• Beware of Counterfeit Woodturning Tools (click here for details)
  • Johnathan Silwones is starting a new AAW chapter, Southern Alleghenies Woodturners, in Johnstown, PA. (click here for details)
  • Congratulations to Keven Jesequel for "Big Leaf Maple" being selected as Turning of the Week for April 15, 2024 (click here for details)
  • Welcome new registering member. Your username must be your real First and Last name (for example: John Doe). "Screen names" and "handles" are not allowed and your registration will be deleted if you don't use your real name. Also, do not use all caps nor all lower case.

A Couple Questions on Your Booth Set Up for Art Shows

Joined
Nov 14, 2023
Messages
72
Likes
62
Location
Los Angeles, CA
I've been searching the forum for art booth set ups and found some useful info and a few pictures from years past but I'd like to re-hash the subject for 2024 to see if there are any new thoughts/observations on displaying work for sale. I'm more interested in "Art Show" booths as opposed to the "Craft Show" but all feedback is appreciated.

As a vendor for a 2 day show, I typically bring 50-70 pieces laid out on 3-4 tables with various pedestals and shelves to bring some variations in height. Despite the shelving, I occasionally end up with a "pool" of maybe 10-12 bowls (rather than a sea of bowls on the table) that lack height variation.

First Question: Do you find pieces display better with more individual pedestals establishing various heights? Do you worry about the customers putting the bowl(s) back on individual pedestals too casually, and having it fall onto another piece? (Maybe that's just the Art and Wine shows 😆)

Second Question: At a daytime, outdoor show, do you find that having lights in the booth make any difference? I have a silent battery generator that could run a string or bank of lights. Is track lighting run along the tent trusses a better option than sting lights? Or is lighting a waste of time in a white booth in the middle of the day?

I'll try to find a photo of my typical booth, but in the meantime, I'd love to read some thoughts on your displays. Thanks!
 
Joined
Nov 24, 2019
Messages
29
Likes
338
Location
Dresher, Pennsylvania
Website
www.rareearthbowls.com
John,
I think one of the important things that elevates work into art shows, rather than craft shows, is how the work is displayed (obviously the work has to merit that distinction as well), and by my observation, the successful booths in art shows don't have tables at all. Shelves, pedestals, and other ways to provide focus on each individual piece, rather than "a sea of bowls on a table" will help. Varying the height at which things are displayed also helps create visual interest. I've been revamping my booth for this year, and I will no longer use the tables I had used (even though the storage space under the tables and behind the skirts was convenient). The model I have is to have people feel like they are walking into a gallery when they visit my booth.

I am still trying to figure out the lighting thing. I think the best would be track lighting over each display unit (again, think gallery), but I don't want to make a huge investment in lighting. I might try it with a couple of rechargeable flood lights. Even for daytime shows, lighting can help, especially on an overcast day, or if you are placed under trees, or at dusk.

To your question about people safely returning a piece to it's display location, I don't worry about that. I encourage customers to pick up a piece -- the tactile experience is part of the sales process. Most handle them carefully.

Hope this helps and feel free to share pics or other ideas as you develop them.

Peter
 
Joined
Aug 14, 2007
Messages
5,475
Likes
2,830
Location
Eugene, OR
Ask 10 different people, and get at least 15 different answers..... The only shows I did that lasted into the night were 'entertainment' type shows, and I never did well at those. I did some Christmas shows that were inside, and most of the time, the lighting was sufficient. Lighting has come a long way since then. As for display, I sold utility bowls and platters. I had 3 shelves all the way around 3 sides of the booth. There were stacks of bowls, and yes, people can never seem to put them back where they belong.... I did screw my shelves together which kept them from falling over. Had them fall once.... If on grass, then a piece of plywood under the feet the shelves sit on can be handy. Some times the show office can offer a lot of suggestions. Do check out how others have set up their booths as well, and make 'adjustments'. Most are happy to share ideas.

robo hippy
 

Donna Banfield

TOTW Team
Joined
May 19, 2004
Messages
510
Likes
1,347
Location
Derry, NH
Here are images of my booth from my last show. I sell only Art, nothing utilitarian, unless you consider something that hangs on a wall, or a lidded box with detailed surface embellishments falls into that category. Think about how a gallery would arrange pieces. There are no tables. Each piece is displayed within its own space, and does not compete with adjacent art for attention.

