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  • Kate Lentz

{My First Art Tent Event!}

Now that the Etsy shop is up and running, all I have to do is sit back and relax, right? Wrong. Now the real work begins! Opening weekend was relatively successful for a new shop that has close to zero followers on social media. But after that initial rush, things got quiet. Really quiet.

I'm not surprised. I'm a small blip in the world of art. Even the rock stars on the platform are complaining about scary-slow sales. The fact that I've even made ONE sale let alone twelve in the last month actually feels pretty darn monumental to me. But still. I can't live on $12 every couple of days. At least in the long term.

If you are wanting to be an artist full time, it's a fact that you need multiple income streams. I have my thumbs in several pies at the moment...none of them are lucrative, but it's still a good idea to get the ball rolling just in case things ever pick up for me. There is one thing I could do right now that would almost guarantee at least ONE sale: Art Festivals. Hot, crowded, exhausted art festivals.

Honestly, the idea has never appealed to me much. In the past, I just honestly didn't have enough work or variety of work to sell. I also didn't have the money to reserve a spot. Or a tent. Or a website, cohesive brand, way to accept card payments, and about a million other excuses. In theory, I love attending art fests...until I actually go to one. I understand why they happen in the summer but...could we PLEASE have more of them in the fall?!

Anyway. From the title of this blog, you know where this is going. Since I am now a part of Art Bar, I see a lot more "Call to Artists" on our member page. So about a month ago, one of the board members put out a blast looking for artists to have a table at a community event. It would be free to reserve a spot and the artists are able to keep 100% of their own profits. Honestly, I would be crazy NOT to do it, right? When would I ever find an opportunity to sell my art at an event for free? And it's not a huge event, so I would be able to dip my toes in before deciding to try something at a larger scale. I sat on the idea for a few days, but finally just thought, "WHY NOT?"

So I took the dive.

As far as products and branding, I felt pretty confident going in. My goal was to make a few more mini originals, pins, and bookmarks just because it seems like people prefer to buy smaller items that are less than $20. So I got to work figuring out my inventory, creating a few more pieces, and starting the pricing process.

Here is a list of items I found to be helpful for this event:

-Heart stickers (in red to match my branding) to be used as price tags

-Paper bags (small and large) that I stamped with my logo and name

-Business cards

-Tackle box used for a cash box ($100 in cash to make change)

-A tablet and a square for card payments (This was SOOOO important!)

-Metal grids for displaying prints

-Tape to hold things down in case windy

-A TENT (I had to buy one on amazon--I ended up getting a cute one with stripes that was mostly for beach parties or tailgating. But it worked for me. The table fit underneath as well as my chairs)

-Comfy chairs

-A long table (6 ft)

-Table cloth/fake flowers/signage to help with branding

-A cooler with snacks and lots of water

-A rolling suitcase to keep all the art in

-Portfolio folder for originals

-Cute baskets/frames for displays (I went to Goodwill which was cheap and sustainable)

-A friend or family member to help you!

I think the best thing I did was practice setting up my table SEVERAL times. I set up inside and outside, took photos of various set-ups, and made sure I knew how to put the tent up by myself. I also made sure everything would fit in my car. I was so nervous before going, but making sure I was comfortable with my actual table helped tremendously.

I lucked out with the weather. It had been sticky and gross for weeks. Though the day was hot, the humidity finally went away. The event was not as busy as the organizers had hoped, but this was better for me. I never felt overwhelmed by crowds and I was able to chat with people while they browsed.

The thing with art events, you never know what people are looking for. I expected people to be more interested in my smaller/cheaper items or art prints, but I sold more original pieces than anything else. Nothing was priced more than $40 on my table, but I definitely could have priced the originals a lot higher. But it felt great to get some "bigger" sales and see that people enjoyed my more personal work instead of "products."

Though I don't think I could do art events all of the time, I was grateful for the experience I had. I would eventually love to do a big event that my town has every year in August and perhaps some kind of Halloween or autumn flea market. In the meantime, I will just stick to selling art from my home! I am happy to report that I made enough money to cover the cost of my tent and then a little extra. In the end I most likely broke even since I had to make more products, get art prints and stickers, plus bags/stickers for pricing. But now I feel prepared for the next one!

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