More success tips for artists at art fairs

Mint loves summer and fall art fairs, and introducing youth artists to the joys of selling at them.

We helped organize a new fair for young artists at the Concert of Colors in 2022. This year, we are considering other new or expanded art events for youth. And our Learn and Earn artists and a few alumni will show and sell at the Palmer Park Art Fair, as well as the Belle Isle Art Fair , and the Funky Ferndale Art Fair and others.

Excellent art in a variety of sizes and price points are essential to an artist’s success. But there’s more to it, and we have some ideas for emerging artists.

Create art that belongs. Make a piece or two that represent the city, the university, the neighborhood that will fill with artists tents. Include it in subtle ways, such as a Go Blue limited edition print – one that does not include a big M – for the Ann Arbor Art Fair. Or be bold and create something completely of the corner where you will sell. Mint Artists’ Faith Jones-Honey painted the Palmer Park light house a few weeks before the Palmer Park Art Fair – and it sold that weekend.

Promote yourself early and often. Share the posts from the fair and create your own. Send out an e-newsletter and send text messages. Share information about the event, and promote other artists who will be there too. If you need help with marketing yourself, read artists Sydney James advice in the Mint blog or check out Canva’s Design School tutorials.

Plan your display. Create a space that is inviting and reflects a little of who you are as an artist. Come up with an element on your table that complements or mirrors your art – fresh flowers for an artist who paints florals or the woods, a plate of fresh fruit for artists who paint kitchens or still lives with pears. We usually bring mints or fresh mint grown in Detroit to our events. Create a space for storing extra art and bring a comfy chair for the long days in the heat.

Create a certificate of authenticity. Create your own document that shows buyers they are acquiring a one-of-a-kind original or a limited edition fine art print. This shows you’re serious about your art, makes clear that you own the copyright to the image and more. And this article from Format, a photographers portfolio site, gives you instructions on how to create one. Please do not print your certificate on flimsy copy paper; and proof for typos and other mistakes at least twice before printing these.

Build relationships. These relationships may be with art buyers, gallery owners – or other artists. Crista Cloutier of The Working Artist offers this as one of her 10 tips here. To make this easier, set up a guest book or sign up area for your artist e-newletter. Take notes on people who you want to connect with within 10 days of the fair. Stay after or show up early for artists events.

Share stories. When you create a piece of art, you also are painting a story, whether it’s from your imagination or a dream or a family memory. Practice telling some of your stories about your art and about yourself weeks before the art fair or gallery opening. “There isn’t a stronger connection between people than storytelling,” said Jimmy Neil Smith, director emeritus of The International Storytelling Center.

Create urgency. We previously suggested a Buy it or Burn it art party to create imperativeness of instant purchases. At an art fair, you could encourage buyers to take it home now by sharing that you’re moving out of state for college, or that this is your only, or last, art fair of the year. You also could point out that a few others have eyed that very piece and may be back for it soon.

There are many other strategies out there for success at a fine art fair. Artists, what other strategies do you use to build your collector base and cash at art fairs? Please email them to us or share them in a comment.

Photo: Vickie Elmer at the Palmer Park Art Fair and Photo by C. SHII / Unsplash