angela's Facebook Fan Page - http://www.facebook.com/AngelicShadesStudio
Angela's Blog on Blogspot - http://blog.angelicshades.com

In the years I've been building my art business, these particular sites have been the most helpful for me. Have you found other social networks that have proved invaluable as an artist or creative professional? Share your experiences with us in the comments section!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

What is Artfire? An Artist's Point-of-View

ArtFire - Buy Handmade - Sell HandmadeA few months ago, I'd never even heard of Artfire, but had already been a vested user of Etsy since 2008. Now after plenty of fiddling over at Artfire, I feel confident enough to talk about its usefulness for artists.

What is Artfire?

Like Etsy, Artfire is a community marketplace for handmade and vintage items who offers community forums, item collections, and groups to join. The main difference in philosophy being that Artfire allows you to plug external websites much more in your own listings and pages, unlike Etsy, which discourages such practices. The other difference is of course the fact Etsy is far more entrenched with greater press coverage.

Artfire is catching up, though! If their constant marketing campaigns, helpful articles, and numerous twitter accounts is any indication of how much they're putting into making their site known. They also offer their members discounts at CHA (Craft and Hobby Association) and VIP discount cards at Joanns Fabrics (10% off regular and sale price items)!

Selling on Artfire

Much like Etsy, artists can post listings of items, sort them into browsing categories, and find buyers for their handicrafts. Where Artfire differs in this respect is that listings have no expiration date. A user must 'check in' at Artfire to keep their listings higher up in the search results, which weeds out the people who post listings and leave them there without maintaining them.

- Prints and Fabricated Art Items
Another quirk of AF I've found is that if you're selling art prints, cards, or any other pre-printed open edition item utilizing your art, they have to be a run of 500 or less while Etsy hasn't set a number, to my knowledge. This isn't much of a problem for me, however, as I'd be happy to even reach that amount of sales per item!  With the number of open edition prints listed on AF, however, I suspect this policy isn't heavily enforced.

- Seller Invoice System
AF boasts a pretty full featured invoicing system for sellers, including itemized invoices where you can check off each stage of payment, packing, and shipping as it happens with a field to enter an item's tracking number. This number is automatically emailed to your customer when you enter it, making these invoices pretty handy for taking care of your customer all in one place!

- Feedback and Non-Member Buyers
One big difference between Etsy and AF's way of handling transactions is the fact that AF also encourages you to do what you need to do to make a sell, meaning customers don't need to have an AF account to buy! They can simply use AF's shopping cart feature. This means you don't get feedback or karma from the transaction, but that doesn't seem terribly important on this site, despite the fact users can still leave detailed feedback on your shipping, quickness, item quality, etc. Because there's no final value fee taken out when a sale is made, it's easy enough to cancel the order and relist with no loss of money, should you have trouble with a non-paying buyer.

- Promotional Coupons

Another extremely useful feature of AF is the ability to create promotional codes. While you can do this on Etsy, Etsy restricts your coupon codes to only a certain percentage off or free shipping. AF's coupon code functionality is more robust with the ability to tailor your coupons to a percentage off and free shipping, but also allows you to apply coupons to seller-defined studio groups and price ranges, the order total, or even specific items. Coupon codes are also another premium member feature.

- Other Useful Features
If you're a user of Etsy, AF makes it easy to download your CSV file from Etsy and import all of your items with only a few tweaks required! This is a premium member feature, however.  You can also batch edit your listings, move them en masse to new categories, and take advantage of a detailed vacation mode that allows you to leave your items up, but auto-responds with your 'away' message. Unlike Etsy, which simply hides your items completely from listings until you disable it.  There's also a 'sales mode' that allows you to discount everything in your shop at once.  Sales mode and vacation mode are both non-premium features!


Crunching Numbers

Another major difference between Artfire and Etsy is the fee structure. Artfire charges a flat monthly fee (I pay $5.95 thanks to a beta deal I got, but standard pro rate is $9.95 as of this entry) while Etsy charges 20 cents per listing for 3 months and takes 3.5% of your final sale's value. If you're hosting a large amount of items, AF can be really useful for keeping costs down each month.

As for sales numbers, I've noticed a greater number of handmade craft items and cards selling here rather than my prints and original art, but it's still great to get the exposure on my artwork along with everything else. I have a feeling that as I grow my shop and become more entrenched in this community, these sales proportions will change!

Customization

One thing I absolutely love about AF is the ability to customize the color theme and style of our shop pages! I've included a screenshot of mine below. Most of the customization is, again, a premium member feature.

