Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Selling Your Sketches at an Art Show



November 21st - 12pm-5pm.  Reception to follow - 5pm-7pm

With less than two weeks until submissions are due for the Urban Sketchers Chicago Holiday Showcase, you, like me, are probably getting ready to submit your art into the Showcase as well as for selling prints in the Plein Air Art Fair.

Here is a checklist of items to keep in mind when prepping to sell your prints at an art show. (Disclaimer - This is basic list of the most important things to consider.  There are likely other factors to consider, however, these suggestions should give you a great starting point.)  If you have experience holding a table at art fairs or shows, or arts and crafts fairs, share your experience in the comments.  What worked for you?  What didn't?

Consider printing Giclee prints.  Giclee prints are high quality, archival, fade resistant art reproductions.  Keep in mind that the quality of your print (especially if enlarging) will largely depend on the quality of the scan.  Scan your original art at 300dpi. or higher.  Make any necessary adjustments to the scan file to ensure that your reproductions represent the original artwork as closely as possible.  Work with your printer to chose a paper that emulates the paper used in the original sketch, or that best compliments the sketch.  (Ex. If the original is a watercolor, consider printing on a textured paper that emulates the original watercolor paper.)

Factors to consider: branding, preservation/protection of your art, cost

Backing Board - Backing boards keep your art from bending or getting damaged.  I like to use 1/8" acid free foam core.  I purchase large sheets (32"x40") and cut them down to size.  Acid free products are more expensive than non acid free products, however, will give you the confidence to stand behind your product.  Over extended time, contact with non acid free materials (corregated cardboard, chip board, non acid free foam core etc...) can cause damage (fading, discoloration etc...) to your art. We do not know how long a customer may keep the art in the packaging, so, using acid free materials gives both you and the customer freedom to preserve the art.

Art Bag/Document Bag - Slip you art print and backing board into a clear, acid free bag.  Many bags come with a self-sealing sticker to close up the bag once the art is inside.  Once again, consider going with an acid free option to preserve integrity of your art.

Branding -  Add some personal touch to the packaged print.  If you have a business logo, consider adding small stickers to the back side of the packaging, to help distinguish your print from others. You may also have business cards.  Consider including a business card with each print.  How can your packaging compliment your art while maintaining consistency in your brand as an artist or sketcher?

How will you accept payment?

Credit/Debit - Consider getting a reader such as the Square reader.  Square readers (or similar systems) connect to your smartphone, and allow payments to be transferred directly to your bank account.  Keep in mind that fees will apply for each time a card is swiped, and consider factoring this into the price of your product.

Cash - If accepting cash payments, make sure to bring enough cash to give change to your customers. Consider setting the price of your prints at even dollar amounts, or in increments of $5 for ease of giving change.

Receipts - Don't forget to provide your customers with a receipt.  Payment readers like Square are able to email or text receipts.  However, for cash transactions, make sure to write up simple receipts, and keep a copy for you own records.

Display your pricing so it is easy for customers to read.  Whether it is with a sticker on the back of each print, with a small sign next to each print, or all listed in one place on a sheet of paper, make it easy for your customer to shop, without having to ask for the pricing of each different item.

Don't forget to factor Sales Tax into the cost of your prints.

How much "stuff" will you have, and will you have enough room for it all.  Consider doing a mock set up of all of the items you plan to bring with you.  Will you lay your prints flat?Displayed on an easel?  In a box/bin?

Aside from the art, what "extras" do you want to display?  This is a great opportunity to share an artist statement.  Print out half sheets with a paragraph or two, describing your art, your process and what inspires you and pass these out.

If you have business cards, this is perfect opportunity to pass them out.

Do you want to run any specials to encourage sales?  Buy two, get one free?  Buy one, get one half off?

Be ready to talk about your work.  Rather than sitting down or stepping away from your work, be ready to tell customers what it special about your work, and what excites you about it.  Is there a story behind a particular piece that brings some meaning to the piece?  Do you recommend a particular frame size or matting color to compliment the print?

Don't forget to have fun!  Remember to be true to yourself, and your art.  Be proud of your work, and remember that your work is unique!  Ask yourself how the way you are presenting your work reflects your personality, your art, and sketching style.

***-Art submissions due by Nov. 15th, 2015***
-Show hanging  - Nov. 19th - Dec. 12th, 2015
-Plein Air Art Fair - Nov. 21st, 12pm-5pm.  Reception to follow from 5pm-7pm.  Light refreshments will be served.

For more information about the event, see the full CALL FOR ART.

Questions?  Email

Lastly, many many thanks to Blick Art Materials and Blick Art Materials of Lincoln Park for sponsoring this event and for their continued support of and generosity to Urban Sketchers Chicago!


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