Lighting, even in an outdoor show (I do one every year) using this same booth and setup is an important element in displaying the work. But pay attention to the color of your lighting. LED’s run cooler, but unless you are using bulbs that have a rating of around 3,000k, anything higher will have a blue hue, and that will change the color of your work. Unless your work is completely covered in color, with no brown tones showing.

If you are transitioning to art, you will be more successful in a show that juries all exhibitors. Those shows will attract the art buyers.
IMG_3839.jpegIMG_3837.jpeg
 
Joined
Nov 14, 2023
Messages
72
Likes
62
Location
Los Angeles, CA
Thank you all for the thoughtful replies...

Peter, you make a great deal of sense... I checked out your website and it's fantastic. Love your photography. (That's my next important thing to improve)

As always Donna, your work and your booth are inspiring. I'm always super impressed by the booths that are like studio spaces and each piece gets its own showcase. I aspire to be at that kind of level where I could go to a show with 15-20 pieces, each good enough to stand on their own.

Although I do get juried into some good art shows, my work tends to split the difference. Most of what I make can be used, but most of my customers choose just to display the bowls. As I mentioned, I typically have 50-70 pieces to display. I don't hold merchandise back under the skirts, I just put everything out.

At the 5-6 outdoor shows I attend every year, people love to bring their dogs... if I had any merchandise less than 3 feet off the ground, it would get urinated on! Every show, I have to wash the pedestals for this very reason... Its insane.

My bowls are usually 3"-6" tall and Ive toyed with the idea of showing them vertically, but I'm not sure how to do so and keep pieces stable. If I made platters/plates, thats definitely a direction I would go.

I found a picture of my last booth... you can see the attempt at creating different heights with risers, pedestals, etc... If I were to grade my booth, I'd give it a C+/B- but based on the type of bowls I sell, I'm always wondering how to make them stand out even more.
 

Attachments

  • IMG_4293.jpeg
    IMG_4293.jpeg
    267.8 KB · Views: 40
  • IMG_4236.jpeg
    IMG_4236.jpeg
    385.4 KB · Views: 40
Joined
May 12, 2010
Messages
51
Likes
31
Location
Denver, CO
My bowls are usually 3"-6" tall and Ive toyed with the idea of showing them vertically, but I'm not sure how to do so and keep pieces stable

That first stand I linked has the potential to do it, it is 6" deep, though I'm not sure if that bowl shape would fit, you may need the front feet to be a little taller with how that one looks like it would sit. You can always design some of your own out of wood. Just cut out two sides and put a box hinge in between.
 
Joined
May 9, 2023
Messages
90
Likes
55
Location
Baltimore, MD
I know I could better...but I've built several 'riser' shelves that sit on the backside of my tables, covered them in blue felt and set all of my smaller pieces on them. That helps to differentiate them from the larger pieces that sit in front. I only sell my local farmer's market so a 'utilitarian' set-up fits in nicely. Personally...I believe in staging tables relative to your customers. Fancier for higher end clientele or burlap in my case.
 

odie

TOTW Team
Joined
Dec 22, 2006
Messages
7,108
Likes
9,693
Location
Panning for Montana gold, with Betsy, the mule!
Here are images of my booth from my last show. I sell only Art, nothing utilitarian, unless you consider something that hangs on a wall, or a lidded box with detailed surface embellishments falls into that category. Think about how a gallery would arrange pieces. There are no tables. Each piece is displayed within its own space, and does not compete with adjacent art for attention.

Lighting, even in an outdoor show (I do one every year) using this same booth and setup is an important element in displaying the work. But pay attention to the color of your lighting. LED’s run cooler, but unless you are using bulbs that have a rating of around 3,000k, anything higher will have a blue hue, and that will change the color of your work. Unless your work is completely covered in color, with no brown tones showing.

