Show Your Art, Sell Your Art!

A practical guide to getting started and succeeding in the Art Festival business

The Lubbock Arts Alliance is your arts council. We are a non-profit organization working to ensure that Lubbock has a vibrant, growing art scene that remains accessible to every member of the community.

Our mission is to foster the creation, understanding, and enjoyment of the arts.

As your arts council, the Lubbock Arts Alliance supports local artists and arts organizations through services and programming, provides leadership to encourage economic development through the arts, develops positive publicity and support for the arts, works to establish Lubbock as a regional arts destination for visitors and tourists, and represents the arts community to local, state, and national organizations and officials.

The Lubbock Arts Alliance knows that as emerging artisans some pressing concerns you have include: How can I get my stuff out there? How can I get noticed? How can I find an audience? And, most importantly, how can I sell my work?

The Lubbock Arts Alliance has prepared Show Your Art, Sell Your Art! to answer these questions and more and to help you get started and succeed in the Art festival business.

For more information on the Lubbock Arts Alliance go to www.lubbockarts.org or visit the Lubbock Arts Alliance on Facebook.

To Be Found, You Must Be Findable!

As artisans, you don’t really find an audience for your work; they find you!

We all know that art and fine crafts are shown and sold every day in galleries and retailers. But, as emerging artists, you also know that getting your work accepted by galleries and retailers is difficult, to say the least.

What you may or may not know, though, is that artwork is shown and sold much more often in venues of art shows and festivals.

Over 40,000 art shows and festivals are held in cities and towns across the country that are attended by millions of people. And, unlike galleries and retailers, art shows and festivals bring artists into direct contact with the people who may appreciate their work enough to actually purchase it for their homes, offices, or places of business.

Almost every city and town in the USA has art shows and festivals you can use to show and sell your work. In fact, the Lubbock Arts Alliance presents its annual Lubbock Arts Festival right here in Lubbock.

The event is the largest fine art, fine craft event in West Texas and offers visual art, performing art, and children’s art for people of all ages.
The Lubbock Arts Festival has a total attendance of nearly 17,000 and includes 150 visual artists from around the nation in booths displaying and selling original work in the mediums of painting, drawing, pottery, fiber, jewelry, glass, wood, and sculpture.

The Lubbock Arts Festival is a place for you to make yourself FINDABLE and be found. It’s a place for you to show your work and sell your work. In fact, it’s the ideal place for you to get started in the Art festival business!

For more information on the Lubbock Arts Festival go to www.lubbockartsfestival.org or visit the Lubbock Arts Festival on Facebook.

Artist Access: Kristy Kristinek

Kristy Kristinek talks about her first foray into the Art festival business at the 40th annual Lubbock Arts Festival.

Artist Access: Kimberly Clark

Kimberly Clark, now in her third year selling at Art Festivals, talks about advice she would give emerging artists just getting into the business.

Is the Art Festival business for you?

Not everyone is cut out for the Art festival business. First and foremost, it’s important to decide if you are. One way to help you make this decision is some well thought out answers to the following questions.

  • Do you create on a continual basis?
  • Is your work transportable and showable at Art shows and festivals?
  • Is your artwork salable?
  • Will the sale of your artwork create an income equal to or greater than that from another full-time job?
Artist Access: Todd Winters

Todd Winters talks about his 35 years of experience in the Art festival business.

Artist Access: Eric Dorris

Eric Dorris talks about his 10 years of experience in the Art festival business.

Now, let’s talk about selling at Art festivals.

To sell at Art festivals, artists should bring their best work and gear that appeal to the people that attend the show they are participating in.

However, there are expectations by attendees and organizers of Art festivals that must be considered.

First, promoters and organizers expect artwork sold at their shows and festivals to fall into specific categories for which work will be accepted for exhibit and sale. The usual categories are: painting (oil, acrylic, & watercolor), mixed media (two-dimensional & three-dimensional), sculpture, drawing, printing, graphics, paper, baskets, clay, fiber, glass, jewelry, leather, metal, wood, furniture, and toys.

So, what sells best at Art festivals? This is different for each festival.

Some festivals are known as “painters” festivals. Others include and are known for their jewelry or ceramics. Some shows emphasize what are called “fine or traditional crafts” over “fine arts”. Applications to festivals usually define what fits into their application categories.

So, how do you know which show might be best for you? A good all-encompassing resource is Greg Lawler’s Art Fair Sourcebook. It lists shows all over the nation and distinguishes between “fine art” and “fine craft” festivals. It also divulges how many artists in each media display in each show. Some other resources for local shows and festivals include, www.texasfairsandfestivals.com  or search “Fairs & Festivals” at www.travelok.com.

