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How to Exhibit at Your First Art & Craft Show

How to Exhibit at Your First Art & Craft Show

Being your own boss and doing what you love is something I think many people aspire to. The thing that trips people up is, they aren’t sure how to make it happen.

I can’t say I’m an expert on starting businesses, but I do have a lot of experience with the art and craft shows. For creators, the shows are great way towards that dream.

If you have an art or craft that you love, and you’re looking for ways to make money while doing it - keep reading! Here’s how to exhibit at your first art & craft show!


Step 1) Choose your artwork

It seems obvious to those of us who have one specific talent, but I know plenty of artists who are proficient in several mediums.

I know it’s tempting to test different things out and see what sells, but beware, the line between multi-talented super artist, and master of none is a fine one.

Patrons are there to buy from the expert. If your booth is too eclectic, they might not think you created everything. True or not, it could cause customers to pass up your booth.



Step 2) Pick your show, and do your research

Pick a show and do your research. A show close to home has obvious benefits - no hotel costs, low gas fees, a helping hand close by). Just make sure you’re giving your artwork a proper chance by getting it in front of the right buyers.

For example - for a show to go well for Paul and I, we need couples, middle aged, and 10,000 or more to attend the show. There are exceptions to the rule, but…

Different artwork appeal to different demographics. Know your customer , and try to find out if they’ll be at the show before you apply.



Some tools to help you with that:

  1. The shows website - (pictures taken of the crowds are telling)

  2. The show director - just call or email to see if they can tell you more about their “average” customer

  3. Zapplications (the number 1 way to apply to shows also sometimes includes demographic info in the show details)

  4. Sunshine Artist Magazine


Step 3) Make enough art, and don’t wait to start!

This is obvious - but not to be overlooked. Who knows what could pop up...and suddenly it’s the week before the show.

Also, err on the side of optimism, and prepare more than you think you can sell.


Step 4) Plan out and set up your booth display

You’re going to need a booth shot anyway (read step 5), so I recommend planning it out and setting it up just like you would for the show.




It will help you figure out if you forgot anything (bungee cords, zip ties, a pocket knife), and will make setup that much smoother on show day.

For a new artist, here’s the minimum that you’ll need:

A 10’ x 10’ white tent - From color, to style, and brand, it can be overwhelming choosing a tent.

I say keep it simple (white) and go cheap (at least until you decide if the shows are for you).

I know some artist’s will disagree, but I think E-Z ups or other types of quick pop up tents are fine for beginner artists. Quality tents can get pricey, and why spend the money before you know if it will pay off?

Just make sure your tent is white - Did I mention this already? ;) Some shows won’t let you exhibit without a white tent, so you might as well just start with one).

Want to learn more about picking the right tent? Here’s a great article that will help.


Tent Weights - You might be surprised at how easily a gust of wind can pick up a tent. The weather can be beautiful, but one stray blast...

Be prepared, and have your tent weighted properly for every show (40 lbs per leg). After all, it’s not just your artwork at risk, it’s also your neighbors’ - some of which are selling very expensive breakables!

There’s more to consider with weighting a tent than you’d think (I could do a whole blog on just that). In the interest of brevity, here are some great links to the dos and don’ts of picking the right tent weights, and how to properly hang them.


Display Materials - Don’t think just function (tables, mesh walls, display cases), also think about aesthetic. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to make your booth inviting.

Keep in mind that dollar store tablecloths are better than naked tables, and a rug can make all the difference.


Lighting - different artwork requires different lighting. I know many artists who light up their booths like a Christmas tree. Paul and I on the other hand, don’t usually have lights.

This is one of those things that’s your call, but most exhibitors do have lights. Know if your show provides electricity before buying anything though.  

If they do - take a surge protector (you usually only have access to 1 outlet), extension cords, and a few clamp lights. If they don’t - consider battery powered options.


Step 5) Take photos of your artwork, and submit them to the Jury

Most art and craft shows have a jury process that decides who gets in the show and who doesn’t.

The jury relies totally on photographs of your artwork and booth display to make a decision.

For the top tier shows, professional photos are a must. For others, you can get away with taking your own photos. Either way, do your research, and know what the jury will be looking for.




The best way to do that is to get inspiration from a few shows’ websites. Art and craft shows often post a list of artists on their website, and they usually include a photo selected from the artist’s jury images.

Be honest and think - can I shoot a photo that will look as professional, or do I need help? If you decide you need help - get help from a PRODUCT PHOTOGRAPHER!

As for the booth photo, FOLLOW the instructions on the call for entry (ex. no signs with your name, include products submitted to the jury in your booth, etc.).


Step 6) Wait, and stay organized!!!

Remember to note the jury result date, and check your email and spam! If you get accepted, your work is just beginning. If you don’t get accepted, try try again.



Some exhibitors are able to make a living off of the arts and craft shows. Others are just making a few extra bucks while pursuing their passion. No matter what your end goal is, don’t put too much pressure on yourself, and remember...



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