If you are transitioning to art, you will be more successful in a show that juries all exhibitors. Those shows will attract the art buyers.
View attachment 62185View attachment 62186

That is a very elegant looking display booth, Donna.......and very fitting for your amazing works of art! :)

-o-
 

Steve Worcester

Admin Emeritus
Joined
Apr 9, 2004
Messages
2,693
Likes
96
Location
Plano, Texas
Website
www.turningwood.com
I did a number of indoor and outdoor art shows in the Dallas area a few years back. I like to think that if you want to sell your work for any significant amount of money, your booth has to have a very clean and gallery setting. I had a high end tent and had lighting along the top on long pols, and used daylight bulbs, today I would have used LED lights in the same fixture. It also gets pretty hot in Texas during show season, so I small recirculating fans as well. These shows always had electricity though too. I had a pedestal on each side of the outside of the booth with some large or eye grabbing piece with a few pieces on an outside wall.
Check out the Sunshine Artists website, they have some articles on displays.
The displays were made of peg board with light foam over the top and fabric panels, the shelves were half rounds I put holes into so you wouldn't see the modified peg hooks that held them up. Then each piece had a simple small price marker made of mahogany with a clear price label with black lettering. Since these were outdoor shows, the stands that held the panels were made to be height adjustable, that part was functional, but kind of clunky. The panels had hinges with removeable pins so all the panels could be attached to each other and then a 1x2 was attached to them to hold them all together. It was really clean as I hid alot of those attachments or painted them to match so you wouldn't notice. I think these photos are Artfest in Dallas' Fair Park. Got best of show one year and best of category, two years.
 

Attachments

  • IMGP0828.JPG
    IMGP0828.JPG
    344.1 KB · Views: 40
  • IMGP0816.JPG
    IMGP0816.JPG
    344.7 KB · Views: 39

Donna Banfield

TOTW Team
Joined
May 19, 2004
Messages
510
Likes
1,347
Location
Derry, NH
I did a number of indoor and outdoor art shows in the Dallas area a few years back. I like to think that if you want to sell your work for any significant amount of money, your booth has to have a very clean and gallery setting. I had a high end tent and had lighting along the top on long pols, and used daylight bulbs, today I would have used LED lights in the same fixture. It also gets pretty hot in Texas during show season, so I small recirculating fans as well. These shows always had electricity though too. I had a pedestal on each side of the outside of the booth with some large or eye grabbing piece with a few pieces on an outside wall.
Check out the Sunshine Artists website, they have some articles on displays.
The displays were made of peg board with light foam over the top and fabric panels, the shelves were half rounds I put holes into so you wouldn't see the modified peg hooks that held them up. Then each piece had a simple small price marker made of mahogany with a clear price label with black lettering. Since these were outdoor shows, the stands that held the panels were made to be height adjustable, that part was functional, but kind of clunky. The panels had hinges with removeable pins so all the panels could be attached to each other and then a 1x2 was attached to them to hold them all together. It was really clean as I hid alot of those attachments or painted them to match so you wouldn't notice. I think these photos are Artfest in Dallas' Fair Park. Got best of show one year and best of category, two years.
Those were a really nice setup, Steve. But black backgrounds in Texas heat🥵🥵🥵. I would have melted in a huge puddle within 10 minutes. I think it’s important to note to the original author of this post/thread, and anyone else following, that if you are using black or a very dark color as your background, you will absolutely want to add lighting….lots of it. Black absorbs light.
 
Joined
Nov 14, 2023
Messages
72
Likes
62
Location
Los Angeles, CA
I did a number of indoor and outdoor art shows in the Dallas area a few years back. I like to think that if you want to sell your work for any significant amount of money, your booth has to have a very clean and gallery setting

Methinks this is where the rubber meets the road for most all of the best artistic turners.

It appears to me that the true wood artists I admire, like yourself, and Donna B, (and several others I’ve seen on the site) are showing 20-30 pieces per show which allows your individual works appropriate “space” to be appreciated by the buyers.

In my case, at the juried shows I’m in (in Southern California and maybe Arizona occasionally), I’ll show 50-70 pieces which would be a lot of individual displays to put together. As a goal I would like to one day be able to sell fewer pieces at higher price points and the ideas shared in this thread have helped in how to chart that course.

The journey continues…. Thank you all for elevating the wood art world for all of us.
 
