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An Artist's Guide to Visiting an Art Fair

So you are visiting an art fair. Maybe you are scoping it out to determine if you would like to apply as a vendor in the future. Maybe you just want to immerse yourself in some beautiful art or meet some lovely artists.


Here are some do's and don'ts:


Remember that the artists are there to sell their art. This is not a social event for them - they are working. Don't do anything that makes their job harder.


Don't feel like you cannot step into an artists booth or ask questions just because you aren't going to buy anything. Having people in an artist booth is actually a draw for other customers to come in. If you are admiring an artist's work or even speaking to them about it, don't feel obligated to run out just because someone else comes in to look. However, unless you are seriously looking to purchase something from this artist, don't make it difficult for others to see the work and don't monopolize the artist's time.


When I do shows, people (esp. other artists) always ask how the sales are going. It may be a legitimate question, but it's not the appropriate venue. I have always answered with a positive- something like "Oh, it's going great. The crowds have been really good" - even when they're not. Here's the thing- kvetching about a bad show, at a bad show, during show hours, when customers are around is a huge no-no. Lots of artists will do it but it just makes them look bad. Don't put people on the spot like that - it's not nice. If you are really interested in participating in a particular show and you would like to speak to someone about their show experience, snag their card and ask them if you can pick their brain about the show at a later time.


These days everyone has a camera on their cell phone. People whip them out all the time and snap, snap, snap. You, being the art lover you are, may be tempted to photograph some else's work. That's fine, but ask permission first - some people are cool with it, others are not - it's their work so it's their prerogative.


This shouldn't require saying but I've witnessed it first-hand so here goes. Don't denigrate other artists' work or make comments like "I'm better than that person" - it's just plain rude On another note, sometimes a kind word or thoughtful gesture can really make an artist's day brighter.


Art fairs are exhausting. The days are long, full of hard, sometimes dirty, work. Weather can be unpredictable. Tents blow down. Work gets damaged or even stolen. Sometimes crowds/sales are very rewarding other times they are downright disappointing. And all through it, we artists must smile, exchange pleasantries and interact cheerfully with a sometimes less than appreciative public. As an artist who is just visiting, try to respect the amount of blood sweat and tears your fellow artists have put into the show.