See my Artfire shop in action!

See my Etsy shop in action!


Final Thoughts

Rather than choose one community over the other, it's easy enough for me to maintain both my Etsy AND Artfire shops with AF's import feature!  The amount of sales I've made via both communities have made them well worth investing my time in and will only continue to increase their usefulness as another means of income the longer I use them.

Interested in joining up as a premium member at Artfire? Use my referral link! We'll both get a free month plus be entered into a drawing for a free DSLR camera for both of us!♥


I'm also a member of the Artfire Fantasy Guild, so drop on in and say hello!  I'd love to see some familiar faces there.:)

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Evolution of an Artist Alley Table II

Back in September of 2009, I posted a list of what goes into my display in an artist alley.  Now two years later and a few events wiser, my display has evolved!

Show them what they've won, Vanna!

Anatomy of an Artist Alley Table - Part 2
  1. Retractable Vertical Banner - $300 - A pricey item, to be sure, but the fact I don't have to carry around a big pvc pipe set nor have it taking up space in my car makes this item well worth it! This vinyl banner pulls out from and retracts back into a spring loaded base that is about as big as a tabletop easel and very lightweight. Adds to my vertical appeal and allows people to notice me over the heads of the crowd. Mine was printed by Graphic Signs Atlanta.

    EDIT: I'm told Staples offers a cheaper $100 collapsible stand now too!
  2. Standing Easel - $13 - These simple wooden easels are great for propping large prints for that eye-catching vertical appeal!  I've been using these to prop the blow up of my book cover at book signings as well.  When I'm not promoting the book, this cover image will be replaced by a piece of art instead. Bought at Joanns Fabrics and Crafts.
  3. Gridwall Cubes - $30 -  Also called wire cube storage. These have been with me since the beginning! I use them to clip prints, mousepads, and prints to, though I'm looking for an alternative display method for the masks currently. The wire distracts from their detail so I'm either going to cover them with fabric or buy some gridwall hook attachments that project from the wall so the masks can be placed on them some distance from the grid instead. Found mine at Target.
  4. Mannequin Head - $40 - Affectionately named Shay, she helps bring more visibility to my masks and other artisan crafted items! Her ears are pierced so I can add earrings as well as display a necklace and a mask all on the same head.  Found her at Store Fixtures, USA.
  5. Visa/Mastercard Sign - $5? - A simple plastic sign used to notify customers that I take credit and debit cards. I printed it off on cardstock and slipped it into the stand.  You'd be amazed at how comforted people are to know that you can accept plastic money!  Many people don't carry cash anymore, either because they prefer not to or because they're trying to limit their budget. Accepting cards is a good way to be that evil influence prompting people towards impulse purchases. That sounds bad, but hey, it's true!  Can't recall where I got this sign and how much it was, but it couldn't have been more than $5 and probably came from Walmart or Staples.
  6. Basic Tabletop Easels - $5? - You can probably find these even cheaper if you buy plastic instead of metal.  In my case, I was actually using a small metal easel used for displaying antique dinner plates.  Great for propping up items like prints and books again for that vertical eye-catching appeal!  It's harder for people to notice your work if it's all lying flat on the table, especially where there are big crowds.  Can't recall where we got these at, but probably Staples or Walmart.

  7. Horizontal Vinyl Banner - Price varies per footage - Another item that's been with me from the beginning. Even though I have the nice vertical signs, I still like to hang this out in front so the front of my table doesn't look too boring.  It was a little too big to hang behind me anyways and was rather overpowering my display! It looks much better hanging out in front. Printed at Graphic Signs Atlanta.
  8. Itoya 11x14 Display Portfolio - $11 - I had a small 5x7 portfolio on the table to show off my work and to make room for more items, but people kept passing it by!  Eventually opted for this imposing portfolio which prompted more people to stop and flip through.  I also had a sign up sheet and business cards tucked into the plastic pocket at the front so people could leave with ways to be reminded of my existence.
  9. Trading Card Album - $5? - This small album housed ACEO and ATC organized into open edition, original, and limited edition settings. They represent my affordable offerings for the casual buyers who may not want to invest in large items, but don't mind dropping a few bucks on cute collectible cards.  Bought from Michaels.
  10. Print Bin - $10 - Actually a collapsible file box. Bottom comes out and it folds down, making it much easier to transport than my solid heavy print bin, which now serves as a permanent inventory housing item here at home.  Found at Walmart.
  11. Greeting Card Rotating Countertop Rack - $35 - Another item I've had from the beginning! It is sometimes replaced by a standalone rack that sits in front of my table, but I can't use that one on a regular basis because some shows are picky about you having items in front of your table that folks might trip on.  Little children also like to spin it until it falls on their heads!  This smaller rack houses my 5x7 and matted 4x6 prints.  Purchased from Displays2go.
  12. Binder Clips (40 pk) - $5 - Oh the many uses of binder clips!  I used them to clip the prints to the grid, to hold my banner to the table, and for fiddling with when I'm bored. They make nice talking finger puppets!  I prefer the gold variety as it looks a bit more decorative than the silver. Found at Staples.
  13. Crushed Velvet Table Cloth - $8 a yard - A mysterious number 13 I forgot to number in my photo! This silver cloth serves a multitude of purposes. First, it covers up the hideously distracting plain tabletops, is large enough to cover the entire display when you have to leave (if you have two on hand), and can also serve as backdrops for photographing products!  Velvet is great, as I've mentioned in previous photography tutorials.
Alternate Displays

