Artwalk Prep Talk
Updated: Jan 6
Artwalk season is upon us! Or at least we hope so. The weather is not being very cooperative. There is nothing worse than guessing what the weather will be when planning an event or preparing for an outdoor show.
Plan Your Space
Whatever event you are preparing for, know how much square footage you are allowed. It's essential to planning your display. I usually mark it out at home in some open space. If it's nice out, I will do it outside.
Mostly, it is planning the placement of grid wall, table, easel and wrapping space. Where should you place everything for the best presentation? You don't want to show up at your space and then start contemplating how to do things. Plus, you want to make sure you bring along the appropriate tools, hooks and props. Nothing is worse than finding out you need that screw driver or pair of scissors you didn't pack. Many a time I have let other artists borrow such items. Good thing I'm prepared!
Ollie likes to observe... try to help out... or disrupt!
Presentation is everything!
If you have a table, make sure you have a table cloth. Something nice that isn't stained. Not something too slippery, you don't want it shifting on the table.
I had a vinyl banner made up through Vista Print. It's 6 feet by 3 feet and just fits the front of my 6 foot table. I use a couple small bungy cords to attach it to the table. The banner has metal grommets because I ordered it that way.
Eddie's Hang Ups is a great store that carries lots of things for retail. From big to small, they've almost got it all. Located at 14061-156 Street NW, Edmonton. Don't go there on the weekend since apparently they aren't open - I found that out the hard way. And just a note, with all things going on in the world and locally, their inventory has some voids. I hope it doesn't continue too long.
Another handy thing I ordered from Vista Print is a magnetic car sign. You have to be pretty confident to drive around with it attached to your car door, but it's great advertising and now you could probably add a QR code to it. If you don't want to use it on your vehicle, you could try it as a fridge magnet (haha) or use it in other ways. Maybe on the floor for people to step on! I did that at the indoor Whyte Ave Artwalk last year. Really, I just placed it in front of my big easel. Worked nicely. Like a giant business card.
A tent is a great thing to have if it's going to be rainy. I will never forget being at the Strathearn Art Walk a few years ago. There was an artist with no tent and raindrops were clearly expected. This gal was making makeshift shelters for her artwork from borrowed plastic and clips from others. You put a lot of work into your art so put some work into being prepared for bad weather! You could lose a lot of inventory just because of poor planning.
Tools and gadgets and other things to have on hand
Multi bit screwdriver.
Bags and tissue paper.
A cash float. Not too much. I tend to have a ton of 5s and 10s. Overkill. But if you have small items for sale it is good to have a few 5s and some loonies and toonies.
I believe having a Square (that is tap and/or chip) or being able to take payment by etransfer is essential! Set up your etransfer as auto deposit. Don't let anyone leave with your art before payment is confirmed.
Writing utensils. Don't forget to check if they actually work.
Pad of paper. This would be whatever size notebook or pad you have and can fit with your supplies. Good for writing down how many people walk by without stopping. Seriously. This is a great tool for deciding if this venue is good for you and your art. But you can also write down what sold, for how much, and at what time of day. Knowing how much money you made or did not make is valuable information. If 400 people went by and only 20 stopped to look and only 5 made a purchase, you may want to think about coming back. And I bet you are thinking, well what if I'm too busy to write all this down? Then I say "Hey, good for you that you are too busy talking to customers and making sales!" Never ignore a customer in order to write down your little notes. Write down your impressions later.
Dealing With Wind
Wind can be worse than rain if you are outside. Your whole setup could blow away.
Probably the most solid thing you have is your table. So on a windy day set your gridwall (if you are using it) next to the table and use a bungy cord to secure them together. You don't want your gidwall blowing over and destroying your artwork, or injuring your customers.
I have large easels that my dad made and you can put large paintings on them. They are great! I always wire the painting to the easel so it can't be knocked off. But if a big gust of wind comes, the whole thing would topple. So I keep the big paintings lower and anchor the easel down. Or use them inside the tent, which is anchored down with sand bags.
Write it down - Conclusion
Even if it's disorganized, keep notes so you can look back and laugh, or get happy! Diagrams of your setup will save you time later. Lists and a dedicated artwalk/show supply bag are a good idea. Just remember to keep smiling and the sales will come!
And stay tuned for more Artwalk/Show ideas!!