Joined
Jan 24, 2011
Messages
81
Likes
107
Location
Joplin, Missouri
John, I have been doing art fairs/festivals for several years. We get juried into some of the better high end shows but not all of them. The one key that generally describes a booth that gets into the higher end shows is "gallery like." This means no tables, usually panels for walls and a smaller number of turnings (or spaced so that they do not appear cluttered). We run lights all the time. We have two different types that we use, two LED shop lights and two LED adjustable arm "garage lights." All of these lights are suspended from the top of the tent so that they are out-of-sight. It is also important to have some type of ground cover. This can be a nice rug that complements, but does not distract from the turnings. If you are on the street or paved surface, the interlocking foam pads work really well should something gets knocked over. It is also easier on your feet. It is also important to interact with the people that enter you booth. Don't be a used car salesmen, but if you see them looking at a piece ask them what it is that attracts them to that turning. It is also good if you have a story that goes along with the turning. Such as where the wood came from or something interesting about a color, grain pattern, etc. You booth should also be very open. If people start bumping into each other they will not stay around.

I have attached a picture of our booth. The layout is 10' wide and 8'deep. The wall on the left is only about 5' deep. We have a table behind the short wall to package the turnings we sell. Behind the 8' deep wall we have storage for additional turnings. We do not have a place inside or behind the tent where we sit or stand. We have a tall director's chair that we place outside in front of the tent if we want to sit. This gives us a better view of people and allows us to talk more freely with them. At shows, each turning has a 3x5 card that goes along with the turning. The front side of the card tells about the turning and the backside has care instructions as well as price.

I don't know what kind of tent you have but I would recommend something that is not an E-Z Up style of tent. We have 40 lbs of weight attached to each leg, as well as stabilizer bars on three sides of the tent frame. We also cross hatch strap on the two sides of the tent. You never know what the weather will be like and you don't want your tent getting blown into someone else's tent.

Hope this is helpful. Good luck and have fun.
Steve
 

Attachments

  • Booth Shot 2024.jpeg
    Booth Shot 2024.jpeg
    870.8 KB · Views: 43
Joined
Nov 14, 2023
Messages
72
Likes
62
Location
Los Angeles, CA
Thank you for the thoughtful reply, Steve.
Your booth is an excellent display.

I have upgraded to a much better tent this past year and always have it well weighted and/or staked. Good advice for all!

I spend the vast majority of the show speaking with and engaging with people. I’ve learned to not drink too much coffee or water!

As a diehard introvert, it’s still out of my comfort zone, but I’ve gotten pretty good at engaging with the people over the years. It wasn’t always easy…. They do love to hear the stories of the wood and since every piece of wood I use comes from locally fallen trees, I know exactly where it comes from. I do everything from harvesting the logs through to the final product.

The carpeting idea is one I’ve toyed with, but as I mentioned before, people in SoCal are by and large completely oblivious/apathetic/defiant about their dogs’ behavior…. Any carpet would be soaked in dog urine (or worse) by the end of the show! The stories I could tell you about dogs at these shows!! 🤯

It’s interesting that you keep some stock behind the curtain, if you will…. How do you decide what to display first, and how often are you asked “Do you have anything else you can show me?” And how does that work out for you?

After reading through the replies here, I think I’m going to try some auxiliary lighting in the top of the tent even though the tent is white and the shows are always daytime affairs. There used to be some very nice indoor shows I attended but they have been shuttered…. The cost of doing business in California, I suppose!
 
Joined
Jan 24, 2011
Messages
81
Likes
107
Location
Joplin, Missouri
John, thank you for your kind words. I can't believe the dog situation is that bad. Many of the shows we do don't allow dogs, those that do, we watch them very closely for the reasons you stated.

I think you will find the added lighting will make a big difference on how much better it shows off your work.

We (my wife and I--we both turn) wrap our turnings in T-shirts and store them in storage tubs. We do have people that look at a bowl or something that is displayed and ask if we have anything similar that is larger/smaller or lighter/darker. So, yes we have sold things from the "back" before things out front have sold. Figuring out what to display first is not an easy task. You want to have something that is eye catching and shows a variety of design or style. You want to be able to replace things that are sold with something that will fit in that spot, or that you can rearrange several pieces to make things look like they go together. We also try to display some of the older pieces along with some of the newer pieces.