So, in which Art festival can you expect to sell best?

The best determinant of a show in which you can expect to sell best is experience. Do a show once or twice, and you will learn how well it produces sales for you.

Second best – Go out and visit as many different Art festivals and shows as possible. Visit all the local ones, no matter how small, plus as many farther-away ones as are possible.

Before visiting or participating in an Art festival or show, research the particular festival or show’s target audience and product range, and research the range and price point of the artwork at the show.

When visiting a particular festival, look at everything and take notes. Pay attention to: the quality of the artwork being displayed; the number of visitors and how many of them seem to be buying (it’s not always just about the sheer traffic volume, but whether or not visitors are truly there to enjoy and purchase art); and how happy and busy do the artists seem to be? Take notes on displays, tents, everything – and take pictures if you can.

Last but not least, and most importantly, talk to other artists, especially those who work in your medium. Ask as many questions as you can.

It is especially important to talk to artists on the last day of the show when they know how much business they have done.

Artist Access: Steve Brewster

Steve Brewster talks about his 35 years of experience in the Art festival business.

Artist Access: Janet Waldrop

Janet Waldrop talks about her 25 years of experience in the Art festival business.

Art is Art, but to succeed in the Art festival business, you must also commit to thinking like a business person.

All successful Art festival artists conduct their activities as serious businesses.

The Art festival business requires that you plan when and where you want to exhibit and apply to the show well in advance.

ZAPP is the preferred method used by many festivals and most artists. ZAPP enables individual artists to apply online to multiple Art shows through one central website, www.ZAPPlication.org. Below is a video to get you started navigating the ZAPP website, and the ZAPPlication channel along with hundreds of other videos on YouTube provides a variety of tutorials on how to use the site. See  https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=zapplication.

Some other online resources that act in much the same way as ZAPP, although on a much smaller scale, include: www.artshow.com, www.artfestival.com, & www.juriedartservices.com.

What can you do to increase your chances of acceptance into the Art festival at which you wish to exhibit?

Unless you are familiar with the festival, the information in the prospectus and application will rarely be enough to inform your decision on whether or not to apply.

It is suggested that before applying to an Art festival, you should:

  • Talk to other artists who have done the festival
  • Investigate the demographics of the festival’s local population
  • Research data on the festival online
  • Email the festival’s director or staff

If all of the requirements for the application are met, including:

  • Information requested about the artist
  • Particulars about his or her work
  • Images presented as required
  • Money forwarded as requested

The application will join the pool of artists to be considered for the festival.

There are some laws of application to Art festivals that you should always keep in mind, including:

  • It’s all about your work
  • Pay attention to the festival’s prospectus
  • Stifle the urge to do or submit anything not requested on the application
  • Apply early
  • Make sure that your images are the best they can be and strictly adhere to the size requirements of the festival

Your largest expense at most shows, not in your hometown, will NOT be the booth rental fee but will be travel cost.

A fairly conservative average travel cost is approximately $250-$300 per day, with an added $75 per day for a second person. Rising gas and accommodation prices may add significantly to this number.

You will also need to consider extraordinary/emergency expenses that might occur, including vehicle repairs and any number of other needs or desires that may occur while traveling.

Remember: Every expense reduces your take home profit.

Income: The sales of your artwork!

This can and should include the sales of related items based on your artwork including derivatives, if permitted by the festival, such as prints, note cards, etc.

Remember: If you bring in money by selling your artwork in other ways, such as through galleries, retail outlets, or the internet, this is income too – however, these sources of income are not part of your Art festival proceeds and should be excluded when you evaluate the shows in which you participate.

Before you begin collecting income in the Art festival industry, the best approach for its everyday requirements are as follows:

  • Obtain the required licenses and permits
  • Set up banking and credit card accounts
  • Follow a strict record-keeping regime
  • Consider hiring a qualified tax accountant

Taking these steps up front will keep you out of money trouble down the road!

Obtaining the required licenses and permits for starting your Art festival business in Texas

For establishing your business structure, DBA (or Assumed Name Certificate, in Texas) and EIN (Employer Identification Number) from the IRS, go to the “How to Start a Business in Texas|TX Secretary of State,” www.startabusiness.org. Below is a video that will help you maneuver the website.

Here is a direct link to a printable DBA (Assumed Name Certification) Application, State of Texas Form 503. This form must be mailed to the TX Secretary of State in duplicate along with a $25 fee to receive your Texas Assumed Name Certificate (DBA).

