Behind the Scenes - Prepping for a Sales Event
Hopefully you see an attractive, effortless display when you come to visit me at an art fair, exhibition or popup, but it can take up to a week for me to fully prepare for an event! Here’s the lowdown on what goes into it.
I’ve likely worked on a new group of artworks in the run up to a major event, but you can be sure I’ve left it to the last minute to varnish them, or add hanging apparatus/fix them into their frames. This is because these jobs are easiest done all in a one-er, and it’s easier to store things simply without worrying about the hanging equipment denting another painting. I’ll definitely be upset, holding a drill and begging for Rick’s help at the very last minute, I’m horribly inept with power tools.
The. Worst. Job. Set out a selection to come with me, sign and title them all, cut backing boards, add postcards, business cards etc to the cellophane, seal and sticker. Repeat for several prints. Ideally I would set a few days aside and pack everything when a new print batch comes in but a) who has a few days kicking about b) that really is hellish and c) it would require a bigger cost and storage commitment to packaging materials than nice flat sheets of paper, getting done a few at a time. Anyhoo, small gripe to have, but I really do detest this part of the job!
New works all need a proper photo-shoot for the website, especially if I plan to make prints. If I skip this then someone buys the painting - that’s it gone, bar a few phone pics. No prints, and I’ve short-changed myself on income for that piece. This involves lighting, editing etc so it is time consuming.
I need to spend an evening planning and scheduling all the last minute social media promotions for the event duration, especially if I’m travelling or expecting to be very busy - I may only have time for the most basic update during the event and it’s easy to forget what I wanted to tell/ask of you.
I usually keep a running tab of this on a bit of paper for new work, considering the latest material costs and how much time I’ve spent on the pieces. This gets run through my pricing formula, adjusted for retail commission, then finally compared to other pieces of mine on the website and rounded up or down a bit to what seems fair to me and you. Then I look at the price list of the artworks that are going to that event and check that they make sense all together. I probably worry too much about pricing. It costs what it costs, at the end of the day!
Price tags and signage
What do I want the customers to know? What size is the space? What’s the style of the event? Can they see the numbers on these tags when I run them through the printer? Do I still have to make it obvious that I take card payment? I always have a spare blackboard and chalk pen in the suitcase in case I’ve forgotten something important.
Plan the area layout
I’m a scale drawer. Go nerds! I have a bit of retail-dressing knowhow and I have a general format for how my stall goes. It's important to recognise your customer’s eyeline and thought process. I’ll know which painting is going where beforehand, but it doesn’t mean I won’t stand there for an hour overwhelmed by paintings when the day comes. Or change it all as I go. It easily takes me an hour or more to set up the actual stand on the day, too.
Pack my suitcase
I have a small event suitcase containing everything I should ever need. Card machine, change float, battery pack and leads, lighting for when the event manager gives you that rubbish dark spot and no power outlet, business cards, notebook and pen, string, tape, scissors, etc. It’s my admin HQ and being able to shut the lid on it keeps things nice and tidy.
Pack the Van
It's easy to forget I need to set time aside for this, but the racks/stands all need to go through in to the lift, down to the pavement, pack the trolley for as few trips to the van as possible… it can take a good half hour! Pop to the bank for coin change. Get a packed lunch.
That’s us ready to go! Someone washed the table cloth before we packed all that away, right??
Come and admire the efforts this August:
Visit my studio collective’s pop-up shop in Bloomfield Shopping Centre this August, see @Boom.Studios socials for info. Drop me a line for my shift times if you want to say hi!
Also our open studios on 13 & 14 August if you’d like a peek behind the scenes - in particular I’ll be there 10-12 on Saturday and 2-4 on Sunday. 80 Main St, Bangor
North Down Craft Collective at Comber pop-up-shop - 4 Castle St, Comber 16-20th Aug. I’ll be in the store after lunch on Weds 17th with my paints too!