If you’re an artist preparing to exhibit your work at your first art fair, craft show or market, you may be wondering what are the necessities to bring with you to set yourself up for success. Even if you're a seasoned pro, it's always a good idea to have a checklist of items you'll need so that you don’t forget anything important (take it from someone who once had to overnight a box of business cards!).

Art fairs are exciting events offering the possibility of meeting hundreds, if not thousands, of collectors in the span of a few days. Being prepared ahead of time will ensure that you spend your time focused on sales and networking rather than running to the store to buy what you accidentally left behind.

Here are 10 things that should be on your list: 

The Art Fair Checklist:

1. Your artwork

While this one seems obvious, you don’t necessarily only want to bring just enough pieces to fill the space. The goal is that you’ll start selling and that buyers will take work right off the walls and home with them. When this happens, you can make more money if you have other artworks ready to replace them. Now, if you’re traveling from far away, this can get tricky due to the logistics and cost of packing and shipping additional artwork. But, I’d still suggest having at least a few extras that aren’t hung immediately on the walls for opening night. Usually the fairs have some dedicated areas for storage of these extra artworks.

For those traveling a long distance, you may consider shipping your artwork ahead of time. If that is the case, plan in advance so you don’t end up stressing out about whether your artworks will arrive in time for the show. 

The second part of this is that all of your work should be ready to display. You may need frames, mats, d-rings, wire and protective coverings for loose prints.

2. Display materials

Carefully read what the fair or market organizers provide to each vendor. Some offer bare, white walls whereas in other cases you may have to BYOB - build you own booth! If the former, have at least enough screws, hooks and hanging hardware for each artwork plus a few extra. 

If you have to basically create your own stand, you’ll need to invest in some way for you to properly showcase your artwork, such as a table, print rack, easels, sculpture bases, shelves or another similar type of display. Don’t forget to consider the size and weight of your pieces when choosing your display materials so nothing gets damaged.

Depending on the layout of your booth, you may also want to bring a few decorative elements like signage with your name or logo, a tablecloth, small vase of flowers, or a bowl of candy to help it look polished and to draw people in (the sweets really do work!). 

3. Business cards

Networking is key at art fairs, and having business cards on hand can help you make valuable connections with potential clients, curators and the press. Design or use a basic template to create cards with your name, website, contact information/social media handles and a sample of your artwork. While many still prefer printed cards, you can also create a digital business card with a QR code or use an AirTag to cut down on your use of paper. 

In addition to business cards, you may want to have other promotional materials such as postcards or stickers to hand out to interested visitors. 

4. Wall tags & Price list

Ask in advance if wall labels will be prepared for you. If not, decide how you will create your own. Usually, it’s easiest to create a spreadsheet with each artwork’s information in a small block of text. Then, you print it out on an adhesive paper so you can simply peel it off and stick it on the wall. This may not work on all wall surfaces, however, so you may have to mount your labels on matboard first and then use sticky tack or tape loops on the back. 

In terms of what to include, most labels state the artwork title, medium, dimensions, year created, edition size (if applicable) and price. More and more, I’ve been seeing QR codes pictured on wall tags to streamline the process of buying or to help potential clients easily save works to their phones that they still need to think about before purchasing. 

If you choose not to have prices readily available on the labels, then you’ll definitely need to create a price list that's easy to read and includes the same important details of each piece. Please have multiple copies handy for when your booth gets busy. It’s frustrating on the client side when you have to wait around because there’s only one price list and someone else is already looking at it! 

Additionally, you’ll need dots or a marker to update when artworks have sold. Traditionally, sold artworks are tagged with red dots, which are easy to find and purchase on Amazon or at your local office supply store.

art fair checklist for artists

5. Sales materials

Speaking of sales, you'll need a way to accept payments. It’s mostly likely that you’ll use a credit card reader of some sort but you may also consider bringing along some cash just in case (this primarily applies if you’ll be showing affordable works under $250). For the credit card readers, don’t forget the accompanying charging station or a battery pack if it connects directly to your phone. It's also a good idea to bring extra chargers for your phone and laptop if you're bringing both to the show.

