Monday, May 23, 2011


I've been granted a spot at the annual Artsplosure arts festival in Raleigh, NC this year. I'll be there on May 21 and 22 to show my work and sell original paintings and prints. I've been fortunate enough to have the services of a local craftsman, Erik Mendoza, in building a stand to hold prints. I'm very excited about this event but a bit nervous because it is my first time showing my work in public. I'm still working on details of how I am going to display my work in my 10'x10' tent.

I've set up an account with sqaure that will allow me to accept credit card through my phone during the festival. I've had giclees printed through fine print and postcards and business cards printed at vistaprint. I'm really pleased with how the prints from fine print turned out and vistaprint... was cheap! and that's all I was really looking for from them so its OK! The reason that I'm writing about all these details is that I've found it very helpful to read other people's experiences at art festivals to get an idea of how I should prepare. As the date gets closer and I become more prepared, I'll keep updating this post to include any info that I think might be helpful to anyone going to their first art festival.

I'm really excited and the other artists all look like they have really amazing work to show, much more advanced looking stuff than mine. I'll look forward to seeing everyone's work later this month.


So Artsplosure has come and gone. I enjoyed it more than I would ever have expected. While it was a successful show and I sold my first two paintings ever, the real thrill was finding out how many people in the area are just as attached to the southwest as I am. Loads of people stopped in, pointing at one of my paintings, saying "we were just there last week!" Others said that they used to live in Utah or Arizona and that my paintings made them long for home. To me, that is the greatest success, to have created something that is meaningful to people who have shared a common experience with me. I was scared that showing paintings of desert landscapes in Raleigh would be an attempt to occupy the tiniest of niches, but with such a diverse population there are plenty of people who feel a connection to my subject of choice.

There are a few more bits of information that I think might be helpful to other people going out for their first show. Frame your prints, or at least include matting. Buy a mat cutter and make your own mats for odd sized prints. The prints may be affordable, but most people will think about the trouble and cost of having it framed. So either provide the frame or include a mat that has outer dimensions matching commonly available frame sizes. I had super-cheap prints but sold only one, compared to two original paintings.

To display my paintings, I hung sheets of white plastic lattice purchased from a hardware store from the frame of my tent. I then zip-tied the paintings to the lattice using metal hanging loops attached to the canvases. This saved a lot of anxiety as there was no way that the paintings would start falling when the wind ruffled my tent. I hung canvas drop cloth behind the lattice to reduce light shining through the paintings and give the area a more finished look.

Always have some business cards in your pocket. You may have them in a stand or on a table, but sometimes it is difficult or awkward to get one in your hands to give someone when they're walking out. Its good to have them in a neutral place so people can pick them up as they walk by, but you also need to be able to hand them out.

Obviously, have something eye catching near the front of your tent. I bought some cheap display easels to hold a couple of my favorite paintings out for people passing by to see. It's also important to have something interesting deeper in your tent. I had my largest painting mounted across the center of the back wall of my tent and it attracted a lot of visitors to come further into my tent to see it and the adjacent paintings.

Don't pounce on people coming into your tent. I made this mistake for the first couple of hours until I realized that I was actually chasing people away by jumping up to greet them. I found that a brief glance and a casual greeting to acknowledge that you are available to talk and then some space for the visitor to browse on their own works best. If a guest continues to look around, you might try to start a conversation. I would always ask people if they had ever been to Utah when I noticed them looking at one of my Utah paintings for a while. This usually started a conversation about where they had visited or wanted to visit.

Have prices clearly displayed. I didn't sell a single post card until I put the $1 sign up next to them halfway through. People are hesitant to ask because they don't want to find out that the price is higher than what they are willing to pay and then have to say no.

If you're local to the area where you are showing your work, let people know! I enjoyed talking to people from Raleigh, and I think that some people were happy to support a local artist. Artsplosure draws people from all over the country and a vendor from the triangle area has become somewhat rare.

That's all that I can remember for now, but I'll post more if I remember it later. Thanks to all the people who stopped by to talk with me, I really enjoyed hearing about everyone's experiences out west. There was one woman who came in with her husband and said that she was starting out as a painter. I wrote down her website, but I can't seem to get the link to work. Maybe I wrote it down incorrectly. If you're reading this, please email me the link, I'd love to see your work!


  1. I am so happy for you Brian!!! by the way this is Poke Fan

  2. Congratulations on your first sale! I am sure it will be the first of many!! It was a privilege and a pleasure being out there with you.