Saturday, June 12, 2010

Art Show Tips

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!


Lesley said...

This was super super helpful. Thank you! I have yet to do an art show but I am hoping to in the coming year. This year has been spent developing a portfolio of sorts and a more concrete artist's 'voice'. Maybe I'll be at the 'ahts' festival someday too!

Thanks again for all the tips, Joe. The pretending to be a customer thing - genius.

Ann said...

Congrats on being accepted into the arts festival.
I don't sell but I do like to browse. From a customers point of you I agree with all your tips. It always bugs me when I feel like I'm being watched while browsing

Stefani said...

I'm so glad to read your tips about "ignoring" customers! I do exactly what you are talking about because that's how I like to be treated too. I think most "how-to" lists would tell you to engage your customer more. Friendly, ready, not intrusive is more natural to me.

I do sit by the front door of my tent though - because I always work on my hand stitched paper art and it draws people in. I used to sit at the back of the tent but I like the front better now.

And yeah the pretending to be a customer thing IS genius! That's a new one to me - but I'll be doing that now too. Thanks!

Love your work, Joe - congratulations on your success.

Anonymous said...

So I was wondering what kind of paper that you use to print your pattern on... I've been trying to find something thin enough that I can cut through it and the regular paper at the same time... and I'm coming up short :(
You are an inspiration to me :)

Anonymous said...

I found a website that offers those hard-to-get knives from several posts ago: The owner said he has a couple more... but after that he won't be able to get them.

Anonymous said...

haha, tip 4 is really funny :)