Your next step will be to get your EIN (Employer Identification Number) from the IRS. You will need an EIN to file taxes and for other government forms and documents. You can apply for an EIN from the IRS at NO CHARGE by visiting www.irs.gov.

Finally, you will need to apply for a Texas State Sales and Use Permit. This can be done online at www.texas.gov. Again, there is no charge to apply for this permit, but it will take 2-3 weeks to receive your permit by mail.

For setting up businesses in other states, go to the your state’s Secretary of State website, or search online for setting up a business in your particular state. 

Setting up banking and credit card accounts

You will need to choose a bank account for your business. Again, you will want this to be separate from your personal bank account. Electing a bank to handle your small business’ financial needs is different from choosing one for your personal needs. To help you make this decision, go to this online article, “5 Tips for Choosing the Right Bank for Your Business.”

After you establish your business bank account, you will want to set up a merchant provider with a point-of-sale credit card reader. This will allow you to take credit card payments, which will be crucial to your ability to sell at Art festivals and shows today. Below is a video to help you in making this decision.

Word of Caution: When making the decision about your small business merchant provider, I suggest you pay close attention to the flat rate and additional rates per transaction as these will ultimately affect your bottom line.

Following a strict record-keeping regime and finding a qualified accountant to take care of your taxes

Bookkeeping is vital to properly managing your business. Additionally, you will need these records for tax purposes. To be financially successful with your Art festival business, you should understand the importance and the basics of bookkeeping including:

  • Revenues & Expenses
  • Cash
  • Accounts Receivable & Payable
  • Inventory
  • Employees

To do your own bookkeeping, there are many software packages available. The video below will help you carefully consider the bookkeeping software method that will work best for you.

Some basic expenses you will have as an artist selling at Art festivals and shows will be: show application/jury fee; booth rental fee; lodging; meals and snacks on the road and at the festival; gas, vehicle wear and tear, insurance, and parking; set-up and tear-down assistance fees; show booth supplies; banking fees, including credit card and check processing fees; extraordinary/emergency costs; cost of goods sold; packaging and shipping; and sales and use tax (6.25% on all retail sales in Texas.)

Your next order of business will be to determine what exactly you will need to exhibit at Art festivals.

Methods for displaying and exhibiting your artwork for sale at shows and festivals will be your first major investment in your new Art festival business.

First, consider the space: usually 10′ x 10′, with a wall height of seven to eight feet. (If your work demands it and you are so inclined, you may want to buy a double space. Corner and double spaces are effective strategies for increasing exposure to your work. When just getting started in the Art festival business, this consideration may best be saved for later.)

Outdoor festivals will require you to use a white canopy for your tent. Most outdoor festivals will also require you to weight your booth for safety. The video below will help you in making a decision on which pop-up canopy tent might work best for you.

Work that is intended to hang will require some method to do so.

A common method that professional Art festival artists use is Pro-Panels. The first video below will help you consider what might work best for you and your artwork. For more information, visit www.propanel.com.

Because this will be a major investment and some of you will want to create your own display methods, the second video below shows you some interesting ideas for doing this. (There are many more ideas online, so it is suggested that you check them out when considering display methods that will work best and be the most economical for you.)

If you have any questions about participating in the next upcoming LUBBOCK ARTS FESTIVAL, you may contact the LUBBOCK ARTS ALLIANCE by email at execdir@lubbockarts.org, or by calling 806-744-ARTS (2787).

Much of the information presented here is gleaned from The Art Festival Handbook by Marc Duke. Free download of The Art Festival Handbook are available at:  www.artfestivalhandbook.com. Other sources include: Art Festival Guide: The Artist’s Guide to Selling in Art Festivals by Maria Arango , Show Your Work!: 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered by Austin Kleon.

As already mentioned, the canopy and display walls, fixtures, tables, racks, and bins will be a new festival artist’s major initial investment. Your choices abound and include: Pro-Panels; grid walls and fencing; display bins, tables, and racks; hooks, clips fasteners, wire and fishing line; and rods, poles, and perforated metal strips.

Displaying your artwork to best effect at festivals will involve creativity and the possibilities are endless!

You will also want to consider other materials and space in the booth for them, such as business needs: pens; pencils; wrapping materials and bags for purchased items; sales slips; a guest book (mailing list); business cards; postcards with show schedules; artist’s biographies and statements; and on and on.

You will want to consider ALL your needs necessary for conducting business transactions and selling your Art!