Speaking of eye catching, one thing that we do that is not in the picture is put the hollow forms that are on the pedestals on a display turntable (check Amazon). The movement catches the eye of passer-byes. It also allows people to see the turning from several different sides. This is really effective for my HF that have a lot of voids.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Aug 14, 2007
Messages
5,475
Likes
2,830
Location
Eugene, OR
I can't think of any shows I ever did that allowed dogs to roam through. I did one show that was by a pond, and there were a lot of Canada geese around. A month or so before the show, the pond would be fenced off to keep the geese and their poop out of the grassy areas. I would think they would be able to figure out how to fly over the fence, but nope.... They are a problem here since they don't migrate any more. Several very large year round flocks.

robo hippy
 

Steve Worcester

Admin Emeritus
Joined
Apr 9, 2004
Messages
2,693
Likes
96
Location
Plano, Texas
Website
www.turningwood.com
Those were a really nice setup, Steve. But black backgrounds in Texas heat🥵🥵🥵. I would have melted in a huge puddle within 10 minutes. I think it’s important to note to the original author of this post/thread, and anyone else following, that if you are using black or a very dark color as your background, you will absolutely want to add lighting….lots of it. Black absorbs light.
It is all under tent, but I liked the contrast and maybe didn't put enough thought into the heat. It was always hot regardless, or rainy, or tornado warnings..
Did one show at a movie lot that had a wide corridor we were all setup in. Every night the straight line winds would come through and hurl the easy ups into the sky. With a good solid tent and good weights, luckily I didn't have any issues.
Thank you for the thoughtful reply, Steve.
Your booth is an excellent display.

I have upgraded to a much better tent this past year and always have it well weighted and/or staked. Good advice for all!

I spend the vast majority of the show speaking with and engaging with people. I’ve learned to not drink too much coffee or water!

As a diehard introvert, it’s still out of my comfort zone, but I’ve gotten pretty good at engaging with the people over the years. It wasn’t always easy…. They do love to hear the stories of the wood and since every piece of wood I use comes from locally fallen trees, I know exactly where it comes from. I do everything from harvesting the logs through to the final product.

The carpeting idea is one I’ve toyed with, but as I mentioned before, people in SoCal are by and large completely oblivious/apathetic/defiant about their dogs’ behavior…. Any carpet would be soaked in dog urine (or worse) by the end of the show! The stories I could tell you about dogs at these shows!! 🤯

It’s interesting that you keep some stock behind the curtain, if you will…. How do you decide what to display first, and how often are you asked “Do you have anything else you can show me?” And how does that work out for you?

After reading through the replies here, I think I’m going to try some auxiliary lighting in the top of the tent even though the tent is white and the shows are always daytime affairs. There used to be some very nice indoor shows I attended but they have been shuttered…. The cost of doing business in California, I suppose!

The work was packed in tubs behind the curtain, or empty tubs in the vehicle. I wrap the art in acid free tissue paper and then bubble wrap. DO NOT just wrap it in bubble wrap, it can eat the finish. Most of the time, the work is taken down at night because of the unpredictable weather.
I once took a class from a well known local artist who was really good at working the crowd. Being social can be tough for some of us. But as my kids used to say to each other, "don't talk to dad, he hasn't sold anything yet.
It also become tough when sales are low and you have so much time and money involved. We tend to feel it is some type of art world acceptance when someone buys your work. I had this feeling for a long time and never did well in galleries.
 
Joined
Nov 14, 2023
Messages
72
Likes
62
Location
Los Angeles, CA
I can't think of any shows I ever did that allowed dogs to roam through. I did one show that was by a pond, and there were a lot of Canada geese around. A month or so before the show, the pond would be fenced off to keep the geese and their poop out of the grassy areas. I would think they would be able to figure out how to fly over the fence, but nope.... They are a problem here since they don't migrate any more. Several very large year round flocks.

robo hippy
In case anyone thinks I’m kidding…..

How about this show where the moron allowed her dogs INTO the pond and the dog then went around shaking his wet fur all over everything and everyone!

This is in Beverly Hills and there are $25,000 paintings about 30 yards from this…
He was dry-ish by the time he got to my booth….
 

Attachments

  • IMG_3293.jpeg
    IMG_3293.jpeg
    512.3 KB · Views: 25
Back
Top