Top 10 factors that can make or break an art fair or art festival?
- Layout design
Lets talk about factor four “Layout Design”. The layout of artists’ booths at an outdoor art festival can make or break the event. The overall layout of the event is important. However if the layout of individual artisans’ booths is just as important if not more. Here’ why…
When the public attends art shows and festivals they want to have an experience. One that is different from visiting a gallery, but on par with that. Yes, really. They want to feel a connection to the artist and their work that is closer than that a gallery typically gives as well as have a more casual atmosphere to browse and shop. Art festival goers want to window shop and get a sense of the event.
However, if as an artist you want to change your window shoppers and gallery hoppers into buyers and collectors you have more work to do! Making the art was only a small step along your journey as a professional artist. Now you need to create a space that is inviting, intriguing, without being intimidating that is reflective of you and your art work.
Did I mention you only get a 10 x 10 foot art tent to carry out this task (that’s 100 sq feet)? That’s right, your art gallery/storefront that you will set up shop at some outdoor art fair is small, portable, and highly vulnerable to severe weather fronts (we’ll cover that later) is where you will be doing business for the nest two to three days. How can you make yours stand out and inviting?
First you will need to do some legwork and visit outdoor art festivals, art fairs, and art shows. Walk the show, observe foot traffic patterns, layout design of the event . Are there performers on stages or loud music playing, food booths, parking, and are their booths on booth sides or one side of the venue? As you walk the art festival, take note of personal artisan booth set ups and layouts.
Take it a step further, which booths did you go into? Ask yourself why you went into one booth and not their neighbor per say? Was it the work, the presentation, or the layout of the artisan’s booth? People like animals don’s like to feel trapped or tricked. Visitors are more likely to go into an artist’s booth if they feel they welcome, its accessible, and there is something to be discovered!
Example: GOOD FLOW in and out of the booth. Visitors know they will not be trapped. There are pieces on the outside walls to bring the guest inward as well as bins of prints etc to thumb through. Fairly steady traffic in this booth. Exposure and duration of visitors was good.
Example: CONFUSED Patron don’t sure where to enter booth? It appears we are looking at the front of the booths, however all the others are facing a different way? There are barriers (blue tarp, chairs, and stuff). “Hmmm, not sure, I’ll just keep walking” is what potential visitors are thinking. If the artist wants guests to come in either from the back or front, then the artists needs it made totally clear. No barriers (chairs, other items on ground) anything that might impede a guest from coming in. If it looks like a trap or too enclosed they will not enter, no matter how intriguing the work might be.
Example: BARRIERS Guests want to go into this booth on the right, one person is trying to really hard to look at the art work, alas they can’t because of too many barriers. There are a lot tables, shelves, bins, fragile items out, and even the artist… who is parked on a chair dead center in the booth like a sentinel (see post on ! If patrons can get in and out easily they are more likely to go in.
Looking for tips on more on art festivals, be sure to read my post “Art Festivals 101: Part 3 Booth Sentinels“
Luann Udell’s blog on booths layouts etc at
Maria Arango’ s book ” Art Festival Guide: The Artist’s Guide to Selling at Art Festivals