In anticipation of an art fair, it’s natural to feel a mix of excitement and nerves. Art fairs and markets offer a great opportunity to connect with potential clients and make significant sales in a short time.

However, success requires careful preparation (here's a post that speaks more about what to bring to an art fair), organization, and a strategic approach. They demand both financial investment and long hours, so it's crucial to present yourself in the best possible light to maximize your chances of profitability. In this article, we'll discuss five simple tips to boost your chances of success.

  1. Offer Artwork at Various Price Points

Art fairs attract diverse types of collectors. To appeal to a broad audience, consider offering artworks across different price ranges. Most artists choose to include larger original works ($$$), smaller originals ($$), and prints ($). However, sketches, works on paper, or editioned pieces can serve as more accessible options as well. Depending on the event, you may also be allowed to show lower-priced merchandise or other similar goods. Tailor your offerings to cater to both buyers who are ready to make an investment purchase and those shopping with a budget in mind.

  1. Curate Your Booth Thoughtfully

Respect any booth regulations regarding wall space as many fairs do have rules against overhanging. Avoid overcrowding your walls, as it can overwhelm visitors visually. Conversely, sparse displays may fail to capture attention. Experiment with layouts that strike a balance between too much and too little, and regularly adjust as artworks are sold to maintain an engaging presentation. You may find that updated arrangements create interesting dynamics between pieces that you hadn’t noticed before. In addition, this can draw people back into your booth because they are seeing something ‘new’.

  1. Engage with Visitors

Don’t rely solely on your artwork to sell itself. Greet visitors warmly, initiate conversations about your art, and be prepared to discuss your creative process. As the conversations begin flowing, feel free to ask questions about potential collectors' preferences, style, and budget. Offer insights into your artworks so that they connect even deeper with your work.

Even if you’re a bit nervous about speaking to people, you’re the expert on your art! Let that build the confidence you need to represent it well. Your enthusiasm and expertise can build rapport and encourage sales.

  1. Streamline the Sales Process

When you’re at the exciting moment when someone’s made the decision to purchase, make it easy for your buyers. Ensure you can accept credit cards (and cash if you allow that), clearly communicate the final total price including taxes, and establish policies for discounts or payment plans in advance. Doing this ensures that you’ll stand firm if someone tries to go beyond your boundaries. Once the sale is complete, package the artwork if the client is taking it right away and include your business card so they can keep in touch with you. Then, ask them to join your mailing list since they’ve already demonstrated a clear interest in your art!

  1. Follow Up After the Fair

Even after the fair ends, your sales efforts shouldn’t stop. Some buyers are decisive and able to choose which artworks they want to buy right away. Many, however, need more time to think about it. This especially holds true the higher the price point of the artwork they are considering is. Collect contact information from all interested visitors and follow up promptly via email or phone. This proactive approach can convert initial interest into sales and build lasting relationships.

Best of luck as you prepare for your upcoming art fairs and markets! While you may feel pressure to recoup your costs, keep in mind that ‘success’ can also come in the forms of making new connections, gaining curating experience, traveling to new places, and having fun at the show.

If you found these tips helpful, consider joining me, Alicia Puig, and gallery owner JJ Galloway for an in-depth workshop on selling at art fairs this July 10th or 16th.