While the aforementioned display works well for events where I'm mostly selling art, some events require a different setup to accommodate my more crafty items!

Flashback to Faerie Escape Atlanta, 2010!

The only thing that's different here is the inclusion of a metal jewelry tree and velvet necklace, which helped bring a level of professionalism to my items that laying them flat on the table didn't.

Metal Jewelry Tree - $20? - Mine was a Christmas present from the family so I have no clue where they bought it! I've seen some creative takes on the jewelry tree where people have taken branches from a real tree, cleaned them up, and shaped them to suit their needs. Then jewelry is hung off them with little leaf-shaped tags for an organic theme.

Velvet Necklace Forms - $2 - These velvet covered neck forms really make for a stylish addition to any craft table.  I bought mine at Joanns, but have found bigger ones for longer necklaces at Dawson Jones for $12.

That's it for now! I'm currently transitioning my display to fit an art fair booth setup, so expect posts on this topic sometime in the future!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The First Book Signing

Phew! The h'orderves have been devoured and the bottles of wine re-corked. The first book signing is done!

See more pics at my Facebook album!

Many thanks to Artworks on the Square for hosting this release party. We had a great turnout of about 40 or so people! I'm happy to report there were few crises involved, outside of baking a last minute tray of pigs in blanket an hour before setup and temporarily losing the key to the cash box.

There was also an incident with an escaped flying mattress, but it was not involved with this particular event.

All in all, pre-book signing jitters were unfounded and I had such a blast talking to so many like minds and old friends.  I can only hope the next one (which will be minus the party favors) will still be as successful!

It's still so surreal to think my book is finally out there.  I had to go to the book store and confirm it was there sitting on the shelf awaiting the hands of another artist.

I cannot wait to see just how far this inspiration can spread!

If you end up buying my book, feel free to let me know how you enjoyed it, what else you'd like to learn, and of course, to share your wonderful creations with me! You can add photos to my Fan photos on Facebook here.

Hope to catch you all at the next signing!

Things I Learned:
  • 2 small platters of catered food do not feed 40 people. Lesson learned! Note also that pigs in blanket cost half as much and make twice as much as the precooked stuff if you make them yourself. Yummy! Recipe linkage. Also, petit flours are always the first desserts to go.
  • Offer combo deals. It's ridiculous to think my calendar costs more than my book because of it's low run, custom printed nature. So, those who bought the book got a $5 discount on the $25 calendar. (Thanks for the suggestion, Vicki!)
  • Cardigans make me feel smart!  They seem to be proper authorial attire and are quite comfortable.
  • Found a great source for bookmarks!  They were approved, printed, and shipped within 2 days of ordering with someone calling me on the phone to inform me of their progress at each step! Thanks so much to ladyprinting.com! I was able to get a small amount of 2x7 bookmarks without a setup fee, like most of the other places I looked at.
  • Found an equally awesome source for tassels (eBay seller: Purpledoug1959) and vinyl bookmark sleeves (www.clearbags.com)
  • People really loved the free bookmarks! Going to keep handing these at conventions and other signings (minus the vinyl sleeves and tassels).  They're much less expensive than my grand plans to make custom leather bookmarks to give out.  People love items they can use and having my website at the bottom means they'll have a constant reminder of where to find me at.
  • Last (but not least!), with any signing, I am there to sell something I believe in! I know my product is awesome, that I'm sharing something worthwhile, regardless of the amount of people who show up!  Advice to live by from my darling bosom friend, Hayley E. Lavik.