|6 reasons to participate in a local art+craft market |
Maybe you are a recent art graduate, or crafty stay at home mom. Perhaps you have been painting for 40 years, or maybe you just enjoy making art in your free time. No matter your path in life, if you are passionate about your craft and have never participated in an art + craft market, I recommend considering it.
Involving yourself in a local market can open you up to new opportunities and ideas.
To clarify, there are a several “types” of local art markets. Do yourself a favor and spend some time researching different markets available in your area. Craft fairs, community art shows, farmers market, and art walks are all options to check out. Hop on Google and start your search.
(Most fairs and markets involve an application process. In this case, you will have to apply and wait to be accepted or declined. However, plenty of local markets are hosted at local community centers or local businesses, and will take first-come-first-serve artists. You just need to be on top of what is going on. Ensure to look at market dates, application requirements, booth fees and set up/take down times.)
So here are | 6 Reasons to participate in a local art+craft market.
1. Establishes a goal.
Artists sometimes need a little nudge. Nothing will motivate you more than a deadline! Once you have been accepted, you will begin working on a timeline, so get to work! I personally work much better with a goal in mind. It keeps me focused. Markets are the perfect opportunity to create a small body of work, and get excited about creating NEW goodies.
2. Opportunity to evaluate your art practice in terms of a brand + business.
Thanks to participating in markets, I have been encouraged to consider things from a business point of view. What is my product? Who is my audience? Is my work cohesive? How can I reach a broader audience? What is my budget? Is my work priced properly? What is my brand?
You are an artist. You are creating a product. How can you effectively display and sell it? Markets are a great starting point to help you analyze your art practice, and get organized.
3. Allows you to see how your products work together.
Maybe you are a painter, photographer or jeweler, or all three. No matter what your artistic preferences are, it is import to consider how each medium works together. Does your work inform each other? Or is it a chaotic and eclectic mix? There are no wrong answers. The point is, a market is the perfect chance to arrange + asses how your products work together. How do you think it looks from a buyers point of view?
The true challenge is to create a coherent and inviting booth, which highlights and compliments your product. Spend time on this, and be thoughtful. You want to engage and captivate your audience. You want them to notice you. You want them to remember you.
4. You can directly interact with your customers.
In my opinion, the best sales, are the sales when I, the maker, am present. It is a rewarding and exciting moment. It is great to sincerely and personally thank buyers for their support. Markets are an incredible opportunity for artists and makers to directly interact and engage with their audience.
Present yourself, your work and your great attitude! Seriously, smile. It is your time to shine as a local artist in your community. Talk with customers and curious lookers. Don’t be afraid to show them what you are excited about and what is new.
In the meantime, pay attention to what people are drawn to, what is selling well, what isn’t. It is important to collect feedback for your own records.
5. Self promotion
No one can promote YOU better than yourself. From a buyers standpoint, there is no one they would rather see than the artist themselves. Be authentic. Believe in your product and be proud of your work.
Markets and fairs are the perfect backdrop for a shameless amount of self-promotion. As stated previously, consciously design your booth, and flatter it with promotion material. Coherent business cards and a clear business sign are a must. Feel free to add things like promotional posters and even offer a giveaway!
There is always something to take home from participating in a market, and it isn’t always money. Be prepared to have busy days, and slow days, but one thing you can always take home is contacts!
Networking is an essential part of art + craft markets. Be present and involved in the small community you are part of. I recommend having an email list at your booth to build your audience. This can often lead to later commissions if you consider sending out a newsletter.
However, you won’t only be networking with potential clients and buyers, oh no, make sure you are talking to all your market neighbors. If you have time, walk around and scope everything out. It is always great to meet other artisans, who can encourage and inspire you. Sometimes real friendships can form.
Furthermore, when the customers are lacking, be prepared for some potential trading. I have happily traded at nearly every market – scarves, prints, paintings, you name it. It is always fun to support another local artisan and take home some handmade goodies.
At the very least, make friends so that you can run for a pee break!
But what if I don’t get accepted into the market I wanted?
Fear not! You will be rejected. You may even apply over and over again. Keep applying, and make sure you open yourself to a variety of markets and venues.
If things persist to not go well for you, then it is time to reevaluate you application and your product.
Are you possibly too similar to everyone else? Are you too different? Do you have a large enough selection? Is the quality at a reasonable standard? Are your prices fair? Did you apply properly?
What can you improve?
Rejection is an opportunity for constructive criticism and self reflection. Build on your experiences and choose to grow from them. Be positive. It is all about finding your audience.