As mentioned before, when sales occur, some happy collectors may want to take their new artworks with them right away! Some fairs do offer a packaging station so they can assist you with getting your artwork ready to travel to their forever homes, but even if they do, during peak hours the lines can get backed up and you don’t want to have to be waiting in them away from your booth. Especially for smaller pieces, I suggest having a bit of spare bubble wrap, tape and bags with handles (I’ve created branded totes to give to clients who spent over a certain amount and used paper gift bags for lightweight prints) so you can quickly pack works yourself if needed. 

6. Email signup 

You absolutely need to have a way of collecting emails from prospective buyers. The easiest way is with a notebook and pen (have a few pens in case one runs out of ink) or an iPad that you set up with a newsletter intake form. Choose whoever option suits you, but don’t skip this one! 

7. Snacks and water

Art fairs can be long and tiring, so make sure you bring enough snacks and water to keep you energized throughout the day. While the fairs almost always have some food and beverage options, you’ll likely save money by bringing your own. Don’t forget any necessary medication, and it’s also a good idea to have pain relievers and bandaids.

8. Toolkit

Besides during the booth installation and breakdown, you may also need to use tools to hang new works or rehang artworks as things sell. Many fairs do not allow hanging with hammers and nails so it’s most likely that you’ll need a drill. Depending on the wall height, you may also need a ladder or small step stool. Other things to add to your toolkit include a pencil, tape measure, level, scissors, box cutter, and tape. 

9. Comfortable clothing and shoes

You'll be on your feet for hours on end so do yourself a favor and prioritize comfort. You’ll see most people in sneakers, sandals and flats for this reason. It’s smart to dress in layers so you can bundle up when they have the AC blasting down on you (I've somehow always gotten the arctic booths) - or take off your sweater/jacket when it’s not. Throw a stain removing pen in your toolkit just in case and it doesn’t hurt to bring an umbrella or poncho. On days when it rains, you can potentially save yourself from the exorbitant Uber fees of surge pricing. 

what to bring to an art fair

10. Positive attitude

Last but not least, put on your exhibitor badge with a smile and a positive attitude! Art fairs can be fast-paced and overwhelming, but remember that you're there to showcase your artwork and make connections with other artists and art lovers. I’ve made the mistake of letting the stress get to me and I had to remind myself to shake it off and enjoy the process. That’s what made the experience all the more memorable! 

Here's the condensed list that you can simply copy & paste into your notes app or in a Word doc.


-frames/mats (if needed)

-D-rings or other hanging hardware


-cellophane or other protective covers for loose prints

-table, print rack, sculpture bases, shelves, etc (if needed)

-signage, tablecloth, vase of flowers, bowl of candy or any other decorative items (if needed)

-business cards

-postcards, stickers, etc (if needed)

-wall labels

-price list

-sticky tack or tape

-red sticker dots

-credit card reader/charging station


-bubble wrap/cardboard, gift bags/tote bags (anything else you may need to pack your artworks for clients)

-email signup sheet (or iPad)

-snacks & water, water bottle

-any necessary medication (painkillers, cold medicine, Vitamin C supplement, tissues, bandaids, pads/tampons/cup)

-outfit for each day (and one extra) plus sneakers or flats (recommended) and a cardigan, jacket, scarf/shawl, or sweater (recommended)

-umbrella and sunglasses

-stain removing pen



-tape measure


-box cutter



-ladder or step stool

-your exhibitor badge and any other necessary forms (insurance, artwork sales forms that clients need to show at the door to leave with their new artwork)

And there you have it - your ultimate checklist for exhibiting your artwork at an art fair. By making sure you have these essential items, you'll be prepared for anything that comes your way. Good luck, and happy exhibiting!

Want to learn more about art fairs including how to find the right one for you as well as in-depth coverage of what else to prepare? We cover all of this and more in our new course for artists: The Smartist School.


Alicia Puig has been a contributing writer for Create! Magazine since 2017.