Art Festivals 101: Part 1

As an artist that does outdoor art festivals as well as juried exhibitions and shows I have learned a lot through the process and continue to learn.  I started to notice that there are few “how to books” or classes on art festivals.  I have read many art marketing, marketing, and the few art festival books that are out there.  But there is a great free classroom that awaits you if you are willing to go and observe.  As I continue to do art shows, I seem to be getting more questions from fellow artists about shows, technical aspects of doing shows, etc.  Like I said I don’t know it all and I am still learning even after doing this for a few years.  So with that I decided to write about the art festival lessons learned etc-for my sake and hopefully for yours.

So, if you are an artist considering doing outdoor art festivals here are some things to consider to save you time and money:

  1. Do you like to talk with other people?
  2. Do you like to camp?
  3. Have you attended these shows?
  4. Do you know of some local art shows?
  5. Can you talk about your work comfortably?
  6. Do have enough work to have a booth in a show?
  7. Do you have a body of work that has some consistency to it?
  8. Do you know how to submit to get into a show?
  9. Do you have equipment or access to it: booth/tent or could you borrow or rent one?
  10. Do you have access to a vehicle to transport all the stuff and work you will have to bring?
  11. How will you display your work?
  12. Pricing?
  13. How much do you need to sell to cover your costs and make a profit?

Art shows are much like going camping with a large group who doesn’t want to bring anything so that you have to pack everything needed for everyone, including some fragile items.  Now if this doesn’t scare you off, keep reading as maybe art shows are for you.  If you hate camping and uncertainty this is not for you.

Now these are some serious questions I have listed above. But I do think an artist needs to be honest when answering these questions.  Question #1 asks about your comfort level of verbally communicating with others.  If you don’t like socializing with others and talking about your work, perhaps you should consider another venue to sell your work, like a gallery, online, or consultant. Outdoor art festivals are very enjoyable for those of us who like to interact with others and showcase our work, inspiration, process, and really sell ourselves in a way.

I recommend attending some art shows as a visitor first.  Make observations as well as participate by having some conversations with artists directly.  How do they strike up a conversation with a total stranger about their work?  Did they engage you?  Can you see yourself doing this? Over and over again? Go to a number of shows on good and bad weather days to see how life as an art festival artist really is.  Go early in the morning during set ups and watch.  You will learn a lot, about festivals, artists, and how passionate you are about selling your work directly to the public. Take notes of what you see, hear, and feel at each festival as well as your impressions as you will use these later in this series about Art Festivals 101.


Professional Fine Artist and Creative Entrepreneur who produces organic abstract fine art based in the west.

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