I thoroughly enjoyed my first art fair experience at Surrey Contemporary Art Fair in March, though it was exhausting. The mental effort involved in being brave and putting myself out there, as well as organising things I needed whilst being inexperienced as a visitor and a total novice at selling was very tiring.

I was helped massively by my co-stall holder Amanda who had exhibited at a fair before and is a very organised and practical person!

Here I some things I learnt:

  • Make sure you’ve visited a similar fair before you exhibit to get ideas about what you’ll need to bring, how your paintings can be displayed and what works and what doesn’t.
  • Plan your wall space as far in advance as you can, especially if you’re intending to make new work for the show. Whilst it’s great to just paint what you feel like painting, there’s a chance it might not fit or make best use of the space.
  • Try to find out how warmly you’ll need to dress for the venue, and think about still being able to present yourself smartly whatever the weather.
  • Some people just don’t want to talk, but try to chat about your work if you can as you’ll get insights you’d never be able to get from sitting in your studio.
  • Make sure your website and social media is looking shipshape and ready for visitors during and after the event.
  • Make your visitors book/newsletter sign up book easy to access.
  • Test your payment device.
  • Do as much research as possible into who your possible customers might be so you are ready to talk about what they are interested in. This is tricky first time around, but hopefully will improve with time and experience!

I will be back. I’m going to test out lots of other fairs to see what sort of work is exhibited where. I particularly loved talking about my work with other people and seeing other artists’ work, it was hard work but definitely worth it.

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