I was just accepted into the Boston Arts Festival 2010 for the second year in a row (yay me!) and I really should be working on stuff for the Acquire show, but I remembered I wanted to post something here, and I'm a huge procrastinator. Anyway, here's some tips from a guy who does his fair share of art shows and has come home with his Boston rent several times.
1. Don't stand in your tent (with one exception below), sitting is much less intimidating to a buyer who may be timid about entering your tent. I personally get intimidated when feeling like the artist is going to pounce on me when I enter their tent. And don't stand outside your tent in a chair like you're a director or a gate attendant. Seriously, don't.
2. Do your art while you're sitting there. Don't care what it is. I was cutting paper in my notebook just to look busy. Again, it makes you look distracted and people will go into your tent thinking they won't be watched. Plus they always love to watch you do your art and I've looked up once while being a bit too intent on what I was doing and literally had five people watching me just as intently. Actually jumped and everyone thought it was funny. ha ha. ALWAYS look up to say hi with a smile when they come in and immediately look away and let them do their thing. If they stay for more than 10 seconds, then say something like "everything is hand-cut from a single sheet of black paper" (for example). If they don't respond, go back to work, if they do respond, then become mr/mrs personality and have a nice chat, they're now officially a customer.
3. When talking to someone, stay seated, it makes them feel comfortable. Only stand to go to a piece or hand them something. Again, you want your potential customers to not feel intimidated or pressured. Give them the upper hand. When they indicate they are planning to buy, then stand up, it give them the idea that you are now engaged fully, confident, and ready for business.
4. Here's my best tip- If nobody is going into your tent, become a customer. Jen and I are always together at these shows and if nobody is in the tent, we get up and start walking around our tent like customers viewing pieces, talking about which one is our favorite, and deciding if we should arrange pieces in the tent. People will see you and think you're a browser and automatically wonder what you are looking at and go in themselves. It works EVERY time. Ever notice how the more people there are in your tent, the more people want to be in your tent? The biggest turnoff from a browser is an empty tent. Once you get someone in your tent, casually go back to your chair, say hi, and go back to work ignoring them and letting they enjoy the art.
Couple bonus ones that I just remembered- bring flowers and decorate your tent. Makes you look so freaking prepared you actually thought to bring plants. Insta-Pro. I'll add more as we remember them.
Hopefully this is helpful!