Let’s Talk about the Cost of Your Art Fair Booth

This year, my artistic goal is to participate in just one single art fair, and to finally show my wares in a reserved booth!

“Off Grid”

I spent the winter creating a collection of fifteen paintings for this one opportunity. My art reflects wildlife, mountains, rivers, and trains, familiar to the small town of St Regis, Montana, where their annual “Flea Market” is held just 13 miles from our off grid home.

I reserved a 10’x10′ booth for $100 and began to build out my first proper art booth for three days of potential sales in late May.  $100? No big deal! I can handle that!

I didn’t worry about supplying the canvasses, nor the paint and brushes. I would be spending money on art anyway. I am an artist living off grid, for goodness sakes. My art tends to sell just enough to earn a small profit. I had not yet considered a few other necessities, but I knew if I liked this experience, a lot of those materials could be reused in future booths.

Gosh, I hope I like the experience.

This event is a flea market. That means I can relax and not feel the pressure of a more prestigious affair. I can expect to see a wide range of overpriced junk along with some really beautiful wares at a reasonable cost. I plan to sell my art this first time at slightly reduced prices.

Here are the items I had not yet considered:

Eight 2’x6′ metal standing racks  to hold the art on two “walls”. $415.  Rack hooks to connect art to racks. $10. One tall director’s chair to be able to rest and still talk to visitors eye to eye.  $50. One rack to hold my prints. $50.  Clear plastic sleeves and boards (x15 prints). $45.
15 of my 25 ordered prints came out as desired. $180.
2 cans of poly spray to protect the paintings from deteriorating elements. $26.
1 packet of 20 sawtooth hanging brackets for the backs of the canvasses. $5.
A Square Chip Card Reader to use with my iPhone. $50. Charger and case $45.

The total cost for these items, not including the booth or canvassed art is… $876.00

We will bring our own outdoor rug to soften the space, plus our own folding table and lights to show the art properly. We need a tarp if it rains; my space has a roof but no walls. The canvassed art itself, by the way, came to approximately $1,000 all on its own.

If I add up the hopeful sales of all 15 paintings of various sizes, and all of the 15 smaller sleeved prints, I stand to make just a few hundred dollars more than I have now spent. That’s not much profit for three days of hanging out at an event and about 100+ hours of painting.

Despite the chance that I won’t gain a huge profit, I have been around long enough to know this – I will benefit anyway.

Knowledge. I will have learned a ton about what goes into these things, as well as why artists must sell their work beyond the time, sweat and actual cost of the art.

Future Profit. I can reuse materials that come to a $600 investment. Future art fairs will be more profitable.

Relationships. I can make friends with my new community, the other vendors, those who coordinated the event, and those who came to shop! Who knows, maybe a commission or two will come my way? Maybe I will have fun!

Purpose. I will have lived an entire winter filled with purpose and the pleasure of creating art.

I hope this reality is helpful, and keep in mind, I spent eight months gathering the entirety of this venture. It didn’t happen overnight. Taking risks and learning is sort of my thing. It makes me feel alive, and the rapture of being alive is the whole point, right?





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